Can Ice Climber be in Smash 4?

The dynamic duo

The Ice Climbers, though from a forgettable NES game, were a well loved duo in the Smash Brothers series. So much so that their exclusion, due to technical issues with the 3DS version, has brought upon a lot of disappointment and discussion. In the Megapoll, Ice Climbers were the most wanted characters for DLC. However, can the Ice Climbers be included in the newest Smash. That’s what I’m going to try to answer today.

Sakurai stated in a Famitsu article that the Ice Climbers were running on the Wii U; however, they could not get the character working on the 3DS. He stated that they were given low priority given the series had no future. However, as PushDustin pointed out in another article, he may be referring to Wolf and Lucas and not the Ice Climbers.  However, when discussing characters that were cut, Sakurai stated the following

After all we were planning on including so many characters, in the end this pace of announcing them was enough. Each and every character has fans, we wanted to drop as few as possible. About the order of which character has priority, the characters that don’t have a new title coming up have an overwhelming disadvantage

Sakurai stated that dropping characters was out of need, not to simply drop them from the roster. This may also be why the two DLC characters announced so far are both veteran characters. Something of interest is the below image. This image was originally uploaded as the pic of the day but was later taken down.  Perhaps they planned to highlight the Ice Climbers, but they decided to stop work on them and this image was originally planned to correspond with the characters somewhat. We can’t say for sure, but it is interesting

image from fitzweekly

From his comments, Sakurai may have also implied that the characters could work given enough time. Fans have brought up the idea of having the characters work on the New 3DS. This may solve the issue and since the characters are DLC, it wont disadvantage someone who has the 3DS version instead of the WIi U one. However, even if the issue on the 3DS, there still remains the problem of 8-player Smash on the Wii U version. A lot of things are changed in this mode to allow it to run without hindering performance. The most obvious are the various background elements that are changed, such as the planets remaining stationary in the Mario Galaxy stage during 8-player Smash. Also, some of the stages in 8 player removes hazards, and even the models will changes from normal Smash battles (see below)

Wii Fit Trainers thumb difference. You can notice her thumbs up victory is different in 8 player smash. Credit to Random Talking Bush

Wii Fit Trainers thumb difference. You can notice her thumbs up victory is different in 8 player smash. Credit to Random Talking Bush

So simply moving the Ice Climbers to the New 3DS or making them only available in the Wii U version may not be enough. So how do the Ice Climbers work, and what makes them unable to be in either version. A Reddit user detailed how Nana’s AI works in Melee. As Popo takes more damage, Nana’s AI will increase based on the CPU’s level. Essentially, the game treats Nana as a computer player with her own AI when she is separate from Popo. This may be the issue with the character as they are truly two characters in one. It should also be noted in Super Smash Bros Brawl, the Ice Climbers were split into two files.  Sakurai has also stated that Diddy and Dixie were to be a duo character like Ice Climbers and Dixie also had a file in the game’s data.

So this raises another question. Why does Rosalina and Luma work while Ice Climbers don’t? The fact is that Luma doesn’t behave like a full character, despite having its own moves and properties. Luma is more an object, not unlike a projectile. As such, it’s AI is very simple. Nana, as we talked about before, is a character with the same AI as a CPU. As such, the problem with the character is it takes too much processing power. The 3DS version can display up to 5 characters. The Wii U version can do 8. So 8 characters on the 3DS and 16 characters on the WIi U might be a problem.

So can the Ice Climbers even be in Super Smash Brothers for Wii U and 3DS? I say yes. The issue will be making Nana’s AI simplistic. This would mean the character would need to be reworked. The idea I propose would be to make Nana more of an object. Like before, Nana will copy Popo’s actions when together. However, when they separate, Nana will do only two things. If she’s on the stage, she will run back towards Popo. She will also get a little speed boost when separated to compensate for the lack of other other action. If she is off stage, she will simply go towards the nearest platform or Popo, whichever is closest. This would allow Nana to take considerably less processing power. Of course, in 8-player Smash, other things may need to be changed, like the texture detail, to compensate.

Regardless, Ice Climbers remain a popular character and we’ll have to wait and see if the Smash Brothers development team takes on the task of making the Ice Climbers work or leave the characters on ice till the next game.

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  1. What’s your opinion of a solo Ice Climber to fix the technical aspects, or would that anger the fanbase too much.

    1. Not the author of the article, but I don’t think it will happen. I think it would compromise the vision too much, and would lose a critical part of the character.

    2. Like PushDustIn said, I think it’s an all or nothing standpoint. While fans love the Climbers, having only one would defeat the purpose of the character.

  2. Characterizing this as an AI (CPU power) issue is pretty silly. Simple common sense tells us that it is a GPU issue. Why do Pokémon and Assist Trophies animate at 30 fps in the 3DS version of Smash? It’s not because of CPU power. Even Olimar’s three Pikmin, whose models are made with an extremely small number of polygons, must be animated at 30 fps. This and other decisions made for the 3DS version clearly highlight that the 3DS’s “power” issues are graphical, not computational. For the Ice Climbers to work on the 3DS version, it is likely that not only would one or both models have to be made lower quality, but one or both partners would have to animate at 30 fps. It seems pretty obvious that Sakurai would not consider these acceptable sacrifices for a fighter character (if it could even be pulled of), and thus the Ice Climbers were cut.

    1. Thanks for your input. I will admit, I do not have a full understanding of the technical side of it, but my conclusion comes from the research I conducted. Two major differences of the Ice Climbers were the two characters and Nana’s AI. Likewise, character like Zelda/Sheik were also changed because the game couldn’t handle two characters in one, and Nana is treated like a separate character in the game. I’m not sure if I agree fully with the graphical element are the reason since food, which is just a still picture, is also limited in the 3DS version. Regardless, I think what you say holds merit and I’ll fully admit I may be wrong.

  3. the idea of it being a processing issue actually does make a lot of sense though because even though the GPU is responsible for rendering the Ice Climbers, the CPU is responsible for manipulating them. If you have 2 climbers one of them being an A.I character is something like 8 player smash that’s going to be trouble some cause since nana is counted as another player instead of like an item like Luma is then it’s going to require a lot more processing power technically in 8 player smash if everyones ice climbers you have 16 players in a match that’s only designed for 8

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