*(Please note: those Pichu and Young Link trophies above are fanmade)
“Whether it’s a minor character or a character that is one of the most highly skilled and most played, if that character is removed from the game, the people who live for that character in Smash Bros. are going to have their feelings hurt.” – Masahiro Sakurai
The preceding quote from Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai rings true for many Smash fans. We all have our favorite characters, after all, and it is particularly heart wrenching when those characters do not return for the next installment in the series. The good news for those of us that have lost our “mains” is that DLC now makes their return a possibility.
That being said, there are many that don’t feel confident about the notion of every single cut character who has been in playable in Smash returning. They often bring up arguments such as the following:
“Pichu has a large hate base!”
“Young Link is a third Link!”
“These veterans aren’t popular requests in the ballot!”
“Squirtle is redundant with Greninja taking his play style!”
“Young Link’s play style is taken by Toon Link”
“Squirtle and Ivysaur are redundant with Charizard being solo.”
“The number of slots are limited!”
“Lucas’ and Roy’s game are Japan only!”
“There won’t be DLC planned! Mewtwo won’t happen!”
Despite these supposed issues, there are a number of reasons why fans should be hopeful of their favorites returning. here are two pieces of notable evidence in particular that makes a strong case for everyone returning and shows that these problems don’t matter to Sakurai at all.
Let us first look at the quote I posted to start this article.
“Whether it’s a minor character or a character that is one of the most highly skilled and most played, if that character is removed from the game, the people who live for that character in Smash Bros. are going to have their feelings hurt.”
“I think we have to really consider that, so I take a very serious, hard look at that and have empathy for the players who look for these type of characters when we’re making these decisions.”
We can see from his words that he takes the return of veterans into serious consideration, even if it’s the least played character or a character with a minor fanbase. He really emphasized these points in this interview. He knows that once a character is removed, the people who enjoyed using that character in the previous games are going to get upset.
He later has the following to say regarding characters who have been playable in Smash previously making it into Smash 4:
“I can answer that: no. We don’t have the time to fully recreate every single character who’s been in Smash Bros at this point,”
“So we’re not going to cut characters out of the way, we’re going to put in as many characters as we can, we really want to do that, because it’s good for the fans and good for all of us. But in the event that we do have to cut some characters, I’d like to apologise in advance to those fans.”
This quote shows that he does not want to cut characters if he does not have to. He did say that he may have to cut characters, however, as he does not have the time and resources to recreate them all. He’s likely referring to ambitious roster size (along with the load of other content such as stages and modes) while having a set time limit frame in which to release them. I can imagine with these strict time constraints, Sakurai had to pick a certain amount of characters to leave out in order to meet deadlines.
DLC changes all of this. Now that the games have been released these issues are barely existent. He no longer has to stress about making a complete game and preparing it for a predetermined release date. He is now given a plentiful amount of time to bring everyone back. Sure,time and resources are still a factor, but at the very least he doesn’t have to worry about making two entire games anymore. Sakurai mentions in the previous interview that he really doesn’t want to cut characters out of the way good for the fans of the character. It would only be logical to assume that that statement is very likely going to translate to his decisions when it comes to deciding which characters are going to be made for DLC.
This does not mean that all veterans are in the clear, however. If veterans have other issues holding them back they may very well not return. Snake MAY have some legal issues. The main veteran that I see with serious issues are the Ice Climbers. The technical issues involving the Ice Climbers have already been specified by Sakurai as the reason they cannot be playable (technical issues are likely the bigger priority than any other issue). Unless he can resolve these issues now that the games are out through using the New 3DS hardware or by making them Wii U exclusives, I do not see them coming back. There is always the possibility of making a “solo” Ice Climber or simplifying their gimmick, but I do not think that will happen. If he was going to do that he would already have done so for the base game (see Olimar’s reduced Pikmin.) Again, Sakurai does have the time to try implementing the Ice Climbers one more time, but it I only see this happening if he is willing to put as many characters into the game as possible.
Sakurai’s desire to bring back cut veterans in order to make people happy makes it so that he wouldn’t care about the number of non-technical problems Smash fans bring up in regards to veteran character inclusion. He also wouldn’t care if the character is not very popular at all as long as he knows that character has passionate fans. Sakurai isn’t a businessmen when it comes to character decisions. He likes variety. He has never added only popular characters, he’s added a mix of unpopular and popular in everyone of the Smash games. This history of decisions prove that he is likely not changing his philosophy, even in the case of DLC.
As long as a character has an existing fanbase (whether it be big or minor) who want their reintroduction into Smash 4, then Sakurai will concern himself with their recreation so that their fans can be happy (Especially in Japan, where they love cut veterans). This is why I see veterans possibly being a bigger priority than newcomers for DLC this time around.