Ryu, Roy and Lucas have finally joined the battle! Many fans were surprised to see all three characters released at the same time. Everyone immediately became excited with the idea that DLC will continue to be pumped out for “Smash for 3DS/Wii U” until Sakurai’s arms really do fall off. Today, I’m here to crush those dreams, and offer a much more realistic view of Smash DLC. I’m so sorry.
First, I must point out that showing three characters (One 3rd party) has followed the pattern of Smash reveals. I didn’t realize it at the time, but for the past three E3s, three new characters have been revealed. June 11th, 2013 saw Villager, Wii Fit Trainer and Megaman. June 10th, 2014 saw Palutena, Mii Fighters and Pac-Man. Now, with June 14th, 2015 we have Lucas, Roy and Ryu. The three characters are not indicative of a particularly strong DLC development cycle. Instead, Sakurai is merely following tradition (Also, Half-Life 3 confirmed). Neat!
Now that I got that out of the way let’s discuss why I think the DLC will be limited in the future. There are two particularly strong pieces of evidence that there might be only two characters left. In the 3DS version shinyquagsire23 found 5 additional character slots after Mewtwo. Now, three of those slots are being used leaving two characters left. It is indeed true that more slots can be added, however with the current update, nothing has been reported as changing. Therefore, at the present time, we can only expect two additional characters.
Secondly, the Wii U Character Selection Screen (CSS) only allows two more characters. I’m fully aware of the next page buttons for the CSS and Stage Selection Screen (SSS) in 3DS, and the SSS button (that I helped discovered) in the Wii U version. However, no such button exists for the CSS in the Wii U version. Essentially, all characters must fit on the single screen. The icons can be downsized again but we are going to eventually reach a point of MUGEN-style CSS where we won’t be able to tell who the character is.
Yes, they could add another page to the Wii U but I sincerely doubt it. This is because multiple players select their characters at the same time in the CSS. It could cause potential griefing on the Wii U if they had another page as players could go back and forth between the next page and the main page. Initially, I had predicted that the CSS would use a Mii Fighter type of system for the DLC, but I was wrong. Instead, Sakurai is simply adding characters before the Mii Fighters, ensuring that the original order is not rearranged.
Many fans have complained that the order is no longer correct, and characters are being shuffled. However, this is probably the only acceptable solution to the CSS issue as DLC characters do not appear on the CSS until they are purchased. It does not make sense to rearrange the entire CSS with DLC characters in mind if they don’t appear on everyone’s console. Furthermore, rearranging the characters might be juxtaposing for casual players, as they will need to become re-used to the CSS. Minor issue, but I’m sure Sakurai has thought about it.
In addition, development for the DLC has to end eventually. All good things must come to an end. Sakurai, and his team are quickly approaching the year anniversary of working on just DLC for a game. In September, Smash 4 3DS will celebrate its’ one year anniversary. 2012 marked the official start of Smash 4, so including DLC Smash has been in development for over three years. With the team being downsized since its’ initial development, the amount of content that Bandai Namco and Sakurai can add is extremely limited.
Even more, Sakurai himself said in the latest Smash DLC direct not to expect a lot more stages. To me, this is a huge indicator that Sakurai and his team have an end-goal in site. I was personally hoping for a stage pack, but it seems that characters and Mii Fighters costumes have really taken precedent, just as Sakurai has said they would.
Lastly, the cost of DLC is going to eventually eclipse the cost of the actual game. Sakurai is all about creating value for his customers, and has talked multiple times about the cost of video games vs. proper payment to the creators in his Famitsu Column. Here is a translation of a column where he discusses working in a Video Game Store, translated by yours truly.
So with all this in mind, there are two scenarios:
ONE: In an upcoming direct, Sakurai will announce the next additional character. They will be based off the Smash Ballot, and released either in August or early September. The last character will then be released in October or November, and with it, officially ends the development of “Smash for 3DS/ Wii U”. Since both of these characters will be based on the ballot, I am not optimistic about Wolf’s chances. Many have felt that Wolf was a shoo-in for Smash 4 DLC (many erroneously believing that Smash DLC would promote Star Fox 0), but it currently doesn’t look good for the space-pirate.
TWO: The second scenario is that I’m wrong. The two characters are pre-ballot DLC, and additional characters will be planned and sold after October (the official deadline for the Smash Ballot). However, I believe that it’s pretty clear who has a lot of votes by now. In the “If There Were a Smash 2 Poll” (concluded a month before Melee’s project plan was finished), Sakurai could see Peach and Bowser winning from a mile away. It was a close battle until the very end for those two.
In addition, he has always taken the poll as a suggestion box. Being popular alone does not warrant that character’s inclusion. Issues like copyright, over-representation of a series and lack of a viable move-set can hinder a character’s ability to join the battle. In this case, if four additional characters were added, the Wii U CSS could look symmetrical. 60 characters would be incredibly impressive (Of course, the current 54 characters are already impressive!)
Right now, I believe King K. Rool or Dixie Kong are almost guaranteed to be in. After that, I’m not sure. Characters like Shovel Knight or Shantae have huge pockets of support, but I don’t think they have the international appeal DLC needs. Wolf or Snake would make a lot of sense, but they aren’t newcomers. Paper Mario or a Rhythm Heaven representative could be interesting, but I’m not entirely convinced that they have the same levels of support as a new DK representative has. I guess time will tell.
That is not to say that Sakurai does not try to included highly requested characters. Brawl was partly delayed so they could add Sonic, the most requested character from Melee -> Brawl, once Sega gave Sakurai permission. Personally, I think people have overestimated the amount of characters that can be added into Smash as DLC, and the impact of the Smash Ballot. I think the Smash Ballot will definitely impact the character roster for the next game. Whether it’s made for NX or not will have to be seen.
I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me, and that’s okay. Feel free to write your responses in the comments below, or send me a message on Twitter! Whenever I write an article, I always look forward to see the responses.
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Mains: Yoshi (64), Game and Watch (Melee), Wario (Brawl), Wario/Pac-Man (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)