Previously on Source Gaming, Bluepikmin11 made his case for why Bayonetta should be heavily considered as DLC for Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS. While I do feel he made a compelling argument for her inclusion, Bayonetta, in my opinion, simply does not belong as a guest character in Super Smash Bros.
Third Party Characters and “Legacy”
Let us start by looking at the following quote from Masahiro Sakurai:
” I think I can say generally that there won’t be a trend of adding a lot of third-party characters. You can sort of think of Mega Man as being the special case.”
Now, as Bluepikmin11 mentioned, we do not actually know what constitutes a “special case” as Sakurai does not implicitly state what his criteria for “special” are. What we can do, however, is look at the third party characters that have been added to Smash Bros. in the past in order to determine what they have in common. This is likely our best option in establishing a baseline for “special.”
In Brawl, we had Solid Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog “join the battle.” Smash 4 not only saw the return of the blue blur, it was also witness to the additions of Mega Man and Pac-man. Smash DLC has also recently brought us Ryu from Street Fighter. These five characters are fairly disparate, but they have a few thing in common.
Let us review the following information:
Total Series Sales
Metal Gear: 33,000,0002
Sonic the Hedgehog: 150,000,0004
Mega Man: 30,000,0001
Street Fighter: 36,000,0001
Characters Debut Year
Metal Gear: 1987
Sonic the Hedgehog: 1991
Mega Man: 1987
Street Fighter: 1987
As you can see by comparing the information above, Bayonetta is simply not as large of a franchise as the current crop of Smash guests. Perhaps it is not fair to compare a relatively new series with video game legends such as Sonic or Pacman…. but that’s kind of the point. Bayonetta is new and unproven. She is 18 years younger than the next youngest third party. That is quite the discrepancy. She has had exactly one game on Nintendo hardware. Metal Gear, a series that many claim is “not Nintendo enough” has had 8. Megaman? He has a total of 58 games on Nintendo consoles.
Up until this point, every third party Smash Bros. character can be classified as having a gaming “legacy.” Megaman currently is the lowest selling third party character in Smash, yet he has still sold over 10 times the amount of copies as Bayonetta has. Sonic, a fellow Sega character, dwarfs her numbers at over a hundred and fifty million games sold. To compound the issues with Bayonetta’s relatively low sales, the games sequel sold decidedly worse than the original. Some might argue that the reason for this is that Bayonetta 2 was only on the Wii U while the original was a multiplatform game. I would like to point out to those people that Bayonetta (the first game) actually sold more on the Xbox 360 (0.92 million) and Playstation 3(1.19 million) as individual platform titles than Bayonetta 2 (0.7 million) did on the Wii U.5
This tells me one of two things, either Bayonetta is a franchise that is shrinking as opposed to growing or it’s a franchise whose fan base does not significantly cross over with the existing Nintendo fan base. Is it possible that Bayonetta in Smash would draw in an expanded audience? Perhaps, but I don’t believe that it is a likely scenario. Most Bayonetta fans that are not Nintendo fans will likely not buy a Wii U for a guest character in a game if they won’t buy the system for the game the character is actually from. As I mentioned previously, Bayonetta 2 was not a great selling title, but on top of that, it did not provide a significant hardware boost. In Japan, for instance, Wii U hardware only had an increase of 1,047 units6 on the week of Bayonetta 2’s release.
Too Controversial for Smash?
Bayonetta is a witch that uses demonic powers and real world weaponry, including hand guns strapped to stripper shoes, to fight angelic forces. Many of her moves involve her stripping down or summoning demons. This is obviously of concern for many, as it brings in many sexual, religious, and violent images into a ESRB rated E10+ game. Now, I understand that Solid Snake also came from an M rated game… but watch the following video and tell me of a scene in the entire Metal Gear franchise that is comparable:
Now it might be possible to reduce a lot of the sexuality in the character of Bayonetta, but it would largely neuter the character and require a lot of creative work. Would this really be worth it for a character that does not have the same history or presence as Solid Snake? I would argue no, and that is without even considering her weaponry.
“As you all know Snake walks around with a gun, but with Super Smash Bros. I didn’t want to bring in a lot of real weapons. So that was a real challenge. But conversely, if we could use things like rocket launchers and other explosives, not only would that be fitting for Snake, but it would work for the other characters.” – Masahiro Sakurai
Sakurai himself has stated in the past that real world weapons are off limits in Smash Bros. This is unfortunate for Bayonetta as many of her weapons are based off of actual devices. According to Muneyuki “Johnny” Kotegawa, (who modeled all of the games weaponry)’s blog,7 Bayonetta’s signature weapon, the Scarborough Fair, is based off of the real world derringer, for example. The violence itself can also be quite realistic, at least it can be according to the PEGI ratings system. PEGI rates Bayonetta 2 as only appropriate for those aged 16 and older, “for realistic looking violence, strong language, and online content.”
Move Set Potential: Why it Doesn’t Matter
I have often seen Bayonetta supporters use her “extreme move set potential” as a reason for her inclusion. I personally don’t think she offers much that other characters do not. There are many other unique characters that would gel very well with the existing Smash Bros. cast and I have seen some amazing fan made move sets for every character from Lara Craft, to Simon Belmont, to a Slime from Dragon’s Quest. Now, Bayonetta does have some unique attributes, but at the end of the day all of our perceived Smash character potential doesn’t mean anything.
We do not make these games, Sakurai does, and he has shown a great ability to make something out of nothing.
“Little Mac won’t be interesting, all he can do is punch!” “Rosalina will just be a Peach clone!” “There is no way to that Duck Hunt Dog can be unique!” “Shulk will be just another sword’s man!”
These are all actual statements that I heard before these particular characters were revealed for Smash 4. They ended up being empty sentiments, however, as those four ended up being some of the most interesting additions ever made to the series. Sometimes we forget that Sakurai is the person who was able to take a character from a game as simple as Ice Climbers or as abstract a concept as the Wii Fit Trainer and translate them to a fighting game. It’s not about what the character can do in their home game; it’s about what role Sakurai can find for them in Smash.
To Sum it Up
If Bayonetta had just one of the preceding issues than perhaps she could sneak in… but she doesn’t. Her character has to be looked at as a whole. She is vying for a coveted third party slot in the game and comes from an underperforming and relatively new franchise. Let us also remember that Bayonetta is not JUST competing with other Sega representatives for a spot. There are a very limited number of DLC slots left at the moment, and they could very well go to a character like Rayman (another character that, much like Bayonetta, has Nintendo published games) or Snake as opposed to a second Sega character. She also comes from a series with strong religious over tones, overt sexual content, and realistic weaponry. All of that adds up to a very non-Smash friendly character.
Now, would I be upset if she made it into the game? Not at all! I’m sure Sakurai would come up with a fun and inventive move set for her (like he does with almost all newcomers) and I do genuinely enjoy her games. It’s just that, in my opinion, I don’t think she should, or that she will.
*From what I have been able to discern, Platinum nor Sega have released official sales figures for Bayonetta OR Bayonetta 2. I was forced to use VGCHARTZ as a source due to this. NPD and official Japanese number have the release numbers as markedly lower than these numbers, however, so I have no real reason to doubt them. If anyone can provide me with better sales numbers then please do so.