Evaluating King K. Rool’s chances.

*The following is an opinion based article and should be treated as such*.

There is absolutely no way to deny the popularity that King K. Rool has massed since the beginning of Smash Bros 4 speculation. It was huge prior to the release of Brawl, and it continues to grow. Community polls generally place him as the most requested Nintendo newcomer, which combined with the character ballot is a good sign for his potential inclusion.

However, fans are making the same mistake they’ve been making all throughout the character speculation period. Many of the different communities I frequent to refer to the character as, “a lock”, and use phrases such as, “when K. Rool is confirmed”.  It’s unfortunate, it seems that significant part of the community is under the same illusion that they were in with other characters that were also considered, “a lock” or “all but confirmed” previously. We’ve seen it happen before–with the likes of Sceptile, Impa, Ridley, and Chrom. Like these other characters, K. Rool has his share of hurdles.

I’d like to prefix this post by saying that I am very pro-King K. Rool. If he ever manages to get his spot on any Smash Bros game (be it as DLC or in the distant future), my personal reaction to his inclusion would likely be Etika x 100…but probably with trousers on.

Meanwhile, listen to some lovely Aquatic Ambience (don’t get too relaxed though, we don’t want any accidents).


The most appropriate factor to start with is one that gets thrown around a lot. K. Rool as a character has not been used as the villain of the Donkey Kong franchise since the handheld spin-off “DK: Jungle Climber” released in August 2007. What’s worse is that since Brawl released, his only appearance in any game was his inclusion in Mario Super Sluggers released in June 2008, along with a host of other Donkey Kong characters. This puts his current importance to the DK franchise at about equal to Tiny Kong who similarly has only appeared in “Mario Super Sluggers” in the past 7 years.

To make matters worse, the Donkey Kong franchise has moved on without K. Rool and the Kremlings. The 2010 Retro Studios’ revival of the Donkey Kong Country games saw the Kremlings and the King axed in favour of the Tiki tribe, complete with a new main villain. This trend continued in 2014’s Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, with another cast of enemies named The Snowmads along with Lord Frederick taking the helm as the game’s new main villain. Whether or not K. Rool returns in future games isn’t relevant to his status as of now, which is when DLC development is taking place. This is a pretty significant issue for him as Sakurai has made it clear that characters without current relevance are given a lower priority than those that do have it:

Also, series and characters which are unlikely– or have no plans to receive a new entry will surely see their priority lowered.
また、未来にソフトが出る可能性や予定がないシリーズやキャラは、どうしても優先度が下がります。- Sakurai

This is why popular veterans have been cut in the past. Although Roy and Lucas have both returned as DLC and aren’t likely to appear in any Fire Emblem and Earthbound games in the future, it must be noted that they are two veterans whose importance to Smash itself is already proven. It far outweighs the importance they have to their own series. Potential newcomers do not share these ties to Smash, and of course both of these characters were relevant when they made their respective debuts in Melee and Brawl.

At this point in time with his current status, adding him could be similar to adding Krystal, after all evidence points to Star Fox is moving forward without her.


Perhaps the biggest obstacle in K. Rool’s way is the competition that he faces within his own franchise. It’s no secret that the community at large considers Donkey Kong to be one of the most overall neglected franchises, and this is both a good and a bad thing for K. Rool’s chances. While it has possibly been a factor in increasing his popularity, it also means that his competition is still alive and still viable. Most notably:

Dixie Kong

Dixie plays heavily into the relevancy issue that K. Rool suffers from. She made her grand return in the critically acclaimed Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

She is unquestionably the next most important character in the Donkey Kong games, having had the third iteration of the original DKC trilogy named after her, and seeing Rare shift focus to her as the new lead character in DKC3 and DKL3. She also appeared as a playable protagonist in many other Donkey Kong games, notably Donkey Kong Country 2, in addition to many DK and Mario spin offs. More good examples of her importance, and status of the 3rd most popular Donkey Kong character would be spin off games where she is frequently pictured as one of 3 characters on the cover art.

If you look at the order in which characters are added into Smash Bros, Sakurai definitely takes importance relative to their home series into the equation. A good example of this would be the Bowser prioritisation over Wario for Melee.

Another strong factor for her potential inclusion is the fact that she nearly had a playable role in a previous Smash Bros. game. Although the idea was scrapped, she was originally planned to be in Brawl as a partner character for Diddy Kong. She is a part of the infamous “Forbidden 7”, 3 of whom have already made their return to this game so far.

Dixie’s revival has given her passage into the lives of a whole new generation of gamers, a character who will appeal to a casual audience in addition to the hardcore Smash audience. She is also a character who has a significant amount of popularity in her own right and has for some time, particularly in Japan where her popularity has been maintained for many years. It could be that K. Rool’s sheer popularity is not enough to win him a position over Dixie, especially when she could be seen as having more positives in her favour than K. Rool.

Cranky and the other characters.
Cranky Kong is the dark horse in this race. While the bulk of the popularity for a potential 3rd Donkey Kong character is split between K. Rool and Dixie Kong (with K. Rool being the majority), Cranky’s popularity within the Donkey Kong series with both fans and internally at Nintendo is something that shouldn’t be made light of. He is a character who has newfound relevance thanks to his playable debut (as Cranky) in the Donkey Kong Country series in Tropical Freeze. He was promoted from his secondary role as the shopkeeper in Donkey Kong Country Returns, and prior to that, varying roles in the original DKC Trilogy and DK64. His importance to his series should not be underestimated. He is after all the original Donkey Kong from the game that Mario made his debut in.

There are also other Kong characters who could show their faces. Over the long history of the franchise, there have been many playable protagonists ranging from Donkey Kong Jr to Lanky Kong, as well as new villains with varying levels of importance and relevance to the DK series. While some hurdles are smaller than others, these are all things that K. Rool has to deal with if he is to become playable.

The Ballot:

Sakurai has said that “From now on, it is going to be fan service” when referring to future DLC, this could indicate a significant boost to K.Rool’s chances. However we still do not know exactly what role the fighter ballot will play in the selection of future characters. After all, Roy, Mewtwo and Lucas were all fan service characters and they were selected prior to the ballot. Remember that the ballot has been presented to the fanbase as a suggestion box rather than a case of ‘vote for your favorite character and we will make them DLC in Smash’. A character will only be selected as DLC if the development team were willing to make them playable in the first place.

Additional Thoughts and Conclusion:

He is still seen as an important character to the DK franchise. The games that feature him as the main villain are still greatly revered to this day, and were among the most commercially successful titles on their respective platforms. His trophy description in Smash 4 alludes to him as the Bowser of Donkey Kong, saying “Whereas Mario often squares off against Bowser, Donkey Kong must fight against King K. Rool”, essentially confirming that he is still seen as the main villain of the series, despite his lengthy absence. It’s also worth noting that the Kremlings are featured as enemies in Smash Run on the 3DS version. But of course, the biggest thing he has going for him is his immense popularity.

Moveset potential could also play a factor here. King K. Rool’s changing personalities in his games offers Sakurai an entirely fresh and original gimmick idea for a fighter, and gives him a wide variety of potential moves to choose from. Something Sakurai has purposely focused on with the newcomers for this game so far.

The character ballot and his sure-to-do well performance, as well as his relative importance to such a beloved and successful franchise has presented him with a very good chance of making it. Although he surely sees stiff competition in the form of Dixie Kong, and we are unlikely to see multiple DLC characters from the same franchise due to the limited amount of DLC we will be receiving. While Sakurai is seemingly prioritising fan service, we don’t know if this will affect his concern about newcomers who have an uncertain future. Putting it into more simple terms, I would describe the current set of circumstances as a “levelled playing field” instead of making him the shoo-in that many people believe him to be.

Share this!


  1. That was brief, but also we’ll written. I was hoping for a more elaborate article on par with the one’s about Bayonetta and Layton, but I guess this is fine.

    1. Well… actually now I see that only the first paragraph loaded on my end. I now see the full article. Sorry!

  2. One more factor I think many fans are forgetting is the physical size of K. Rool… AKA, the Ridley dilemma.

    DK is already on the large spectrum of Smash characters, and in the DKC games, Rool was at least double his size. He was shrunk down in Mario Super Sluggers, but that’s a spin-off, so I’m not sure how much weight it would hold in his Smash incarnation. Regardless, from what I could gather from the screenshots, he’s still a little taller than DK if DK were standing upright, so he’s STILL larger.

    I’ve argued with Rool supporters on Miiverse over this, and they claim Rool can be shrunk down (of course, they said the same thing about Ridley, so take that as you will.) I think it might be betraying his character a bit too much, though… to me, it’d be like the equivalent of shrinking Bowser down to Mario’s size. Like Bowser, Rool is supposed to be big and menacing… it just so happens Rool is big and menacing in comparison to a gorilla that was once big and menacing to a plumber.

    For that reason and the fact that Dixie was nearly playable, I think she has a far better chance of making it in Smash. Her near inclusion has already shown that she was prioritized over Rool, even if her role was just Diddy’s tag partner.

    tl;dr version: Rool is probably too big for Smash.

    1. This is a joke, right? ‘K. Rool is too big for a spinoff, and another spinoff where he’s a good size doesn’t count!’ He’s a more workable size in DKC2 and also the DK64 post-credits scene. A Bowser sized K. Rool would be threatening enough.

      1. K. Rool’s size is constantly shifting just like Bowser. In fact, all the DK characters have shifting sizes. It’s really not a worry because he’s often depicted as being only marginally bigger than DK. Look at his size in Super Sluggers.

    2. Ganondorf and Mewtwo are still larger than Link and Pikachu. I know some characters have been scaled (like Olimar NOT being super tiny), but Rool being larger than DK seems to be a common trait. Even in DKC2 where he was smaller, he was still larger than Diddy and Dixie.

      Characters’ size in relation to each other can really impact the presentation of said characters. If you notice most villain characters (Bowser, Ganondorf, Ridley, Dedede, Andross, Eggman’s and Dr. Wily’s machines), they tend to be larger than the protagonists. Same size characters (Wario, Dark Link, Dark Pit, Meta Knight, Wolf, Shadow, Bass) tend to give off more of a “rival” vibe rather than an “all-powerful villain” feel.

      So, if people are fine with DK’s Bowser becoming DK’s Wario, sure, shrink him down.

      Not saying it totally breaks his chances of being in Smash, but it IS something to consider. Even if the difference isn’t as dramatic with Rool, it was enough to keep Ridley out of the playable character spectrum.

    3. Apparently King K. Rool can’t be Bowser’s size in Super Smash Bros. I can’t take anyone seriously who uses the size argument.

      This is definitely not one of the hurdles King K. Rool has to face if he is to get in.

      Also Dixie was not nearly playable in Brawl. The tag team was scrapped due to technical constraints in Brawl and nothing indicates she was ever worked on her own. It could be that Sakurai doesn’t see Dixie as viable outside of a tag team to Diddy for whatever reason.

      1. DK and Bowser are similar in size, though. That’s what I was trying to explain in my various comments… DK, Bowser, and Dedede pretty much appear to represent the maximum size for a normal playable Smash character.

        If Sakurai feels that K. Rool can be basically the same size as DK, great. It’s nothing to do with technical aspects, it’s the presentation of the character.

        I think my comments may be misinterpreted a bit in that sense. All I was trying to say was that Rool is generally bigger than DK. DK is pretty much at the maximum size limit for a normal Smash character. If people can accept Rool at pretty much the same size as DK, go ahead and put him in Smash.

        I know it’s not the main thing holding him back… or according to pretty much everyone it seems, it may not even be a thing holding him back at all. But it is something that needs to be considered regardless.

        Also, I wasn’t trying to say Dixie was playable on her own, just that she was programmed in there at all. She very well may have been scrapped because of technical limitations and then not made a solo character because she didn’t work outside of being Diddy’s tag partner. But she still made it that far. And looking at the “characters that almost made it” list, a good portion of them, even those that once were not thought possible (Pac-Man and Villager being two notable examples) made it in.

    4. K. Rool’s realistic proportions (ie, not gangly limbs, no super big wingspan) make him much easier to downsize than someone like Ridley. He can still be at Bowser’s height and have a head on Donkey Kong’s standard pose, which is fine.

      Donkey Kong is bigger than Bowser standing up in this game despite being smaller than him in canon.

  3. Eh, I wouldn’t put much stock in that. Ganondorf is twice Link’s height in Twilight Princess, and Mewtwo is supposed to be six times the size of Pikachu. Neither of them is their correct size in Smash, and they look fine.

  4. Anyone else honestly hoping K. Rool doesn’t get in?? He’s so irrelevant and dumb. I would much rather have Dixie and I was expecting her during smash 4 development.

    1. I’m with you. I kinda didn’t want to say anything because it probably looks like I’m not objective with my other comments. But to be perfectly honest, I know the characters I want most in Smash wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in Norfair.

      I’d like Ridley, but he’s too big. I’d support Weavel in place of Ridley, but he’s too irrelevant. I’d love Takamaru, but he’s an Assist Trophy. I think Ayumi Tachibana would be great (I could see her like Phoenix Wright in Marvel vs. Capcom 3), but she too isn’t relevant anymore.

      About the only realistic character on my wishlist is Inkling. 🙁 With a few exceptions, I generally support returning veterans and new franchises represented over new characters to existing series.

      1. Even the Inklings are on shaky ground, that trophy that was released doesn’t bode well for them IMO. There honestly aren’t many 1st Party newcomers I can actually envision releasing as DLC, Dixie and/or K. Rool are just about it. So I’m really anticipating seeing exactly who is going to come.

        1. It’s true, the Inkling trophy does kind of throw a complication in there, but I wouldn’t say it’s not possible still.

          I thought Ryu wasn’t possible. I knew he’d work in Smash, but I knew Mega Man would always be favored over him… and like everyone else, I thought each 3rd party company would only get one rep.

          So, basically, I hold onto hope if there’s even a slightly realistic chance.

          I can see Dixie or Rool based on their popularity alone (maybe not both, though.) Inklings are also highly requested from what I’ve seen (usually the second most common after Rool.)

          Maybe if the Gematsu leak and the mined data can be any indication, perhaps we’ll see a Rhythm Heaven rep? Maybe Marshall? (^_~)

          But whoever is to come, I’m excited for it.

          1. YESS My most wanted newcomer is ANYONE from Rhythm Heaven. But specifically Marshal. It might even get added through fan service because it’s decently popular in Japan, the new game sold almost 200,000 copies in the first week. I guess we’ll see.

  5. I agree that Inklings aren’t outright deconfirmed, but I do have to question why they’d throw out a DLC trophy if they had any plan of adding them. I’d put them as “definite” additions for the next Smash game if they don’t make it for this game.

    Rhythm Heaven might not be the best DLC seller. If the Chorus Men were considered or planned then the Ice Climbers issue may keep them out as well. And the Gematsu leak really perpetuated their popularity so they’re likely to be the only RH character who performs well in the ballot.

  6. I never thought he had the best of chances but definitely a lot more compared to like Bandanna Dee. Wolf has much more of a chance but K.Rool would help boost DK which has less rep then Kirby but more sales (Sakurai Bias) and a new villain would be good plus he isnt a fast rushdown character.

  7. King k. Rool has every right to be in the game. He’s a villain, another dK rep, another heavy weight, and not a swordsman. Whoever says “king k rool is to big”, your the dumbest person ever. Sorry, but really? King k rool is not ridley! King k rool has always changed his size through different games. He’s humanoid just like bowser. It would not look weird on him, unlike ridley. K rool would look fine shrunken down. Maybe I personally would make him a little bigger than bowser but his size doesn’t matter. Also relevance doesn’t matter with the smash ballot. We have the power to vote whoever we want in the game, whether they havent appeared at all in the past years. I honestly feel king k rool is the only logical choice for a new villain right now. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t win. Due to all his fan support and his immense popularity, king k kool is very very likely.

Leave a comment below!