On Character Choices and Online Communities

Cchara choice and Online

The following is an editorial. You are allowed to disagree.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on character choices lately for my ballot research in Japanese, and in my head I’ve been comparing and contrasting the two different communities. I’ve seen this issue come up on the Japanese side a little bit, but it comes up way more often on the English side. I’m not sure why, but it might have to do with cultural differences, or the average age of Smashers. Either way, I figured I would give my two cents on it.

Now that your dong has been expanded…

The issue that I’m talking about is “putting other characters down”. This is when a bias individual will unnecessarily criticize another person’s character of choice. There’s a couple of reasons for this.

1.Putting down that character makes the individual believe that their own character of choice has a better chance of making it into Smash. It’s of course not actually true, and it is done to make the individual temporarily feel better about their choice.

2. They simply don’t like that character or what that character represents. I’ve read some comments online  from “fans” who say, “I didn’t ask for Lucina. I didn’t ask for Rosalina, etc”. My advice to those “fans” is this: ignore those characters. They aren’t for you. Those characters have fans. You aren’t the center of the world. Grow up.

Translated by X Kan from Kantopia (click to go there)
Translated by X Kan from Kantopia (click to go there)


Character fans are constantly putting down other character’s chances as they believe it’s a “competition”. ‘that character can’t happen because then my character can’t be in the game!’ I assure you, this is not the case. There’s a middle ground in character choices. It’s not all or none, it’s about appeasing the most amount of people with the limited resources and time that game development has.

With Soma’s latest translation, I saw some people say, “lol Sakurai is comparing Krystal to mooks.” basically implying that Krystal is worthless like those characters. That’s the totally wrong attitude to have. First, it’s immature. Second, it’s not productive at all. It doesn’t tell us anything expect of the bias the speaker has.

With all the research that we’ve done on character choices, and the development of Smash Brothers, I don’t get the impression that Sakurai inherently sees a character as worthless. After all, any character that is heavily requested or well known has it’s fans. I’ve seen a ton of odd ball requests in the past two weeks, and a lot of them were actually very sincere. Believe it or not, Sakurai wants to appease the most amount of people. The only exception are characters that started out as non-video game characters like Spongbob and Goku.

....are you?
….are you?

I think he looks at popular requests and goes through this process:

  1. Looks to see if he can use them
  2. Sees if they are popular enough; is the character actually obscure?
  3. If they have a moveset
  4. Fill a niche/ ‘role’ in the roster
  5. Favorable to development
  6. If not 5 can they be made into a clone if there’s extra time in development?
  7. Are they relevant or retro? (ties into 4 somewhat)

They don’t happen in that order per say and some parts occur at the same time. I bet James Bond had somewhat of a moveset as Sakurai has mentioned that he wanted to implement his crouch walking, but in the end #1 stopped him dead in tracks.  Takamaru probably passed all the requirements except 2, and couldn’t be made into a clone. Krystal in Brawl might have passed everything except 5 and 6, as basically said by Sakurai in the interview.


If you are going to say a character has a chance or no chance, then base it on logic. There’s really no need to make character requests such an emotional thing. If you want to base your logic purely on emotions then you are going to be constantly disappointed with the choices that are made for Smash.

I’m working on what characters are being requested in Japan. I have an insanely busy week ahead of me, but I might release a preview of what I’ve found (basically a list of popular characters + some information). No ‘rankings’ as I’m not 100% satisfied with my data yet. Stay tuned for new information.

PushDustIn has no sympathy for stupidity. You can follow him on Twitter if you are over the age of 15. 

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  1. Unfortunately, I’ve found that people aren’t very receptive to logical arguments, and lump any counter argument against a character in with the issues mentioned here. It’s like favoritism is presumed to be a person’s motive by default.

    1. When I did my own series on possible DLC characters, I found people to be relatively receptive to my arguments against their favorites. There were still a few who would get frustrated if I suggested someone was unlikely, though, and it always seemed to come down to me “not giving them a chance.”

      Maybe it’s that this is a community of strong fandoms, where a perceived “loudness” is viewed as necessary to “justify” characters. Smash is a game about “all stars,” of course, and people want their favorites to rightfully be in that field. And because the roster seems to have always been viewed as a sort of zero sum game, we assume that other fighters’ inclusion inherently diminishes our favorites’ chances. That’s…sort of true (if only because there is a limited space), but grossly exaggerated; I can’t imagine Sakurai goes into each game with that line of thinking.

      With this attitude, many fans seem to carry suspicions about other fans, because any support the latter give for another character will “go against” their personal choice. This creates a weird kind of confirmation bias, where, any criticisms of a character’s likelihood seem to get interpreted as utterly worthless. if not the result of “bias” (the irony, of course, is lost entirely). This is why we have to many fan sites for characters; they believe that the only way to “win” is to be as big as possible, dominating the discussion in the way that we’ve seen many times before.

  2. Smash itself is a series with a strong fandom, with characters from other series that have strong fandoms. It’s not too surprising that emotion wins over logic. That said, whenever I have the character inclusion discussion, I try to think of things from a developer’s point of view most of the time.

    A lot of people on Miiverse were getting annoyed with me when I told them not to get their hopes up. I never said that their character choice would not make it in, nor did I ever outright bash their suggestion. Based on what I know about game development and what I’ve read for Sakurai’s criteria for including characters, I just simply tried to enlighten people to the fact their choices are not likely to make it in due to obscurity, not adding anything new to the gameplay, etc.

    But when you are working with passion like in the Smash community, people get upset when you disagree with their choices.

    IIRC, I think I even had some people get upset when I told them the unkind truth of a solo Ice Climber or a Young Link with mask transformations are unlikely due to both being too much of a deviation from the former incarnations and the latter not possible due to 3DS limitations. 😛

  3. “First, it’s immature. Second, it’s not productive at all. It doesn’t tell us anything except that you are a jerk.”
    I agree with you that it’s immature and not productive. But I also think that was kinda of an overreaction and rude, and maybe a little immature to call someone a jerk over that little comment (which I don’t think was supposed to be productive in the first place), but that’s just my opinion. 😛 (Sorry for my english)

    1. (my “: P” was replaced by that weird emoticon that makes it look like I was making fun of you, it’s not the case, sorry)

  4. Actually, Sakurai never addressed the fact that Goku and Spongebob did not originate in video games but instead talked about how Spongebob could not get in because his video games are sold primarily in the Western world. If the “must originate from video games” rule is true then Sakurai wouldn’t have considered James Bond to be in Melee since he originated in a novel series made by a WWII veteran (instead he was rejected for other reasons besides the fact that Bond never originated from a video game). Goku can, however, be excluded due to being a generic brawler and has his own series of fighting games (not to mention licensing issues).

    Sakurai might consider characters that did not originate in video games if they meet his qualities:

    Japanese I.P.
    Popular in both Japan and Internationally
    Capable of working on the 3DS
    Iconic in the video game world
    Not gonna get them in trouble by the censor police
    Not from a fighting game (this goes for Goku and anybody that appeared on Shonen Jump Superstars)even though Ryu and Mega Man were treated as special cases
    Does not use real guns or an irl person’s image
    A couple of others that I think are too long to explain

    But this will be very unlikely since the focus is on video games. They’re better off as Mii Fighter costumes in my opinion. but just like your article this is also my opinion so the decision on as to whether or not we have misinterpreted the definition of what a video game character is moot at this point.

  5. Krystal seems to get a lot of undue hate, from what I’ve seen. A lot of it’s mainly from this idea that each series can only have one DLC character get into Smash, an idea that’s completely unfounded and yet has people acting like it’s unquestionably true. Since Wolf has already been in a Smash game, he already has fans who played as him who are emotionally invested in his return.

    Combine the worst of the two, and you get a vocal minority that bashes a character they see as his competition despite there being a very realistic chance of them both being DLC.

    1. I’m not really sure where this “each series can only have one DLC character” rule came from, but it seems to have no basis at all. Many (including myself) also thought that each third-party company would only get one character, but then Ryu happened.

      The DLC really hasn’t even been about representing specific series thus far, it’s been more about bringing the lower priority veterans back that didn’t make the roster list upon release day (plus Ryu.)

      So, yes… I agree that Wolf and Krystal do have a chance of both being DLC. But is it likely? I’d be awfully surprised if Wolf did NOT make it in, but Krystal I wouldn’t be.

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