Sakurai On: Third Party Characters

Samurai on 3rd Party alt

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In the previous article, I showcased several quotes from Sakurai on character choices. This time, I will only focus on third-party characters. Special thanks to Masked Man for assistance with the new translation found in this article.

Ever since Smash 64 was released, fans have requested non-Nintendo characters to join the battle. While Doraemon has always been very unlikely, Sonic and Megaman eventually joined the roster.

In Melee, there was some consideration of including James Bond in order to represent the highly successful game Goldeneye. In addition, other Rare characters might have been considered to some degree. However due to copyright and other issues, these characters probably make it into the planning stages of Melee. For all of the sources for these claims, and additional information please check out the Definitive Unused Fighter List.  

After Satoru Iwata was able to convince Sakurai to come back to work on a new Smash Bros., Sakurai began working on creating Smash for a new generation. Snake and Sonic’s reveal trailers shocked the world because, for the first time in the series, non-Nintendo characters were actually entering the fray.


The trend only continued in the later installments. In Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U, the third-party roster increased with Mega Man, Pac-Man, and Ryu (as DLC) joining the battle.

Third-party characters represent a unique challenge to the speculation scene. To be honest, the amount of information we have on third-party character selection criteria is extremely limited. In Brawl, Sakurai said he hoped to include certain important game characters who had appeared on a Nintendo console as a “courtesy” while still maintaining the freedom to alter said characters for the needs of Smash. We do know that Heihachi was considered for Smash for Wii U, which might indicate that some “rules” we thought existed (e.g. strong association with Nintendo, overwhelmingly iconic) might not actually be true.

Sakurai has talked about third-party characters in his e-mail response on Brawl’s website (Japanese, archived). PLEASE NOTE I ADDED THE NUMBERS AND BOLD INTO THE TRANSLATION.

“Manga characters will not join the battle (obviously).

  1. While it’s true that we’ve added characters from other companies,

It’s not going to be anyone and everyone.

Smash is a game that’s made from everyone’s effort.

  1. Both companies have to want the character to join the battle.

I need them to let me take charge of the character.

In order to fit the character into the world of Smash, I need them to allow me some artistic license.

  1. The character must carry game history with them.

Besides that, it might be something like a courtesy to include a character who has the experience of being on a Nintendo platform.

At any rate, there will probably only be one or two more.” –Toukouken #3

It’s important to note that while Snake has appeared on a Nintendo platform, the designs used were from games that weren’t on Nintendo platforms (MGS2, MSG3 and MSG4 are the primary influence for the character and stage designs). So while it might be a courtesy, it’s probably not a requirement for the character to have a strong relationship of Nintendo. Instead, the three points I identified in the previous quote seem to be the most important.


Not ‘everyone can join’ is something that Sakurai has usually said when talking about third party characters. When discussing Snake’s inclusion, Sakurai stated:
But while the barrier was indeed broken, that didn’t mean that anyone and everyone would be added to Smash as well.

He later continued,

“…it’s not my intent to arbitrarily increase the number of third-party representatives. To live up to the series’ standards, I can’t do anything too extreme.” Solid Snake Joins the Brawl

This is later said again in the Developer Direct with Megaman,

“I’m not going to have just any character participate from other companies, but [Mega Man]’s definitely in a class of his own.”

Having the creator’s consent to alter the character is a must. Some games don’t translate directly into Smash, and characters must be altered to fit both their original universe and Smash universe. Therefore, Sakurai must have full control over that character. Despite this, he still receives consent from the original creator, whenever possible. He talked about this when discussing Snake and Megaman.

Said plainly, Snake in Smash Bros. would have to be able to do things he couldn’t normally do. For example, in the Metal Gear Solid games, Snake doesn’t jump. He doesn’t have Smash attacks, and there are no midair battles. However, it wouldn’t be Smash Bros without those elements, so we developed certain moves just for him.

We needed the cooperation of both Nintendo and Konami, and the approval of other people involved in order to make it happen.  “Snake Joins the Brawl

Sakurai does draw from multiple sources when designing characters. More information can be found here.

For Megaman, if I was just thinking about how he would fight, he probably would have ended up with standard punches and kicks. Megaman’s moveset in the “Marvel VS. Capcom” series is comprised of punches and kicks, so there would be no inconsistencies there as well. However, the unique trait of the Megaman series is that he uses the attacks of various bosses to fight. I am aiming to capture the “embodiment” of Megaman by incorporating a wealth of these different attacks into his character.

Rather than deciding his character by simply tracing/copying the original work, it’s necessary to solidify the foundation of his image.  “Are the Characters Dancing?”


The need to carry game history is something that Sakurai has mentioned very few times. For third party characters, he mentioned this notion with both Pac-Man and Ryu.

Since I am creating the new Smash Bros. in cooperation with Bandai-Namco Games, it makes sense to include one of their characters, and Pac-Man is perhaps Namco’s most iconic character, so Pac-Man should join the fray. “My First Conception is my Landmark

Ryu has made appearances many times outside of the Street Fighter series, so he’s probably exchanged blows with the highest amount of different types of popular characters. “Lucas, Roy and Ryu Joins the Battle!

Sakurai has mentioned the idea of working with popular, well-beloved video games while discussing how the Punch-Out!! arcade is a masterpiece.

…I never would have imagined that I personally would be able to work with the main character from such a game…Of course, I felt the same way with Mario, Pit, and Megaman. As a video game designer, I have probably have worked with the largest amount of popular video game characters in the world.  — “The Little Pepper is Hot!

Third party characters will continue to play an increasingly important role in the Super Smash Bros., franchise. I’d strongly encourage everyone to read  Snake’s Famitsu Column, Pac-Man’s Famitsu Column, Mega Man’s Famitsu column and Ryu’s Famitsu Column for additional information. Please note, there is a column dedicated to Sonic, but we haven’t translated it yet. Lastly, GDC Slides and the audio presentation are required reading for any Smash fans. Let us know in the comments if we missed any major points in this article.

Can Ryu join the battle? SURE HE CAN!

PushDustIn would love to see Bomberman in Smash. You can tweet him the 3rd party characters you would like to see in Smash on Twitter.

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  1. *Sonic in the banner*
    *Quite possibly the biggest guest character in the game*

    And you haven’t translated the section dedicated to him? Are you serious?

    1. We’ll get to it. We have a ton of interesting stuff we are working on, and the Sonic’s column is on the list of things we are going to get to.

      If you would like us to prioritize it, please consider donating to our patreon. We are running the website completely out our own pockets…and so far, and only one person is actively donating to us. Users who donate via patreon’s may request articles and or translations.

      Before Source Gaming, no one was really collecting and translating all the information we’ve done. This stuff takes time, and it’s not easy. I already spend over six hours a day (10 hours on weekends) on this site and site related stuff. If you would like to help out, send me a message on Twitter.

  2. I used multiple translators on that e-mail response you guys presented. while Google Translate has the first sentence written as “Participation of cartoon characters is not impossible. (Flatly)” Most of the other translators (such as Babylon) say something half as close to what you guys put down. Judging from what I read from all translations means that Sakurai needs participation from all companies that own the said I.P. in order to get a third-party character into the game, even if it originated from a video game. This is most likely the reason why characters that did not originate from video games (Goku and James Bond) were never chosen since it requires the rights from all companies that own/use the I.P. (something that I’ve known for awhile). This was also an issue when Nintendo made the Jump Superstars series. Multiple companies outside of Japan have rights to many of the cast up to the point to where Nintendo decided to make it Japan only.

    If that translation didn’t come out sooner, I probably would’ve used my words more wisely on my first few comments. Some of them I actually mean it and some of them I don’t. But there is one thing that I would like to ask.

    On an unsourced My Video Game News article (found here: claimed that Sakurai addressed the issue on why Goku was never put in on a Nintendo Dream article. The claim says that they tried to put Goku in Melee and Brawl but couldn’t do so due to the limitation in the console’s processing power, but when they were planning on the roster for the recent game they dropped him in favor of Ridley (who we all know could not get in because it would require dismantling the character to make it look less like Ridley), and the dropped Ridley in favor of Dark Pit (who was not even planned to be a separate character to begin with). And then they say that he would rather see Broly in Smash than Goku. Since Nintendo Dream is primarily written in Japanese, I cannot tell which article it is or if there is one. Could you guys check it out to see if this article is a myth?

    1. That My Video Game News article sounds bogus. Solo characters never really had technical problems… as far as we know, only pairs like Diddy & Dixie in Brawl and Ice Climbers and transforming characters had problems on the 3DS. What would Goku do that would take up so much processing power in a game that could handle eight Ice Climbers?

      Also, Ridley was not dropped in favor of anyone.

      Dark Pit was not put in place of anyone: he was an extra character with no bearing on anyone else’s development.

      Finally, Broly getting in over Goku would be like saying “I’d like to see Aganihm in Smash over Link.”

      Just because it’s Japanese, that doesn’t make it fact. They’re just as capable of making up stuff as anyone else.

      1. That’s what I’m saying! It doesn’t make any sense! Sakurai said that no cartoon/comic-book characters are allowed during the Brawl era but yet we hear some story, that’s probably fake, about Goku being considered for the 4th Smash installment nearly two months after the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot was launched. We all know that Ridley was rejected as a playable character out of fear that Sakurai might or will make Ridley “Not Ridley”. And we all know that Dark Pit was added in as an extra topping on our ice cream shortly after the development team decided to separate him from the original Pit along with splitting a couple of other characters altogether, so it makes no sense on why Sakurai would pick one character that would most likely end up as a clone over another that could be a potential standalone character when clone characters are added when they have free development time.

        Then there’s the “processing issue” that we all know is ridiculous since there are many characters that can do what Goku can do (fly, shoot energy beams, etc.). And let’s not forget the Broly part, in which we all know that the development team would never consider adding a side character before the face of a franchise because then that would be misrepresenting it altogether.

        And then there’s the last part: The fact that it has no real evidence that Sakurai said that. They claim that it came from a Nintendo Dream article, but which one? And if there is one, are they being honest? It’s articles like these that try to stir people up on who they should vote for out of belief that the character could get in with the most amount of votes when they never asked Sakurai and the devs themselves on what the rules for voting are or even checked the website. It’s also Nintendo’s fault for not putting up a system of rules on the ballot so that you can be clearly aware that characters such as Shrek and Gabe Newell are not acceptable in the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot.

        Now that the pools closed, all we have to do is wait and see which 3, or more, lucky individuals will be selected as DLC and who will be creating drama over the internet. It doesn’t matter who gets in, for the rampant fanboys of the Smash community will always throw a hissy fit when they don’t have their favorite character in the game just like the the last installment. Although I have asked questions similar to these on an email to Nintendo and all they said was that they take “all characters” into consideration. But yet they never really considered the fact that people will be making joke ballots for characters such as Freddy Fazbear and Brittney Spears (I wonder how those two would work out for kids).

        FYI: I never voted for any of the characters being promoted by the Smash community, even though it was that Kotaku article that believes that if they put enough votes into the Ballot, than they will make Goku another DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros. that drew me in. I’m not against adding anime/manga characters into the game since it is being made by the Japanese and that the majority of the cast has an anime-like appearance, I just put a little faith into Sakurai’s decisions since most of them ended up being good decisions (Subspace Emissary was not one of those good decisions). I won’t reveal who I have voted for until they are done making DLC since that’s not how the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot works. I’m sorry if this sounds like a rant or like something you have already said, it’s just that I hate misleading articles, especially the ones with faulty evidence for “leaked” characters such as Shantae, Shovel Knight, and Prof. Layton.

  3. I’m not in the Translator-Team of SG, so I can’t give you any specific information or source regarding your question. But I think you just encountered a parody-website. Most of the articles there are supposed to be a joke instead of a serious news or translation. One of their articles also claim that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is going to be ported to mobile. I would be VERY surprised if this is a true fact. So don’t worry about this, it’s probably all made up to give you a laugh 😉

    1. They should’ve at least hinted me that it was satire like Game Informer does with their Game Infarcer article if it is one. If I knew that, then I wouldn’t have spent a good amount of time typing a rant in reply to another user about how I think that the article is insanely ridiculous and how the Smash community throws tantrums similar to what I just did several minutes ago.

      1. It happens. (^_^’) I jumped the gun on a couple of things too (like Layton’s voice actor saying something like “that’s what those extra pages were for!”, as in, lines for Smash.)

        Also, Smash by nature has passionate fans. Fighting games are very character-driven, but for Smash, it’s probably even more so because it’s full of favorite Nintendo (and 3rd-party) characters. Everyone has their preferences, people get upset when their expectations aren’t met, it’s just the nature of the beast.

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