Smash 4 DLC: The Case for Ryu Hayabusa

Case for Ryu Hayabusa alt

All of the third party characters that have appeared in the Super Smash Bros. series up until this point have a few things in common. One of the most prevalent is that they all represent large Japanese developers that have a long history with Nintendo. There are very few Japanese companies that can compare with SEGA, Namco, Capcom, and Konami in regards to size, history, and prestige, but Tecmo-Koei certainly comes close. Of all the characters in Tecmo-Koei’s stable of IPs, one stands head and shoulders above the other, the ‘the ultimate ninja,’ Ryu Hayabusa

The ultimate ninja

Character Background: The heir to the dragon lineage and inheritor of the mystic Dragon Sword, Ryu Hayabusa is the most feared and accomplished ninja of his generation. With a powerful mix of ninpo magic, amazing agility, and a mastery of most forms of armed combat, no target, be they ninja, demon, robot, or any combination of the three, is safe from his blade.

Ryu Hayabusa headlines two different series, that being Ninja Gaiden and DOA. Ninja Gaiden debuted almost simultaneously on both the NES/Famicom and in arcades in October of 1988. The NES game included over 20 minutes of cinematic cutscenes, a first for the system. Ninja Gaiden was, in fact, a pioneer of storytelling by cutscenes in video games.

Since then, the franchise has had over a dozen games release on a wide variety of systems, including Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge on the Wii U and Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword on the DS. The series had a revival on the Xbox in 2004, being reborn as one of the most notoriously difficult and well received hack and slash games of it’s day. This carried on the tradition of the 2D platformers, which were also renown for their “break your controller” levels of difficulty. The games don’t have much else in common, except for being high quality action games.

For its part, DOA is one of the longest running 3D fighters, and Hayabusa has been one of the premiere fighters since it’s inception in 1996. The game takes place years after the main games in the Ninja Gaiden series, and Ryu only joins in order to investigate some nefarious goings on, but he still managed to win the second tournament.

Reasons for inclusion: Tecmo-Koei and Sqaure-Enix are probably the two most likely Japanese devs to see a character added to Smash in the future. Tecmo-Koei in particular has a strong relationship with Nintendo at the moment. The company developed two games based on the Zelda franchise, Hyrule Warriors and Hyrule Warriors Legends, for Nintendo hardware. The Zelda franchise is (CDI games notwithstanding) not something Nintendo lends out lightly. The only other time the franchise has been outsourced was to Capcom, a company that already has two characters in Smash Bros. Team Ninja, the development team directly responsible for both DOA and Ninja Gaiden, also had a hand in the development of Metroid: Other M. Don’t worry though, as they had nothing to do with the story.

Ryu fighting on Pyrosphere, with Ridley as a stage hazard. He’s halfway there! (From Dead or Alive: Dimensions for the 3DS)

Ryu himself has a long history on Nintendo hardware. He debuted on the NES the same year that he debuted in the arcades, and the games in the original NES trilogy are often regarded as some of the best on the system. While classic Ryu is the version that is most readily recognized with Nintendo, the newer 3D incarnation has had a few noteworthy games for the big N as well. Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, was built from the ground up for the DS and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge was funded by Nintendo (much like Bayonetta 2 was) for the Wii U. Over all, seven games were released in the Ninja Gaiden series on Nintendo Hardware since 1988.

The games are critical darlings and consistent million sellers. Ninja Gaiden Black, the definitive version of the Xbox franchise reboot, sold over 1.5 million copies and is the fourth highest ratest Xbox game on Metacritic , while the original series did well enough to spawn two sequels on the NES and a collection on the SNES. Ryu has also crossed over into other media on several occasions, most notably a 1991 OVA and a novelization of the first game as part of Nintendo’s World of Power series of books.

An anime about a ninja? What will they think of next!

Reasons for exclusion: While the early Ninja Gaiden games are heavily associated with Nintendo, the newer entries (post 2004) have stronger ties to the Xbox brand. This isn’t to say that the “new” Ryu doesn’t have some Nintendo ties (Dragon Sword is a Nintendo exclusive, after all) but it is much more tenuous. Additionally, the classic series, although iconic and successful, does not evoke quite the same legacy as the other third party characters currently in the game.

Yeah, this isn’t an E for Everyone sort of game

The modern games are also quite violent. This is a game series that is heavy on gore, as Ryu is a ninja that is not afraid to eviscerate his foes. It was such a huge part of the series, infact, that the lack of dismemberment in the third installment resulted in quite a bit of controversy. This fact might make it difficult to properly represent the character, although it should be noted that this would be less of an issue if he drew inspiration primarily from the NES games.

What is Smash Bros. without music? Here are a few tracks you can look forward to if Ryu Hayabusa makes it in.

Share this!


  1. I’ve had him in the back of my mind for a while, but I keep wondering “what would this guy’s weaknesses be”? He’d clearly be fast, and you can’t really justify him being weak. His realistic, muscular humanoid build precludes him from being too light. Even if he were tough to control, that would be a non-issue once players get good enough with him. Plus he has projectiles and disjointed hitboxes. Damn ninjas get everything!

    1. I don’t know, perhaps a subpar vertical recovery? Maybe a lot of end lag on his moves? Both of those sound a little off seeing as he comes from a combo heavy game and is super agile.

  2. I can see Ryu Hayabusa entering Smash Bros. at some later date as an excellent Tecmo-Koei representative. Much like Mega Man and Ryu, I can see Hayabusa being based on his NES days. Hey, if Solid Snake can be put in Brawl I don’t see why Hayabusa can’t be toned down for a future Smash Bros. installment.

  3. When I was thinking about a potential Tecmo-Koei rep, my first thought was Ryu Hayabusa. But then I thought of someone that might be just as interesting…

    Nobunaga Oda.

    He’s been around since the NES days, was featured in Nobunaga’s Ambition, Samurai Warriors, Warriors Orochi, and Pokemon Conquest (all of which appeared on Nintendo systems.) He was technically also in the first Dynasty Warriors. Even though he’s a historical figure, Koei kind of made him his own distinct character, and his portrayal is pretty consistent throughout all of his appearances (unlike some Romance of the Three Kingdoms characters between the game of the same name and Dynasty Warriors.)

    Even though Tecmo and Koei are the same company now, both have had a pretty substantial legacy. Ryu Hayabusa would be the best choice to represent the Tecmo side, and Nobunaga for Koei, so it’s a bit of a toss-up depending on which side would be favored more.

    Also, Spazzy… shame on you for not mentioning Level 5. 🙁 I know they don’t have the legacy that Tecmo, Koei, or Square-Enix have, but they have a good relationship with Nintendo and they’re one of the top Japanese developers.

    1. I never played most of those games (I only played Pokemon Conquest), but I know that Nobunaga will never be considered for Smash mostly because Nobunaga Oda is a historical figure… an “in-real-life” person, so to speak. Nintendo had this issue when they considered James Bond to be a character. Cero may have had something to do with the idea of avoiding the portrayal of anybody that’s in-real-life, which is why Rare ditched the use of all of James Bond’s actors in Goldeneye. Atlus also had this problem when they portarayed Hitler in one of their Shin Megami Tensei games, which ended with a remake that involves putting glasses on him and renaming him to Fuhrer. As for Oda, he is a historical figure from the Sengoku Jidai, an era where all the daimyo in Japan fought for power which ended with the death of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the rise of the Tokugawa clan as the ruling clan under the rule of Tokugawa Ieyasu by the 17th century.

      A wikipedia page is all that I can provide for it but there are other sources that I’m just too lazy to look for:

      As for Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Dynasty Warriors), Bladestorm, Samurai Warriors, etc. they are either based off a book or a historical event, so no characters from those series will likely never appear in Super Smash Bros. I have doubts that most of the characters from Koei’s side would even make it to Smash due to their habits of making games out of historical events. As for Tecmo… I’m not really sure on who they can put on the platter. I don’t really know these companys’ that well other than the fact that they made Dead or Alive, Monster Rancher, and a few other games that most people probably don’t know about. The only other character that I can think about is Kasumi from Dead or Alive, but almost every woman in the series is akin to Rumble Roses. I honestly think that Ryu Hayabusa is so far the best canditate to represent Tecmo Koei (didn’t vote for this guy), but there could be others that could be a better choice of representation.

      1. I’m aware of the historical presence in Koei’s games… I even said in my post “even though he’s a historical figure.”

        However, I’m pretty sure the James Bond in Smash issue was more along the lines of copyright; the Goldeneye wiki says the same thing about the “all Bonds” (likely not having Connery, Moore, and Dalton’s likenesses.) Another thing about Goldeneye is that the actual actors are portrayed for the characters anyway, even if their names are not their real ones. Also, Hitler appeared in the Japanese Famicom version of Bionic Commando (called “Top Secret” there), but that may have been before any CERO interference.

        I know Nobunaga would’ve been a bit of a stretch, but if we’re talking representation of Nintendo’s / Koei’s relationship, Nobunaga would probably be the most fitting option. Most of Koei’s original IPs, like Toukiden and Crimson Sea, never appeared on Nintendo systems.

        Obviously, if we’re talking Koei-Tecmo, Ryu Hayabusa is the more likely choice.

  4. Ryu Hayabusa is actually one of my predicted 3rd party characters alongside with Sega’s Arle and Namco’s Klonoa, and I do agree with some parts of your article. Ninja Gaiden, before remaking it to XBOX, did truly had a strong relationship with Nintendo during the NES/Famicon era, which this game was known to be the extremely hardest game ever existed for NES, alongside with Ghouls N Ghosts, Gimmick!, etc. His ninpo abilities (just to mention it’s not magic) like fire wheels and lightning bolts, and ninja weapons like those Shadow Blade like Shurikens can be perfect for being part of Smash’s move sets. But I also do agree with his exclusion, that his game is mainly violent with full of blood and gore, and his games today are more mentioned as an XBOX franchise, as the same with DoA series. However, that was the same with Snake back in Brawl; excluding the effort of Kojima begging Nintendo to bring Snake in Brawl, MGS series were more mentioned as a Playstation franchise, as they had less MGS games released for Nintendo in the past. But even though, Snake was able to enter Smash for the first time, even he’s mentioned as a Playstation character. I’m not saying Tecmo should do the same thing like Kojima did because I wouldn’t think Nintendo would cooperate for something to be begged for, but as Sakurai’s focusing on certain games that had strong historical relationship with Nintendo and had more than one sequels of their series, then there may be possibilities for Ryu to join Smash. My another objection is, I don’t know if Nintendo would add in another 3rd party company to Smash since Capcom, Sega, and Bandai Namco seems to be the limited companies, but since Tecmo brought the Fatal Frame characters to Smash as trophies, then maybe they’ll do something for Ryu too. But rather using his modern design, I think its best to use his classical design which fits perfect as he had relationship with Nintendo in the past. Possibility for Ryu may be there, but he ended up not being in Smash, maybe we could expect him for Smash 5.

    That’s pretty much on Tecmo’s side, but I wouldn’t think they’ll bring anything for the Koei’s side. Koei is mostly focused on games using characters from real-life historical warriors, mainly the Sangokushi warlords (Dynasty Warriors) and Sengoku warlords (Samurai Warriors). I don’t know if Sakurai said anything about this, but I wouldn’t think he’ll ever use characters that actually existed in real-life. Although their character description are meant to be fiction, they still existed in history, so I wouldn’t think any of Koei’s characters have a possibility to join Smash.

    Level 5 maybe the best company to team up with Nintendo, but eventually, I wouldn’t think they’ll cooperate on bringing somebody from Level 5 to Smash. People do vote for Professor Layton, but he’s no longer the face of Level 5 but Jibanyan from Youkai Watch. Not just only Youkai Watch haven’t been released in the west yet, but they’re popularity in the west is very complicated as many are comparing with Pokemon, which is terrifically different. I also don’t fine anything unique about their abilities since they terribly lack move sets, so I wouldn’t think Level 5 will have a possibility to join Smash.

    Oh yeah, one more reminder…Yacht Club confirmed that Shovel Knight’s NOT gonna be in Smash.

Leave a comment below!