Characters vs. Companies


Third Party characters are all the rage in Smash Bros. Currently, both of the known Smash DLC newcomers are not owned by Nintendo, and it’s a trend that I personally think is likely to continue.

Fan speculation with the latest, rather large nugget of information, is only going to broaden, as another one of the supposed fan-made rules has been shattered with the reveal of the newest character, Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII. Proving that a character does not have to have significant history with Nintendo to join the fight (even though the series that he hails from, does). This was in fact a misconception on the part of fans all along, as it was always based on what fans thought Sakurai said, and not what he actually did say.

There’s a term that this community throws around a lot, and has consequently evoked much disdain through overuse and often misuse, the term “deserved” or “deserving”. Today, I’m going to be talking about an idea that a significant portion of fans subscribe to. One in which these fans believe that a company (usually a big gaming company) “deserves” a playable character in Super Smash Bros.
First of all it’d be appropriate to look at the few examples we have. Let’s start by taking a quick refresher on exactly who we’ll be talking about.

Solid Snake
– Konami
Sonic – SEGA
Megaman – Capcom
Pac-Man – NAMCO
Ryu – Capcom
Cloud Strife – Square Enix

When the topic of Third Party characters is brought up, fans are often quick to bring up a company who has yet to receive playable representation in Smash Bros. Names frequently brought up are Ubisoft, Activision, Disney, Level 5 and Atlus. However, Sakurai’s method of selecting characters, and his guidelines on Third Party characters do not give credence this level of thinking. Third Party characters are treated as exceptional cases. These characters are not included in
Smash Bros. as a participation award, nor is it a reward for brand loyalty.

A popular candidate. Should Rayman be in Smash Bros because of his own legacy, or for the company that owns him? *Original Art by Smashified*

A common example of this argument is that; Capcom has two playable characters in Smash Bros. (Ryu and Megaman). So the other companies, NAMCO and SEGA also “deserve” additional characters to “be fair”. This is a mentality that completely overlooks the differences in the body of work that these companies have amassed over the years. Their values to the world of gaming, and the legacies that they respectfully left behind.

Capcom SEGA Namco
Resident Evil (66m) Sonic (335m)* Tekken (45m)
Street Fighter (36m) Puyo Puyo (16m) Pac-Man (43m)
Monster Hunter (33m) Ryu ga Gotoku (9m) Tales (14m)
Megaman (30m) Megami Tensei (7m) Soul (13m)

Approximate figures. If you want to be “fair”, Capcom actually has more notably successful franchises to draw from than the other companies.*
*Includes downloads*

In my opinion, the existence of two Capcom characters alone is proof enough that deciding characters based on the company they come from is not Sakurai’s approach. I can see this as coming from a desire for variety, and possibly for a desire of Smash to become a celebration of all gaming, beyond Nintendo. However, I think somewhere along the way the line has been blurred and it has caused priorities to shift in a rather thoughtless way.

Characters “deserve” their spot on Smash, not companies. I’d like to ask you, the readers, would you really want the Smash Bros. roster to be dictated by such a bizarre and constricting set of principles?

What do you think? Do you want to see characters included solely for the purpose of the company that owns them? Is it one of many factors you think should be taken into consideration? Sound off in the comments below!

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  1. Well, that’s pretty interesting. Kinda surprised by some of those figures. Aside from the whole Capcom having two reps thing, it does give credence to having another Sonic rep over any other Sega character I suppose, and explains why Sakurai considered putting Heihachi into the game before.

    I am somewhat curious though, how do these figures look for Konami and Sqaure? And Rayman, since he was brought up. I guess I could find them myself, but if you *happen* to have the data lying around, that would be appreciated~

    1. Not sure about Konami without researching it a bit more, but I know Square has Tomb Raider and Dragon’s Quest which are both pretty big. I may do something with their figures in a future article so stay tuned.

  2. I figure the reason people get so misinformed is because on the surface, it seems more about the company a character is from than the character themselves. It’s like how a lot of the fans get caught up in “reps” arguments and what a series “deserves” to have in Smash. They see Smash as a measuring stick of some kind, a way to show how important their favorite games are and how they compare to others, which leads to backlash when a series they care about is “under-represented” or one they’re indifferent to is “over-represented”.

    Characters aren’t actually decided that way, but through a combination of first impressions and bandwagoning, you end up with a significant part of the fanbase that assumes they are.

  3. Megaman came from Capcom Co., LTD. while Ryu came from Capcom U.S.A., Inc. It says it on the website itself. While it is considered that Capcom has 2 characters they hail from different chapters of the globe, so it can also be considered that they are treated as representatives from 2 different companies. I’m surprised that you didn’t put Capcom U.S.A., Inc on your disclaimer at the bottom of the webpage alongside the other corporate names.

    1. I was thinking about that point too when I was thinking about Cloud’s inclusion. It does make sense why Sega and Namco didn’t provide their secondary character to Smash, as if these two Capcom companies were treated differently.

    2. That argument is trivial anyway… they’re both part of the same parent company, even if they are TECHNICALLY two different ones. It’d be like saying Nintendo of Japan and Nintendo of America are two different companies… even if they technically are, they’re still both Nintendo… they just make operating decisions in their respective regions.

      The story behind that is, after Street Fighter III: Third Strike, Street Fighter was dormant. Capcom in Japan wasn’t doing anything with it, so Capcom USA asked for the rights for it. While Capcom USA technically owns it, they still had Capcom Co. develop SFIV. Here’s an interview with Christian Svensson talking about it:

      Smash got Mega Man and Ryu because they’re both iconic and interesting characters, it has nothing to do with Capcom itself.

      1. I know, I’m just saying that even though Capcom Co., LTD. owns Capcom U.S.A. they are still two companies. They even give credit to the American branch as soon as Ryu was introduced. I’m aware that Megaman and Ryu are iconic and interesting (in fact, I actually predicted that Megaman would be Capcom’s original representative as soon as I heard about Capcom and Bandai Namco helping out Sakurai in making Sm4sh). I’m just saying that even though the American branch is a subsidiary company to the Japanese branch it’s technically two different companies each with a representative of its’ own. I’m just speaking in theory here, but I still feel a tad bit upset about this website not giving credit to Capcom U.S.A. for Ryu’s inclusion like the official Sm4sh website did.

        1. The credit thing is just kind of splitting hairs, honestly.

          And it’s amusing, because when Snake and Sonic were announced for Brawl, I thought Mega Man would be the third third-party… obviously that didn’t happen back then, but it didn’t surprise me in Smash 4. I also thought Ryu would be perfect for Smash, but would never get in over Mega Man. Funny how all that worked out in the end…

  4. No one voted for Cloud. I am beyond pissed that he was included. I don’t care about third parties, this is a game that’s supposed to be for Nintendo characters. I bought this taking into account there wouldn’t be more stupid useless third party characters and now we have the traitor to Nintendo in Smash? This is absolutely garbage. I’m selling my copy next week and using the money to buy Fallout 4. Fuck Nintendo.

    1. As Sakurai has said before, Smash is used not just for Nintendo, but for all of gaming. Also, I’m not very accepting of Cloud’s inclusion, but he would case huge buzz and sales, so on a business perspective, it could show these companies the huge value Nintendo still has and rakes in. Monolith and Bandai Namco seem to have noticed.

      1. Do you have a quote where he actually said that? Even if you did, Sakurai still has bosses, and those bosses are Nintendo, not the gaming industry as a whole.

        And to OppaDogMenStyle, I don’t particularly like Cloud’s inclusion either, but that tone doesn’t make you sound very credible. Why does the middle ground on third parties seem so hard to find? Either people seem to want to take all of them out or they want to overstuff the roster with them. The base three were great, Ryu even grew on me, but I do think that Cloud is also going too far. Regardless, I can’t remove him, but I can not buy him (but I will if the FF VII remake is announced for the NX), or give in to the desire to have a (Mii-less) complete roster or something.

    2. I somehow feel sympathetic why Cloud was added (beloved FF character, several spin off appearances, will have relevance in his remake next year or so). TBH I am looking forward for nearly any additional Smash character. Sakurai would not add a “Dr. Dark Lucina” like “filler” char as DLC. At very least Ryu and Cloud seem to be really complex additions.
      Even through you are pissed I also understand you. I see it coming: Neither Dixie, K. Rool nor Banjo will be added to Smash 4`s roster, because of… reasons. K. Rool would make me super happy (for me the better Bowser, more personallity -> DK64 harr), Banjo would take second place on my list (because I prefer having a heavy char + bad guy + DK series char). Dixie might end up being a semi or quarter clone of Diddy. But as like in politics, I am only a single person without any power … I feel like I might end up getting dissapointed not seeing any of them getting added.
      However under no conditions I would sell my smash copies. I have 3 3ds and and bought so far EVERY DLC. Very expensive.

      BTW: Can ANYONE tell me if I can register more than one Nintendo Network ID under the same e-mail address, probably not…

      1. Smash without K. Rool BTW feels for me like … remove Luigi and Bowser Jr. from the roster. I think this comes rather close.

        Sry, english is obviously not my first language 😉

        And about Cloud: I am also sure the FF7 remake will appear on NX as well. Dragon quest 7, 8 and FF explorers seem to prove a pretty stable relationship between Square and Nintendo. Not as stable as the 3ds thanks through the many system updates through…

  5. Originally, I was of the mentality that it would be appopriate to have a representative of each individual company. With Ryu’s inclusion I thought “oh, I guess two then.” But overtime I grew less favorable of this idea… particularly when I contimplated a second Sega representative. Most of the other franchises owned by Sega have not been used in many years, or at least not as regularly as Sonic to be considered industry icons.

    I think the character should be added because of who the actual character is, how he / she resonates with people, and what franchise they would represent. With Cloud Strife’s inclusion I’m also more open to other possible fighters less closely associated with Nintendo now a’days, such as Simon Belmont or Banjo-Kazooie.

    I’m at a point where I couldn’t be more happy with the roster included in Smash as it is right now, while I also awknowledge that there is room to grow. The only character I’m hoping for is Splatoon’s Inkling, but I’ll be content with anyone else they decided to include in the future, be it as DLC for a future installment. Of course, this may change with time as Nintendo releases new games with new characters in the future; some of them may reasonate with the players more than others.

    1. Simon Belmont and Banjo-Kazooie actually have good reason to be in, unlike Cloud. They actually had significant appearances on Nintendo consoles.

  6. I do really agree with this article. The characters themselves do in fact deserve spots, not the companies. I feel like the Nintendo-loyal rule was sadly tossed out the window with the announcement of the first 3rd party character, Snake. But I think another rule that doesn’t matter as strongly as perceived the popularity of a character or company. Shulk being a great example, coming from a quite underground Wii title that really came to popular light thanks to Smash. This may also prove that company loyalty could play a role, as the upcoming Xenoblade Chronicles X at the time likely shifted Nintendo and Sakurai’s thoughts on developing a strong company relationship. So I guess at the same time there are points of this wrong, I still think that this is a very good article that brings up a quite popular rule in third party and overall character choices.

    1. Xenoblade was definitely popular prior to Smash and many fans wanted Shulk in Smash Bros. I have a feeling you aren’t familiar with Operation Rainfall back in the Wii days where Xenoblade was the most popular of the 3 games that fans were petitioning for localization in the West. I also get the feeling that you don’t know that Xenoblade is a Nintendo-owned franchise (Nintendo acquired Monolith Soft in 2007.)

      Don’t worry about it though, it is a common mistake.

    1. It’s possible, but RE characters generally use realistic guns, which is something not allowed in Smash to keep the rating low. If you look at the instances of Jill in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Chris in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, they use a lot of their in-game guns (and Jill has zombie / bio-weapon summons, which also would probably bring the rating up.) RE5 Jill and Wesker in MvC3 both fight unarmed, but I couldn’t see them getting in over Jill, Chris, or Leon.

      Heihachi WAS considered instead of Pac-Man, but apparently they couldn’t get his moves to translate into Smash. Unfortunately, as long as Ryu is in the picture, I don’t think we’ll see any Tekken or Virtua Fighter characters in Smash. If you think about the nature of 2D vs. 3D fighting games, 2D fighting games have flashy special moves that translate well into Smash, while 3D fighting games are more about attack strings and combos, which is more difficult to replicate in Smash. Plus, Ryu throwing fireballs, having the focus attack, multiple Super Moves as his Final Smashes, being able to use classic inputs… all of these things make him a more interesting fighter than Heihachi from a purely gameplay sense.

      1. Resident Evil is definitely iconic for Video Games, especially the Horror Genre.

        Also wasn’t Heihachi considered only if they couldn’t use the classic Pac-Land/Pac-World design of Pac-Man?

        1. From what I can tell, Heihachi’s consideration was independent of Pac-Man… check out the Sakurai / Interview comments at the bottom of this translation:

          From what I gather of Soma’s translation, Pac-Man was Namco-Bandai’s strongest candidate… many others were considered (including Heihachi mentioned specifically), but if Sakurai couldn’t use Pac-Man’s classic design, Namco-Bandai probably would’ve just gotten nobody.

          Of course, I could be interpreting it wrong, but if Pac-Man was dropped, Sakurai still cited difficulty in implementing Heihachi properly.

  7. But that still leaves the fact that every single third party in Smash hails from a company who has worked with Nintendo rather closely in the last few years. Capcom has the mainline Monster Hunter games, Namco helped make Smash 4 as well as a number of other Wii U games this gen, Sega has those exclusive Sonic games as well as the Olympic crossovers with Mario & Sonic (among other things), & Square-Enix has Bravely Default as well as a number of other RPGs on the 3DS. By this logic, Atlus & Level-5 are also ripe for representation in Smash 4, but the question is if they have characters on the level of Sonic, Mega Man, Pac-Man, Ryu, & Cloud.

    1. Atlus’ main franchise is Persona series and Shin-Megami Tensei series, but as I haven’t played those games before due to my personal reasons (which I blame the manga version of Devil Children), I can’t seem to find anybody iconic from those games. The only character I could think of is Atlus’ mascot character, Jack Frost. Although I don’t know how he’s popular and iconic at the same time, he’s been in every Atlus games which including the two franchises above. As we already know Ice Climber’s are not gonna return to Smash 4 because of their technical errors, Jack Frost may be a good replacement for being an ice-powered fighter.

      Level-5 is the complicated one that seems to be changing their main franchise a lot once their popularity died out. I somehow remember Level-5 president Hino said that he’s aware that popularity never lasts long, and will move on to the next project without making sequels for those games whose popularity is dead. Professor Layton was popular back in the Brawl era, but his series had stopped as his popularity lowered down. Inazuma Eleven was the next popular series which affected children, but that died out too. Yo-kai Watch is now today’s most popular and iconic series in Japan and possibly in the West, which this series has become a social phenomenon in Japanese society, and became a greatest competition against the Pokemon series. Jibanyan, who’s the mascot of that series, may be a best candidate to Smash, which fans may have a good imagination that they’ll see Jibanyan and Pikachu fighting each other for the first time.

      It’s odd why nobody brought up Koei-Tecmo in this article. That company did helped Nintendo a lot, such as bringing Fatal Frame series to their franchises, creating crossover games like Pokemon Conquest, and making Hyrule Warriors as Nintendo’s first Musou game. I wouldn’t think they’ll bring any DoA character due to their mature contents and reflecting with the exclusion of Heihachi, and of course they can’t bring anybody from Dynasty/Samurai Warriors due to the characters are based from real-life warlords from Japanese history. Then the only character we can think of is Ninja Gaiden’s Ryu Hayabusa, as spoken in the previous articles, but that too is another complicated one if he’s iconic and popular at the same time. But although I’d welcome anybody, I’ll laugh if anybody from Fatal Frame makes it in.

  8. I think I’m one of those guys who’s being a fool upon stranding with rules that’s not been true to Smash; such “that character must have relationship with Nintendo”, “Sega and Namco needs 2nd character to balance with Capcom”, “Mii Fighter costumes means that character won’t become DLC”…that last one is suspicious, but I do like to apologize for me becoming such a fool to misleading the false info, as much I do agree with this article.

    However, there was one point I was wondering about the Capcom reps. Just like what Bob commented above, there are two Capcom companies listed in Smash 4. One is Capcom Co., LTD, and another is CAPCOM, USA. CAPCOM USA was added after Ryu was included as DLC, and since they use this company name in every games that Street Fighter characters are involved, would this mean this type of Capcom is different from the actual Capcom company? In other words, Mega Man and Ryu are from the same Capcom, but came from the different department? If so, it does make sense that Ryu is another Capcom rep, but from a different company than Mega Man’s. It also makes sense why Sega and Namco didn’t provide a secondary character to Smash…which we still don’t know that yet.

    But indeed, Smash is no longer a Nintendo characters only game, as being a crossover battle of all video games, and a celebration of video games for all gamers. Smash is a game with possibilities and imaginations, and having any third party characters can have possibilities to join as they support Smash too. I think this game was for the former president Iwata too as he refer himself as a gamer than a president of Nintendo back in his present days. If people still believed that this game is for Nintendo characters only, then there wouldn’t be Smash 4, and even the previous Brawl in the first place since they added third parties in there. Even chosen characters aren’t meant to join as advertisements or promotion, they’re here to show what possibilities they can have to make Smash a greatest character game ever. Overall, you may hate Nintendo if they’ve committed a scandal, but you can’t hate Nintendo for who they’ve chose for Smash; it’d be ridiculous and pathetic for hating Nintendo for that reason.

    Now after Cloud’s inclusion, it wouldn’t be too surprising which third party character will join Smash in the future. I don’t know if there’s gonna be another one for this DLC other than Cloud, but we could expect another if there’s one. But other than third parties, I’m also hoping to see another new Nintendo rep. Splatoon’s Inkling, Kirby’s Waddle Dee, Kid Icarus’ Medusa, Zelda’s Impa, Star Fox’s Krystal, anything will be happy to see; but even if none of them entered the final DLC slots, I’m still gonna be happy to see how perfect the final roster has become, and still hope for those characters for the next Smash.

    1. People treat the rules like that are black & white instead of merely being patterns that increase/or decrease the probabilities of characters. Little is “written in stone” in terms of Smash Bros.

  9. I completely agree with this article. All the third-party characters currently in Smash (plus Snake) are incredibly iconic and, more importantly, add something interesting to the gameplay. Sakurai mentioned that one of the requirements for Smash characters is that they can do something nobody else in the game can.

    Cloud’s Limit Break is going to be a pretty obvious mechanic in Smash… in FF7, the Limit Break gauge filled when a character took damage, and when it was full, the character could unleash a powerful attack. The trailer already showed that Cloud’s specials can be powered up (one of the best examples was the part where the two Clouds were trying to recover simultaneously, and one went obviously higher), so perhaps the Limit Break gauge fills like Little Mac’s KO bar and allows for a powered-up version of a special attack.

    I’m also going to be frank and say that anybody who is whining about Cloud’s inclusion needs to grow up and move past these unofficial fan “rules” and the idea that certain characters “deserve” to be in Smash. I don’t know if anybody’s noticed, but Source Gaming has been posting articles ABOUT THESE SPECIFIC SUBJECTS lately. They’re trying to make the Smash community realize that their ideas for who gets in Smash is governed by some imaginary political rules is incorrect. Sakurai chooses characters FIRST AND FOREMOST based on what they can add to the gameplay. Who “deserves” to be in Smash is based on this principal, NOT relationships to Nintendo past and present and NOT fulfilling a character representation quota.

    If ANYONE has a problem with Cloud, just DON’T DOWNLOAD HIM. He’s here, nobody can go back in time, hold Sakurai at gunpoint, and tell him to make another character besides Cloud. Die-hard loyalty to a company is one thing, but when it flaws logic, you’re taking it too far. Ask yourself, if you replaced Cloud with another character, would they really add anything to the gameplay? Can K. Rool, Dixie Kong, Krystal, Bandana Dee, Rayman, or anyone else you can think of do things other characters can’t? Would they play like a character similar to one in Smash already? Fans really need to think twice before throwing out arguments of who “deserves” to be in Smash.

    1. Thanks! Though I think that at least some of those characters that you listed have something to offer Smash in terms of uniqueness.

      1. I agree that some of the characters potentially COULD add something unique… I was just listing most of the popular choices. I can’t see it myself personally, but that may be because I’m somewhat unfamiliar with said characters (I know who they are and generally what they can do, but I’d probably have to dig deeper to really get an idea.)

        I have a feeling people are saying that Cloud looks generic or boring to play as (one of my friends who is somewhat unfamiliar with FF7 said he looks generic), which I why I mentioned some of the gameplay stuff in my comment. The fact is, Cloud has something to offer Smash, he’s generated a lot of buzz after a news drought (even negative comments… as they say, “no news is bad news”), he’s well-known and iconic, he’s going to sell a lot of DLC. Ryu was the first DLC character to follow these standards, and Cloud is showing the trend is continuing. I’m not sure who else we could possibly get that would be able to follow suit besides Snake’s return and the inclusion of Inkling (not to say there ISN’T anyone, I just don’t know who ATM.)

        1. As a fan of some of those characters, I can put aside my bias and still realize that some of those characters have a lot to offer Smash in terms of unique potential.

          I think people need to remember that 3rd Parties will get people talking far more than 1st Parties. Nintendo still has some crackers left to add, but none of them measure up to the likes of Ryu or Cloud. DLC is intended to sell, and to create a buzz. 3rd Parties accomplish that better than any of the remaining Nintendo characters would. Nintendo’s biggest characters are pretty much all in the game already.

    2. If they are that loyal to Nintendo, they should respect Nintendo’s decision to cooperate with the other companies. They have worked with all of the companies named in the credits before, including Square Enix.

    3. I think it is silly when you step back at it-
      If Cloud Strife, Mr. RPG and Melodrama himself, is in Smash Brothers and that is our biggest gripe then we have it really good.

      It is better than Smash missing important characters or having obscure, new, or redesigned characters in for marketing sake.
      I mean it is Cloud Strife! It is like Smash fans want to be upset. I am sure he will grow on everyone eventually.

      1. I saw tons of people gripe about Ryu too when he was first announced… pretty sure he’s grown on a lot of people as well. I think a lot of Smash fans just get upset when their favorite doesn’t make it in… or perhaps it’s just human-internet nature to complain about things for lack of anything better to do. 😛

    4. “I’m also going to be frank and say that anybody who is whining about Cloud’s inclusion needs to grow up”

      It’s funny how everyone who doesn’t agree with something is always wrong…

  10. I’ve thought about Cloud’s inclusion and I could really find no other reason for his inclusion except for his sheer popularity and iconicness.

    I don’t subscribe to the mindset that a company should get a character – that fan rule was broken after Ryu was revealed. It seems to simply be “will this character prove to be popular?”

    I’ll admit that I believed that it was necessary for a character to have a history with Nintendo, but I wrong about that. Sheer popularity is more important than fitting into patterns, after all.

  11. You know, since Cloud is playable in order to celebrate RPGs, I think the next 3rd party newcomer needs to be Reimu from Touhou Project, so Nintendo could celebrate japanese indies AND danmaku shooters at once as a big part of gaming history.
    Because yes, Touhou Project IS significant to gaming history.
    Significant enough to not only finally get official overseas releases, but now also getting games on, get this, CONSOLES!

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