From the very start with one of the project proposals, Sakurai was very ambitious with Smash for 3DS/ Wii U. One of the original goals was to include four custom moves per special for every character. In the final release of the game, the development team nearly met their goal with three custom moves per move per character. Generally speaking, the custom moves tend to follow the a pattern: quick/ small, normal and big/slow.
After the game’s release, a popular Smash YouTuber, RED uploaded a video featuring unused customs. Today, I would like to explain my thoughts on his video, and exactly how far four customs might have gotten. Of course, this is 100% speculation and NOT confirmed information. Please be advised that I might be very wrong about this. If you see any holes in this post please sound off in the comments.
(Part 1 of the video for reference)
One thing that struck me as peculiar was how RED’s video showed Mario using an “ice” fireball (based on the sound), instead of the double fireball found in the original proposal. Things could always change in development, but I decided to investigate this more. I looked at Dantarion’s amazingly useful Master Core tool. The dumps from the 3DS version are incredibly helpful for not just curious people like me, but people who want to compare changes (especially balancing changes). So go check it out, and follow Dantarion on Twitter.
Anyway, moves seem to be stored within the character itself: ex: Mario’s moveset is in Mario. External pieces to the moves i.e; the fireball or the pump are stored in separate files; ex: Mario_HugeFlame for Mario’s third custom. Following me?
Well, looking through Mario’s moveset, we can see his neutral special (his fireball) is located in 211-213 (use the drop down menu), one for each custom variant. However, if we look at 214, we can see that it’s currently unnamed…possibly unused. 215-217 is Mario’s neutral special in air, but again there’s another one that is unused (218).
Comparing the contents of 214 to 211-213 and 218 to 215-217 reveals that more than likely this is evidence of some work being done on the fourth custom, and the same can be said for the rest of Mario’s specials.
I glanced through the rest of them and noticed a similar pattern existing in Luigi, Dr. Mario and Donkey Kong. Dr. Mario has this as he was probably made using Mario’s files, as Sakurai has suggested. Luigi and Donkey Kong might be because they are original members of Smash. Luigi could have been originally based on Mario (as he is a semi-clone), but since his specials are very different from Mario’s I don’t think it was the only reason he potentially had work done on the ‘4th custom’. No other data seems to exist for other characters.
As for “why Mario?” it’s because he’s one of the first characters that is developed in Smash; something that Sakurai has confirmed.
It’s difficult to decipher what exactly these variants hold, if any significant data is actually present. Again, let me know in the comments if I missed something.
What does this tell us? Well, the 4th customs did not get very far. The idea was possibly scrapped in the early stages of development.
As for RED’s video…I believe it’s more likely that he is actually utilizing a glitch. This would explain why other characters have a “4th custom” — despite seemingly not having data for them. I believe that it’s similar (in spirit) to the somewhat infamous “Mewtwo Custom Moves” glitch. Of course, Mewtwo and the other DLC characters DO NOT have custom moves (If you look in Mewtwo’s Bindball data, you will see only one variant is apparently present). As far as I can tell, this glitch occurs when trying to load a move’s properties on top of a different one. For example: telling the game to load Kirby’s Hammer special when using Wario’s Bike special input.
(Video for reference)
In summary, 4th customs probably didn’t get that far into development and what we thought we knew about 4th customs might actually be the result of glitches.