Sakurai Famitsu Column Vol. 496: Three New Characters, As Diverse As Possible (DLC Fighters Cloud, Corrin, and Bayonetta)

3 new charas

Note: Do not repost the full translation. Please use the first two paragraphs and link to this translation. For additional information, please read this postThis translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect the opinions of Masahiro Sakurai.

For Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U, we’ve chosen to add three more fighters. Cloud, from Final Fantasy VII! Corrin, from Fire Emblem Fates (from now on, Fates)! And finally, Bayonetta from Bayonetta 2!

You can see specifics in the footage from the special presentation, so instead of going through those details here, I thought I would go into each fighter’s overall design here.


Having a representative from Final Fantasy is an amazing feat! And the character that was the overwhelming favorite among the cast of Final Fantasy was Cloud. Wielding his massive Buster Sword with ease in one hand, he has speed, reach, and power. If left unadjusted, he’d definitely be overpowered. After thinking about how I would approach this character, I decided his swordsmanship style would utilize the concept of “swinging through,” which is exemplified in his forward smash. This move has Cloud build up some power before swing three times at high speed. It maintains his speed and reach, but is balanced by having a window of vulnerability before the attack. And he’s fast, but his recovery is weak.

In addition, to add a system that is Final Fantasy VII-esque, we’ve implemented “Limit Breaks.” When the Limit Break gauge is full, you can unleash one extra powerful version of one of his special moves. The tides of battle can swing based on these Limit Breaks, so it’s a unique mechanic that both Cloud and his opponent will need to keep in mind.


After internal analysis, we decided that if we’re going to make DLC, we would choose a character from a soon-to-be-released new game. After consulting many times with Nintendo and looking at the upcoming release schedule, Fire Emblem Fates was in just the right spot. It’s already been released in Japan, but is yet to be released overseas, making it a prime candidate in terms of timing. I personally felt that having too many Fire Emblem characters was a problem, but after talking it over with the development staff and discussing logistics, I felt certain that I could make them a fun character.

Corrin has an ability called the “Dragon Fang,” an ability that lets them shapeshift into a dragon. Other than transforming their body into a dragon, they can transform parts of themselves, turning their arm into a spear, or into a beast’s fangs.

In Smash 4, Corrin has become a fighter with very long reach. Saying they’re similar to Dhalsim would be too much, but they can unleash smash attacks from an unreachable distance for other characters. Also, their side special move, where they can stab into the ground and pin themselves and/or their opponent there. This is a type of move that has never before appeared in Smash.


We were conducting a “Smash Ballot” where people could vote for their favorite characters. Worldwide, 1.8 million votes were counted, and of the fighters that were negotiable, as well as realizable in Smash, Bayonetta had the highest amount of votes!* Bayonetta 2 was also a Nintendo exclusive, so negotiations were very easy.

*TL note: In case “negotiably possible” isn’t clear, Sakurai uses the word “negotiation” here, so I take that to mean negotiations in a business sense. As for realizable, Sakurai has written about that before, in column 430.

But because her original series is so distinctive, I was very troubled, trying to think of ways to properly represent her. In the end, I made her a combo-heavy fighter that can start combos from various places. Because you need to think about how much knockback to deal if you want to begin a combo, she’s a fighter with a lot of depth.

She has many moves that show off her distinctive character, like Wicked Weaves, which uses her hair as a conduit to summon forth limbs of Infernal Demons, or Witch Time, where she must predict her opponent’s offense to counterattack, creating an opportunity by slowing time.

To tell the truth…Going through the ratings board for each country/region was extremely difficult. In particular, Japan’s rating board was very strict on Bayonetta’s sexy antics, and there were many times where I thought “You’re not even going to let this through?”

This batch of DLC fighters took more work than the fighters in the base game, and they all have their own especially unique characteristics and playstyles. Knowing this is the final update, I put in as much effort as I could, so please enjoy!

Image Caption: 

Smash Ballot

A website where people could vote for the characters they would like to see as playable fighters in Smash. Starting in April 2015 and ending in October of the same year, we collected approximately 1.8 million votes worldwide (after removing blatantly duplicated or repeated votes).


For Famitsu scans, please check out Japanese 3DSor follow Bri Bri on Twitter.

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    1. If I had to guess, Sakurai might have felt that Corrin would translate into a more unique character than Elma would.

      Plus, Fates would be more relevant than X would be by the time the DLC came out.

  1. The way Sakurai explains it, he must’ve really wanted to give Nintendo’s modern era its own chance in the spotlight. Maybe he felt like the newer games were being looked down on in regards to Smash, victims of nothing more than not having nostalgia behind them. Maybe he felt it was now or never, as Corrin and many others they considered wouldn’t be relevant when the next Smash game came around, as their series moved on to different games with different casts. Maybe it was as a counterpoint to Brawl, whose only “modern” newcomers were Lucario, Zero Suit Samus, Toon Link, and Olimar.

    Whatever the reason was, it seems he decided Corrin had the most potential. I wonder if we’ll ever know who he beat out?

    1. “Maybe it was as a counterpoint to Brawl, whose only “modern” newcomers were Lucario, Zero Suit Samus, Toon Link, and Olimar.”

      And Ike and Lucas.

    2. I’ll be going into this a lot in the next “Music” article, but I think this iteration of Smash in particular was about modern Nintendo, and where the company is going. When these games began development, they were in a weird place where they were struggling for an identity; to an extent this one feels like an answer to that. A character from an old game, even if they are popular, doesn’t really help that image of Nintendo as drowning in nostalgia. So it’s fitting that one of the last characters added in this game would have debuted after it came out, especially since it gets at the potential of DLC to add seemingly impossible characters (see also: Cloud).

      The idea that newer games are looked down on more definitely isn’t wrong, and I think there was a lot of feeling that some characters were more valuable simply for being older, even if they weren’t any more famous, but in our own poll the most popular characters by a giant margin were characters from the N64 onward (though admittedly that’s a super wide pool). At least to an extent, there is definitely an interest from fans in using more recent characters, though whether that’s because they have more distinct personalities or they’re fresher in people’s minds or their potential as fighters is potentially better I have no idea.

      Honestly, I think in the end Sakurai probably discounted a lot of newer characters for the same reason why Pikmin was the only character-based series to debut after the first Smash before Shulk and Bayonetta: he was unsure of how popular they would be after the fact. There aren’t new characters in Star Fox Zero or Zelda Wii U so far, someone like Qbby or a person from Codename S.T.E.A.M. is a little too minor, and Nintendo’s been kind of scanty in terms of releases this year. The only other choices that could realistically work were probably an Inkling (which maybe Sakurai didn’t feel he could adequately portray, at least not on 3DS?) and perhaps someone from Xenoblade X. And maybe Corrin’s dragon powers were more uniquely specific than Cross or Elma.

      1. I wonder if window of opportunity played another role here, in a different way? You could argue the likes of Captain Toad, Dixie Kong, and Sceptile could have been options, but could they have been passed on because they’re bound to show up in future titles while this was Corrin’s only chance due to how Fire Emblem moves on to different casts in almost every game?

  2. “After internal analysis, we decided that if we’re going to make DLC, we would choose a character from a soon-to-be-released new game. After consulting many times with Nintendo and looking at the upcoming release schedule, Fire Emblem Fates was in just the right spot” So, if Star Fox Zero was in February, we could’ve gotten Wolf? I can’t tell if this depresses or infuriates me.

    I’m still not happy at all with his choices.

    1. Wolf is from Star Fox 64, a nearly 20 year old game. For all we know, Wolf isn’t even that big a part of Star Fox Zero. Clearly, Sakurai and Nintendo were looking for new blood. The only characters Corrin could’ve taken a spot from were those who debuted in the past year or so.

      1. Well, it should be easy enough to see what other games could have been considered in the time frame.

        IIRC, it’s really just a toss up between Fire Emblem Fates, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and…Twilight Princess HD, I guess.

        Corrin certainly seems easier to integrate than Elma, and let’s face it, advertising a 3DS game is going to do more for Nintendo than a Wii U title.

  3. Cloud always looks like a logical choice in my eyes (just not really that popular between the Vocal Minoritys because he lack of Nintendo-Related Things). One of the best seller frachises in the whole world (In fact, only Mario, Pokémon, Sonic and some Western Franchises are above Final Fantasy), and Cloud is the Franchise’s Most Popular Character. I guess it’s was a logical choice. People could actually actively supported this character like with Megaman if FFVII arrive in a Nintendo Console in some way.

    About Corrin I don’t have to much to say that I’m not already say it

    With Bayonetta… I just want to see the results and which characters were considered “unrealizable”.

  4. So by getting rid of all the spam/ridiculous votes Bayonetta ended up on top out of the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot… I can accept that. I’m also happy that he took consideration into how it affects the game’s ratings before making his decision. If he is willing to risk increasing the ratings to appease his fans than this is one excuse that I am willing to accept. I did not vote for Bayonetta but like I said, I am willing to give her a shot (It could be possible that I didn’t want her in because I could have a hint of Venustrophobia. I had a slight fear for Palutena when she was introduced and I ended up making her my Sm4sh non-DLC main and ended up buying her amiibo before she was released in the States. It helped me get over the idea that Mewtwo would never make it until it was announced as DLC, but I’m getting off-topic.). This also proves to me that the ballot spammers got caught in the act, thus ruling out ballot rigging.

    Cloud, I can understand. He’s the most wanted FF character since the Brawl era.

    Corrin’s inclusion proves that Sakurai doesn’t call all the shots in Smash. While I don’t mind another Fire Emblem character, this actually proves to me that even his employees have a mind of their own. He is right, however. With the amount of development time, if he wanted to promote an upcoming release the character would have to come from Fire Emblem, Legend of Zelda, or Star Fox. No canon Zelda character shows enough memorabilia other than Impa (who hasn’t been shown in some of the Zelda titles that isn’t a spin-off) to be represented and No real character from Star Fox would be eligible enough to make it into Smash without being called a clone character. To be honest, I thought that if they were gonna put a character from Fire Emblem: Fates in it would be Azura, the game’s deuterogamist, but that would be like saying that Chrom deserves to be in Smash since he’s the deuterogamist of Fire Emblem: Awakening (although some claim that he’s the protagonist of the series, this is false).

    I hope that these characters would help build Smash into becoming better than before and that the new Super Smash Bros., if there would be a new one, would bring back all the cut characters and add some new ones as well.

    1. I’ll be doing an article on this soon but i think wolf’s inclusion is just bad luck. He had low priority for the base roster because there had been no new starfox game since command (barring the remake of 64) and when deciding on DLC Lucas was the fan choice over Wolf for brawl (much how Roy was the fan choice over Young Link and Pichu).

  5. You’d think that the ESRB would be the strict one concerning Bayonetta & not the CERO. I’m just amazed by how much Sakurai was able to get away with.

  6. Well, this explains a lot. But I do agree some lack brief explanations. Why others weren’t eligible? How ESRB/CERO was agreeable to Bayonetta’s inclusion? Why Cloud’s DLC lacks so many FFVII and Square-Enix related contents? Who else were in those Top 5 or 10 of certain regions? I think he should’ve explained those in the article, or maybe he will in some site or twitter, but I don’t know, he keeps things secretly too often.

    1. Well, the lack of FF content seems obvious to me, Square wanted more than Nintendo was willing to negotiate. There really is no other option there, besides “Sakurai didn’t feel like it,” or “he ran out of time,” neither of which would have likely been the case of Midgar having so few songs. There’s reason to believe from Square’s past that they’d make a big deal out of every little thing they gave Nintendo, even each song, so while people want an explanation for that, I feel it’s pretty self explanatory.

      Other than that, announcing the results of the entire top of the ballot, under most circumstances, would be like pulling the pin on a grenade that we’re begging him to do. I want it too, but unless that person above Bayonetta is, like, Goku, at least one fandom is going to be REALLY upset seeing those results. And that’s the best case scenario.

  7. After hearing Sakurai’s explanation for Corrin’s inclusion, I feel a little better about it hearing that he was conflicted to include him or not. I still don’t particularly agree with it, but it eases the blow. Also, it’s interesting how much he makes it sound like everyone else pushed for their inclusion as well.

    Other than that, it feels funny to come SO close to getting more Smash Ballot news, but still get virtually nothing. Nice to know how many people voted in it though. While I still think it’s a bad move on Nintendo’s part to disclose the characters, I still really hope they do~

    1. Oh, and it’s also worth mentioning that is IS very apparent that Sakurai had a vision for Corrin and how he would play, which is always very important to Sakurai, and that is something I will never get annoyed at him for.

  8. It’s immoral to complain about Mr. Sakurai’s massive and great work on this Smash Bros, he has really gone above and beyond. But personally, while Corrin looks really interesting and cool, I don’t think they should have went with him over bringing back Wolf or Snake… Even Ice Climbers as Wii U exclusive…

    Cloud and Bayo would have been more than enough to satisfy people who want all new fighters. The people who have been maining Wolf and Snake could have used one of the two…

    I really don’t like characters being cut for any reason… Especially if it’s to satisfy Fire Emblem fans who already have 5 other characters to choose from.

  9. I feel happy that Smash finally gets a character that is specifically about combos as a strength with weakness of high learning curve and longer start lags, and Bayonetta filled that role.

    Back when I joined the speculation period, several people including I believed that Corrin would be more of a dragon-based shape-shifter and Bayonetta being a combo character. I did not feel too surprised when watching the final presentation, but it does show that the designers behind Smash know a lot better than even the “smartest” speculators.

  10. Thanks for the work.
    Interesting stuff.
    So sounds like Cloud was chosen among FF options, so they specifically wanted an FF rep?
    And this confirms it, the only way Bayonetta was 1 is if we use a lot of undefined technical limitations.
    Corrin inclusion’s logic, terrible. Just bad. They got a ballot going on and they just decide to yolo it with a character from a new game, this was meant to be fan service and not cross promotion for upcoming games. And they saw how ridiculous it’d be to have yet another FE rep and they still went ahead with it, that’s just poor judgement.
    I’ll be real, everyone’s entitled to an opinion, and mine is that Sakurai shouldn’t be in charge anymore. PM , a fan mod, has more creative and more welcomed inclusions to the rooster, maybe Sakurai just lost his his drive or the creative well ran out but he ain’t got “it” anymore.

    1. -Corrin’s inclusion wasn’t based on the ballot.
      -Sakurai is in Charge, but he is not an all omnipotent “What i say is what is done” director. Read the article, Nintendo and his employees had a say on Corrin’s inclusion.
      -They gave you fan service. They negotiated the Ballot winner: Bayonetta to be included. The cross promotion Corrin brings is a bonus. If you wanted a “2nd place” character to make it in then stop. You don’t get to call the shots.
      -“PM” didn’t have time limitations the same way the Sm4sh base game or even the DLC had… if you want to get technical: people actually waited the sum of Brawl’s development + The Wii’s Hacking + Modding to build up + Development of PM. If anything, it takes longer to make a PM than it did to create Sm4sh.
      -Saying that PM had more “creative and welcomed inclusions” is unfair cause the only characters they added that Nintendo didn’t were Knuckles and Lyn, the latter of which is “Yet Another FE rep”. The hype behind Knuckles doesn’t compare to the hype behind Cloud so What gives?

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