This is an opinion piece. My opinion does not reflect PushDustin’s opinion or Sourgegaming as a whole. I fully expect some of you will disagree. Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments. Also, you can also hit me up on Twitter at @Spoogymonkey.
In my previous article, Return to Form, I discussed why the series should only included Nintendo characters, going forward. That said, a major concern of fans is that we’ve reached the ‘bottom of the barrel’ in terms of Nintendo characters. Fans have a glass-half empty outlook, and it may be why fans have expected more guest characters. However, I think now, more than ever, that there are still plenty of Nintendo characters left to ensure a large and diverse roster. I want to present some of these Nintendo fighters and show that the proverbial barrel is half-full.
Who Gets Included
In order to understand which characters could be added to Super Smash Bros., we need to review who can be included into Super Smash Bros. Thankfully, Sakurai has provided a guideline to what a character must have to be included. During a presentation at the 2008 Game Developers Conference, he presented the requirements a character needs to be in Super Smash Bros.
- The character must display personality in their game
- It’s important to have something only that character can do
- Potential development issues, and game balance is also taken intsome consideration
- Distribution among the franchises is also taken into consideration
Most characters would fit into these categories, but remember that is the bare minimum for character selection, and we are not sure how strictly Sakurai adheres to these rules. However, these rules, beyond else, demonstrate that to be added to Super Smash Bros. the character should stand-out and bring something to the game.
Overall, being unique is a major factor for Sakurai. In his 2008 presentation, Sakurai stated Sakurai discussed this further saying “we ensured that characters can be properly represented with a few words.” This is evident by the characters in Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS which are very unique, especially in comparison to those added in Super Smash Bros Brawl and Super Smash Bros Melee. In a Famitsu article discussing the new characters, he stated “To be blunt, if I think I can do it then I can envision a concrete embodiment of the character, but if I cannot do that the character cannot be made.” This is a big factor. Of course getting permission and understanding from the original creators is necessary, but whether the image of the character in my head is dancing powerfully, or not. This is of the utmost importance.” In truth, being unique is perhaps one of the most important factors. Although I can not elaborate on every single character, I will try to highlight the attributes they can bring to Super Smash Bros.
There is a lot to consider when choosing characters. In order to create a roster with a lot of diversity, many factors and characters must be considered. As such, the previous Smash Bros. games have included characters for very specific reasons. In some way, a lot of the characters can fit into some fairly broad categories. For instance, some characters are added because they are brand new while others are added for being retro. By having both kind of characters, the game will have more interesting roster.
Who Could Be Included
So the question remains: can a cast of Nintendo characters really provide for a unique roster? Some reading may think that it’s impossible, but the truth is that Nintendo still has a huge variety of characters. I’m going to present some of the potential characters for the next game. Keep in mind this list is not comprehensive and some of these characters probably won’t make it in. The point is to present just some of the characters who would be good fits for the series and show there are plenty of potential characters. Rather than doing a simple list, I want to provide examples for the types of characters that could be added into the game and discuss those characters in that context. Without further ado, here are some of the characters that could be in Super Smash Bros.
amiibo have been a success story for Nintendo and are a crucial part of Nintendo’s strategy of expanding their intellectual properties (IP). As Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima stated “As for other initiatives to use Nintendo IP actively, we launched a new product called amiibo – Nintendo characters that come in figure or card form that work with our video games.” As of September 30, 2015, Nintendo has shipped 21.1 million amiibo, and will likely continue to grow. amiibo has been one of Nintendo’s first initiatives to promote and highlight their own characters. amiibo are typically done for popular characters, but by having an amiibo, a character becomes more relevant and will appear in more games. To put it another way, the characters that are amiibos are in the public’s mind and are more recognizable than they once were. In some way, amiibo are both an honor and an opportunity for those characters, making them prime candidates for Super Smash Bros.
The characters who are made into amiibo are usually characters who are already popular, but Consider Toad, who was the first character not playable in Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS to receive an amiibo. The character was always popular and well received which made him a perfect fit for an amiibo. With more games having amiibo support, he is appearing in more games. Toad was playable in Mario Party 10 and Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, his first playable appearing in a Mario Tennis title since the original title on the Nintendo 64. Toad will likely continuing to appear in games as Nintendo finds more ways to use amiibos. And with so many apperences, it will not be too difficult to create moves and abilities for him. Toad can easily take from series like Mario Kart and Mario Party, both series that do not yet encapsulate a character. Another character is Midna, who is receiving an amiibo (specifically as part of the Wolf Link amiibo) alongside the release of Twilight Princess: HD. During the November 2015 Nintendo Direct, Reggie Fils-Aimé hinted that the amiibo would work with the upcoming Legend of Zelda for the Wii U. Will the amiibo signal other appearance for Midna or even Wolf Link? Only time can tell. While Midna was always a fan favorite character, an amiibo makes her more prominent and, like Toad, may guarantee her a spot in more titles. Moreover, there may be other amiibos for the Legend of Zelda, perhaps even a line similar to Super Mario, so perhaps other Legend of Zelda characters may get a chance to shine.
Additionally, Nintendo launched a line of Animal Crossing amiibo which includes Isabelle and other popular Animal Crossing characters. The recent focus with Animal Crossing has been on the animal characters. Since her debut in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Isabelle has become a mainstay character, perhaps even the face of the series. Furthermore, she could incorperate other characters or the villagers into her moveset. Also, she could use public works and ordinances into her moves as well. Other Animal Crossing characters, including Tom Nook, K.K. Slider and Mr. Resetti are also receiving amiibos. Animal Crossing has been a widely successful series, so having more characters is not outside the realm of possibilities.
Regardless, it doesn’t look like amiibo will end anytime soon. As more amiibo are made, more characters will be highlighted, improving their odds of being Super Smash Bros candidates. Nevertheless, Nintendo strategy of expanding their IPs will not be limited to just amiibo. In a letter to shareholders and investors, Mr. Kimishima states “we are now expanding how we leverage Nintendo IP in various ways beyond our traditional use of them predominantly within the dedicated video game platform business.” As Nintendo continues to promote their characters, the door will only open for more characters who would be perfect fits for Super Smash Bros.
Super Smash Bros. tends to take a lot from the games and content released since the previous game. amiibo are a new product and will likely be more fleshed out by the time the next title releases. In the same vein, there will be characters created between the release of Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS who could be added to the game. Characters like Wii Fit Trainer, Rosalina, Shulk and now Corrin are all new characters who were not around during the development of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Thus, it is not unreasonable that the newest Smash Bros. will follow this trend.
Chief among these characters are the Inklings from Splatoon. Nintendo’s newest IP has been quite successful; the game has already sold over 2 million copies and has sold over 1 million units in Japan alone. The game also has been well received with a Metacritic score of 81 and winning best multiplayer game and best shooting gate at the 2015 Video Game Awards. Moreover, the character can provide some unique gameplay opportunities by spraying the battlefield with ink. Another series released around the same time as Splatoon was Code Name S.T.E.A.M., developed by Intelligent Systems, the team behind Fire Emblem. Although the game was not as successful as Splatoon, its main character, Henry Fleming (based off the main character of the novel Red Badge of Courage) could add a lot to Smash. Beyond his macho, patriotic attitude, the steam mechanic of the game could be implemented giving him a unique meter system for his attacks. Like Corrin’s game, Fire Emblem Fates, Xenoblade Chronicles X has long since been released in Japan and arrived in the US in December of 2015. Elma (or Cross) from Xenoblade Chronicle X could also be implemented as a new character, perhaps switching between guns and blades and using a giant mech (called a skell) as a powerful Final Smash. All of these characters come from newer titles and could use the mechanics of those games to make some really well thought out characters.
Even in the short amount of time since the Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS’s release, there are plenty of new characters to draw of, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be more to come. Nintendo will likely continue to make new characters. It will be some time until the next Super Smash Bros. game releases, so there are plenty of opportunity for new characters to be introduced. For instance, there is the potential for a new Pokemon character to be added, as was done in both Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS. With the success of Splatoon, Nintendo may be open to trying to develop more new IPs, adding more characters and series into Super Smash Bros. This argument may seem like a bit of a cop-out; however, each Super Smash Bros. game takes from the previous generation. With this generation still ongoing, we’ll have to wait and see what Nintendo will come up with.
One of the major element of the Super Smash Bros. series is having old-school characters. From Mr. Game and Watch, to Duck Hunt, the Super Smash Bros. games have always tried to highlight old Nintendo content. In the last three Super Smash Bros. games, there have been two classic characters. One represents old hardware (ROB, Mr. Game and Watch, and Duck Hunt) and a classic character (Little Mac, Pit, and Ice Climbers). The next Super Smash Bros. will likely look to classic characters and content to bolster the roster.
Takamaru is a perfect candidate for a classic character. Interestingly, Sakurai discussed, during an interview, that Takamaru was considered for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS. But since the start of development for the newest Smash Bros. game, Takuramu’s game, Mysterious Muramasa Castle, was released in the US via the Nintendo eShop. Excitebike could also be added. Of course, he would be unique as he would ride on a motorcycle. Although there were issues adding him into Super Smash Bros. Melee, he shouldn’t be an impossibility in the next title. Sakurai has shown he can make almost any character work, and he would no doubt be able to make this classic Nintendo icon be able to duke it out as well.
Now that the character is available to a wider audience, he makes perfect sense for a new inclusion. Additionally, much as Mr. Game and Watch and ROB encapsulate Nintendo hardware, Sheriff, from the 1979 arcade game with the same name, could be added to represent Nintendo arcade games. His moves could include elements of his own game, but also represent other arcade games including Popeye, Arm Wrestling, Firebird, Sky Skipper and more. Alternatively, Donkey Kong Jr. could also be added and represent Donkey Kong 2, and maybe even elements of Donkey Kong 3. Source Gaming’s own Nantendo wrote an interesting article explaining how Donkey Kong Jr. could be a unique character, utilizing items and abilities from the classic Donkey Kong games. Interestingly, Nintendo even refiled a trademark for Donkey Kong Jr. A Sports characters, from Tennis, Golf, or Baseball, could be added to represent Nintendo’s sports games.
However, Super Smash Bros. isn’t only filled with the newest and oldest characters. Often, the game included current, relevant characters. During an interview, Sakurai stated “Industry trends around the time when development begins is a pretty big factor….So what’s popular around the time when I begin designing the game is important.” For example, Super Smash Bros. Wii U included characters like Little Mac, Villager and Palutena who appeared in games since Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Moreover, Super Smash Bros. Brawl included prominent characters like Meta-Knight, Diddy Kong, Wario and King Dedede.
The next Smash Bros. game will likely feature other long-time Nintendo characters. For instance, Dixie Kong, who appeared in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, could be a great addition to the roster, and Smash Bros. fans are eager to have another Donkey Kong character. Furthermore, Dixie Kong was planned to be included alongside Diddy Kong as a tag team in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Much like Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong could draw off the classic DK games with the ponytail twirl and perhaps even a bubblegum blaster from Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze. On the other hand, Peppy or Slippy of the Starfox team could join the battle as well. The Star Fox team has been iconic with “Do a Barrel Roll” Slippy’s usual mishaps. Its no surprise that Starfox Zero looks to try and recapture the glory of the older Star Fox games. Moreover, with Starfox Zero is set to release in the first half of 2016, and these characters could incorporate some of those elements from that game into an interesting moveset. According to Kotaku, Project Guard, originally shown off at E3, is tied to the Star Fox universe, and both Peppy or Slippy could incorporate elements from that game into an interesting moveset.
The characters above are the ones gamers and Nintendo enthusiast may think of first; however, there are plenty of other characters that are recognizable that could be included as well. Regardless, there are plenty of other characters that are relevant that fans may not think about. What about Paper Mario, who is now appearing in Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam and could easily play off the paper motif. Or what about Mallo, the star of the Pushmo series which has multiple games to draw from. Or even Bandanna Dee, who has been appearing in every major Kirby title since Kirby: Return to Dreamland and could be Super Smash Bros.’s first spear user. Additionally, the Zelda series has a plethora of characters. For instance, Impa, who has appeared in multiple Zelda titles, could use her giant sword and spear from Hyrule Warriors. Heck, what about the duel crossbow wielder Linkle, who was added to Hyrule Warriors Legends due to fan demand for the character.
Additionally, other characters may be trusted into the limelight with new games, much like Palutena was with Kid Icarus Uprising. For instance, Metroid Prime Producer Kensuke Tanabe, discussed having Sylux, a popular villain from Metroid Prime: Hunters, return in future Metroid titles. He stated “There’s still more I want to build around the story of Sylux and Samus. There’s something going on between them. I want to make a game that touches upon [it].” And other characters may get the same treatment as well. Only time will tell.
Lastly, there is the Smash Ballot. While Sakurai as already announced a winner with Bayonetta, the Japanese website indicated that the information would be used for future titles. So while many characters didn’t get in through the ballot as DLC, they may still be taken into account for the next Smash Bros. game. The most obvious example would be King K. Rool. The character has been very popular but has been neglected in recent years as the newer Donkey Kong titles opt to use a different villain rather than the Kremling. Another possible character is Ashley from the Warioware series. Although she may seem to be a side character, she is an extremely popular character, receiving a costume in Mario Maker and appearing several times as pins in Nintendo Badge Arcade.
Why Nintendo Characters
Now that I’ve given some examples of Nintendo characters that could be added, I wanted to explain why Nintendo should focus on these characters; why this whole idea even matters. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS added 12 new characters (not counting the Miis and those characters who were originally costumes). Of these 12, only 10 were new Nintendo characters. For comparison, Brawl added 14 new Nintendo characters. As the games continues, there will likely be fewer new characters added and more characters being cut. As Sakurai mentioned in the final presentation, there are 58 characters total. Super Smash Bros. has already exploded in terms of the number of characters. It will be harder to add some of the fringe characters. The characters I layed about above were not meant to be definitive, but examples of who could be added. There are some there, such as Inklings and Isabelle, who will almost certainly get in. But many won’t, and when trying to add third party characters, it gets more and more difficult to add a variety of characters. In the end, the developers can only focus on the biggest characters.
And I’m sure many fans are concerned if a Nintendo only Smash Bros. will even be successful. To answer this, let’s look at Heroes of the Storm. Blizzard created a MOBA game that features their characters from across three major series (soon to be four). Mind you, most of these series have fewer games than even minor Nintendo series, yet Blizzard has not struggled to include new and interesting characters. For instance, not to long ago, Blizzard added Lunara from the Warcraft series. Lunara is an interesting case as she is only briefly mentioned in the lore. But this didn’t stop Blizzard from including this characters, and from my experience, her being a lesser known character has not hurt her popularity. But this isn’t the only time Blizzard has been creative. Characters like Valla, Sgt. Hammer and Lt. Morales highlight ways that Blizzard is adding characters that are perhaps not the major stars of their series, but still represent those games and add an interesting playstyle. Despite relying entirely on Blizzard characters, the game has been a success. Heroes of the Storm, in addition to Hearthstone and Destiny, earned $1.25 billion in revenue and have 70 million players total. Heroes of the Storm is estimated to have at least 10 million players. In contrast, Super Smash Bros. does not have to go to the same lengths to find interesting and diverse roster. Considering this, Super Smash Bros. won’t suffer from only focusing on Nintendo content.
By trying to add lesser known characters, the designers can be more “entrepreneurial” with character selection. Rather than shying away from someone who may not be the shining star of the series, embrace a fighter who is a little bit different. Characters like King K. Rool and Peppy are interesting characters and will be familiar to fans of those series. With enough creativity, these characters could not only expand their own universe in Smash but be fun to play with. Another example is the Zelda series. Hyrule Warriors has shown that there are plenty of interesting and different Zelda characters. However, Super Smash Bros. has played it relatively safe only including characters that have been in numerous games. But, in the end, the diverse cast of characters in this series is ignored. According to the Video Game Sales Wiki, the Legend of Zelda series has sold over 75 million units, with most titles selling over a million units. As such, adding a character like Midna would not alienate fans.
Nevertheless, some will still say “But why not use a more popular character from outside Nintendo?” It is because Super Smash Bros. is a celebration of Nintendo. It embraces every nook and cranny of the company’s long history in video games. While, yes, some outside characters may be more well known, there is something that is lacking when all the characters are the stars of the industry. In fact, Sakurai himself has stated “Asking only for popular characters to appear in Smash…doesn’t get me excited” As I discussed in the Love for the Unknown, even when character are not known, they still become popular to Smash fans. By having these characters, Super Smash Bros with have a well rounded roster of characters (both well-known and some not-so well known) and focus on one of its primary strengths: celebrating Nintendo history.
In the midst of all the guest characters, fans neglect that truly Super Smash Bros is about celebrating Nintendo. From the trophies in Super Smash Bros Melee to the assist trophies and stickers in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the series has always tried to include numerous elements from Nintendo past. This is why Color Game 16 is an assist trophy. Super Smash Bros. can not represent Capcom, Namco Bandia or Sega that well. But the series can always celebrate Nintendo’s history. Many of the characters I presented above are major names within Nintendo series and the company’s history, so there is still plenty to draw from.
I hope I presented some adequate examples of characters that could work. Again, not every character mentioned above would be a perfect fit for Super Smash Bros. and there are some Nintendo characters I didn’t include. But the point was to quell the fear of a Nintendo focused game. While third-party characters may be more popular, there is still plenty of opportunities for focusing on Nintendo characters and Nintendo content. In the end, I hope I’ve shown that the barrel is indeed half-full.