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Q: I know that you can’t talk too much about the characters that will be in the next game, but for previous Smash Bros. games, have there ever been characters that you wanted to include but couldn’t figure out a good mechanic for them, like a way to fit them into the game?
Sakurai: Yeah, there’s been a lot of instances like that. For example, there are places where we planned to have a character but then implementing that character just didn’t work out. Or we wanted to implement some character but there was too much overlap with other characters from the same title, and it didn’t work out. Or there’s places when I wanted to implement some character, but the image for how it works in the game just never comes to fruition.
Seeing your favorite characters battle it out is probably the highlight of any Super Smash Bros. game. Character selection is a closely guarded secret by the series director, Masahiro Sakurai, but over the years he has released some information on his decision-making process. This page will outline all of the characters we know of that did not join the fight in each iteration. Each character has a quote from Sakurai himself that details what we know about that character’s selection process. Please comment with additional sources, or inquires about certain characters. I tried to be as thorough as possible, but I might have missed some.
There’s a summary of this page in table format below, in the spoiler tag.
5/6 update: I have finally fixed my misspelling of Bowser in the summary table. Added Peach and Dedede to the “Misinformation” sections in Smash 64 and Melee, respectively.
9/12 Update: Long overdue, but a Kirby Epic Yarn(for Wii U) and a Mario Land (for 3DS) stage were planned.
Marth: “Well, I wanted to include Marth in the original Smash Bros. game, as a sword-wielding character. But for Smash 64, there were some features we barely finished in time, and the four hidden characters were created only on the premise of being able to reuse some movements and parts of the models of pre-existing characters, so in the end Marth couldn’t make it in.”
It seems pretty clear that there wasn’t anything like licensing, popularity, or technical issues keeping Marth out of Smash 64, just normal time constraints. It seems like development time was allotted to him before he was scrapped, so it seems likely that he was seriously considered before being dismissed.
Bowser and King Dedede: “Q: Hello. I love Smash. My friend told me that there are two super hidden unlockable characters, Bowser and King Dedede. Is this true?
A: No, it’s not true. But we did actually work on them and they were partially complete at one point in time.”
So we have confirmation that Bowser and King Dedede, at least, had development done on them, but were cut during the process, as opposed to being cut in the “brainstorming” process, which makes them cut after development on them began. In this interview from Nintendo Power, November 1998, Miyamoto mentions that Bowser would be in it, which lends credence to the idea that Bowser was under development but later cut. However, it’s possible that Miyamoto was simply mistaken.
Mewtwo: “…Bowser, King Dedede, and Mewtwo were actually planned to appear during development, but due to a variety of issues ended up being cut…”
From this sentence alone, it’s unclear whether or not development actually started on these three characters or not, but we already know that Bowser and King Dedede had some development done on them. Of course, Mewtwo might also– Sakurai might have restricted his previous answer to just Bowser and King Dedede because those were the only two questions asked– but we have no proof either as to what Mewtwo’s development status was. So at best, we have to consider him seriously considered before being dismissed, or possibly cut after development on it began.
Final Smashes: “Actually, I thought of using the Smash Ball since the very first Nintendo 64 version of the game….there are characters in the new series whose voices are the same as the ones we recorded for the Nintendo 64 Smash Bros. There are recordings we made for Final Smashes at that recording that are being used unaltered in the current Smash Bros. Brawl.”
In addition to the very direct quote above, The Cutting Room Floor has posted the sound clips from Smash 64.
Sakurai planning Sigurd (from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War) for Smash 64 seems to be an unfounded rumor. No official sources could be found, making this pure speculation.
Meowth was probably not planned for Smash 64. No references to Meowth were found in any of the e-mail responses, despite claims that he was scrapped in favor of Jigglypuff.
Pit in Smash 64 being dropped because they couldn’t get his wings working seems to be another unfounded rumor, as no evidence supporting it can be found. It also seems likely that if this were the case, this would have been mentioned in some capacity during Brawl’s development.
Peach has not been mentioned by Sakurai as being developed for or in consideration for Smash 64. It seems plausible, but it’s never been confirmed.
Mach Rider: “Q: …which character would you personally want to see– or want to put in– to Smash 2?
A: Character I’d like to see in Smash 2: Mach Rider. Reason: His name is great. Mach? Ha.”
Given that his response is clearly a joke (or at least made in a joking manner) it’s pretty clear that Mach Rider was never really considered and was momentarily considered and quickly dismissed.
Takamaru: “What’s more likely, a new entry in the “Mysterious Murasame Castle” series or Takamaru being playable in Smash 2? Well, both are pretty unlikely. Dang.”
Likewise, it’s hard to say that Sakurai really gave much thought or chance to Takamaru given his low popularity at the time, so just like Mach Rider he was probably momentarily considered and quickly dismissed.
Ayumi Tachibana: “Well, I was thinking about it during the Melee days, Famicon Detective Club…Ayumi even has her own Trophy in that game. But in the end, there’s no way she’d work overseas, so…but I do like Famicon Detective Club.”
Sakurai is a noted fan of Famicon Detective Club, so that may be why she has a trophy in Melee, but as he says, her complete lack of presence outside of Japan killed her chances. She may have been considered more seriously than Mach Rider and Takamaru, but she still falls into the momentarily considered and quickly dismissed category. Sakurai may have wanted her in more than Mach Rider or Takamaru, though.
Retro representatives: On the Ice Climbers’ character introduction page on the Japanese Melee site, Sakurai talks about wanting one retro representative from Nintendo’s Famicon/NES days. There was a pool of candidates, and the Ice Climbers were chosen via process of elimination. The other candidates were:
Balloon Fight — seems like he wouldn’t be able to do anything after his balloons are popped
Urban Champion — seems like he doesn’t have a lot of moves
Clu Clu Land — don’t know how she would fight
Excitebike — we’d need to make ramps for him to jump (that’s not really the issue)
All four of these characters were eliminated in the planning stages, seemingly, meaning they were considered but quickly dismissed.
Banjo and Kazooie: “Incidentally, including a character from Rare in Smash would be difficult for various reasons. I know there are some people who think that Banjo & Kazooie are an obvious inclusion, but that’s unlikely for a variety of legal and financial reasons.”
James Bond: “Showing realistic guns = no good! Character uses an actor’s likeness = no good! Since the original game is based on a movie, getting those rights = no good! He’s Rare’s property = no good! Blocked on all fronts.”
Both Banjo and Kazooie and James Bond have similar reasons for dismissal: legal issues. While they may have been considered, legal complications make it likely that they were considered and quickly dismissed.
Snake: “Hideo Kojima phoned me and practically begged me to put Snake in the game, saying please, put him in there, I want him in there! But at that time we were already deep in development and I was thinking I wasn’t able to get him in there and that we’d probably be making another Smash Bros. game afterward, so I kind of gave up on the idea and said it’s too bad you hadn’t brought this up earlier.”
Sonic: “…for the one on the Gamecube, I’d actually talked to Sakurai at E3, saying “put Sonic in it,” but at the time it was too late, we couldn’t make it happen…”
These two are an interesting case– basically, they were requested but dismissed due to time constraints. It’s no certainty that either or both of these characters would have been added to Melee had the request come earlier, but regardless, both requests came too late in development to be really seriously considered.
Wario: “If I had time to add one more character, Wario would have made it in…”
“If we could have added one or two more characters, then maybe he would have made it. He was certainly high up on the list of characters we considered but ultimately he didn’t make it.”
From these statements, it seems more likely that he was seriously considered, but in the end dismissed. Sakurai has also mentioned that he didn’t want to add too many Mario characters. It’s unclear whether Wario was actually worked on at all, so he could possibly have been cut during development, but given how compressed Melee’s development cycle was, it seems unlikely that development time would have been allotted to a character, only to have that character cut. But it is possible.
Lucas: “To tell the truth, initially he was going to be replaced by the protagonist of MOTHER 3, but stuff happened and there were delays, so we ended up going back to the original.”
It looks like Lucas was definitely planned, possibly even worked on, before he was replaced by Ness. Assuming he played very similarly to Ness, though, this is less of a cut and more of a replacement.
Cut Stages, Items, and Trophies
Sprout Tower and Summit (Ice Climbers) stage: “At the beginning of development we were actually discussing making Sprout Tower a stage.”
“We even planned a hidden stage for the Ice Climbers. It was called “Summit.””
Sprout Tower is pretty straightforward– considered at the beginning, but cut in the planning process. With the Summit stage it’s unclear, as it may have had some work done before being cut. So it was either cut in the planning stage, or cut at some point in development. It’s worth noting that there is a cut stage called titled ICETOP.
Kingdom of Akaneia (Fire Emblem) stage: “Q: Why aren’t there any Fire Emblem stages?
A: As a matter of fact, we did plan to make one, named “Kingdom of Akaneia.”…But it had to be cut because of development circumstances.”
It’s unclear how far this stage got during development, but there is a stage titled AKANEIA in the game’s files, so some development being done seems likely, which makes this stage planned and developed, but ultimately cut.
Assist Trophies: “…we considered an item called the “Assist Capsule”, containing various game characters who could assist you (different from the Poké Ball). But, in the end, circumstances were such that we had to scrap it.”
Assist Trophies were planned, and probably even developed and tested before being cut. The way he phrases his answer makes it sound like they couldn’t get it to work to satisfactorily levels, they couldn’t come up with enough characters to get a variety of “Capsules,” or something along those lines. So it’s likely that Assist Trophies/Capsules were planned and developed but eventually cut.
Sukapon: “Sukapon’s omission is purely a matter of financial and legal issues…For this game, we were planning to let characters get on Sukapon and ride around causing havoc, but it was cut.”
Pretty cut and dry: legal issues prevented Sukapon from being added, which likely means he was planned but immediately cut. Additionally, the bonus text for Sukapon was once on the Melee site, but it’s been removed and the archive doesn’t exist.
Pokémon as stage hazards on Pokémon Stadium: “During development, we initially planned for Venusaur and the other Pokemon to appear on the Pokemon Stadium stage (just like how Pokemon appeared on Saffron City in Smash 64). But, even though the models and animations were finished, they had to be cut because of programming issues. To put it simply, they were removed. That was extremely disappointing, so I asked the programmers to just make them come out of Poké Balls, and I did all I could in my role to make that happen.
Venusaur and his friends were in development, but eventually cut due to programming issues. But they became the beloved Poké Ball item instead. Personally, as a competitive player, I’m very glad things worked out the way they did.
Ditto: “Ditto will Transform into the player who threw the Poke Ball, then join up with him or her for a short time.”
Ditto’s appearance in the guide tells us that it was planned and in the game until fairly close to the release date, which makes it planned, development, and scrapped right before release. He actually can be summoned in the game through hacking, but he doesn’t transform into anyone, and only has one short animation before he disappears. Special thanks to /u/Turkin4tor on reddit for the photo.
Fire Emblem trophies: “Of course Fire Emblem trophies were part of the initial plan. But the models would have been complicated, which would have taken a lot of development time, so they were low priority, and in the end the idea was scrapped.”
Planned but scrapped before development on them began. Not much else to say.
Rare Ltd. trophies: “Well, it was hardly surprising: Conker had only appeared in DKR at that point and Banjo-Kazooie was in development at the same time as Smashy [sic]. Memory tells me there were almost a boatload of Rare character trophies in Melee at one point, but it never happened.”
As far as I know, there’s no leftover data or files relating to any Rare trophies. Taking Rare at their word would mean that Rare trophies were planned, in development, but removed for some reason.
Not all characters that appeared in the intro movie for Melee were intended to join the fight according to the Japanese official site. Sorry, Ridley, Wolf and Samurai Goroh fans.
There is no reliable source for Wario actually being seriously “considered for a Mario clone but he deserved better.” He did say “Wario could only have been included if we had given him the exact same figure and moveset as Mario,” but that’s all I can find regarding this topic of Wario and “deserving better,” which isn’t a sentiment Sakurai has ever expressed, to my knowledge.
Wolf as a Fox clone seems to be misinformation, as no source regarding Wolf in Melee can be found, other than this post on Neogaf. PushDustIn, the admin of this site, has since contacted this poster, who has admitted that all of this info was falsified.
As far as I know, Sakurai has never talked about King Dedede in the context of Melee. Given the fact that he was in development during Smash 64, it seems likely that he was considered for Melee, but unfortunately we have no source so we can’t say anything definitively.
Roster selection: “The first interesting tidbit he dropped during his talk was that the final character roster was essentially completed when the design document was finalized on July 7, 2005. That was, the character list was done 2½ years before the game was completed.”
Blastoise: “I came to the conclusion that Squirtle would be able to establish himself as a character better than Blastoise, plus I thought having balance with the sizes and stages of evolution would be good.”
Blastoise was probably seriously considered as part of Pokémon Trainer’s moveset before he was switched out for Squirtle in the planning stages.
Geno: “To tell the truth, it’s because I wanted Geno to be a playable character. He has a gun for a hand, and I think he fits in really well with Smash. During Brawl, I thought it would be great if I could add him, but in the end it didn’t become a reality.”
For Geno, it’s hard to say why he wasn’t added. He is a Square Enix character, so it may have had to do with legal issues, or maybe he simply didn’t work out from a programming or planning standpoint. It’s hard to say definitively, but I’ll go with considered, but ultimately cut without development for unknown reasons.
Krystal: “For Krystal, we didn’t have any of the technical modeling knowledge that we had cultivated with Fox and Falco, so it was like making a brand-new character from scratch. And because of the limited amount of time we had, creating Krystal wasn’t realistically possible. On that point, with Wolf we already have some knowledge of how to model his character, and would require about 70% of the effort required to create a whole new character.”
It’s hard to tell when Wolf was decided to be added to the game, but he probably wasn’t one of the final entries (Sonic, Jigglypuff, and Toon Link seem to be in that category), so he was probably decided early on. It looks like the decision came down to Wolf or Krystal, and Wolf made it in based on ease of development, so she was seriously considered, but was beat out by Wolf.
Villager: “In fact, there was even a point where in the planning stages of the previous game, “Super Smash Bros. Brawl,” I removed the Villager, the protagonist of Animal Crossing, from consideration because he wasn’t suited for battle.
Villager was at one point planned for Brawl, but he was removed because Sakurai thought (at the time) that they weren’t suited for battle. As Sakurai has said that the roster was essentially finalized very early on in development, Villager was likely seriously considered but cut before development.
Pac-Man: “Back when I was developing Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Shigeru Miyamoto asked me, “What do you think about Pac-Man as a guest character?” “There’s no way!”, I thought to myself as I envisioned that mascot oh-so reminiscent of a pizza missing a slice. I didn’t say it out loud, of course.”
Pac-Man seems to have been briefly considered but rejected for a variety reasons, which could range from legal issues to Sakurai having difficulty settling on a design and/or a moveset for him at the time.
Mii Fighters: “The inclusion of Miis was considered for the previous game, “Super Smash Bros. Brawl,” but after thinking about it for about 1 minute, I dismissed that idea immediately.”
While Sakurai is probably being slightly humorous here with his “1 minute” statement, it’s pretty clear that Mii Fighters were briefly considered but rejected for a variety of reasons. You can read about the reasons in the column, but to summarize it’s because he didn’t want online bullying to occur, didn’t think they were very interesting, and weren’t suited towards fighting.
Ridley: “Q: There was a rumor at one point about Ridley being playable. Was that ever a consideration?
A: I think that would probably be pretty impossible…If we had put our best efforts into it, we may have been able to do it. But he might have been a little slow. Would that be all right?”
–Sakurai interview, Nintendo Power May 2008
Given Sakurai’s response and his joking statements, it seems like Ridley was at best, momentarily considered but immediately dismissed for several reasons. At worst, he might not have even been considered. There may have been plans for him to be an Assist Trophy at one point before he was converted to a boss.
All of the “forbidden seven” have references that were found in Brawl’s Instance Slots.
Of the characters with leftover data, Mewtwo, Roy and Dixie arguably had the most work done on them. Roy had a unique victory fanfare while Mewtwo had a unique victory fanfare and a Wii remote sound. All files exist in name only.
Dixie had a working prototype at one point, as she was originally envisioned to have a tag-team mechanic, just like in Donkey Kong Country 2. However due to complications in programming, she was dropped and Diddy was made into a full character by himself.
It’s unknown how far these three characters got into development, or when they were dropped as the team worked on various aspects of the game at the same time. Since the other three (and arguably Dixie too) have less references to them, it’s plausible that they were dropped earlier in development. We do know that if Sakurai had more time, 1-2 additional characters could have gotten in.
Dr. Mario – Dr. Mario is only referenced in the game’s Instance Slot. However, something curious about Dr. Mario is that 0x28 refers to Dr_Mario, while 0x36, the last slot, refers to MarioD. In Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS, Dr. Mario is internally referred as MarioD. This could mean that Dr. Mario was dropped, and then picked up again at the end, or it could be a debug version of Mario. It’s impossible to know one way or the other.
Toon Zelda/Toon Sheik are obvious from their filenames. While many believe that Toon Sheik refers to Tetra, there is no evidence to suggest that. Sakurai has never commented on this character duo, and only references to the file names are present in the game’s data — no files.
Plusle and Minun drew considerable debate within the community. The files are labeled, pra_mai, which kind of corresponds to their Japanese names, PURASURU and MAINAN(プラスル&マイナン). The main point against them is that the Ice Climbers, and presumably the Dixie/Diddy combo, had two separate character files. This could be explained by Plusle and Minun using an unknown mechanic where they weren’t separated. Furthermore, they do not use the Gamefreak localization for their names, nor the original Japanese. Despite this, it’s interesting to note that Plusle and Minun, along with Pichu and Mewtwo, are all special criteria Pokemon trophies in Brawl.
L-cancelling: Q: Why is it that L-cancelling, which you could do in Melee, was removed in Brawl?
A: It’s the same reason as the reduction in game speed. First, doing all that on the Wii Remote would be close to impossible, and again it considerably increases the gap between beginners and high level players.”
Very straightforward: Sakurai was thinking of the casual audience from the beginning with Brawl, so L-cancelling was probably planned to be removed/never implemented. I’ve seen people claim that early demo builds of Brawl had L-cancelling, but they actually seem to have confused L-cancels for autocancels.
Battle Damage: “In the beginning, we had a system where swords would break, or equipment would be destroyed. After you lost your stock and respawned, your equipment would be repaired, but people who survived, so basically the better, more skilled players, would be at a disadvantage, and I wanted to include a system like that.”
Some textures of damaged equipment can be found, so it seems like this system was at least in development but cut at some point. It’s similar to the rage system, but inhibits the stronger players who survive longer much more directly.
Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U
Heihachi: “Q: Between Bandai and Namco, were there any other strong candidates for inclusion as a fighter?
A: There were none. We basically thought of all the characters at the start of development. We decided on characters we knew we could make. However, there were a few in consideration, such as Heihachi from Tekken….However, implementing Heihachi’s movement in Smash would be difficult…”
It seems like Heihachi was considered, but ultimately Sakurai decided against him, for reasons including, but probably not limited to, difficulty in implementing a representative moveset for him in Smash. It seems like there were other Bandai Namco representatives that were considered, but decided against.
Takamaru: “For a moment, I did think about having Takamaru as a playable fighter, just for a moment…but there’s no way he could make it, popularity-wise.”
Like before, Takamaru was momentarily considered but then logically dismissed due to his lack of popularity (especially in the West).
Chrom: “When it came time to decide on a character from “Fire Emblem: Awakening”, I had even thought of a moveset for him. However in the long run, he was just in between Marth and Ike, so he wasn’t added.”
PushDustIn has written an article on why he believes Chrom was part of the original project plan, along with Robin, before he was cut several months later. Either way, it seems safe to say Chrom was at the very least planned, but cut because he was considered too similar to other fighters, and lacked unique characteristics. It’s not really clear whether or not he was in development.
Alph: “Consider including Alph (Pikmin 3 protagonist) as a clone character.”
This excerpt was taken from midway through development, which means that Alph was planned and most likely in development in some capacity before being cut.
Ice Climbers: “Even if I cram in as many fighters as I can, there are some people who are focused on the few who didn’t make it back. Among them are the Ice Climbers, who were playable during development on the Wii U. However, moving the two as a pair required significant processing power. The 3DS was already being pushed to its limit, and I couldn’t get them to work no matter how hard I tried, so I gave up on them.”
Sakurai adds some extra details to his columns when they are published in anthology format, and he said that “removed as many joints as I possibly could, and even when I removed certain effects, like gravity, they still wouldn’t work.” Thus, it seems pretty clear that Ice Climbers were planned and in development, but cut due to technical issues.
Geno: “When talking about older characters, Geno always gets a lot of requests. He didn’t appear as a fighter, but I was able to achieve something kind of close to that as a Mii Costume.”
Sakurai previously considered Geno for Brawl, where he says he wanted Geno in the game, so I feel like saying that Geno was at least momentarily considered for Smash 4 is fair.
Ridley: “I definitely know that Ridley’s a much-anticipated name for fans, but if we made Ridley as a fighter, it wouldn’t be Ridley any longer. It’d have to be shrunk down, or its wings reduced in size, or be unable to fly around freely.”
Ridley was probably again, at best, momentarily considered, but once again, dismissed for a variety of reasons, and at worst wasn’t even under consideration. His reasons for exclusion haven’t seemed to have changed since Brawl, so he falls under the same category now as he did then.
Reggie Fils-Aime, Shigeru Miyamoto, and Satoru Iwata: “I don’t think the inclusion of these characters would be very interesting to a wide audience. For the amount of effort involved, I would actually prefer to add another roster character. As it takes a lot of work to add a character to the game, it’s not a decision that can be taken lightly.”
The quote above confirms that Sakurai at least judged the merits of adding Reggie, Miyamoto, and Iwata as playable characters, meaning they were momentarily considered before being dismissed.
Co-op play on 3DS: “I originally planned to allow for co-op play in Smash Run, but the 3DS wasn’t powerful enough to display multiple characters on the same screen, so I had no choice but to give up.”
Planned, developed, but cut due to technological restrictions.
Fourth custom: “Custom specials. I initially intended to create four versions of each move.”
Four custom moves per character were planned, but cut during development for whatever reason. PushDustIn has written a bit more about the “fourth custom” if you want to look into it.
UPDATE: Sakurai has confirmed that a Kirby Epic Yarn stage was originally planned for the Wii U. In addition, a Mario Land stage was planned for the 3DS. Both were replaced by other stages during development.
Speculation based off of data mining
Rhythm Heaven character: It is speculated that a Rhythm Heaven character was scrapped. This is due to the order of the emblem database that PushDustIn uncovered while digging through the files. No additional files for the character were found, thus it is a mystery which representative would have been chosen and how long they were being developed. According to the Gematsu leaker, this would have been the Chorus Men.
Dr. Mario, Brain Age, Swapnote stages: Numerous emblem references, which are presumed to be stages, were found in the Wii U version. For a full explanation of the emblem order, check out this article by PushDustIn. These are all speculated, but it’s assumed that Dr. Mario was going to have a home stage (with the Virus’ as boss characters). Furthermore, Brain Age had a blank emblem file present in the Wii U. It’s speculated that this file would have been used on the stage select screen. Furthermore, a reference to the emblem still exists in the emblem database (brainage). There is an emblem reference for “diary,” which is speculated to be a Swapnote Stage, as a literal translation of the Japanese name for Swapnote would be “Exchanging Diaries over Spotpass. However, no further evidence seems to exist to confirm or deny these theories. It’s also unknown if all these stages were planned for the Wii U version, or if they are leftover data from the 3DS version. It’s also unknown how far these stages got into development.
Because the purpose of this page is mostly to document statements made by Sakurai, it doesn’t contain an exhaustive list of all things that were planned or cut from each game. The Cutting Room Floor has articles that detail all leftover files, etc. for each game in the series, so check that out if you’re interested in more!
Finally, if you have any other characters that you think should be on this page, and have concrete evidence of Sakurai making such statements, please let us know.