Awhile back, our friend Relax Alax, made a video titled If Smash Had ONLY 30 Characters (embedded below). We thought it would be fun to do a response to this idea. Joining me is several other Source Gaming staff members with our own ideas. It’s not easy to cut so many characters, and we welcome a discussion in the comments below, or on Twitter!
Unlike RelaxAlax, I wouldn’t include all 12 fighters from Smash 64. I would argue that Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, Link, Samus, Kirby, Fox and Pikachu are the most iconic and relevant characters and have continually maintained that status over the past decade. It was difficult for me to cut Ness, but with the series not getting a sequel anytime soon…it was difficult to justify his continued inclusion.
From Melee: Peach, Bowser, Marth, Zelda, Mewtwo, Mr. Game and Watch.
I was torn between Zelda and Ganondorf. In the end, I decided to bring Zelda in order to buff the number of female representation in the roster. I’m also keeping all the Mario characters as the Mario series is just so well known to ignore.
From Brawl: Wario, Diddy Kong, Ike, Toon Link, King Dedede, Charizard, Pit, Olimar and Sonic.
For me, Sonic is a requirement in the roster. Nintendo’s rival for such a long time it’d be weird to have a scuffle without the blue blur. I was torn on including King Dedede or not, but in the end I decided to include him since I felt that Kirby needed another form of representation since the series is still healthy and popular in Japan. If I were to drop King Dedede, I’d include another stage based on Kirby. Ike could be replaced with Corrin (which would make the roster feel current), but I feel that Ike trumps Corrin in terms of importance to the Fire Emblem series. Also, I’m sure I’ll get some shit for including another Link over Ganondorf (or some other character), but Link is the most well known character of Zelda (even if he is confused for Zelda sometimes!).
From Smash for Wii U/3DS: Robin, Greninja, Little Mac, Duck Hunt, Mii, Villager.
Robin could also be replaced by Corrin, or even Lucina. It’s difficult to say which one is more “worthy” of representation. I also buffed up the retro representation, as the roster needs to pander to a wide audience. Little Mac, Duck Hunt and Mr. Game and Watch are probably the essential retro representatives from Nintendo. Greninja for additional Pokemon representation (though he could be replaced by one of the new starters), Villager and Mii to represent the newer era for Nintendo.
Overall, it was pretty difficult to limit a roster to “just” 30 characters. If I had more space, I would immediately add Ness, Pac-Man and Captain Falcon (in that order). Creating a balanced roster is quite difficult as you have to remove your own bias from the equation and focus on what is best for the most amount of players.
If I needed slots for newcomers, I would drop either Yoshi/Wario, a Fire Emblem rep, and Little Mac and Diddy Kong. So here’s two versions of the roster; one without newcomer slots, one with.
Without Newcomer Slots:
Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, Yoshi, Wario
Diddy Kong, Donkey Kong
Marth, Ike, Robin
Link, Toon Link, Zelda
Kirby, King Dedede
Charizard, Greninja, Mewtwo, Pikachu
Little Mac,Duck Hunt, Mr. Game and Watch, Mii, Olimar, Villager
With Newcomer Slots:
Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, and either Wario/Yoshi
Marth/ Ike / Robin (pick two)
Link, Toon Link, Zelda
Kirby, King Dedede
Charizard, Greninja, Mewtwo, Pikachu
Duck Hunt, Mr. Game and Watch, Mii, Olimar, Villager
|Donkey Kong||Link||Zelda||Ganondorf||Toon Link||Villager|
|Game & Watch||Wii Fit Trainer||Marth||Robin||Olimar||Duck Hunt|
Okay, few things. This list is constructed with the idea that Smash Bros. is still a known quantity. That means franchises with a strong association with the series, like EarthBound or F-Zero, get more attention than their lack of popularity might suggest. Similarly, franchises are largely pared down, allowing there to be a wider array of franchise diversity than anything else. The exception is Pokémon, which really deserves a fourth character (I’d cut Shulk, but it’s also good to show the new generation of the company). I also think it’s important to represent Nintendo history over hardcore interests or trends, so franchises that are popular beyond the core fanbase – Wii Fit, for instance – were emphasized.
First, I really wanted to limit how many franchises I cut. Only two from Nintendo got the axe, which are Earthbound, as it has been officially pronounced dead, and Wii Fit (which was kind of tough to cut). Some other thoughts I had:
-Wario had to unfortunately go, as Mario was pushing too many characters on such a limited scale.
-For Pokemon, I kept its mascot, and its most popular character.
-Wolf got in partly for his status as a villain, with Ganondorf and Bowser Jr.going, it left only Bowser on the roster as a villain.
-I debated between keeping Lucina and Marth as the sole FE rep, but ultimately chose Marth as he’s the original Lord.
-I kept the three biggest 3rd Party characters in terms of their name value and relevance to Nintendo. Some may find it odd that I chose Ryu over Megaman, but Ryu is the face of Capcom, and the “king of crossovers.”
So let’s go over what I did for this and why I chose these 30 characters.
Starting with the original 12 characters from Super Smash Bros. I feel like the only one who is not iconic enough is Jigglypuff. She is not really relevant anymore, and there are plenty of Pokemon who could take her place. Arguably, Ness and Captain Falcon are not relevant anymore except that I believe they are staples of Super Smash Bros. at this point. Ness represent the Mother series in its entirety, and the Virtual Console releases are finally making the series relevant worldwide (especially if Mother 3 does come out). F-Zero is not really that relevant, but let’s be honest here, Captain Falcon is known more for Super Smash Bros. than F-Zero. It is Smash that gave him all the personality that everyone knows him for. Remember what happened in the Robin reveal trailer? People were hyped for Robin but some were arguably more hyped for the Captain’s return. So I feel they should both stay and the other 9 are Nintendo’s all-stars.
Moving onto Melee, this game added the remainder of Nintendo’s all-star cast so characters like Peach, Bowser, Zelda and Marth are pretty safe bets. Mr. Game & Watch just scraped onto this 30 though. I felt like between him and ROB, he provided a more unique gameplay experience. He also is unique that he represents Nintendo before they broke into the home console business. As for the cuts from Melee, I felt that if we are limiting ourselves to 30 then every character should feel unique (except Luigi who can get away with it) so clones & semi-clones have no place here. That leaves Mewtwo, Sheik and Ice Climbers. With the latter two it was a matter of not being relevant and Duck Hunt perfectly representing the retro character for the roster. For Mewtwo however, it was tough. The only reasons Lucario beat him on was to make sure more than just generation 1 got a show and because Lucario is a fighting type and this is a fighting-party game so he makes sense. Its why he is the other mascot of Pokken Tournament alongside Pikachu.
Now onto Brawl: Pit, Olimar and Wario are all basically all-stars at this point as well, so their place was cemented. The other Brawl reps to make it into this roster were Diddy Kong, Lucario & King Dedede. I already explained Lucario and as for the other two, it was easy. The Donkey Kong Country and Kirby series are two of Nintendo’s biggest so two reps was easily deserved. Why I chose King Dedede over Meta Knight was because the former is the series Bowser, Kirby’s arch nemesis and recurring villain. As for the cut characters who were not already similar to others, like Lucas, there was ROB, Ike, Zero Suit Samus, Meta Knight and the Pokemon Trio. With ROB and Meta Knight I already explained and the Pokemon trio have the same reason behind them as Mewtwo. Zero Suit Samus received the cut due to their already being a Samus on the roster who is more iconic, as well as Metroid being still well represented with even one rep. Ike just lost out on a relevancy issue as Robin made for a much better Fire Emblem representative as he was more unique with his magic, represented various aspects of the Fire Emblem series that Marth did not and was a good representative of the modern Fire Emblem games.
Finally we have the latest Smash titles for Wii U & 3DS. The characters to stick around from this title were Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, Little Mac, Duck Hunt Duo, Robin and Shulk. I already explained Duck Hunt Duo and Robin. Villager and Wii Fit Trainer can be seen as all-stars as both were from some of Nintendo’s best selling series ever. For Little Mac I felt he was receiving the Pit treatment, a classic character who came back with a new game and unique moveset so can be thought of as an all-star character now. As for Shulk he is essentially the Marth of the Xenoblade series which is one that is continuously growing and will likely be relevant in the future as well. For the non-clone cut characters we have Rosalina, Bowser Jr, Greninja, Corrin and Palutena. The latter two got cut for similar reasons to Ike and Zero Suit Samus. The other three all received the cut mainly due to space as they all had valid reasons for remaining but hey, it could only be 30 in the end.
To end off I thought I would talk about my choices for 3rd party characters as I decided to keep two: Sonic and Pac-Man. For the latter it was because he is easily the most famous and recognizable character of all of Smash’s guest characters. As for Sonic I still think he is important to Nintendo and Mario because of their history, even if he is not as much an icon anymore.
30 characters is pretty hard to cut it down to but it was certainly doable. The issue after this is which newcomers you then add to the roster to make it back up to 58. An experiment I did on twitter regarding this caused me to end up with a roster which did have some new icons but I felt a lot of Nintendo’s major icons are in the game already now and anyone else I added felt like secondary characters who were not as important.
Just cutting down to 30 Veterans was too easy, so I decided to go a step beyond: In this “30 Smash Characters” scenario, newcomers are also already included. Means I have to cut down EVEN more. The reason is: Nobody would buy a fighting game with so many cut characters and a few Newcomers. So I think it’s important to have that in mind as well.
Sp 8 unspecific newcomers would take a slot in this version of Smash Bros. That would mean there’s room for only 22 veterans.
To make things easier, I just pretended that a 30 characters smash would be a reboot. This means Characters have a chance to get a new moveset. I did that so I can concentrate ONLY the character and its franchise. Every character made it in the roster under the following criteria:
- The franchise is a big seller for Nintendo
- The character needs to be the face of his franchise. Means it’s impossible to not think of that character, when you hear the IP-name.
- How often Nintendo used that character in the past, including merchandise and cameos
- The franchise also needs to be relevant for Nintendo (f.e. History)
You can see who fulfills these criteria. I almost cut Captain Falcon, but then thought he’s relevant enough. If F-Zero wouldn’t be in Nintendo Land or be an DLC Pack in MK8, I would have cut him. Earthbound was a tricky one: I really love this series, but aside from a few merchandise… there is’t much anymore. Nintendo can’t invest in a new entry without Itoi’s agreement and Itoi himself is not interested in another Earthbound game. So sorry, Ness fans.
Lucina is, to admit, to most obscure choice here on the list. Awakening is soon an “old” game. But I still think Awakening would be still relevant as Fire Emblem’s first REAL breakthrough in the West. Wherecross-promotion is concerned, Lucina is most of the time one of the characters chosen (alongside Chrom). Robin would be the better representative for Fire Emblem as a whole since he’s a tactician. But Intelligent Systems chose Lucina as the representative of the “new age of Fire Emblem”, so I gave her that slot in the roster instead of Robin.
There’s a similar situation with Charizard and Mewtwo. Mewtwo has a huge following, but so does Charizard. And since Charizard was on the cover from the first Pokemon game, he’s also better known by everyone. We also shouldn’t forget that it’s VERY likely that Pokemon gets a newcomer anyway.
Retro characters were very hard to decide. I had 3 VERY important characters from Nintendo’s history with Mr. Game & Watch, R.O.B. and Duck Hunt. But there was only room for one slot. Here, I decided on only ONE factor: Was the character known and popular before Smash Bros.? Game & Watch was a hit in the 80s, but most people forgot about that, even with the G&W Gallery and GameBoy Mini-Series. R.O.B. was an NES peripheral toy got some love from Nintendo and they gave him several cameos before Brawl. But it was more like Nintendo remembered R.O.B. and not so much by fans. But even if you combine Mr. Game & Watch’s and R.O.B.’s popularity before their Smash debut, it’s nothing compared to Duck Hunt. There were already requests as soon as Nintendo showed Melee for the first time and even now, Duck Hunt is even well known outside Smash unlike R.O.B. and Mr. Game Watch (which is funny, since R.O.B. has more cameo-appearances than Duck Hunt).
But I admit, I totally underestimated Olimar and Pikmin’s popularity. I think he’s the REAL important character, who’s missing here. But I think to everything else, I don’t really need to explain anymore…: I cut every 3rd-Party Character not because I’m a Nintendo purist, but rather to REALLY focus on Nintendo Characters. Or else, EVERY past 3rd Party Character (except maybe Bayonetta) would have made in the roster and that would mean I had to sacrifice 6 Character Slots for 3rd Party Characters. I think the Nintendo focus helped me to define the roster.
|Mario||Luigi||Bowser||Peach||Yoshi||Donkey Kong||Diddy Kong||Link||Zelda||Ganondorf|
|Samus||Cap. Falcon||Fox||Kirby||DDD||Pikachu||Mewtwo||Marth||Robin||Mr. G&W|
My thought process in this was prioritizing the more iconic Nintendo franchises first, then going into more modern titles. Pokemon keeps its mascot and most popular legendary, Mr. G&W is more representative of Nintendo’s early major successes, Marth and Robin represent two eras of Fire Emblem, Sonic, Mega Man and Pac-Man represent some of gaming’s first true icons alongside Mario, and Miis are a staple of modern Nintendo, having existed for a decade now. The remaining 5 slots cycle between games for newcomers.
Mains: Yoshi (64), Game and Watch (Melee), Wario (Brawl), Wario/Pac-Man (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)