How Many Characters Could the Next Smash Have?

Charas Next Smash

Editors Note: This is the largest guest article we have ever received on Source Gaming! Voyager has written almost 60 pages about his hypothesis for the next Smash.  This is actually the first part of a four part article. This part will explain his hypothesis while the next three parts will delve into individual series. It’s an interesting thought experiment.

Part 1: How many Characters will be in the next Smash? A hypothesis.

Part 2: Potential Characters for the Next Smash Roster– Part 1. Covers Mario, Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Fire Emblem.

Part 3: Potential Characters for the Next Smash Roster– Part 2. Covers Donkey Kong, Metroid, Kirby, and Star Fox. [Will be published today!]

Part 4: Potential Characters for the Next Smash Roster– Part 3. Covers F-Zero, MOTHER, Kid Icarus, Retro, and New Wave characters

Part 5: Potential Characters for the Next Smash Roster– Part 4. Covers Mii Characters and 3rd Party Characters

Disclaimer: This is a mathematical exercise sprinkled with informed opinions and naive hopes, made just for fun maybe for glory.

Hello, I’m Voyager, and since October of last year I have been making a video series about the possible next Super Smash Bros. game. In them I talk primarily about the amount of characters that we might get and the possible roster of characters. If you didn’t know about them, I don’t blame you– after all, my videos are in Spanish.

Here is the link of the first one, it has subtitles in English, so you can understand it. Don’t laugh, I have improved… I hope. Well, enough of self-deprecation.

For this hypothesis, I came up with a simple calculation, a trend line, with which, we can predict a future outcome based on past data.

Obvious Warning: This clearly won’t be 100% accurate. Super Smash Bros. is a series heavily charged with surprises, so trying to make accurate predictions futile, but we can try to anticipate some moves…. Despite not having the Monado.

Until now, the numbers looks like this.

Number of playable characters of each game to date in the Smash series.

This data considers two arbitrary points:
1.- The playable characters are counted as individuals, not as “slots” in the CSS, e.g. Pokémon Trainer in Brawl count as three characters (Ivysaur, Squirtle and Charizard). Except the Mii fighters, this will be explained later.

2.- It also considers the DLC Characters in the count of Smash for Wii U/3DS. As the data compares the “finished game”. This may translate in an overestimation of the amount of characters at the release date in the next game. But the idea is to predict the game in a finished state due to the potential character distribution which will be explained in a moment.

Graphical representation of the amount of playable characters of each game to date in the Smash series and its linear trendline.

As you can see, this linear trend line gives us just the raw number of characters, About 70, but not too much information about which ones, so I made another set of trend lines, in this case, for each family or franchise. The breakdown of the groups is in the annex at the end of this article.

Result of the linear trends for each group
Possible results for the roster based on the linear trends.

The raw numbers add up to 70, but when the numbers are rounded up they equal 73. The problem is that with 73 may be a hard overestimation, but it looks good in a 7×11 grid:

Character selection grid for the rounded up numbers

That may seem good enough, but my current hypothesis is for just 70 characters because of the overestimation problem, and it will fit in a nice 8×9 grid. This grid give us two empty extra spaces if we get some extra DLC or a “random button” spot. It also looks good enough for the TV display or a handheld device, whichever the NX might use.

Grid for the current hypothesis. In one shade of grey

As you may notice, the grid is just grey, that’s because the numbers don’t seem coherent enough for me. I mean this:

Character selection grid for the adjusted numbers

As you may be thinking: “It looks nice, but… Still only Captain Falcon for F-Zero?… Seven characters for Fire Emblem and eight for Pokémon? That’s too much”… Well, to resolve this problem, I came up with the following table, the “Current hypothesis”.


Current hypothesis for the distribution of the 70 possible roster spots for the next SSB game.

This way we can represent the franchises by their historical weight and influences in the video game world. Giving space to showcase both older and new characters, fan favorites and the always well received iconic 3rd party characters.

So… What do you think? Let me know your opinions, as this is my own. I’m 100% sure that this has flaws and it’s might not represent in the slightest the real development cycle and result of the next Super Smash Bros. game. But it is a fun idea to play with.

But again, as a disclaimer, this is pure speculation, based on informed opinions and naive hopes, and everything here is in the context of the exercise we started last time. Sometimes, I’ll ask you to follow my train of thought, despite some ideas may sound counter-intuitive at points, but feel free to comment if you agree or disagree, I appreciate both interactions.


Continue onto the next page as I explain fighting archetypes [The next page is under “related posts”].

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  1. I don’t think Fire Emblem at 7 characters is unrealistic, just that other franchises will get more. Though maybe instead of a newcomer, they could just declone Lucina. FE has a lot more characters to pick from than other Nintendo franchises, and all of them are suited for Smash due to the nature of them being warriors of some sort. The problem isn’t that FE has too many, but that the other, equally as important franchises, like Metroid and Zelda didn’t get any new characters.

    1. That’s correct, FE has at this point over 50 different lords and protagonists that could be in Smash. that’s why is important to examine them in order to choose the ones that represent well their franchise. I’ll explore that in the next chapters. and for just 5 instead of 7, it’s to focus in the essential ones, but yeah, in the future we might get even over 7 as this is one of the new Flagship Franchises.
      Thanks for commenting.

    1. That’s why this is just an hypothesis. still, I believe that this is a viable option to predict the growth of some franchises, maybe not all of them will get new character (or get cuts for that matter). But for me, it’s a “safer” bet than say that we will get over 100 or get down to 30. In the end, I know that might be almost impossible to sustain this growth trend for the future installments, but I have a blast researching and writing it.

      1. When you think about it, some of the series have earned the amount of representatives that people don’t comprehend. The Director would always consider on as to whether or not certain franchises deserve that amount of characters as playable fighters. Fans criticized Sakurai for “bias” towards the Fire Emblem series even though it was the rest of the development staff that picked Corrin for promotional reasons (And even Sakurai was concerned about this issue).

        Some franchises (such as F-Zero and Mother) have always had 1-2 characters due to low sales, falling in terms of popularity, or being obscure while popular franchises (such as Pokemon and Legend of Zelda) are likely to receive 5 or more characters. Some Franchises earned extra characters (Kid Icarus, Star Fox, Fire Emblem) due to either adding clone characters in their spare time or the franchise(s) is growing in popularity. Wolf, Jigglypuff, Roy and Ganondorf were characters that are likely to have never been added in the Smash games that they initially appeared in if the developers had no free time before the release. Even the Mario series was put on a limit, for Sakurai was afraid of overshadowing the game with Mario characters and making it feel like that it’s just another Mario Spin-off game (he even considers Donkey Kong as a Mario character).

        Franchises such as Metroid are likely to receive 1-2 characters probably because they don’t have as much unique characters as fans think the series does. The only characters that I see that have returned in Metroid were Ridley and Sylux, with the former being rejected several times while the latter appearing in only a few games with more obscurity than some of the one-shot characters in Other M. It could be possible that Sylux could make an entry if he has a growing popularity.

        Think about it this way, if Marvel decided to make a Super Smash Bros. style party game, who do you think they’re gonna add? If they think of “go with their most popular characters” idea instead of “try and promote the next upcoming comic/movie” they would have to pick characters from the most popular of the comic book series (Spider-Man, X-Men, etc.) down to the some-what obscure (Guardians of the Galaxy). Some characters that have branched off from the original series that they came from (Hawkeye and Black Widow from Iron Man, Punisher from Spider-Man, Deadpool from X-Men, etc.) will have to count for their original series (Like how Wario, Yoshi, and Donkey Kong counts as part of the Mario series in Sakurai’s eyes) to avoid making it feel like it would be another Spider-Man or X-Men game and would have to avoid adding characters that were intended to promote another product (Like Roy, Corrin and, to some people at a certain extent, 3rd Party characters).

        As stated in one of SG’s articles about Japan, the internet tends to magnify everything. We all assumed that King K. Rool would get in through the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot even though it never said that the highest voted character would get in (The same could also be said for Al Gore’s campaign. Highest voted, never promoted). Characters such as Toad, Daisy, and Waluigi were begged for by the fans to be put in despite the fact that it would’ve put too much representation towards the Mario series at the time.

        The best thing about trying to predict these things is figuring out how accurate you are. I was able to predict Robin’s entry just fine (since I’ve always considered him as the protagonist of Fire Emblem: Awakening rather then Chrom) along with Pac-Man and Mega Man but was never able to guess that Palutena would get in (due to my own self-made “No Gods” Rule because they seem too OP).

        Also you might want to consider the pre-DLC final roster before considering the DLC characters. They were just added for fan-service. We could possible end up with 59-75 characters in the next game’s final roster (pre-DLC, that is).

        1. Thanks for the great comment. When I decide to show my hypothesis I was expecting even some ill intentioned comments. But the possibility of a “peer review” is more important. The more opinions we could get, the better predictions we could make.

          There is a big shadow of uncertainty when one is predicting something, because there are a lot of factors that have to be considered: Growth trends, Game Popularity, Character viability, Marketing Opportunities, Possible Overrepresentation, Development Capabilities, and so on. So for this first part hypothesis I just factored the growth trend and “visible” popularity because they are the easiest to figure out.

          The final number, as 70, is considering possible DLC, because of the character distribution. for me 70 would be a great final number, but it easily could be shattered down to accommodate development time and resources, marketing meddling, and the hardships to work with 3rd parties.

          In the next chapters I will explore the characters themselves, and I’m sure that we might disagree in a lot of the things I will say. But as I said you before; For me, that’s the idea, to create the chance to talk about it and daydream about it, because in the end the only one who really knows it’s Sakurai himself.

        2. “Fans criticized Sakurai for “bias” towards the Fire Emblem series even though it was the rest of the development staff that picked Corrin for promotional reasons (And even Sakurai was concerned about this issue).”

          And yet he went and did it anyway. Fire Emblem was already overrepped in Smash before Corrin anyway because of Roy.

          “Franchises such as Metroid are likely to receive 1-2 characters probably because they don’t have as much unique characters as fans think the series does.”

          While I’m against the idea of putting in one-off characters, Sakurai did exactly that with Kid Icarus and Fire Emblem, I don’t think it’s fair to pretend like Metroid doesn’t have potential.

    1. Well… until now in every game past melee we have lost characters. So no everyone has its spot secured.
      In the next chapters I’ll explore the Dr.Mario situation, as well of almost every character that could get cut or get in.
      That Mario idea is really good, a little hard to implement for balancing issues, but it would be cool if we could get “custom normals-smashes”
      Thanks for commenting

  2. This article is absolutely fascinating. I understand that it’s just a math experiment, but I love math anyway, so this is right up my alley. There are quite a few ways to approach looking at this, and I really appreciate the depths you took in analyzing things. Were Smash to grow on a straight-line, the next roster would indeed overly favor the series which already have several fighters in it already, so the idea to break it down and re-adjust it by series was a good idea. I’m sincerely looking forward to the next few articles to see you break this down even further.

    Also, just to clear something up; when you say “New Wave”, you’re referring to characters from games that were more recently released and original characters such as Shulk and the Mii Fighters, correct?

  3. Interesting that the math predicts around seventy characters; my latest roster (wishlist, not prediction) has 65. To be honest though I think we’ve reached the point where Smash’s roster count won’t increase significantly. It takes a lot of time to make a lot of characters and I don’t think you could get 70 in one game without having a lot of clones or directly importing most characters directly from the previous game.

    To be honest I don’t think most of the series will get multiple newcomers. Zelda, Metroid and DK got completely ignored in Smash 4, so I’d find it hard to believe Zelda would jump from five to seven in one game or that DK would get two. I think it’s much more likely that both would only get a single newcomer.

    Given that Pokemon always has a high amount of reps in Smash compared to other series I think it’d have about six characters rather than five. I think Fire Emblem might dial it back to four after the backlash of having the second-most characters in Smash 4 (tied with Pokemon). And I don’t think we’ll get a Kirby newcomer unless Sakurai isn’t directing the game since he tends to ignore Kirby games he didn’t make. And maybe there might be a few less third-parties at launch (four or five, seven seems a bit much).

    Other than that,I agree with most of it. I can definitely see F-Zero getting a new rep, Mother staying the same size and Star Fox having three again. At first I thought that new-wave and retro were too big but I realise characters like Little Mac fall under retro and someone like Isaac would be new-wave.

    Just my opinions though. I can see you put a lot of work into this and the math behind it so it’s pretty impressive that you went and did this. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. Thanks for commenting, I really put a lot of work in this, and in the end I even presented my own Roster, just alternatives.
    I made some moves to set up a open debate, like the low amount of Pokemon and Fire Emblem characters (without bad intentions)
    Yeah, in the next articles you will get more answers about groups and other ideas…
    I’m glad for the good reception, even with the people that disagree, it really easy to transform an opinion in a salt war, and everyone here get the idea that this is just for exploring ideas and not imposing them.

    1. You’re welcome. You put a lot of effort in so you deserve feedback. When I made that comment I didn’t even notice this article had a second page! The work you’ve put into this is some amazing dedication.

      You made your own roster? Is it in one of the articles or is it posted elsewhere? I’d like to see it.

      Also just a heads-up, on this and the other article where I commented your post is a separate post rather than a direct reply by accident. Just thought you should know.

  5. Thanks, the feedback that I received in this series is heartwarming, a lot of people commenting and giving their polite opinions, I believe that aside of some “baits”, everyone has been really cool.

    No, I haven’t shared my own roster, I misspelled my answer (I’m not a native English speaker, so sometimes I misspell, and translate my ideas can get hard… but I’m working on it…)

    I think I’ll share my own roster soon. I want to do other articles first, for example an “Errata” article in which I would like to explore some of the hits and misses of the article, also a more insightful view about the Archetypes

    Yeah, I noticed that about my replies… but there isn’t anything that I can do about it x.x, thanks for noticing.

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