Smash for Wii U/3DS has covered a lot of ground in terms of the cast of fighters available. Besides the ensemble of Nintendo characters from the various eras of gaming, they’ve also acquired a collection of various third-party fighters to use. These are the best of the best, the mascots of gaming as a whole. So far, in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS / Wii U alone, we’ve seen:
- Capcom’s Mega Man, the Blue Bomber from the hit series starting on the NES. His games have been titled among the greatest games of all time, and is one of, if not the most iconic third-party NES star.
- SEGA’s Sonic the Hedgehog, returning from Brawl. This spiky speedster is Mario’s rival in every way, and symbolizes the initial console wars of Nintendo vs. SEGA, and their current relationship as partners and friends.
- Namco-Bandai’s PAC-MAN, the world’s first “video game character” and icon of the early 80’s. Alongside being Miyamoto’s favorite character, the Pac is also tied with Mario for being one of the most easily recognizable video game characters, and has an assortment of adventures and appearances, although Smash aims to more reference his arcade roots such as the classic Pac-Man and the sidescroller Pac-Land.
- Capcom’s Ryu, the shoto mascot of the Street Fighter franchise, the most well-known and iconic fighting game series out there. Besides Street Fighter’s popularity, the classic special moves Ryu performs, the Hadoken and the Shoryuken, have become pop culture staples.
- Square-Enix’s Cloud Strife, poster boy for Final Fantasy VII, arguably the most well-received Final Fantasy title. While Final Fantasy’s large influence on the JRPG genre is unmistakable, Cloud himself is a perfect symbol of the battle between Sony and Nintendo in the 90’s, opposite of Link and the Legend of Zelda series.
- SEGA / Platinum Games’ Bayonetta, the leader of the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot and the oversexualized heroine of Platinum’s hack-n-slash franchise, aptly named Bayonetta. While the contents of the games themselves are M-rated, Bayonetta’s fighting style and personality perfectly fit into Smash, and soon she found her way into the roster thanks to the passion of her fanbase. It can be argued if Bayo’s inclusion is directly third-party however, considering Nintendo assisted in funding the Wii U-exclusive Bayonetta 2, making it more second party than anything, but that’s for another day.
So, now that we’ve gotten most of the heavy-hitters out of the way, what’s left for Smash to introduce? I believe I have some ideas as to what Nintendo could pull out of their sleeves and provide for any upcoming installment for Smash Bros.
The rules? Simple. The characters have to be legendary, as Sakurai put it.. Not anyone gets into Smash. I also want to exclude any characters that retread ground, so I’m avoiding any characters from IPs already in Smash. Sorry, all of the Sonic characters. I also want to avoid oversaturation, so I’m putting a self-imposed limit on how many characters from a certain company can be on this list, being two per company. SEGA and Capcom have already reached that limit, so I’m not going to talk about Ace Attorney, Okami or Super Monkey Ball today. And, more of a personal rule, Geno’s just such a grey space when talking about third-parties, because of his connection to Nintendo. I just don’t want to include him, although plenty of people (myself included) would love to see him in Smash (and Sakurai did want to see him in Brawl). The first five are more unlikely in my opinion, but the final five are, for sure, who I believe are among the best choices to appear in Smash.
Scorpion (NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat)
Hear me out, guys. This is a more unique choice on the list, but I think that it deserves some mention. When people think “fighting games”, more than likely, one of the most prominent franchises is the Mortal Kombat series and it’s bloody, gory death matches that led to the creation of the modern-day ESRB rating system. It’s certainly a big piece in the history of gaming. Not only that, but Mortal Kombat’s home console launch included a SNES port (heavily censored, but nonetheless, it was there). So, why not include one of the more popular mascot of such an influential franchise? Scorpion, the demonic yellow-clad ninja, would certainly be a unique fighter, with his trusty kunai allowing him to grapple opponents and pull them towards him. Plus, with the skillsets of both a demon and a ninja, there’s certainly something Scorpion can do that no other fighter can. Potentially a cross between Ryu’s karate and Sheik’s nimble movement, as well as some more supernatural powers thrown in (such as flaming servants of the Underworld attacking for him in some cases) and a great approach tool in his kunai. Why hasn’t he (or any other of the Mortal Kombat mascots) been a more popular option?
Well, there is the miniscule fact that compared to the other M-rated games in Smash, Mortal Kombat is much farther on the violence spectrum. While Final Fantasy, Bayonetta and Metal Gear don’t always take themselves very seriously in their escapades, Mortal Kombat’s violence isn’t just over-the-top, it’s outright horrifying compared to some of the content in the aforementioned franchises. This is a game where you can rip out your opponent’s spine or burn their flesh to turn them completely into skeletal remains. While the concept of Kirby wearing Scorpion’s hood and screeching “Get over here!” is among one of the best possible options on the list, Scorpion may possibly be just too violent for Smash. Then again, they can tone it down akin to how they made Bayonetta reveal less of her shapely Umbran body, but that could lead to a large departure from the Scorpion who was so popular in the first place. Either way, Scorpion is an iconic character from a historically important (and gory) franchise who’d add some variety to the happy-go-lucky cast of Smash Bros.
Scorpion is a combo-heavy character, being quick on his feet and with plenty of options to start up combos quickly to get opponents to high percents, including various long-range methods to close in. However, it’s easy to punish Scorpion if he’s not careful.
|Neutral Special: Kunai.||Get over here! Scorpion tosses out his roped kunai, piercing opponents and yanking them towards Scorpion for a follow-up attack.|
|Side Special: Flameport.||Scorpion disappears in a puff of smoke, and appears a set distance away, facing the opposite direction, performing a multi-hit combo.|
|Up Special: Teleport.||Scorpion performs a teleport similar to that of Mewtwo’s, except with little to no cooldown on ground, allowing him to use it to extend combos or trick opponents into believing he’s using his Flameport.|
|Down Special: Inferno Stance.||Scorpion’s fists light up with flame, and can use other inputs to summon demonic minions to assist him in battle by hitting the foe or grabbing them.|
|Final Smash: Toasty Fatality.||Scorpion rips off his mask to reveal his skull, and cackles as “Finish Them” plays and he unleashes a massive fire breath attack, damaging opponents to unbelievable percents. If they reach a high enough percentage, game over.|
(Art by Timothy Ropple / T-3000.)
Shovel Knight / Shantae (Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight / WayForward’s Shantae)
What? Putting such popular characters as “a stretch”? And in the same spot? Blasphemy! In reality, while the popularity for these characters is skyrocketing, they lack the iconic status of many of their competitors. I put these two together as they are both respectively considered the King and Queen of the indie scene, being in multiple games across the 3DS and Wii U in recent times, with Shantae reaching even farther to the days of the Game Boy Color! Either way, they both seem to be “filling a slot” to represent the slew of indies commonly displayed and advertised among Nintendo’s presentations and IPs. Yet, people really don’t consider the merits of these two on their own instead of as a representative of “Nindies”.
Shovel Knight is now a second-party release in Japan, by Nintendo themselves, with his own amiibo figurine and multiple exclusive modes, plus he’s battled the likes of Kratos and the Battletoads in his other ports. Meanwhile, Shantae is a classic Metroidvania-style game series with plenty of popularity, and has a large dedicated fanbase (for various reasons). While I personally adore Shantae and her games, my gut tells me that, with all the love Nintendo’s given Shovel Knight, he’d probably be the first pick. It’s certainly a close call in my book, however, as both shine in personality, their expansive selection of attacks or weapons, and just general appeal to the crowd who plays Smash, It’s just a matter of seeing them rise in popularity worldwide, and also have their games become more vital to gaming as a whole. No easy feat, but Shovel Knight and Shantae both have become figureheads for the indie scene, showing the biggest of heroes can come from the smallest of places.
Shovel Knight’s Playstyle
Shovel Knight is a mid-range fighter, using his trusty spade to fight from a distance. When the time comes, Shovel Knight can utilize a variety of Relics to help him in battle to attack from a distance. Choosing the right Relic for the right situation is a tough choice, but can ultimately help him win the battle.
|Neutral Special: Relic Use.||Shovel Knight pulls out the Relic of his choice and uses it mid-battle. It can range from projectiles to approaching tools.|
|Side Special: Dust Knuckles.||Shovel Knight punches forward, allowing him to perform a combo attack on unsuspecting foes. Powerful compared to his other attacks.|
|Up Special: Propeller Dagger.||Shovel Knight takes to the skies as he dashes in any direction using the Propeller Dagger. A piercing, one-hit attack similar to Fox Illusion.|
|Down Special: Relic Switch.||Choose between multiple Relics for your Relic Use attack, such as the powerful Throwing Anchor, the long-distance Flare Rod, the travelling Mobile Gear, or the bouncy Chaos Sphere.|
|Final Smash: Save Her!||Shovel Knight launches the opponents into his campsite with a mighty swing, where you have to catch their falling bodies in order to deliver the finishing blow.|
Shantae, the half-genie hero, utilizes multiple transformations mid-battle to dupe out foes! Use her belly dancing techniques to change her form to better fit the situation and unleash a new attack! You can even cancel taunts into Shantae’s specials to make them faster, or cancel one transformation into another! Shantae’s not a one-trick pony, however, with powerful whips and kicks to help her launch opponents off the stage. Just be careful of her light frame…
|Neutral Special: Pike Ball.||Shantae waves her hand as three spiked Pike Balls rotate around her, giving her a protective barrier against incoming foes. It deteriorates over time.|
|Side Special: Monkey Bullet.||In a cloud of magic dust, Shantae transforms into a monkey and launches herself forward, spiraling into foes. She can even wall-jump and cling before transforming back into a half-genie.|
|Up Special: Harpy Talon.||In a cloud of magic dust, Shantae transforms into a harpy and bursts upwards with a great gust! Enemies right below Shantae will find themselves in her talons!|
|Down Special: Elephant Charge.||In a cloud of magic dust, Shantae transforms into an elephant and charges forward, knocking foes with mighty force! In-air, Shantae will perform the Elephant Stomp, crashing onto the stage!|
|Final Smash: Curse of the Lamp.||Shantae performs a mesmerizing dance, until she traps a foe, and pulls out the magic lamp to pull all of her opponents in and launch them right back out.|
Jibanyan and Whisper (Level-5’s Yo-kai Watch)
I’m deeply sorry to any Yo-kai Watch fans, as I’m not particularly familiar with the games or the anime, but that doesn’t mean I’m ignorant to the massive impact Yo-kai Watch has had as of recently. The premise is simple; The annoyances of daily life are actually the mythical creatures known as yo-kai playing tricks on us, and now you can find them, recruit them and battle them with a nifty watch! This franchise has risen to huge amounts of praise and fame within such a small time, essentially becoming a powerful rival to Pokémon, not only in gaming, but in merchandising as well. Combine that with it’s huge presence on the 3DS as exclusives, crossovers with Final Fantasy, the Taiko Drum series and even appearing alongside characters such as Kirby, Dedede and Phoenix Wright in the latter, and you’ve got a grade-A option for Smash. But who’d represent it? Why, the two main mascots, Jibanyan and Whisper! Yet, there are a multitude of problems that are faced when trying to adapt Yo-kai Watch to the world of Smash, hence why they’re lower. Mainly, the lack of attacks.
Of course, that hasn’t stopped anyone before (Cpt. Falcon, R.O.B., Villager). In my mind, I believe that the best option is to have Jibanyan, the Cat Yo-kai and the series mascot, as the main fighter, with Whisper, the protagonist’s “ghost butler”, tagging alongside him. That way, not only can Jibanyan utilize his own attacks, but the two can work together to cover all of their options. Of course, like the actual Yo-kai Watch game, knowing when to use which Yo-kai is an important factor, with Jibanyan being light on his feet capable of burning foes, but is small and light, while Whisper has intangibility and power, but is slow-moving. Think Duck Hunt, but with a cat and a ghost. Plus, Jibanyan’s rapid melee attacks and Whisper’s supernatural powers can give them a varied set of special moves. Plus, in the games, the two can fuse together to create an all-new Yo-kai, known as Buchinyan, creating a perfect Final Smash. With this idea, I think that Yo-kai Watch could bring something unique to the table and finally allow them the chance to take on Pikachu for a proper showdown.
Jibanyan, the Cat Yo-kai, and Whisper, a Yo-kai butler, work together to take on foes! The duo often use singular attacks, showing off their own weaknesses and strengths. Jibanyan is fast and able to utilize fire, but he’s also light and quite small. Whisper’s ghostly form may be slow, but he can be a strong hitter when the time comes, especially since punches go right through him! Use the two in synergy with Yo-kai tricks to win the fight!
|Neutral Special: Paws of Fury.||Jibanyan unleashes a multi-hit attack that traps foes and then launches them with a powerful blow! Useful for breaking shields and putting pressure!|
|Side Special: Whisper Shot.||Jibanyan grabs Whisper and spins him around, before firing him forward as a powerful projectile. Even better, Jibanyan can strafe while charging this move!|
|Up Special: Whisper Float.||Jibanyan grabs onto Whisper’s tail as they calmly float into the skies above until Jibanyan slips and Whisper chases to catch him.|
|Down Special: Yo-kai Lens.||Jibanyan and Whisper take a defensive stance as a Yo-kai Lens appears in front of them, creating a medium size cloud of purple smoke. In this cloud, Jibanyan and Whisper are completely invisible, and can use it to travel quickly. Up to two clouds can be on-stage at a time, and using the Lens another time will simply move the first.|
|Final Smash: Million Times Back Paw.||Jibanyan and Whisper fuse together to create Buchinyan, and unleash a mighty Soultimate attack! While a million back paws will hurt, you need to trap your opponents beforehand.|
(I took some inspiration for this moveset from Zoniken’s Dream Smashers: Jibanyan article, who goes into much more detail on the topic. Please go check it out!)
Heihachi Mishima (Namco-Bandai’s Tekken)
Aw yeah, now we’re getting into the good stuff.I would’ve placed my boy Heihachi much higher, if not for the fact that he’s the sole contender on this list that was considered and dropped from the newest installments for being “difficult to translate” into the Smash style, probably due to the sheer number of moves he can use on a regular basis. In the end, Sakurai chose the ghost-gobbler Pac-Man over Heihachi, which (in my opinion) was the better choice. However, Smash 4 development isn’t what I’m looking at today, instead I’m looking towards the future and how Heihachi could still be an excellent choice for Smash. “But APC”, I hear the comments typing away, “With Ryu being the king of fighting games, why would Smash add this funny-looking muscular grandpa from PlayStation All-Stars when we already have the best of the best?” It might be, in my opinion, because Tekken is the best-selling fighting game franchise of all time, above both Smash Bros. and Street Fighter, and has had good relations with Nintendo to the point of the Wii U edition of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 featuring costumes of beloved Nintendo characters for the cast to wear alongside Super Mushrooms being in-game items? That could help.
First off, Heihachi’s a bit different from your ordinary third-party choice, because he’s not just the mascot of the Tekken series, but also the main antagonist in multiple games. He’s a straight-out villain, not a hero. His son, Kazuya, initially is the protagonist, but becomes a bit of an arse throughout the series. The Mishimas are a messed-up family, and none are more angry and sinister than Heihachi. It also helps that Tekken has a lot of unique mechanics that can be transferred over to Smash to make him unique. Mainly, the importance of stances, which Heihachi can utilize. There’s also wavedashing (no, not that kind of wavedash, Melee fans) that allows Heihachi to get in close to opponents, while at the same time being a unique stance. Overall, there’s a lot Heihachi can do without seemingly copying PSASBR, but the problem is making him still feel like a Tekken fighter. I might try to write up a Dream Smashers for Heihachi someday, but that’s another matter entirely.
Much like in his home series, Heihachi is a oriented on punishing opponents’ mistakes with high damage and follow-up opportunities. However, he himself struggles with guarding himself, so when he’s punishable or a distance away from the opponent with no safe way to get in, he can struggle. His biggest Achilles’ heel, however, is his lack of low-hitting attacks, making it best to hit him there. But don’t take it for granted, Heihachi is still a powerful and threatening character.
|Neutral Special: Heaven’s Wrath.||Heihachi’s Heaven’s Wrath stance allows him to split damage given to him, deal half to his opponent, and knock them both back, essentially resetting the fight.|
|Side Special: Wavedash.||Heihachi performs a long-distance air dash, which doubles as a stance, allowing him to cancel into a mighty Electric Wind Godfist uppercut (N-Special) or a sweep-kicking Spinning Demon (D-Special).|
|Up Special: Hell Axle.||Heihachi leaps into the air, performing a diagonal kick forward and following up with a finishing roundhouse kick. It’s great in horizontal movement, but not vertical, similar to DK’s Up Special.|
|Down Special: Raijin Stance.||This stance allows Heihachi to charge up electricity around him, and when fully charged, gives him access to the high-knockback Pulverizer (tilt / jab), the boosted Smash attack Raijin’s Wrath (Smash attack), or the crumpling double-damage Lightning Bolt (Special).|
|Final Smash: Tekken Tag Team.||Heihachi laughs as his tag partner, Kuma the bear, appears on-stage. Now Kuma will assist Heihachi in battle for a limited time, slashing foes, ground-pounding and stunning them with farts before disappearing.|
Steve (Mojang’s Minecraft)
If you told me back when Smash 4 first was revealed at E3 2013 that at some point, the Minecraft guy would be a legitimate option for future Smash Bros. games, I’d probably laugh myself to an early grave. Yet, Minecraft: Wii U Edition has sold extremely well in both the US and Japan (As of this writing, It’s #1 for all-time digital sales on the Japanese Wii U eShop), and has featured exclusive Super Mario content, plus the promise of even more updates and content down the line, giving the game a ticket into the Smash Bros. speculation scene.
A lot of people are probably laughing it up right now, but despite the fact that Steve’s been a requested character in the same vein as SpongeBob, the Powerpuff Girls, Goku, Home Depot and Cory Baxter (of Disney’s timeless sitcom Cory in the House), the legitimacy of Steve being in Smash Bros. is actually arguable. Minecraft, if you’ve been under a rock for the past few years, is among the biggest innovations in the world of gaming since the Wii. A sandbox world that you can explore with friends and build magnificent structures, with a very low entry point in terms of age, has birthed an era of children aspiring to be engineers, architects or game developers because of Minecraft, plus it’s huge merchandising empire that extends to the let’s-players so intertwined with Minecraft’s community. So, what better to represent this huge step in gaming’s evolution than the blocky avatar known as Steve?
Steve is nothing but a blank slate in the world of Minecraft, yet that’s why I think he’d be unique; He isn’t there as a character, but rather as a medium to encompass the entirety of Minecraft. Placing blocks to form protective structures, firing arrows to snipe down far-away foes, attacking them up close with your diamond sword, or calling upon different mobs to assist you in battle. He’s very similar to the Villager in that manner. As much as I hate to admit it, Steve is probably one of the most iconic characters in the entirety of gaming not in Smash yet. Perhaps that’ll change soon. Yet, there is another Microsoft character who I think might take priority…
Steve is a very defensive-based character, oriented on strengthening himself before heading into battle. If you use your attacks too much without strengthening them, your weapons will break. Steve must balance crafting and fighting through creating walls, traps and assorted to allow him to fully prepare.
|Neutral Special: Dirt Block.||Steve places a dirt block in front of him, and can stack up to three blocks, having six blocks total in his inventory. The only way to destroy these is through Steve’s basic attacks, dealing >15% to the wall, a TNT block, or an igniting Creeper. These act as walls to protect Steve.|
|Side Special: Mob Spawn.||Steve throws forward an egg, creating a mob with limited health to fight for him. It goes in order of:
|Up Special: TNT Block.||Steve places a TNT block directly below him. On ground, he can leave it to let it ignite and hurt opponents, but in-air, it ignites immediately, launching him upwards with some recoil damage.|
|Down Special: Crafting Table.||Steve begins working at a crafting table, upgrading his gear. The further you charge, the stronger your gear gets. The upgrades follow that of the game, going from wood to stone to iron to gold and finally diamond, each increasing in damage and durability. Of course, the upgrade process from Wood to Diamond takes over twice as long as charging Cloud’s Limit Break from start to finish, but you can settle for little increments in power before you try to go for the big guns.|
|Final Smash: The End.||Steve quickly builds an End Portal, which drags opponents in and brings them into a cutscene where the Ender Dragon, completely charged in power (and ridden by Steve, of course) unleashes a massive flame attack upon the group as multiple mobs watch on.|
(If you’re looking for an alternate interpretation of this blocky marvel, be sure to check out SlowDragon’s Dream Smashers: Steve (Minecraft) article. They goes into far more depth than I do on Steve’s abilities and moves, plus did most of the renders themselves!)
Thanks for reading! If you by any chance want to contact me or ask me anything, you can find me on Twitter, Reddit, or Smashboards! I’m currently a senior in high school, and I‘ve followed Smash speculation (and made movesets) since late 2012 or so, only recently delving into the competitive side of Smash.
Mains: Yoshi (64), Game and Watch (Melee), Wario (Brawl), Wario/Pac-Man (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)