Warning: The following is my opinion. You are allowed to disagree. Feel free to sound off in the comments below.
So it seems like now is a good time to discuss Ganondorf, and his representation in Smash. Recently, Relax Alax published his video on how he would change Ganondorf, and SmashGaf was debating this same topic. If you haven’t watched Relax Alax’s video, please do so now as I’ll be using that video as my main source of inspiration for this write up. Also, read Frostwraith’s article on Ganondorf. He explains why Ganondorf is the way he is far better than I will.
As you may have guessed from the title of the article, I think Ganondorf is a pretty swell character. While not all of his moves are one to one representation of moves he’s used in the past (though many are), his playstyle represents Ganondorf on a fundamental level. A lot of the suggestions that have come from fans could actually ruin this, and in my opinion, make the representation of Ganondorf even worse.
If I only included things true to the original source material, then there would also be times when things wouldn’t mesh well. I always reflect on things that went well and things I want to improve with every Smash, but I think it’s most important to prioritize a game’s enjoyability! —Sakurai
Creating characters for Smash is extremely difficult. Sakurai might over do it, but he does take the task of accurate character portrayal very seriously. From drafting, modeling, animating and testing the process takes several months to complete. For more information about how Sakurai creates character, his GDC 2008 talk is perhaps the best place to start.
However, when creating characters Sakurai might not be able to portray them 100% accurate — a balance must be attained. If Pikmin and Olimar were much smaller, they wouldn’t be fun to fight against (Think Oddjob in Goldeneye). He’s gone on the record stating that in order to make Ridley playable in Smash, he would have to sacrifice too much of what makes Ridley…well, Ridley to make him a balanced character.
Anyway, let’s talk ‘Dorf. It’s no secret that he was a very last minute addition to Melee — one that was very lucky to get in. From a lot of coincidences (model already made, skeleton was similar to Captain Falcon, moveset could be derived from the racer), he was included with the other 25 characters. His position in the debug menu, and Sakurai’s comments might indicate he was the last (but that’s not 100% confirmed).
The reason that Sakurai decided to add the powerful dark lord to Smash was because of his high popularity in the If There Was a Smash 2 Poll. This is the first ever Smash ballot…and it seems that Sakurai manually counted the results before prepping Melee’s project proposal. Ganondorf was THE most requested Zelda character. He beat out Zelda, Sheik and Young Link by a wide margin. He probably chose Zelda and Sheik because of their unique gimmick — a similar reasoning can be found with the Ice Climbers versus the other characters that were considered for a ‘retro representative.’ To begin with, it might be safe to conclude that Sakurai didn’t have a particularly inspiring source of inspiration with Ganondorf…as he was originally ignored for less popular (but arguably more interesting) characters. Being a clone might’ve been the only way for the King of Evil to have gotten into Smash.
From that history, it’s very difficult to change movesets in a big way. Sakurai probably doesn’t want to upset fans of the previous moveset, and it’d be jarring for casual fans of the series to seriously change up a character from one entry to the next. However, Ganondorf’s moveset is pretty representative of Ganondorf as a character overall. Frostwraith has written an amazing epic on the matter, which should be mandatory reading for Smash 101. In Brawl, the references were increased in a lot of ways most Smash fans have straight up ignored.
There are some common requests that I see for Ganondorf that would break him as a character — making him too overpowered, or making him a very annoying character to fight against. Dead Man Volley as a side special?? Do you want to make Smash into a 2.5D Fighter Pong game? That would be insanely hectic and potentially game breaking in 8 Player Smash (Remember the Melee Blackhole Glitches?). It wouldn’t be fun if someone just runs away and spams it. Other shots, such as Robin’s Lightning, have a recharge, and a very predictable path for their opponents. If Dead Man Volley is in the game… who does it go after? The closest character? Is it even fair if Ganondorf were to shoot it from right next to an opponent? What about traveling stages? The only way that Dead Man Volley could work is if they acted similar to Dedede’s Gordo, and traveled in a predictable path and had some recharge/ lag…which wouldn’t be accurate. Maybe it could work, after some major tweaking.
Ganondorf needing a sword is a request that straight up annoys me. First, when he was introduced in OoT, he didn’t wield a sword. His appearance in the Space World demo was the first instance of Ganondorf using a sword. This was the only canon appearances of Ganondorf before Melee was released. Second, there is some overlap between the people that complain that there are too many swordsmen in Smash and Ganondorf’s representation (some, but not all). Lastly, Ganondorf with a sword based moveset would probably need need to be like Ike, for balancing purposes. He’d need to swing the sword slowly, but it’d do a considerable amount of damage.
Another request: Ganondorf needs to hover. Honestly…he doesn’t. He’s hovered in Ocarina of Time, but he didn’t really hover in Twilight Princess nor Wind Waker. His slow, menacing walk is FAR more in character. Furthermore, if you increase his movement options, his power would need to be turned down. Ganondorf is the holder of the Triforce of Power….if he didn’t focus on power, he wouldn’t be accurate to the character. I know you some of you guys want better movement options so he has a chance of rising in the tier list, but Ganondorf and the rest of Smash just were not designed exclusively around 1v1 play on a select number of stages. As I’ve summarized before, Sakurai has to consider a wide range of variables when designing characters and balancing the game. Don’t even get me started on moving his moveset to Black Shadow. That’s not fair to Black Shadow, nor would it represent Black Shadow well.
Anyway, that’s my opinion on the matter. Let me know what you think in the comments below and why you think differently. Remember, don’t flame other people in the comments.