I have previously examined the merits of other Ubisoft characters joining the Smash roster, namely Rayman and the Prince of Persia, but even then I knew that I was doing a disservice to another marquee Ubisoft property. No, not Rabbids. The series that I am referring to is actually Ubisoft’s best-selling, and one of the top twenty best-selling franchises of all time. It is a series that is distinctly modern, and is almost quintessentially Western. I am, of course, talking about Assassin’s Creed. Let us look at this franchise, what it can bring to Smash, and why it perhaps deserves a representative in the most prestigious of crossover fighters. Could Ezio, probably the most beloved of the series’ protagonists, earn a spot in Smash Bros.?
Ezio Auditore da Firenze was nobleman living in Florence during the Italian Renaissance. He was also, unbeknownst to most, the product of a long line of assassins. Ezio is the Mentor of the Italian Brotherhood, a master assassin that stood steadfast against the Templar Order and helped shape history through his actions.
We are introduced to Ezio in Assassin’s Creed 2 through the genetic memories of his decedent, Desmond Miles. In the game, Desmond uses a machine called the Animus to experience what Ezio experienced in life. It should be noted that Ezio is not the first protagonist of the series, that honor would go to Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, the “hero” of 2007 Assassin’s Creed for the Playstation 3, X-Box 360, and PC. Ezio seems to be the most popular of the franchises protagonists, however, and is the star of the “Ezio trilogy” series of games which include Assassin’s Creed 2, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and Assassin’s Creed: Revelation, and he even has a game on the Nintendo DS in the form of Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery.
The Assassin’s Creed franchise as a whole is relatively young one, having only been established in 2007. It is, a very prolific one, with nine mainline games and eleven spinoff titles having been created since it’s inception. The series has appeared on a wide variety of hardware, and has appeared in various forms of media including a major motion picture.
Reasons for inclusion: Let’s start with this: the series has amazing sales. The Assassin’s Creed series of games has sold over 93 million copies. To put that into perspective, the Legend of Zelda series, which let me remind you, has a 20 years head start, has only sold 78 million copies. The only franchises to have playable characters in Smash to have better sales than Assassin’s Creed are Mario, Pokemon, the Wii series, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Final Fantasy. That’s it. In addition to this, the series is arguably at the height of it’s popularity, unlike fellow Ubisoft favorites such as the Prince of Persia or Rayman that may have hit their peak previously.
That brings me to my next point: the Assassin’s Creed games embody modern, Western gaming in a way that no character in Smash currently does. It is a game that is steeped in today’s gaming sensibilities. It has players exploring a scalable sandbox world, using stealth, guile, and an assortment of tools to traverse vast cityscapes and take down targets. The game set the precedent for many modern “AAA” tropes that are now very familiar such as the use of crafting elements, tower liberation, and a particular sort of mission structure. As the franchise inspired many other games in its genre, an Assassin’s Creed rep would be a way to celebrate a new era of gaming in Smash.
Assassin’s Creed is also a series whose influence extends beyond games. The white assassin’s hood has quickly become an iconic symbol in the world of gaming, and over a dozen novels have been written in order to better flesh out the game’s story. Several short films and a litany of comics were also created. Most impressively of all, though, is the fact that a major motion picture, starring Michael Fassbender, based on the games was released in winter of 2016.
Reasons for exclusion:
To start off with, Ezio or any other character from the series runs into the same issues that all Ubisoft characters do. Sakurai has mentioned that Smash is a series that celebrates Japanese gaming. The only Western made character in Smash is currently Diddy Kong. So while it is not impossible for a Western character to appear in the game, it can still be seen as a bit of an impediment. Another issue is is recency. Most third party characters in the game come from long running series. Bayonetta’s inclusion proves this is not a hard rule, however.
Another issue is that the series has very little importance to Nintendo. Yes, some games in the series have appeared on Nintendo consoles, including Assassin’s Creed III and IV, but they have never been huge sellers or seen as the flagship entries in the franchise. As as result, the series is not embraced by Nintendo gamers on Nintendo hardware. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot himself has even stated that “”It’s very simple. What we see is that Nintendo customers don’t buy Assassin’s Creed.” Ezio in particular is not associated with Nintendo, as the only game starring the character to appear on a Nintendo system is a spinoff. Still, his inclusion would factor more for general Assassin’s Creed representation and less be less about Ezio in particular.
The game is also a very violent game, and although we have seen M rated games in Smash Bros. before, Assassin’s Creed may be a step too far as even the name of the series is inherently violent. Ezio’s wrist blade are amongst the most iconic weapons in all of gaming and would need to be included if he were playable. They are certainly stylized, but they still might be just a bit too close to real world weapons.
What is Smash Bros. without music? Here are a few tracks you can look forward to if Ezio makes it in.