This installment of the “New Content Approaching” series was originally posted at Nerd Underground on March 1, 2016, under its original title, “Did Corrin “deserve” to be ‘Super Smash Bros.’ DLC?” At the time, I was concerned if this article was too wordy. Upon reflection, I feel as though that concern remains valid.
As an aside, most of my friends never warmed up to Corrin, and they maintain their position that Fire Emblem is “overrepresented.” It seems as though Corrin’s addition will always be deliberated amongst the fandom.
Corrin and Bayonetta, the final downloadable characters for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, have been released! How are you enjoying them?
Corrin’s announcement was met with a mixed reception, and I would like to offer my thoughts on the matter. (Yes, I know I’m late, and I apologize.) If you disagree with anything I say, then that’s great! Let’s get a discussion going.
However, Fire Emblem is out of my comfort zone, so I couldn’t tackle this project alone. Please thank my powerful ally, PushDustIn of Source Gaming, for helping me with the research needed for this article, and for ensuring that it’s up to a readable standard.
Well, Masahiro Sakurai’s final Super Smash Bros. presentation sure was something.
Unfortunately for me, my experience with it was significantly different than yours. While you were comfortably basking in the warm glow of your monitor, I had a dental appointment. Thankfully, two of my friends kept me apprised of the news, and I frequently checked my phone.
We knew there were three dummy slots left within the coding of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, and Cloud, who was announced back in November, would have to fill one of them. The other two were a mystery, but all I was asking for was one Nintendo-owned newcomer. It’s a pleasure to have iconic guests join the battle, but I became a fan of the series from my love of Nintendo. I wasn’t being unreasonable with my request, right?
I was informed that Corrin from Fire Emblem Fates was announced, and while I was relieved to see my wish fulfilled, I must confess that Fire Emblem was not the Nintendo franchise I had in mind.
Both of my pals were dissatisfied with Corrin. They were distraught over yet another Fire Emblem character joining the battle, and they both would have liked a newcomer that added a little more aesthetic variety to the roster. One of them likened Corrin’s reveal to being kicked below the belt, and they both would have preferred Wolf’s return.
Days later, most of my associates expressed disappointment over Corrin, usually citing how Fire Emblem “doesn’t deserve six characters.” The only individual I personally know who was excited by the news is a Fire Emblem fan, and he thought Corrin looked “awesome.”
Opinions across the internet were mixed as well, so much so that Source Gaming has an op-ed piece discussing the discontent. Needless to say, Corrin’s reveal was divisive, but was the disappointment justified?
To answer that question, we’ll start by reviewing Corrin’s tenure in the Fire Emblem series. Following that, we’ll recount Corrin’s predecessors in Smash, and why Corrin was selected to join them. We’ll also examine if Sakurai’s own personal feelings played a part in Corrin’s favor, and whether or not franchise representation matters at all. Finally, I’ll close this piece with my own opinion of Corrin.
So, let’s begin!
Fire Emblem Fates is the latest entry in the long-running series, and it started development shortly after Awakening was first released.
Corrin (known in Japan as “Kamui”) is Fates’ Avatar, filling the same niche that Robin served in the previous game. Players are offered a choice upon starting Fates between Corrin’s male and female incarnations, and some customization options are available to give your Corrin a distinct appearance.
Fates is actually a significant release for the brand, as it’s the first time variations of a single game were created. Birthright and Conquest were released at retail, and the third version, Revelation, will be downloadable. The different releases have differing difficulty, and they tell separate stories.
Japan received Fates back in June, and Corrin has proven to be popular there. Interestingly, this poll seems to affirm that the female Corrin is more popular than her male counterpart. (Considering how they’re portrayed in Smash, I’m not surprised.)
Conveniently aligning with Corrin’s arrival in Smash, Fire Emblem Fates was released in North America last month to financial success. Did you choose Birthright or Conquest?
That’s…basically it. Corrin debuted last year, so there isn’t a lot of history to review.
“Together, we ride!”
Do you like this jingle? You’re going to hear it even more often, so I hope you do! Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U have 58 playable characters, and six of them hail from Fire Emblem.
I’m going to preface this section by stating that I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with Fire Emblem having six representatives, and I believe each choice makes sense. To back that claim up, I propose we quickly review the first five.
Marth is Fire Emblem’s original hero, he starred in four games, one of those games was adapted into an OVA, and his legacy served as a plot point in Awakening.
Furthermore, Sakurai wanted to include him in the original Smash Bros., and his inclusion in Melee was locked in from the start. Basically, Marth is obligatory.
Ike was the lead in two games (an achievement for this series), and his descendant appeared in Awakening.
Ike’s fighting style also offers a nice contrast with Marth’s; Marth is nimble and requires careful spacing, and Ike is going to bluntly strike you with his big, powerful sword. Ike has earned his keep, guys.
Robin represents aspects of Fire Emblem that the previous two do not, and Awakening also happened to be a franchise-saving victory. I think Robin’s presence is justified.
Speaking of Awakening, its other protagonist was on Sakurai’s mind, too. I have no attachment to Chrom or Robin, but I’m happy the latter was given priority. Would you have liked to play as Chrom?
Lucina was originally an alternate costume for Marth, but she was promoted later on during development. Basically, Lucina is a bonus.
As an aside, the distinction between Lucina as a costume and a clone is pretty arbitrary, but she offers more as a clone. She’s a fan favorite from Awakening (a figma was even made in her honor), and she manages to serve as a beginner’s Marth in Smash. What would be achieved by demoting her?
Fire Emblem has been around since Nintendo’s first console, and these five characters are a solid depiction of its legacy (even if there is some stylistic overlap between them, and even if other aspects of the series are still missing from Smash). Furthermore, it’s worth remembering that, of these five characters, there are only three unique movesets. Roy uses a modified version of Marth’s, and Lucina is little more than a costume swap.
Fire Emblem is a niche series, but it has a long, proud history. I see no problem with flaunting Intelligent Systems’ work, especially as it’s currently enjoying a second lease on life. (Although I will concede that it is kind of surreal to see Fire Emblem’s character count tie with Pokémon’s and surpass Zelda’s.)
So…where does Corrin fit into this?
Of all potential newcomers, why Corrin?
Sakurai acknowledged during the presentation that Corrin was included to help promote an upcoming game.
Sakurai elaborated in Famistu. Basically, they realized one of the DLC characters should promote a soon-to-be-released Nintendo game, and it was eventually decided that the latest Fire Emblem game happened to align perfectly.
I’m not thrilled with how limited resources were allotted to a fighter for such a transparent reason, but Nintendo and Sakurai were never obligated to support Smash for a year with DLC and balance patches. If they absolutely need to do some cross-promotion, fine.
So of Nintendo’s upcoming schedule, Fates was chosen, despite Sakurai’s concern of having an abundance of Fire Emblem characters. Sakurai, after having a pep talk with the team, believed they could create a unique fighter.
To his credit, he was correct! Corrin uses a magic chainsaw-sword, the Omega Yato, but as Sakurai amusingly went out of his way to state, it isn’t Corrin’s primary method of attack. “Dragon Fang” is, and it allows Corrin’s body to change shape. Corrin can grow wings, a lance, or a beast’s fangs, thanks to the powerful dragon blood flowing within. Corrin can transform into a dragon too, of course.
Sakurai ends his Famitsu column by mentioning that the final batch of DLC fighters were more complicated to create than the fighters in the base games, and he went all-out for them. He hopes we’ll enjoy them.
For the record, Corrin was the only DLC fighter to have a CGI trailer (albeit the CGI was recycled from Fates). Corrin also holds the distinction of being the only Nintendo-owned DLC fighter, and Fire Emblem holds the distinction of being the only franchise to receive two DLC fighters. Oh, and Corrin is currently the only combatant who debuted in 2015. Just some trivia for you, my fellow nerds.
Sakurai has stressed the importance of industry trends during his planning, so I’m thinking this was Corrin’s only window of opportunity to appear in Smash. Ultimately, I believe Sakurai was inspired by Corrin’s trademark abilities, but some might argue there’s a different reason Fates’ hero was chosen…
Sakurai’s Bias: does it exist?
Sakurai must ingest a considerable amount of antidepressants when he works on Smash, as his vocal fans aren’t afraid to let their thoughts known. One of them is the belief that Sakurai lets his personal taste cloud his judgment.
People voiced this belief back when Meta Knight and King Dedede were added in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. This supposed favoritism continued during the development of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. Kid Icarus, a dormant property Sakurai had just revived, received a plethora of new content including, but not limited to, Palutena and Dark Pit.
Now Sakurai is allegedly focusing on Fire Emblem, as Robin and Lucina were added in the base games, Roy returned as DLC, and Fire Emblem gets a sixth character in Corrin.
Before we continue, I’ll let you know that Sakurai definitely likes Fire Emblem. Sakurai attended Fire Emblem’s 25th anniversary event, he’s discussed his history with the series, and Sakurai, upon Satoru Iwata’s request, conducted an interview with Intelligent Systems’ Toru Narihiro concerning Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. There isn’t any ambiguity on the matter, he’s a fan.
Sakurai, being a human being, will naturally have his own preferences, but is he letting that interfere with his ability to be impartial? Has Sakurai, perhaps having lost his passion for Smash after years of incessant criticism, become self-serving, and can only muster the enthusiasm to work on characters he personally cares about?
No, I’m not convinced that’s accurate. Sakurai seems to harbor a fondness for Mach Rider and Takamaru, for example, but they both have yet to be invited to Smash. (However, Takamaru continues to be a passing thought during the planning stages. Maybe next time will be the samurai’s big break?)
Sakurai has detailed his vetting process for potential newcomers before, and he’s stressed that a character’s uniqueness is critical. Source Gaming has a nice compilation of articles pertaining to Sakurai’s selection process, so please head over there if you’d like to know more.
You may not bear any attachment to some of our newcomers, but Sakurai’s a man of his word. Rosalina brought a seemingly infinite amount of her adorable comrades to fight with her, Little Mac has his Power Meter, Shulk has his Monado Arts…I could go on, but I don’t need to. The latest newcomers are bursting with creativity! Corrin continues that trend, with their “incredible reach” as their exclusive attribute.
(And if you’re going to bring up Lucina and Dark Pit in an effort to argue Sakurai’s being hypocritical, please don’t. Sakurai explained the circumstances behind their promotion, and it’s basically a happy accident that they received their own slots. There isn’t an inconsistency.)
Yes, Corrin is promoting Fates. Corrin also fights and animates unlike anyone else in the roster, and that’s important to Sakurai. In addition, Sakurai doesn’t care for cuts, so of course he’ll try to retain as many veterans as possible, especially the unique ones.
So…if a character’s individuality is so important, then does it matter how representation is divided amongst Nintendo’s franchises? Well…
Does franchise representation really matter?
Yes, it does.
Super Smash Bros. started as a humble crossover, and it continues to serve as a love letter to fans of Nintendo’s catalogue of properties. I can’t speak for everyone, but I knew I had to own the original when I first saw its commercial. I was attached to those four characters, and they were meeting up? Sign me up!
Super Smash Bros. resonates with people for different reasons. Are you accustomed to the speed and movement options offered by Melee, or do you prefer Brawl’s slower, more defensive pace? Are you satisfied with the middle ground Sakurai tried to achieve with Wii U and Nintendo 3DS?
Regardless of how you prefer your gameplay, I think we can all agree the biggest draw to Smash is its roster. It’s a headline-creating event when a new fighter is announced, and Sakurai knows it. Everyone will have differing opinions concerning which characters “deserve” to be added to Smash‘s constantly expanding family, but there’s one man who makes the final call. We’ve established that he has a rigorous screening process, and that he values a character’s uniqueness.
Now, the fighting style a character brings to the roster is important. People want to feel as though their favorite character is being portrayed properly and offers something the other fighters don’t. Clones can be a touchy subject in the fandom, as some people see them as “pointless” and “lazy.”
But a character’s history, and the franchise they embody? The games they starred in, the experiences we’ve shared with them, and the happy memories that have been forged as we partake in this silly hobby? That’s important too.
It’s an elating experience to see our cherished favorites realized in Smash, and while their absence doesn’t magically invalidate the fun we had, it’s still pleasing to see your character on the character select screen.
Smash occurs once in a generation, so it’s deflating to feel like your favorite series was neglected. Smash also serves as an outlet to bond with our favorites in a manner we otherwise might not be granted. Bowser will always be a constant in the numerous Mario spin-offs, but how often do we get to play as Ganondorf? Moreover, how often do we get to play as Bowser and Ganondorf in the same game, and pit them against Mario and Link?
An onus does fall upon Sakurai to try to be fairly proportional, and he has acknowledged that on prior occasions. Did you know that Wario was planned for Melee, but Sakurai was concerned he’d oversaturate the roster with Mario newcomers? Sakurai mentioned that other characters were dropped from Melee under this same reasoning, and he echoed in 2008 that he is conscious of franchise representation when he makes his choices.
Characters are the biggest draw to Smash, but Sakurai can try to make up for their absence through other means, such as stages, items, Assist Trophies, and Mii costumes. I appreciate the effort put into those facets, but the roster is what we observe and appreciate the most.
For example, I’d say Zelda has more content than Fire Emblem. Zelda’s number of Assist Trophies exceeds Fire Emblem’s, and Zelda has eight items in comparison to Fire Emblem’s zero. However, when discussing Smash with my peers, these aspects are usually overlooked, whereas the character select screen can’t be overlooked.
I’d say stages are the second most appreciated form of representation in Smash, and Fire Emblem made out pretty well in that regard, too. Fire Emblem managed to score a brand new stage in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, whereas other franchises couldn’t.
There’s a fine line between being reasonable and entitled, and I’d argue that some people are unhappy with Corrin because they’re jealous. (Don’t get mad at Fire Emblem for its good fortune, guys.) With that said, while I am happy for fans of Intelligent Systems’ ongoing series, I can see why people are burnt out on Fire Emblem content. There’s no shortage of it, and a few other franchises could have used a little extra love.
Furthermore, Corrin debuted last year and, at the time of their announcement, their game hadn’t left Japan. Corrin was an enigma to those of us in the West. We didn’t have the chance to bond with them and live through their story, so their entry felt…premature? Corrin also wound up being the only Nintendo-owned DLC newcomer, meaning a lot of hopes and prayers were riding on their “slot.”
Ultimately, I find Corrin to be an interesting indicator to see what you value in Smash. Does it bother you that Fire Emblem has six characters, even if four of them offer unique movesets and the other two are bonuses? Will you accept Corrin for their unique traits? Would you prefer to live in a world where Corrin never appears in Smash?
I can’t help but think there’d have been less controversy if we had gotten, say, a second Xenoblade character, or even an eighth Mario character. The Inklings would have been great, of course, but I’m not distressed over their omission. Splatoon’s mascots are as guaranteed for the next Smash as any character can be.
Balancing franchises in a fairly even manner must be challenging, and overall I feel Sakurai does a commendable job of it. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS still have the best roster yet, and I had plenty of new faces to excite me. Besides, there will be sequels, and our missing characters could get their chances another day.
(P.S. Sakurai, please focus on Donkey Kong a little more next time.)
So, what’re my thoughts on Corrin?
Honestly, I warmed up to Corrin when I saw how uniquely they’ll animate, and I will try to master them. They’re fun! However, I respect why one could be let down with them, and I think it’s fair to be discontent with another Fire Emblem character joining the cast.
Admittedly, no matter how hard I try, I can’t shake off this nagging feeling in the back of my mind. I don’t begrudge Fire Emblem‘s good luck, but I would have preferred to see another franchise get the nod. Xenoblade Chronicles X was recently released here, so considering that cross-promotion was a requirement, I would have enjoyed seeing someone from Monolith Soft’s latest title. Since Fire Emblem is currently enjoying a period of prosperity, I would have liked Xenoblade, a significantly newer series, to get the help.
Granted, it would have been impossible to please everyone no matter what Sakurai did, but should we have gotten another Ballot-inspired character? Should Sakurai have gone out of his way to try and appease another, perhaps more overlooked series? Did advertising really need to be a requisite in selecting a character? I’m not qualified to answer those questions, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Ultimately, I believe Corrin is a great pick that came at the wrong time. I’m assuming they’ll be old news by the time the next round of Smash Bros. starts development (unless Corrin returns in a future Fire Emblem, but that’s unlikely), and that this was Corrin’s only chance to get in.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding Corrin’s inclusion, Corrin is here. I hope people accept Fates’ Avatar as we get to know them, both within the context of their game, and as a fighter in Smash.
Congratulations, Corrin! You chose correctly!
I dusted off my copy of Awakening, and I just got to Chapter 6. Fire Emblem hasn’t clicked with me the previous times I’ve tried it, but the series deserves another chance.
I still have one final article to finish too, and I hope you’re looking forward to it. We’re approaching the end of an era…
Mains: Mario (64); Mario and Dr. Mario (Melee); Wolf and Toon Link (Brawl); Mario, Dr. Mario, and Rosalina (3DS/Wii U)