For the written version please see below the video!
It was over 2 years ago that fans watched the Final Super Smash Bros. Direct that capped off Smash For’s DLC reveals. Smash For’s DLC had been received incredibly well up to this point with fan favourites like Mewtwo, Lucas and Roy returning as well as shocking 3rd party reveals of Street Fighter’s Ryu and Final Fantasy’s Cloud Strife. Needless to say, expectations for the final two reveals were high and the results were definitely mixed. It is certainly understandable why people were upset with the inclusion of Bayonetta and Corrin and some finding it very hard to justify their inclusion. However, when looking at all the information presented to us I have begun to believe that Corrin was, in fact, the BEST choice Smash For could have had.
Bayonetta got into Smash For thanks to being the winner of the Smash Ballot. Sakurai told us her placement but many fans find it hard to believe them as his results didn’t reflect that of the community. But it has always been hard to know one way or another thanks to the inclusion of some fine print that says ‘of realisable options.’ The jury is out on what qualifies as realisable and so we can’t get any definitive answer on her inclusion.
Corrin is different because Sakurai has completely acknowledged how he got in. Corrin was the final character added in DLC development because the team wanted to include a character from a new game that had come out after Smash’s release. Super Smash Bros. as a series has always been great at promoting series. It did this originally with Fire Emblem in Melee and Xenoblade in Smash For. It is also thanks to Smash that Earthbound, F-Zero and Kid Icarus have grown to such heights as they have, despite the lack of many games. Knowing this, it makes sense that the team wanted to help support Nintendo’s line-up that year using Smash as a platform.
So what were the criteria for candidates for the 7th DLC spot? Sakurai has only left a few comments on the subject in his interviews. First, the character needed to fall in-line with other DLC criteria so they needed to bring something new to Smash. They also needed to be 1st party as their inclusion was to promote a Nintendo game.
Next, the game needed to be coming out around the time of DLC. We got no hard-dates for this but Sakurai did comment that Fire Emblem Fates was already out in Japan but not the other territories. But the way he says this implies that it not being released in the West at this time was more of a bonus and less a criteria. So for argument’s sake I am going to say that the game had to be released in 2015 or announced by the time the team decided on Corrin. We can pinpoint that date to late July/early August of 2015 as the 64 stages update that released in that time had no indication of Corrin but the next update for Super Mario Maker in September did. This gives E3 2015 our cut-off date for game announcements.
And that is all we really know. Sakurai didn’t let the fact that Fire Emblem had already had a DLC character get in the way (and he admitted to acknowledging this factor when picking Corrin) so we can assume the same could’ve been said for other series like Pokemon. So with all this information here below is a list of every game that I believe could’ve been in the running for this position along with the character I think were the most likely candidates.
Here we have 35 games [actually 36 because I forgot about Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon, sorry!] that either came out in 2015 or were announced in 2015 before July. Of this list there are only four that did not release in this year, these being Federation Force, Mario Tennis Ultra Smash, Star Fox Zero (& Guard), and Zelda Breath of the Wild although those latter two were scheduled for 2015. Now before you rush to the keyboards regarding Ultra Smash you need to bare in mind that as Smash was developed in Japan they would’ve likely based this off of the Japan release schedule and over there Ultra Smash did not release until 2016.
In order to figure out how Fire Emblem Fates, and in turn, Corrin, was chosen out of all these candidates we should look at the list piece by piece and begin culling the losers. And the first steps to this are the games with no possible candidate. Ultimate NES Remix and Picross 3D Round 2 don’t really have characters of their own so don’t have any possible candidates for Smash. Super Mario Maker is the same as most of its characters, costumes not counting, are already in Smash. Super Mario Maker fits a stage much better which is exactly what it got. This was also for promotional purposes so a character wasn’t needed as well. Zelda Breath of the Wild was a game many would argue should get promotion but at this point, there was so little known or revealed about the game that there weren’t really any reps either. Even by the time Smash DLC ended Link was the only character we knew about. So that wouldn’t have worked.
Down to 31 and the next way we cut contestants is by looking at the criteria again. Sakurai wanted characters who were ‘unique’ and ‘new’ which was essentially code for a lot of things, including veterans. Majora’s Mask 3D and Star Fox Zero are most affected by this. Young Link and Wolf were veterans and too similar to existing characters. That didn’t mesh with what they wanted from this DLC. I can see the argument for a new character from Star Fox then instead of Wolf but the issue here is uniqueness.
Most Star Fox characters just fly in Arwings, especially in Zero, which makes a unique moveset hard as they all do the same thing. Star Fox Guard was still known as project guard at this point so wouldn’t have been considered in this for anything unique, like how we used it for our Dream Smasher Slippy article. Krystal isn’t in Zero either so using her to promote that game wouldn’t have made sense. Then in Majora’s case, it’s two other candidates, Tingle and Skull Kid, are already in the game as Assist Trophies. It’s this reason as well that might have kept characters like Takamaru, Waluigi and Isabelle from getting in.
Speaking of Isabelle, let’s take a look at series where the characters are really not that important. Isabelle doesn’t actually fall into this category as she is really important to Animal Crossing, as is Tom Nook and K.K. Slider, but all three of those already have a key role in Smash For so are all out of the running. This makes representing the two Animal Crossing games here really difficult and only leaves Mr. Resetti, or Blathers, but neither of them is major icons for the series or have particularly interesting moveset ideas. Other games that fall into this category are Yakuman Ho-o, Dr. Mario Miracle Cure, and Mario Vs. Donkey Kong Tipping Stars.
While these games have characters that don’t really have movesets that are viable or interesting, there are some games where the characters are really obscure and wouldn’t work as DLC. Remember that DLC still needs to be able to sell and if they have a character that 90% of people don’t know or don’t care about then it’s going to fail outside the hardcore/niche community. Art Academy Homeroom and Style Savvy Fashion Forward are both fairly obscure games and have characters that few would recognize. Yoshi’s Woolly World and Triforce Heroes also have this to a lesser extent. They both have main villains who could work but are not major players of their series in the grand scheme of things, especially when there are bigger choices from other series.
Something else that does not get much of a focus in Smash are spin-off games. Usually, characters are highlighted based on their importance in their main series and these are the games that the team would want to push. Games like Mario Party 10 and Mario Tennis Ultra Smash aren’t worth trying to promote which means characters from those games won’t make it in. This is also a problem with all the Pokemon games on the list.They are all spin-offs and some are fairly minor F2P games. There was no mainline Pokemon game that year and so no reason to focus on the franchise then. It’s also not like Pokemon needs promoting to do well.
Finally, the more obvious ones to cull are the games made by third parties. It might not be a case of not wanting to promote them but rather a rights issue of who owns the characters. This is the case for Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE and Hyrule Warriors Legends. Although for latter you could make the argument that not every character is a 3rd party series, i.e. Tetra, however one issue with that game is that it is a port. I imagine that they wanted to promote new games as a port will already have some promotion from the prior game or won’t sell as well because of people already owning the prior game. It is also for that reason that Xenoblade Chronicles 3D can be culled, especially when the sequel game was also coming out in this period, they would focus on that.
So these final 11 I believe were the serious candidates and we should tackle on a case by case basis. First let’s start with Rhythm Heaven Megamix. Apart from the possibility that the game wasn’t planned for a world-wide release at this time and they would want a game that everyone could get, there is also the fact that Sakurai wanted only new content. What I mean by that is there isplenty of evidence of a Rhythm Heaven character being planned and cut for whatever reason. If it was technical that might be why Rhythm Heaven wasn’t chosen for this as well but assuming it was just time we get the question of ‘why wasn’t he always planned?’ From the way Sakurai has spoken about DLC implies that any cut content from the base game was never considered being added. The Dr. Mario stage, Brain Age stage and finally the Rhythm Heaven rep.
Next, I think we can take out two games and once. Nintendo would’ve wanted the promotion to be for a physical game and not an eShop exclusive. Those games need to sell more to get back the cost and will sell more. This means that Stretchmo and BoxBoy! Are out of the running. You could also make the argument that at this point in time neither of them had moveset potential.
Now, remember that DLC needs to sell. So the character chosen needs to be one that would appeal to a lot of people and ideally from a game a lot of people enjoy. There are four games on here that don’t fit that criteria and the fan reaction from them might be why they weren’t considered. Federation Force was possibly really far off but the fans reacted awfully to it and if a Federation Marine got in before Ridley or Sylux people would’ve flipped. Chibi-Robo Zip Lash is a game that not even Chibi-Robo fans were looking forward to and while that game may have needed the promotion, the character is somewhat minor already with an unsecured future.
Speaking of unsecured futures, Codename STEAM was a new IP that severely underperformed. While Henry Fleming might’ve made a great character for Smash, fans showed Nintendo it was a series they were not bothered by in any way. So releasing a character from the series is a bad business move. Mario & Luigi Paper Jam might’ve had the issue of these prior three to a much lesser extent. People were still excited about Mario & Luigi but there was definitely fatigued of the series and thus the reaction to the game was pretty lukewarm. There is also the perception of Paper Mario at this time. Sticker Star caused the series perception to drop dramatically and while the character is still wanted it may have scared off the team. The game also isn’t a Paper Mario game technically, he is just crossing over. It depends on how they viewed it.
And then there were four. Let’s tackle Kirby first. While Waddle Dee has the fan support and moveset potential, the game is represented here not only came out very early in 2015 and would’ve been a year old by the time this DLC came out, thus making it a bit pointless to promote, but it was also a spin-off game. As Sakurai usually focuses on the main games of a series as well, this and the other factors cause Waddle Dee to fall out of the running.
Now Splatoon. I was saving this one towards the end despite the reason actually being obvious. The series is huge and a character would’ve sold well, it is a new IP wouldn’t have got in the way of that. Sakurai and his team decided to add a character after this was released worldwide so he would’ve known about its popularity and success. So maybe it didn’t need promotion? No, in fact, it’s the complete opposite of that. Remember how I mentioned earlier that some games can get promoted outside of characters, i.e. the Super Mario Maker stage? Well, Splatoon already had this in Smash. When Smash DLC began development, Sakurai and his team already decided to add some DLC for promotional purposes and the series chosen was Splatoon. But instead of a character, they add in the Inklings as Mii Fighter costumes and a trophy. This counts as promotion and it was likely seen as redundant to promote the game again in Smash For when other games could’ve used the promotion instead.
And now we have two. Xenoblade Chronicles X and Fire Emblem Fates. Both of these games are in the same boat. They were out in Japan but not the rest of the world when DLC was decided, but both had plans to come westward, both are RPGs, Sakurai is a fan of both series, both had an avatar as the main character. So why did one beat out the other? It is hard to know for sure but I have three ideas.
First of all the avatar syndrome. While most people would see Elma as the obvious choice for X, she technically isn’t the main character. That is cross and he is a very boring character. Especially compared to Corrin who, despite being an avatar as well, is a character. Next is moveset potential and uniqueness. Corrin might have a sword as well but he also has dragon powers which is a major part of the Fire Emblem series that wasn’t in Smash yet. Elma would’ve also used swords with duel-wielding as her main focus, due to Sakurai’s disdain of using realistic guns which made up the other half of Elma’s moveset. It may have been that he made plans for both and Corrin just ended up being the more interesting of the two.
Lastly, we have to remember that DLC needs to sell and while both of these series could sell, the more popular choice is easily Fire Emblem. The first Xenoblade Chronicles didn’t exactly sell amazingly, especially when compared to Fire Emblem at the time. The decision may have been made that, even though this is promotion, a Fire Emblem hero will always sell more than one from Xenoblade. That’s just a fact, for now.
Now we have one and that is Fire Emblem Fates with its main hero Corrin as the character choice. It’s been a long analysis and I’m sure there are people out there who will disagree with me and I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Have I overlooked an important fact, or misinterpreted something? Let me know in the comments below. Or just tell me I am wrong because Corrin sucks and yadda yadda yadda. I’m sure someone will. But regardless of your thoughts on Corrin I hope your thoughts on this video [article] were positive and if you could give us a like, share it with your friends or subscribe if you haven’t already then I would greatly appreciate it. Remember to always return to the source and look forward to more Smash content in the future.