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In the previous article, I showcased several quotes from Sakurai on character choices. This time, I will only focus on third-party characters. Special thanks to Masked Man for assistance with the new translation found in this article.
Ever since Smash 64 was released, fans have requested non-Nintendo characters to join the battle. While Doraemon has always been very unlikely, Sonic and Megaman eventually joined the roster.
In Melee, there was some consideration of including James Bond in order to represent the highly successful game Goldeneye. In addition, other Rare characters might have been considered to some degree. However due to copyright and other issues, these characters probably make it into the planning stages of Melee. For all of the sources for these claims, and additional information please check out the Definitive Unused Fighter List.
After Satoru Iwata was able to convince Sakurai to come back to work on a new Smash Bros., Sakurai began working on creating Smash for a new generation. Snake and Sonic’s reveal trailers shocked the world because, for the first time in the series, non-Nintendo characters were actually entering the fray.
The trend only continued in the later installments. In Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U, the third-party roster increased with Mega Man, Pac-Man, and Ryu (as DLC) joining the battle.
Third-party characters represent a unique challenge to the speculation scene. To be honest, the amount of information we have on third-party character selection criteria is extremely limited. In Brawl, Sakurai said he hoped to include certain important game characters who had appeared on a Nintendo console as a “courtesy” while still maintaining the freedom to alter said characters for the needs of Smash. We do know that Heihachi was considered for Smash for Wii U, which might indicate that some “rules” we thought existed (e.g. strong association with Nintendo, overwhelmingly iconic) might not actually be true.
Sakurai has talked about third-party characters in his e-mail response on Brawl’s website (Japanese, archived). PLEASE NOTE I ADDED THE NUMBERS AND BOLD INTO THE TRANSLATION.
“Manga characters will not join the battle (obviously).
- While it’s true that we’ve added characters from other companies,
It’s not going to be anyone and everyone.
Smash is a game that’s made from everyone’s effort.
- Both companies have to want the character to join the battle.
I need them to let me take charge of the character.
In order to fit the character into the world of Smash, I need them to allow me some artistic license.
- The character must carry game history with them.
Besides that, it might be something like a courtesy to include a character who has the experience of being on a Nintendo platform.
At any rate, there will probably only be one or two more.” –Toukouken #3
It’s important to note that while Snake has appeared on a Nintendo platform, the designs used were from games that weren’t on Nintendo platforms (MGS2, MSG3 and MSG4 are the primary influence for the character and stage designs). So while it might be a courtesy, it’s probably not a requirement for the character to have a strong relationship of Nintendo. Instead, the three points I identified in the previous quote seem to be the most important.
Not ‘everyone can join’ is something that Sakurai has usually said when talking about third party characters. When discussing Snake’s inclusion, Sakurai stated:
But while the barrier was indeed broken, that didn’t mean that anyone and everyone would be added to Smash as well.
He later continued,
“…it’s not my intent to arbitrarily increase the number of third-party representatives. To live up to the series’ standards, I can’t do anything too extreme.” Solid Snake Joins the Brawl
This is later said again in the Developer Direct with Megaman,
“I’m not going to have just any character participate from other companies, but [Mega Man]’s definitely in a class of his own.”
Having the creator’s consent to alter the character is a must. Some games don’t translate directly into Smash, and characters must be altered to fit both their original universe and Smash universe. Therefore, Sakurai must have full control over that character. Despite this, he still receives consent from the original creator, whenever possible. He talked about this when discussing Snake and Megaman.
Said plainly, Snake in Smash Bros. would have to be able to do things he couldn’t normally do. For example, in the Metal Gear Solid games, Snake doesn’t jump. He doesn’t have Smash attacks, and there are no midair battles. However, it wouldn’t be Smash Bros without those elements, so we developed certain moves just for him.
We needed the cooperation of both Nintendo and Konami, and the approval of other people involved in order to make it happen. “Snake Joins the Brawl”
Sakurai does draw from multiple sources when designing characters. More information can be found here.
For Megaman, if I was just thinking about how he would fight, he probably would have ended up with standard punches and kicks. Megaman’s moveset in the “Marvel VS. Capcom” series is comprised of punches and kicks, so there would be no inconsistencies there as well. However, the unique trait of the Megaman series is that he uses the attacks of various bosses to fight. I am aiming to capture the “embodiment” of Megaman by incorporating a wealth of these different attacks into his character.
Rather than deciding his character by simply tracing/copying the original work, it’s necessary to solidify the foundation of his image. “Are the Characters Dancing?”
The need to carry game history is something that Sakurai has mentioned very few times. For third party characters, he mentioned this notion with both Pac-Man and Ryu.
Since I am creating the new Smash Bros. in cooperation with Bandai-Namco Games, it makes sense to include one of their characters, and Pac-Man is perhaps Namco’s most iconic character, so Pac-Man should join the fray. “My First Conception is my Landmark”
Ryu has made appearances many times outside of the Street Fighter series, so he’s probably exchanged blows with the highest amount of different types of popular characters. “Lucas, Roy and Ryu Joins the Battle!”
Sakurai has mentioned the idea of working with popular, well-beloved video games while discussing how the Punch-Out!! arcade is a masterpiece.
…I never would have imagined that I personally would be able to work with the main character from such a game…Of course, I felt the same way with Mario, Pit, and Megaman. As a video game designer, I have probably have worked with the largest amount of popular video game characters in the world. — “The Little Pepper is Hot!”
Third party characters will continue to play an increasingly important role in the Super Smash Bros., franchise. I’d strongly encourage everyone to read Snake’s Famitsu Column, Pac-Man’s Famitsu Column, Mega Man’s Famitsu column and Ryu’s Famitsu Column for additional information. Please note, there is a column dedicated to Sonic, but we haven’t translated it yet. Lastly, GDC Slides and the audio presentation are required reading for any Smash fans. Let us know in the comments if we missed any major points in this article.
PushDustIn would love to see Bomberman in Smash. You can tweet him the 3rd party characters you would like to see in Smash on Twitter.
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Mains: Yoshi (64), Game and Watch (Melee), Wario (Brawl), Wario/Pac-Man (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)