So the WiiU is out now, so the next though on everyone’s mind is when the new Smash Brothers game will be released. Therefore, today’s topic is Super Smash Brothers Wii-U, or Super Smash Brothers Universe, or Super Smash Brothers 4, whatever you care to call it so far. By now the word has spread among the masses that NamcoBandai is running the show for the next installment of Smash Brothers, and everyone is wondering what great changes this would bring to the series. The answer, of course, is slim to none. NamcoBandai may put a different spin on some things, but at the end of the day, this is still Smash Brothers, and that’s something NamcoBandai will inevitably respect.
Considering the announcements are only going to get more revealing, and that I fully anticipate to be proven wrong at the outset of the first trailer, I am composing my predictions for the series, mostly just for fun, but also to show others how an appropriate prediction list is done. I also am pretty certain that I won’t be too far off on these either.
Most of what I say here takes inspiration from what characters were chosen in previous installments, as well as how their eligibility was determined. I came up with this list by delving into the mind of Sakurai and other Nintendo executives to come up with a scenario that would make sense in their minds. To summarize, this list is looking at Nintendo exclusive characters, and determine who made strong impressions or had an impact this console cycle (console cycle being defined as Wii + late DS + early 3DS era games). For any third party characters, they had to have at least one game on a Nintendo platform to qualify.
To start with, I should mention one particular feature that I think will show up in this game too – alternate outfits. Super Smash Bros. Brawl did feature alternate costumes of sorts – Wario’s traditional outfit, starting a match as Zero-suit Samus, and starting as Shiek to name a few examples. However, alternate outfits have become more of a main stay in fighting games, which is why I think they will play a much larger role in the newest installment. All characters will get an alternate costume of some sort, which will also eliminate a number of characters from the roster. This also heavily influences some of my opinions on the roster, since with this system in place, a number of “clone characters” serve little to no purpose in the new installment.
Therefore, to kick this list off, I will begin with the more controversial part of the list –
First on the chopping block is Toon Link. Toon Link/Young Link are the characters most like their non-clone counterparts. Thus, I don’t think they’ll survive as anything other than an alternate costume. Having two versions of Link adds very little to the cast, and honestly the Toon version of Link hasn’t been as active since the Wii/ 3DS came out. In essence, this character is stepping out to allow more room for another, more unique Zelda character.
To clarify, I don’t think Pokemon Trainer was a bad character. He was an interesting experiment, and addition to the cast. I also think that another character like this is certainly a possibility. However, Pokemon Trainer, as he is presented in Brawl – with Charizard, Ivysaur, and Squirtle – will not be returning. With Jigglypuff and Pikachu in the roster, Pokemon Trainer’s other 3 pokemon bring the ratio of 1st generation Pokemon to later generations a whopping 6 to 1, which isn’t as appropriate for what I consider this console cycle’s fore-running series. Again, we may still see a Pokemon Trainer, but not the same team used in Brawl.
Lucas (or Ness)
Much like Link is to Toon Link, there is only a mild distinction between Lucas and Ness. PK Thunder and PK Love aside, there aren’t many good reasons to keep them as distinct characters, but plenty of reasons to the contrary. The hardest evidence is that fact that Lucas, despite his appearance, never came overseas. The Mother series, save for Earthbound, is still a Japan-only franchise, and a franchise that has not seen any sequels lately I might add. For these reasons, I think Lucas will likely be regulated to an alternate costume. However, I can still see them throwing a curve-ball and regulating Ness to an alternate outfit instead, which is why I list him as well. Either way, Mother/Earthbound will be down to one representative this outing.
Of the two third party representatives of the game, Snake is the least likely to return. Snake was let into Brawl, because Kojima specially asked, and because he had a rerelease of the first to Metal Gear Solid titles on the Gamecube. This console cycle, however, Snake has been almost exclusively Sony. I have entertained the idea of a character from Advance Wars taking his moveset and just removing the Metal Gear related idioms with something else, but that doesn’t seem very likely to me. We’ll likely be getting a completely different character, hailing from a different company.
Probably the most tentative character on this list, as his inclusion is really up in the air. If Sega is still doing okay by the time the game is well into development, or if Nintendo just up and buys them out, he has a good chance. His appearances with Mario in the Olympics games do nothing but cement that idea. However, if things go poorly, and Sega gets bought out by some other company his chances are rather slim. Sega has been nestling up to TecmoKoei lately (see Akira and Sarah in DOA), so a merger/buyout with them could lead to interesting possibilities.
Now that the bad news is out of the way, let’s move on to what everyone wants to know. Note that I am fairly confident with the numbers in terms of character slots, though I’ll admit that some of my specific choices may be a tad off. I’ll explain further below. So now, the whose-who of Smash 4’s newcomers:
Toads from Super Mario Brothers Wii
I’m not going to make any friends with this one, but this is just the type of character(s) that come into this series. While they would not be the most popular characters to be sure, I can easily see them adopting a style similar to the Ice Climbers, but with their special moves playing off the “coopetitive” nature of the game they hail from. This is the type of characters that Sakurai and the Smash Brothers team eat up because the of the odd, quirky things you can do with it. The fact that they are hated by a good portion of the fanbase, I think just adds fuel to the fire for their inclusion as well. For these reasons, I’d say these guys are practically shoe-ins.
Midna from Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess
There aren’t a lot of recurring characters in the Zelda franchise, and the ones there are already exist as playable characters in Smash. While Midna has yet to show up in anything other than Twilight Princess, Link has only had a couple outings this cycle (and one was a remake). Midna represents one of the draws of the Zelda franchise that isn’t completely represented in the Smash games yet – interesting and engaging secondary or tertiary characters. Particularly in games that Zelda or Ganon don’t participate much, Link has to rely on, or fight against some interesting and dynamic characters. Midna is also rather unique to the series, being one of the few characters with a very deep arc and backstory to them, making her an excellent and deserved addition in my eyes.
Prince Fluff from Kirby’s Epic Yarn
The newest character addition to the Kirby franchise, and a playable character at that. Prince Fluff is the ruler of Patch Land, which Kirby visits in Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Again this is a kind of character the Smash team looks for. Fluff would use his yarn powers to pull, push, and transform much as he and Kirby do in Patchland as his moveset, making for a fun and quirky character that is very different from other competitors. The other possibility is either the bandana’ed Waddle Dee from Return to Dreamland, or a Yarn version of Kirby. Prince Fluff’s selection makes sense, but I have a great fear that we might get Yarn Kirby instead.
Matthew (or Issaac, Felix) from Golden Sun
An assist trophy that should go full character, while some of the other Nintendo series have floundered, Golden Sun released two games since Brawl (one for the GBA and another for the DS). The series and characters are unique and interesting, and it’s one of the few Nintendo RPGs that has had a run this past console cycle aside from Pokemon. That should be reason enough to keep up the hope that Matthew (or either of his predecessors) makes it into the game – and is certainly reason enough for the series to get more spotlight.
Little Mac from Punch-Out
The third in my assist trophy trilogy, Little Mac seems like he was a great addition to the fighting game long ago, but his lack of recent activity hurt him somewhat. Mac saw a resurgence though, with a new Punch-Out title, likely helped by the success of Wii Sports’ boxing mode. Again, when choosing new and uprising franchises to the new game, this rags-to-riches story is one that belongs in the epitome of Smash history.
2 third party characters
As I stated above, it’s entirely possible that the other third party characters will likely get replaced. I almost hazard at a guess, but this is very difficult to say. Based on the fact that NamcoBandai will be spearheading this installment, they seem the likely contributors to this cause. Presuming we’re running on Sakurai’s old ruleset – that they must have originated in video games, and they had to be on a Nintendo system – the Tekken characters are actually not very likely to appear. This means however, Pac-Man is as easy as in, and characters like Nightmare or Mitsurugi certainly have a shot.
That wraps up part 1. Who else will show up in the game? Who else will be cast to the wayside following Brawl? Find out in part 2.