Welcome to a new series I like to call Super Smash Step-Brothers. I don’t know about anyone else, but I get kind of tired of looking up information on the next Smash Brothers, only to get someone’s list of hopefuls, or get pages and pages of forum entries parading or berating others for their Smash Brothers wish lists. My goal is to clear the air on some of the popular choices for Smash Brothers entrants. I will provide information to help others understand why people would want these characters in the game, as well as provide as rational and objective reasons as I can for their exclusion.
Since turnabout is fair play, I am starting with one of my favorite video game characters of all time: Geno.
Geno is the name of a popular child’s toy in Mario’s world; or rather, it was at the time that Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars takes place. The toy is referred to as a doll in the game, but evidence suggests that this is something of mistranslation, or at best poorly chosen wording. Geno comes with a wide array of accessories, most of which are replacement arms, which are available all over Mario’s World, even in civilizations in the clouds. This suggests that the Geno “doll” is more of a Geno “action-figure,” with accessories and interchangeable parts.
In any case, after Smithy crashes through the Star Road and into Bowser’s Keep, a lone star spirit is tasked with retrieving the broken pieces of Star Road that fell to Earth. In order to do this, the spirit picks the Geno figure as his avatar, and sets off to save the world. After an encounter with one of Smithy’s minions Bowyer, the spirit is aided by and eventually teams up with Mario and Mallow — asking them to refer to him as Geno, since his name is unpronounceable in their tongue. Together they set forth to recover the pieces of Star Road and return the power to grant wishes to the Star Road.
With the exception of the toy possession, the story of the star spirit (who will simply be referred to as Geno from here on) doesn’t sound terribly original; however, it was definitely breaking new ground for a Mario game. Both Geno and Mallow are characters designed by Squaresoft, so they had a very different feel than other Mario heroes.
Geno in particular was the game’s equivalent to a black mage from Final Fantasy. Geno toted a powerful beam attack, an energy disc notable for dealing 9999 damage, the ability to rain energy from the sky to strike his foes, and even the ability to transform into a cannon to fire a small sun at enemies. Unlike a traditional black mage, however, he also had a number of strong physical attacks, courtesy of his action figure accessories. He can fire bullets from his fingers, cannon balls from his elbow, and even launch his own fists at enemies in a pinch. His arms can also transform into small wand-like barrels with which to fire his Geno Beam or star shots out of. Also, unlike a black mage, Geno is incredibly fast, and is the fastest of Mario’s party members in the game (speed reducing or increasing items and effects not withstanding).
Personality-wise, Geno is pretty one note, dolling out exposition when Mario and company run into something they aren’t familiar with. Otherwise, he is quiet and reserved, only speaking when something needs to be said — though still more chatty than the game’s main protagonist Mario. In many ways, he is like Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars: A New Hope — a guiding force, but not afraid to mix it up when needed.
All these make Geno an oddity in the world of Mario, but he is most likely not remembered fondly just for his stats and powerful attacks or his mentor status, but his sacrifice. (Spoilers) At the end of the game when Smithy is defeated, the star spirit must shed it’s mortal coil to return to Star Road and repair it. This involves a pretty powerful scene where Mario and company must say goodbye, probably forever, to their guiding force throughout their adventure. The ending manages to carry the bittersweet feeling that victory with loss should. It’s probably the strongest emotion a Mario game has ever managed to stir within me, and I suspect many others as well.
Thus we get into why Geno is requested for Smash Brothers, and why his cult following is, if not large, incredibly vocal. He is the first, and probably only Mario character to be so selfless toward the purpose of others as to give up a mortal existence. He’s the only Mario character who leaves in full knowledge and intention of never returning. His moment of glory was inspiring enough to make fans want him back, not just in Smash Brothers, but anything.
As far as him fitting into the Smash Brothers scene, Geno is a mixed bag. Geno clearly has an arsenal large enough and varied enough that he should be incredibly feasible. However, many of his attacks, such as Geno Flash and Geno Blast (area of effect attacks I mentioned earlier) would make impressive Super Smash attacks, but not regularly accessible specials. His Geno Beam, while an early attack for Geno, is still a beam, which could be too powerful if interpreted wrong. Even his Geno Whirl, which is the most benign of his attacks can deal 9999 damage if timed correctly in Mario RPG. Translating his magic attacks into a form that’s not too powerful, but still reminiscent of his original appearance is difficult. On the other had, only using attacks from his action figure accessories seems to betray the true intent of the character as well. An interpretation of Geno that works in Smash is a delicate balance.
Much of the argument against Geno, however, comes not from his worth or his adaptation, but the politics that surround him. As I stated earlier, Geno was created by Squaresoft (now known as Square Enix) for Super Mario RPG as they were the developers on the game. This appears to be true of all the original characters from the game as well, since none, save for Geno, have appeared in other titles. Geno does appear in Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga in a mini-game, but the end credits credit Square for his appearance in that game — supporting the idea that Geno is property of Square, or Square Enix.
This means that Geno is in a red-tape mambo with Square Enix and Nintendo, leading many to believe that Geno would inevitably take up a third party slot in the game’s roster. This is also why battles against Geno fans are usually very heated. Since Geno would supposedly be representing Square Enix, it means characters from Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, or other Square Enix franchises would lose out if he were included. Also, since third party slots are presumably rare in Smash Brothers, Geno’s inclusion could mean the loss of any other third party contender as well — thus, turning fans of Capcom, Namco, and other companies against him also.
While I’m not going to argue against the red-tape around Geno as issue for his inclusion, it’s not insurmountable, and I suspect that if Nintendo wanted Geno in their arsenal, they could have him easily. This leads me to the one argument that typically isn’t addressed in great detail that unfortunately spells doom for Geno.
Firstly, I would recommend reading this entire article, but if not, at least the page the second page found here: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_123/2623-Mario-is-Unmarketable.2. This article colored my understanding of the Mario series as well as Geno’s role in it when I first read it. Namely, I realized that the Mario games are not heavy on continuity, if and when they have any continuity at all. This is intentional. Nintendo’s goal is that Mario remains pure and untainted, and therefore cannot devolve into a mess of confusion and misunderstanding every time a new Mario game comes out (unlike a certain Hedgehog has done in the past). Sure Legend of Zelda and Metroid have their own story arcs to them, but Metroid games have fewer recurring characters, and Legend of Zelda has far more leeway since each installment takes place many years apart from the others. Returning Geno to Mario’s world would present continuity to the series, spanning at least several years, resulting in confusion as to what games and events are canonical to Mario.
But that’s just Mario, what does that have to do with Smash Brothers? Well, if Geno is incorporated into Smash Brothers, he is liable to get a groundswell of interest around him, forcing Nintendo/ Square Enix to look into reviving him in the Mario series or his own series somehow. This would be difficult for Square Enix to pull off on their own, and dangerous to Nintendo and their intent for the Mario series to remain unchained. Now, the chances of this groundswell occurring is not extremely likely, as Lucas’s presence in Brawl did little for making a Mother 3 port to other countries. However, the interest in Marth and Roy spawning new Fire Emblem games for the West, and Pit’s appearance resulting in a new entry in the Kid Icarus series proves that it’s still a possibility.
What’s more, I don’t feel that Geno’s return would and should be met with such fanfare anyway. Geno is the first character in a Mario game to make such a meaningful sacrifice that having him return I think would belittle that sacrifice. I turn to Nintendo’s old rival Sega for an example.
At the end of Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow realizes Maria’s wish that he would help save humanity, and so teams up with Sonic to stop the ARK and the creature latched onto it from crashing into and damaging the Earth. At the end of the fight, Shadow plummets to the Earth after his super form has run out. He is presumed dead, and Sonic and friends all mourn his sacrifice. Then, Shadow shows up in Sonic Heroes with amnesia and no memory of the trials he endured in the last game. The reappearance of Shadow, and effective rebooting of his character is such an insult it turned me off of the series for good. If Geno was handled with similar or worse care, I’d much rather they leave him alone.
And so my conclusion is that, while I think Geno would make a great addition to the game, his inclusion would be too involved, and too counter to Nintendo’s goals, making it very unlikely. In addtion, his history and the meaning he holds to his fans should be reason enough not to want his inclusion so badly.
Probability Forecast: Fair to Slightly Unreasonable
My assessment of Geno’s chances as a playable character in the upcoming Smash Brothers game is “fair to slightly unreasonable.” If Geno turns out to be in the next Smash Brothers game as a playable character, I will not only preorder the game and buy a Wii U, but give up my promising career as an amateur blogger to become the first professional Geno Smash Brothers player.
Agree? Disagree? Have an argument I missed, or just want to tell me how wrong I am? Post a response in the comments below. If you have any suggestions for more characters to include in this series, feel free to let me know — just be sure it’s no one already on my list, found here, and here.
Videos used for this article: dsguy411 Super Mario RPG Part 16: Geno Awakens!, LukeHarris Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars – Ending Video, Christopher Niosi Super Mario RPG: Waltz of the Forest, cheezepirate Ending to Sonic Adventure 2 Battle.