Welcome back to Super Smash Step-Brothers, where we narrow down speculation and analyze arguments for and against possible additions to the new Super Smash Brothers game. We’re getting a major update tomorrow through Nintendo Direct, and so we will soon learn what Nintendo has in store for the next installment (if only a little).
In celebration, I took suggestions for today’s update, and got only a very few responses. So it looks like we’ll be talking about the blue fox Krystal today!
Krystal is the last of a lost tribe from Cerinia, and self-imposed guardian of the Dinosaur planet, Sauria. She joined forces with Fox McCloud of the StarFox team to defeat the planet’s malevolent ruler, General Scales, in order to preserve the peace and tranquility of the planet. Afterward, she was inducted to the StarFox team as it’s first female member (though not the first female pilot in the game — a distinction belonging to Katt Monroe).
Krystal, unfortunately, lacks much in the way of characterization or character of her own as she is generally lumped into particular feminine roles in the few games she has appeared in. Despite her strong will, and caring attitude early in the game, she eventually serves as little more than a damsel-in-distress during her debut in StarFox Adventures. In StarFox Assault, while she becomes a pilot on the team, she is effectively the ‘token’ female, and proves to be less apt to space flight than most her male counterparts. StarFox Command does give her a little more depth, as well as other girls to interact with; however, the game can end with her leaving the StarFox team outright, leaving them for the StarWolf, marrying Fox and having a kid, or creating her own all female pilot team. With so many different possible endings, and no follow-up titles to clarify this (the only game following it being the StarFox 64 3DS remake), it’s difficult to gauge which version of Krystal is accurate. Without taking Command into account, Krystal ends up being little more than another princess, similar to Peach or Zelda.
That’s a shame, as Krystal is very interesting as a study for game developers and historians, due to the changes that were made during her debut title’s development. Originally, StarFox Adventures was a Nintendo 64 title under development by Rare, named Dinosaur Planet. The game featured two playable protagonists, Krystal and her brother Sabre. The game languished in development for a long time, to the point it was re-imagined for the Gamecube. The story goes that it was about this time that Shigero Miyamoto saw a build of the game and commented how Sabre looked similar to Fox McCloud, suggesting they make it a StarFox game. Oddly enough, they did just that — removing Sabre and sidelining Krystal in place of Fox as the protagonist. To add insult to injury, Fox ended up wielding the staff of power Krystal possessed through most of the development cycle.
In addition to being able to use the magic staff, Krystal possesses a unique telepathic ability, similar to Deanna Troi from Star Trek. This explains how she is able to communicate with creatures that otherwise wouldn’t speak (dinosaurs), and it is also an ability she uses to help her team during dog-fights — gauging enemy emotional states and motives during intense moments. It also helps determine enemy weaknesses, which is it’s primary game function.
This is where things get a little murky in regards to adding her to Smash Brothers. As a pilot, her most signature ability is one that is difficult to realize in a fighting game. While telekinesis and pyrokinesis are psychic abilities with some punch, telepathy is not a very visual ability, making it difficult to use, control, or avoid properly. Aside from that, there’s not really anything to distinguish her from other StarFox compatriots in terms of weapons or abilities. Therefore, she would likely end up as another character copying Fox’s moves.
The natural argument, then, is to take the staff fighting style from Starfox Adventures and allow Krystal to use it in addition to various magic abilities. While this seems satisfactory compromise, it comes with one major flaw: Krystal does not use the staff in Starfox Adventures. Surely she used it in the beta, and it is technically hers in the game, Fox just happens to find it. Still, the fact that she never actually wields it in game makes bringing her in with it is not an accurate representation. This creates somewhat of a problem with her as a playable Smash Brothers contender, and it doesn’t get much better for her, unfortunately.
While Krystal is technically the product of a third party (Rare in this case), she appears not to have the red-tape issues that other Step-Brothers have had. Having appeared in both StarFox Assault, StarFox Command, and making a cameo in Super Smash Brothers Brawl, it seems Nintendo doesn’t have any problems bringing the character out when they need to, so any affiliation with Rare seems to be a moot point.
However, her unique heritage does play against her. We should first make clear, however, that StarFox Adventures was unusual for a StarFox game. Unlike just about every other game in the franchise, the game has you running around on the planet’s surface, using magic, collecting items, delving dungeons, and solving puzzles. If this sounds similar to the Legend of Zelda series, that’s not coincidental — the original Dinosaur Planet was using the Legend of Zelda engine. As such, Krystal is very different from the majority of the cast, because her debut was so different from the rest of the series. Krystal is a magic-wielding telepath that protects peace-loving dinosaurs, in a series that spends most of it’s time in cockpits firing lasers. Because of this, Krystal becomes an anomaly within the universe she calls home.
One might say Krystal’s oddity is a refreshing change of pace, and a unique character like this should get some lime-light. However, I will offer two examples from my own predictions list as a counter to this. In the second part of my predictions, I stated that Fire Emblem will likely get a third entrant. I chose Micaiah with the same reasoning, a deliberate and refreshing change of pace. However, while Micaiah is anomalous to the Fire Emblem series for being a female protagonist that uses magic, she is not an anomaly to the world of Fire Emblem or feel of the games. Women of power and magic users are not uncommon in the world of Fire Emblem, it’s just that few games ever chose one as their main focus. Krystal, on the other hand, is the only character in her universe, that we know of, with her kinds of powers and abilities.
By contrast, having Fox, Falco, and Wolf fits into StarFox’s repertoire much easier. You have the ace pilot, his wingman, and his rival pilot. Removing Falco from this, as I suggested may happen, does not dilute this feel very much. By removing any of these characters in exchange for Krystal you disrupt the flow and feel of what their universe is about.
Warning Spoilers in video:
At the end of the day, Krystal simply isn’t a StarFox character, and is instead a victim of re-branding. Shoving aside Krystal and her world to make the game more ‘marketable’ left StarFox Adventures and Krystal feeling odd and out of place. I’m certain people at Nintendo trying to work with the franchise are aware of this by now. It could be argued that Nintendo may want to keep such a mistake out of the lime-light, and thusly refuse to include Krystal. Then again, R.O.B the robot and Toon Link were still included in Smash Brothers Brawl, regardless of mixed reactions to their games/products in the past.
However, the argument stands that Krystal simply doesn’t fit in StarFox very well. The only character she gets along with or has any strong affinity for is Fox, and only for the romantic angle. Panther from the StarWolf team shows interest in her, but it’s unclear if that is only due to her ‘token female’ status. She has no real connection with any of the other pilots on the team or even ones on other squads, which is why so many of the endings in StarFox command involve her leaving. As the 3DS remake implies, the series was StarFox before her, and it will continue to be StarFox without her. This, from my perception, is the most telling sign of her possible fate in the Smash Brothers franchise.
Probability Forecast: Fair to Slightly Unreasonable
In spite of the fact that I find the evidence against Krystal’s inclusion far more compelling, I still cannot shake my gut feeling I’m wrong on this one. Therefore, Krystal scores about the same as Geno.
To be more appropriate to my bet, however, I will put down two 3DS’s and 2 copies of StarFox 64 3D, one for the original commentator who suggested it, if Krystal appears as a playable character in the fourth Smash Brothers entry. So, Kaytea better keep your contact information handy if Krystal shows up in today’s Nintendo Direct.
Didn’t know you had a chance to win things by commenting? Well, neither did I. I may do another request contest again as time goes on, but we’ll have to see what the Big N has as plans first. Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions or requests, please post them in the comments below.
Wikipedia entry for Deanna Troi
Arwingpedia entry for Krystal