Category Archives: Super Smash Step-Brothers

Super Smash Step-Brothers: Veteran Round!

Is it over?  Is it safe to come out?  There aren’t anymore character announcements right?

Nintendo gave a good show this year, but most importantly gave us some more Smash Brothers news to talk about.  As was expected, Palutena and Pac-man have joined the cast.  However, some have been complaining that we didn’t get much in the way of returning characters.  Why is that?  Well, with only a few months left, we may as well conjecture a bit more.

 

~~The Veteran Round~~

Snake

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Being a Konami character, it’s difficult to determine whether or not he will be included.  Little evidence exists that such a deal has been struck, but little evidence existed when he was announced for Brawl as well.  However, Zero-Suit Samus’s new Final Smash seems somewhat familiar to Snake’s Final Smash from Brawl.  The only other evidence revolving around the Metal Gear series in Smash involves Grey Fox’s voice actor and Raiden’s voice actor claiming to be in Smash Brothers, but not Snake.  It’s a tough call, though, as evidence either way is so difficult to find right now.

No appearance at E3 means… :  Essentially nothing.  E3 was Pac-man’s day to shine.  That being said, no appearance at all so far may not bode well.

Forecast: Mostly Unlikely; He could still show up fashionably late, but I’m not counting on it.

 

Wario

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Mario’s bad alter-ego, Wario was a new inclusion in Smash Brothers Brawl.  The star of several series of his own now, he has even been given his own ‘W’ brand in Smash Brothers to separate himself and characters and stages related to him.  That ‘W’ has shown up at least twice now, with the reveal of Waluigi and Ashley from Warioware as assist trophies.  Also, the Wario games are still going, with Game & Wario having released recently.

As a fighter, Wario was unique but not terribly complicated — his motorbike item being the most complex attack in his arsenal.  Thus, it seems unlikely that Wario would pose any huge design challenges to the team.  It makes it somewhat baffling then that we haven’t seen the big man himself yet.

No appearance at E3 means… : Very Little.  While his lack of appearance is strange, it doesn’t color his results.

Forecast: Likely; There’s very little reason to make this cut, so I would be surprised if he didn’t appear at some point.

 

ROB

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ROB the robot was a toy that was meant to accompany Gyromite for the original Nintendo Entertainment System.  He plays a significant role in Nintendo’s history as ROB’s inclusion helped Nintendo sell systems in the Americas by classifying them as toys.  He’s a fascinating piece of Nintendo history; not everyone in the Smash community agrees with that sentiment, however.  Perhaps it was poor timing, but poor ROB is looked down upon by most smashers after his debut in Brawl.

Despite that, there really isn’t anything wrong with his moveset.  He has a wide-array of abilities, none of which are overly complicated compared to moves used by other characters.  The only thing ROB has against him is the ire that rose against him in the last game.

No appearance at E3 means… :  Absolutely nothing.  In fact, if he is in the game, he will not be announced until long after the game launches.  A ROB the robot trailer would turn the hype upside-down for some fans.

Forecast: Partly Likely; Sakurai is aware enough of the community to know what they don’t like, but also isn’t one to care very much.

 

Meta-Knight

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Meta-Knight is a tough call.  Meta-Knight is one of the coolest looking characters from the Kirby franchise.  He’s a bad boy, usually mixing it up with Kirby whenever they meet.  He’s honorable though and will admit defeat.  He’s an incredibly popular character, so it’s hard to imagine cutting him.

On the other hand, Meta-Knight was the biggest menace to the game balance in Brawl.  Most of the Brawl tournament match-ups were determine by how well a character fought against Meta-Knight.  His mobility and all of his attacks doubling as recovery moves just made him incredibly over-powered compared to the rest of the cast.  What’s worse, there isn’t an easy way to remedy that.  Many of his moves would have to be changed dramatically in terms of how they work in order to bring Meta-Knight down to a level that evens the playing field.  This can be done… but is it simpler to leave him out entirely?

While that’s the simple solution, Sakurai’s fondness for the character may ultimately win out.

No appearance at E3 means… : Again, very little.  Much like ROB, many Smash players will want to know he’s not over-powered like he was before.  His reveal would have to be handled delicately.

Forecast: Mostly Likely; Sakurai’s fondness will probably mean he’ll look into balancing the character out rather than removing him entirely, but I’ve been surprised before.

 

Game&Watch

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Similar to ROB, Game & Watch is a character that holds special significance to Nintendo.  The Game & Watch series were small electronic games that Nintendo published long before the Nintendo or Famicom came into existence.  They were produced by acclaimed engineer and designer of the GameBoy, Gunpei Yokoi.  Perhaps it’s in Yokoi’s memory that many smash fans stay their hands against the 2 dimensional figure.  Having appeared in both Melee and Brawl, it may also be that Game & Watch is simply considered a staple at this point.  He certainly is evidence to Sakurai’s taste in characters.

No appearance at E3 means…:  Game & Watch actually did appear in the Pac-man trailer, showcasing how G&W and Pac-man were created the same year, 1980.  Strangely he has not been confirmed as a playable character on the Smash Brothers website, however.

Forecast: Mostly Certain; It seems out of place for him to appear in Pac-man’s trailer and not appear in the game.

Ice Climbers

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Another character Sakurai shows fondness for, the Ice Climbers were a pair of characters that could have usurped Mario as Nintendo icons… if their game had been any good.  Much like Pit, Sakurai dug up this pair and gave them an updated look to compete in the Smash Brothers tournament.

Reactions to Ice Climbers have been mixed.  Ice Climbers were incredibly unique though, as you effectively controlled two characters at once.  A single Ice Climber alone was not terribly threatening, but two together were devastating.

The climbers, however, do have a potential design flaw.  Due to them effectively being two characters on the screen at once, their premier game, Smash Brothers Melee, tended to tax the Gamecube heavily when more than one pair were on the screen at once.  While that seemed to be remedied in Brawl, it is debatable whether the 3DS would have the horsepower necessary to handle that kind of scenario.

It’s also worth noting that Rosalina possesses a similar gimmick, but far more useful, as her partner can just be re-summoned if he is knocked away.

No appearance at E3 means… :  Unknown.  Though with few other veterans appearing either, it doesn’t significantly impact their results.

Forecast: Partly Likely with a chance of Unlikely;  Sakurai may like these characters, but if they present serious design issues, they will likely get canned.

Ganondorf

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The most vile of Nintendo’s villains, Ganondorf slid into Smash Brothers by simply being an easily recognizable character from the Zelda franchise.  He has been in both Smash Brother Melee and Brawl, and in both instances has borrowed most or all of his moveset from a character that he has no direct relation to, Captain Falcon.  It may be about time to bring along a new moveset… or perhaps not?

Ganondorf has always felt a tad odd, but creating a whole new moveset for a character that is supposed to be a returning fighter seems like quite a bit of work.  Alternatively, it would be disappointing to lose one of Nintendo’s greatest villains from the cast.

There is the possibility however, that another Zelda villain, Demise, could take his place.  Unlike Ganondorf, Demise seems more like the type to get his hands dirty, so translating him from Captain Falcon’s animations would make a tad more sense.

No appearance at E3 means… :  Not very much.  Most of the other Zelda characters have been revealed, there has to be one secret to everyone.

Forecast: Partly Unlikely; He’s likely to be cut in favor of another character before getting a more unique moveset.  He may be left in the game though if time is is an issue.

Captain Falcon

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The captain of the racing ship the Blue Falcon, Captain Falcon was the Smash Brother no one knew they wanted. Captain Falcon became an icon by being a fun and interesting character even though he hails from a game where he drives a car and is rarely on screen himself. He was unusual, and incidentally became the epitome of what to expect from Smash Brothers contestants.

The character is one of the most iconic characters in Smash, in competitive play and otherwise. His popularity and quirky but smooth style signifies that there really would be no way to leave him off the roster.

No appearance at E3 means…: Nothing. Of his 3 appearances in Smash so far, he was a hidden character in 2. It seems likely that he will remain so in this installment, so he wouldn’t need a reveal until the game is released.

Forecast: Mostly Certain; Sakurai has shown a fondness for the character second only to the game’s fanbase. Cutting him seems extremely unlikely.

 

Jigglypuff

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Much like Captain Falcon, Jigglypuff is a veteran that has been in all the installments of Smash Brothers thus far.  In Brawl, she was omitted from the story mode, however, leaving some to think she may have been a last minute addition.  Unlike Falcon, however, Jigglypuff isn’t a completely unique character.  Many of Jigglypuff’s animations are taken from or inspired by Kirby, with the exception of her special moves.  Her moveset has varied as the series expanded however.  Nevertheless, Jigglypuff isn’t exactly the most iconic pokemon, nor the most iconic Smash Brother.  Perhpas it is logical to add Jigglypuff to the chopping block.

However, Jigglypuff still holds relevance thanks to Pokemon X/Y.  How?  The 6th generation of pokemon introduced the new Fairy type.  Not only did this add new Fairy pokemon to the game, but retroactively changed the types of other pokemon… including Jigglypuff.

The other point in her favor also, is that the current Smash 4 cast is severely lacking in ‘cute’ pokemon.  Sure, the gamer crowd loves the big bad pokemon like Charizard and Lucario, but there are just as many or even more pokemon in the games who are simply there to be adorable.  Pikachu can’t hold that title alone;  Jigglypuff fits that perfectly.

While certainly not as exciting as some other legendary veterans may be, Jigglypuff is relevant and simple to implement; the only reason not to add her in is to simply not wanting to bother.

No appearance at E3 means:  yet again, effectively nothing.  Jigglypuff has always been a hidden character.  It’s unlikely this installment will buck that tradition.

Forecast: Mostly Certain;  Sakurai hasn’t expressed interest one way or another.  Jigglypuff could get dropped for bigger, nastier pokemon, but I consider that a long shot.

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To round out this list, we have 2 pairs characters, each seemingly vying for a single slot.  Who should be picked… lets take a look.

Ness / Lucas

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Both Mother series protagonists and both Smash Veterans, Ness and Lucas are incredibly similar in terms of movesets.  With the Mother series on a bit of a hiatus, a cut seems if not necessary, certainly possible.  But who?

In one corner is Ness.  Ness is a Smash veteran dating back to the original Smash on the Nintendo 64.  Ness has appeared in every iteration of Smash Brothers thus far, although twice as a hidden character.  What’s more, Ness has seen a small resurgence as Nintendo re-released Earthbound  (also known as Mother 2)on the Wii U last year, giving him a modicum of relevance in the modern market.

In the other corner, we have Lucas.  Lucas first appeared in Smash as an initiatory character in Brawl.  Lucas comes from Mother 3, a game released for the GameBoy Advance in Japan — a game that has not seen a Western release at all.  Lucas was the token Japan-only character in the last game in hopes of possibly seeing it move to the West, which unfortunately didn’t happen.

No appearance at E3 means…: For Ness, very little as he has appeared as a hidden character before.  For Lucas this may be a little more troubling, but with no other veterans confirmed it’s not damning.

Forecast: Ness Mostly Likely / Lucas Mostly Unlikely; There’s the slight possibility that Sakurai could pull a fast one and put Lucas ahead of Ness.  Unless something else changes relatively soon however, I think Ness holds the advantage on this one.

Falco / Wolf

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This is a seemingly similar battle.  Falco and Wolf are both characters from the Starfox franchise.  While Starfox has had a new remake in the past few years, and has a new sequel in the works, it’s debatable if the roster will reflect this.  Chances are good though, that Starfox will be losing one of these fine figures… but who?

Falco is a Smash veteran since Brawl, taking a slightly modified version of Fox’s moveset for his own.  As Fox’s wingman, it makes sense that the two share some similar moves.  In Brawl, this was changed to differentiate Falco from Fox a bit more.  Falco appears in all the Starfox games to date, even as a cameo in Starfox Adventures briefly.  He’s a staple of the franchise, but is he a staple in Smash?

Wolf is Fox’s arch-rival.  Although typically fighting against Fox and his team, Wolf has shown to be more mercenary than villainous — actually siding with Fox and company in Starfox Assault.  Wolf joined Smash in the previous installment, Brawl.  Although he is deemed a ‘clone’ character, the majority of Wolf’s animations are actually unique to him.  Despite seeming very similar to Fox, he plays very differently… except for the landmaster; I’m not sure where he got that from.

No appearance at E3 means: Hopefully we understand by now, veterans not showing at E3 doesn’t confirm or deny anything really.  For both Falco and Wolf, both of these fighters were hidden characters in previous iterations, there’s really no reason to believe they would be otherwise.

Forecast: Falco Likely, Wolf Partly Unlikely; Falco’s history with the StarFox and Smash franchises give him the edge over Wolf.  As much as I would like Wolf back, he would need a new Final Smash.  If E3 information is anything to go on, most of the old characters aren’t getting updates in this fashion.  An interesting compromise would be to give Falco some of Wolf’s old animations this time.

 

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It still remains to be seen how many characters the new game can carry, and we’re getting ever closer to determining a full roster.  We won’t know for sure until the 3DS version launches in Japan in September.  Who do you think will make it?

Super Smash Step-Brothers: E3 Lightning Round!

With E3 fast approaching Super Smash Step-Brothers will soon have to take a hiatus.  However, before we do, I thought it appropriate to look at a few other competitors in brief before we close down shop.  So, without further ado, the E3 Lightning Round!

 

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Ridley

We’ll start with some house keeping.  I mentioned Ridley in Smash 4 in my early predictions list a long while back.  I specifically mentioned him because I figured Metroid needed a second representative, and I didn’t know of any appropriate alternatives.  After doing my episode on King K. Rool, and the revelation of Zero Suit Samus as a completely separate character, I’ve had to rethink my position on that.

Ridley suffers from a few of the same issues that K. Rool did — namely, that Ridley isn’t exactly what the series is about.  Metroid’s basic plot is one person working to overcome alien lifeforms and planets toward a specific goal.  It’s a very Man vs Nature (or in this case Woman vs Environment) type of plot.  Thusly, Ridley, more often than not, is just an obstacle to be overcome.  He’s one of the most frequent obstacles in the series to be sure, but he serves no other purpose in the end.

Ridley’s purpose in the games speaks to why he has a distinct lack of personality traits aside from being big and mean.  Again, this is similar to K. Rool in some ways, as other villains that have shown up in Smash before show at least some depth to their character; meanwhile, Ridley is at best somewhat sentient, and at worst animalistic.  Heck, K. Rool shows that he has some strange personality quirks from time to time, Ridley rarely shows anything close to that even.

The Metroid series being represented by Samus in and out of her suit represents the series just fine without him, and he doesn’t add anything else to the roster that is expressly needed otherwise.

Forecast: Fair to Slightly Unreasonable

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Mewtwo

Mewtwo is a special case.  He is a hotly anticipated character, even though he’s technically a veteran fighter.  Mewtwo went on the chopping block for Brawl, but many want him back.  It’s not hard to see why.  Mewtwo is a very iconic figure from the early days of Pokemon.  More than that, he one of several pokemon who obtained a new Mega-Evolution — placing him back in the spotlight once again.  It seems obvious to throw him back in the ring again.

Perhaps not, however.   While I won’t argue against Mewtwo’s triumphant return, I can see some potential design snags to overcome.  While Mewtwo’s regular moveset could just be ported from Melee, his new Mega-Evolutions are another story.  Charizard and Lucario also have Mega-Evolutions, and in both cases, the creatures don’t really change enough that their standard animations wouldn’t work — Lucario gains armor and some dangly bits, and Charizard turns black and takes up smoking or gets some new frills.  Mewtwo’s two Mega-Evolutions require a bit more work than that.

Mewtwo X stands firm, and is much more muscular than his compatriot.  Mewtwo Y basically inverts Mewtwo’s body structure, making him float high above the ground with his tail now coming off the back of his head.  In both cases, neither form would be an easy translation of Mewtwo’s old Melee animations.  Both Mewtwo himself and the forms could be retooled to work better in conjunction, but it seems like an awful lot of work for what should be a much easier inclusion.

Forecast:  Unlikely with a chance of Unreasonable.

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Sora

So, after those heavy hitters, let’s try a softer target.  Sora from Kingdom Hearts is a favorite among Square-Enix fans and is generally the counter-Geno among speculators.  Sora is far more recent than Geno, and has a following, albeit somewhat removed from the typical Smash crowd.  Sora would technically be a video game character from a Nintendo system, since he appeared in games on the Gameboy Advance, DS, and 3DS.  What’s more, he is the hero of his own series, unlike some other characters affiliated with SquareEnix.

Unfortunately, I believe Sora suffers from some of the same problems as Geno — namely his mixed heritage.  Sora is technically a SquareEnix character, but he was created in a series that was a joint venture with conglomerate extraordinaire Disney.  While I’m sure there’s plenty SquareEnix could do to prevent any offense from Disney, I’m certain both SquareEnix and Nintendo would rather not risk it.

Potential legal battles aside, much of what makes Sora interesting is his interactions with Disney characters and ability to cast Final Fantasy style magic.  The former would not be available in a Smash game, and the latter could be provided by just about any other SquareEnix character.

Forecast: Mostly Unreasonable

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Banjo Kazooie

This one I’ve seen on so many lists it is astonishing.  Banjo and Kazooie certainly seem to fit the mold for Smash Brothers of course, being lovable cartoony characters from the Nintendo 64 era.  I’ll admit, seeing the duo throwing the beat down along side Diddy Kong again is rather nostalgic, save for one small problem… these characters are now owned by Microsoft.

I thought I’d have more to say on that, but really that’s it.  Nintendo could throw the whole world for a loop by getting the license for them, but I pity anyone holding their breaths for this.

Forecast: Unreasonable, and Improbable

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Bayonetta

Another common list appearance, Bayonetta has been on the Smash radar since Nintendo announced they’d be fitting the bill to publish it on the Wii U.  Placing her in Smash Brothers would certainly be a huge promotion for the new game to be sure.  What’s more, it adds another female Smash Brother to the proceedings.

However, she exists in a strange limbo as well.  It’s unclear, for starters, if Bayonetta is still a Sega licensed character or if she’s wholly owned by Platinum Games.  If she’s exclusive to Platinum that bodes well; if she isn’t then perhaps not.  The other possible issue is some of her skills.  While Zero Suit Samus shows it’s not out of the question to be sexy in Smash Brothers, it’s debatable whether a heroine who shows quite a bit of skin to perform her most powerful moves is something Nintendo would condone.

Forecast: Reasonable, with a chance of Unlikely

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Shulk

The meat of this four course meal, the next several characters are all ones that have been presumably ‘leaked;’  Shulk shall be the first.  I’ll admit, I knew next to nothing about Shulk before I saw his name on the ‘leak’ from Gematsu.  The protagonist of Xenoblade, I think Shulk isn’t a terrible choice — especially since Xenoblade was something of sleeper hit toward the end of the Wii’s life-cycle.  What’s more, as I understand it, Shulk is not just a dude with a sword, he’s also a magic wielder; this makes him a potential alternative to Sora.  What Shulk has over Sora though is that he does not provoke the ire of the House of Mouse, nor require a third-party company to anti-up either.

Considering some of Nintendo and Sakurai’s decisions in the past, throwing in a character in an effort to drum up more talk about them is not unusual, and certainly not unexpected.  Shulk’s major flaws relate to his obscurity which are more of a boon to him in this case than a mark against him.

Forecast: Reasonable

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Chrom

A name I had heard before is Chrom, the hero from the latest Fire Emblem title;  I mentioned him briefly in my predictions list as well.  I still think Micaiah would be better in terms of character variety, but I can see why Chrom could be preferable.  Being a more recent protagonist, he could be construed as more of a relevant character.  He has a unique weapon, the Falchion, which can change up his play-style, and is capable of becoming an archer or cavalier in the game, lending some other interesting possibilities to his moveset as well.

Chrom was considered a guarantee by some, until Sakurai unveiled Ike as a returning character.  Since Fire Emblem has never had more than two representatives in Smash before, Chrom’s potential has been called into question.

Chrom’s potential I had questioned before.  Being another sword user, Chrom seems to only show one aspect to the series.  Even bringing a bow or some horse tactics to the affair doesn’t differentiate him too far from Link.  While he’s earned the privilege, I’m not sure he’s a strong choice for this installment.

Forecast: Reasonable, with a chance of unlikely

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Palutena

The most leaked character in Smash Brothers history, or at least since the newest installment was announced, Palutena is the goddess for whom Pit from Kid Icarus serves.  Her being a playable character isn’t as absurd as it initially sounds, as she regularly interacts with Pit, even being mind-controlled into fighting Pit at some point in Kid Icarus Uprising.  This fight even gives a potential moveset for her as well.

But why Palutena when there are plenty of other obscure characters?

Sakurai has shown a proclivity toward characters he has worked with before.  This is one of the reasons we see Kirby, Meta-Knight, and King Dedede in Smash Brother Brawl presumably.  This is also why Pit is in his Kid Icarus Uprising garb in Brawl, despite the game not being released until much later.

Kid Icarus Uprising was Sakurai’s last project before working on this installment of Smash Brothers.

While it could all be a red herring, it is a logical progression of assumptions.

Forecast: Likely

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Chorus Men

Speaking of penchants of the Smash Brothers director, we also have a character from Rhythm Heaven, known as the Chorus Men, or Chorus Man.  Another series I was unaware of until just recently, the Rhythm Heaven games were quite charming rhythm games that came out for the DS and later the Wii.  It featured a wide array of weird and strange characters, one of which being strange looking choir boys that tried to sing on key.

While this seems like the strangest choice for a potential character, this does fit with Sakurai’s penchant to throw in very unexpected characters into the mix — previous examples include Mr. Game&Watch and R.O.B the robot.  While the Chorus Men wouldn’t necessarily make for great moves on their own, references to other mini-games within the series provides a plethora of possibilities that are hard to ignore.

Forecast: Reasonable

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Mii

The avatar of casualness, they are the bane of hardcore Nintendo fans, but the faces that brought Nintendo a gold mine a generation ago.  Mii’s as playable characters aren’t enthralling, but have a crazy amount of potential.  Whether they have customization within the game itself or not would be irrelevant, as they have a base amount of customization by allowing you to create them outside of the game.  Regardless of how they could be handled, a Mii will always be as awesome of an inclusion as your imagination will allow.  The only question to their existence is how seriously this series with giant monkeys fighting anthropomorphic foxes fighting electric rats wants to be taken…

Forecast: Very Likely

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Pacman

With Namco working to develop the game, it seems inevitable that a character from Namco will get some spotlight soon.  While there are plenty of characters in Namco’s repertoire that fit in a fighting game, a game like Smash asks more.  Characters like Heihachi and Seigfried are great for your traditional fighter, but they would be underwhelming in a battle such as this.  To battle titans such as Mario, Megaman, and Sonic, you need a god of gaming history.  Namco should bring nothing less than Pacman.

Forecast: Certain

 

Super Smash Step-Brothers: Weed Wacking Round

This month we were treated to a plethora of new information regarding Super Smash Brothers for Wii U and 3DS, not least of which was the newest character added to the roster — Greninja.  Greninja was revealed alongside Charizard, leading to the speculation that he is effectively replacing Squirtle as the water-type pokemon this go around.  That speculation of course leads to more speculation — who is the grass-type starter replacing Ivysaur?  So, in this special edition of Smash Step-Brothers, we’ll be looking at the Grass -type starters to see who could possibly make the cut, and who should be left in the pokeball.

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Venusaur

Generation 1

height: 6′ 7″

weight: 220.5 lbs.

The grown up version of Smash veteran Ivysaur, Venusaur is a powerful plant pokemon that thrives off the nutrients that the giant flower on it’s back absorbs.  Venusaur maybe the easiest of the pokemon on this list to adapt, as it’s basically a heavier, bulkier Ivysaur.  Venusaur can learn all of Ivysaur’s moves, so there should be are fewer changes needed to his model, size, and weight ratio; or at least, that’s what it seems.

In practice, however, several of Venusaur’s moves would have to change due to his new-found girth.  Certain attacks should be more powerful given his larger size.  His speed should naturally be reduced as well.  Generally, however, Ivysaur’s moveset conflicts with Venusaur’s general focus in the games.  Late-game Venusaur has a lot more powerful special attacks, such as Solar Beam, as it’s signature attacks.  Many of these maybe more difficult to include into a viable moveset made from scratch, however.

Also, while Venusaur isn’t the heaviest character on this list, he does suffer from an issue many of contenders on this list will have — he’s huge.  In fact, Venusaur looks like he’s been lounging about just soaking in the delicious rays.  The idea of him jumping about like Mario or even hopping like Bowser seems more than a bit awkward.

Even if that wasn’t the case, there is also a few other issues to consider.  Venusaur is a Generation 1 pokemon, of which there are at least 2 (Pikachu and Charizard), and possibly 3 (Jigglypuff).  While Smash has always been very heavy with generation 1 pokemon, if Greninja’s inclusion is a sign that Smash is trying to diversify, Venusaur is not a good means to that end.

Probability Forecast: Mostly Unlikely:

Venusaur is a cheap option, but not necessarily a good one.

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Meganium

Generation 2

height: 5’11”

weight: 221.6 lbs.

Chikorita was the grass type starter from generation 2, who previously featured in Super Smash Brothers Melee as a pokeball pokemon.  Meganium is it’s fully evolved but lesser known cousin.  Shaped like an apatasaurus, the petals about it’s neck are renown for calming creatures that touch them.

Meganium like many grass-starters is very heavy.  Unlike Venusaur, however, it is much more slight, meaning most of it’s weight is going to muscle, not fat.  This would make Meganium a bit quicker, and more plausible as a fighter.  It’s long neck would keep it more flexible when it comes to attack range, and give it a much more unique fighting style.

It’s build could also prove a curse though.  Meganium is a four-legged combatant.  With the exception of Ivysaur, every fighter in Smash Brothers has at least two hands and walks erect, or has the ability to walk erect (see Pikachu and Yoshi).  Ivysaur got around that by using vines that came out of his flower — something the Bulbasaur-Ivysaur-Venusaur line was known to do.  The line Meganium is from is not particularly known to do that, or known to stand erect for any significant amount of time.  Meganium’s only real way to grab a hold of anything is to bite it, which isn’t in is nature per say.

Meganium’s general description is that of a rather peaceful pokemon.  This is evidenced by it’s moves in the pokemon games being heavily focused on status effects.  It lacks many physically damaging moves, and what powerful attacks it has would be hard to translate into Smash — see Solar Beam and Giga Drain.  This is also why Meganium biting something to toss it isn’t entirely natural.

Probability Forecast: Unlikely with a chance of unreasonable:

Meganium suffers from possible technical issues and lack of easily translated moves

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Sceptile

Generation 3

height: 5’7″

weight: 115.1 lbs.

Notable as the first Grass-type starter to stand erect, Sceptile is the final evolution of Treeko.  It’s raptor-like appearance makes it an intimidating pokemon, and the seeds on it’s back and blade-like leaves on his arms make it even more deadly.

Out of all the grass starters, this is the first that seems at all likely, as it has all the elements that should make a good fighter.  Unlike his precursors, he generally stands erect, and is more focused on physical attacks — his signature attack being Leaf Blade.  He has hands that allow him to grab opponents, and a lithe body type that lends to hopping about a busy battlefield.

Sceptile’s main drawback is that he was sadly born in the wrong generation.  Sceptile comes from generation 3, which is noteworthy for two other pokemon — the meme-inducing Mudkip, and the incredible Blaziken.  Both Mudkip and Blaziken are starters in this generation, so Sceptile was sadly overlooked most of the time.  It’s possible Smash could give him a second wind, but Smash tends to follow certain trends, not completely rewrite them.

Probability Forecast: Mostly Unlikely:

A lack of recognition trumps viable movesets for Sceptile.

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Torterra

Generation 4

height: 7’3″

weight: 583.4 lbs.

If you thought Venusaur was big, Toterra carries a small island of his own on his back.  The final form of Turtwig, Torterra is also one of only 3 grass starters with a secondary type — his is Ground.  Torterra is also my favorite starter, so forgive me if I pull any punches.

Torterra is somewhere between Venusaur and Sceptile when it comes to playstyle in pokemon.  His ground type moves lend to a much more physical fighting style, while his grass typing grants him a plethora of special attack moves as well.  This lends him a very broad number of abilities he can pull from.  While he is big, bigger than Venusaur by far, he carries his weight better than Venusaur does, and looks more like a combatant.

That is about the extent of Torterra’s advantages, however.  Torterra overall is a microcosm of all the issues that could befall grass-type starter pokemon.  Like Venusaur, he’s too big to even consider jumping, much less with any agility.  Like Meganium, he has nothing that would substitute for having hands, and likely would die trying to stand erect.  Like Sceptile, he also is typically out shined by another starter from his generation — Piplup/Empoleon.

To make matters worse for Torterra, there is already a Generation 4 pokemon confirmed in the new game — veteran fighter Lucario.  While there’s no rule stating one per generation, a heavy focus in generation 4 seems unlikely.

Probability Forecast: Unreasonable:

Even I have to admit, Torterra has little going for it right now.

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Serperior

Generation 5

height/length: 10’10”

weight: 138.9 lbs.

The Serpent pokemon, Serperior is unique amoung it’s peers.  Serperior is one of only a handful of snake pokemon in the game.  Serperior is similar to many of the pokemon on this list, but differentiates itself in this way.

Serperior is one of the more versatile pokemon on this list.  Capable of both physical and special grass-type attacks, many of it’s attacks, such as Vine Whip, make sense for it’s body type.  Being serpentine also gives it a unique fighting style as compared to many of it’s compatriots.  It is non-humanoid, but the ability to wrap itself around opponents provides a possible out for that.

The down-side, of course, is also it’s body-type.  If the grab ability can be worked around, there would still likely be issues concerning it’s size and movement.  Also, very few of it’s attacks would be considered good moves to elevate it back to the stage.

On the plus side, however, Serperior isn’t sharing stage with any more well-known pokemon; Emboar and Samarot aren’t any more popular than Serperior, or at least not by a wide margin.  Also, no other generation 5 pokemon have been announced thus far.

However, the latest trailer may signify his undoing already.  In the new Charizard/Greninja trailer, Serperior’s basic form, Snivy, appears in the hoard of pokemon — many of whom were already confirmed in the nintendo Direct to be pokeball pokemon.  While this is circumstantial at best, it is noteworthy.

Probability Forecast: Unlikely:

Technical issues with Serperior’s unique body type may trump it’s relatively even playing field.

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Chesnaught

Generation 6

height: 5′ 3″

weight: 196.4 lbs.

The bulletproof pokemon, Chesnaught is the final form of Chespin — who also appeared in the pokemon hoard in the last trailer.  The only mammal on this list, Chesnaught is surrounded by protective armor.  It also has typing that seems to lend itself to a fighting game rather well — the Fighting type.

This is the pokemon that has it all really.  Bipedal humanoid shape that can grab and throw things?  Check.  Focus in physical attacks in it’s game of origin?  Check.  Unique ability that differentiates it from other pokemon?  It has a unique skill Spikey Shield, so that’s a check.  What could possibly deter me from giving Chesnaught the thumbs up?

The only thing barring his passage is Greninja’s announced inclusion.  With a powerful generation 6 pokemon already in play, it is difficult to argue another is needed, particularly when other generations have so much to offer.

Probability Forecast:  Unlikely:

Unfortunately, Chesnaught’s chances may be over before they began.

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Conclusion:

Ultimately, none of these pokemon seem incredibly likely on their own.  Even the strongest competitors would have a ghost of a chance if I didn’t assume that there would be grass-type starter among the cast.  Not to mention, we do not know for certain that Squirtle and Ivysaur are not returning; so much of this speculation will be moot until we learn that for certain.

 

That doesn’t prevent us from hoping though.  Who would you include in the new Smash Brothers?

 

 

 

Super Smash Step-Brothers: King K. Rool

Nintendo keeps giving me more things to talk about lately — a good thing too since I keep having technical setbacks.  For anyone that missed it, Diddy Kong is the latest veteran to be confirmed for the new Smash Brothers roster.  Diddy has become pretty popular, even outside the Donkey Kong Country series at this point; thus, I found it unlikely he would be removed at all.

Of course, Diddy’s confirmation brings with it a question:  who else from the Donkey Kong Country games can we expect to see in Smash Brothers?  Rumors have circulated about two particular entrants from the series.  One is the first playable girl Kong, Dixie.  The other is the rough and rotten antagonist of several of the DK games, King K. Rool.

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King K. Rool is self-appointed ruler of Krocadile Isle, home of the Kremlings — a wide-assortment of crocodilians.  Rool first invaded Donkey Kong’s home to conquer it, and generally ruin Donkey’s day by stealing his bananas.  Over the course of the main series, and a few side games, Donkey Kong and his extended family have thwarted his ill-conceived plans time and again.

K. Rool himself is a bit of an oddball when it comes to Nintendo antagonists, however.  While most Nintendo villains have their quirks, there is clearly a method to the madness somewhere.  With K. Rool there is simply madness.  K. Rool is generally referred to as King K. Rool, but he has gone under the name of Kaptain K. Rool, Baron K. Roolenstein, and Krusha K. Rool — each time with different personality traits and abilities.  When K. Rool takes control of Donkey Kong’s Island, he specifically takes Donkey’s banana horde for unknown reasons.  At least, when Bowser steals Peach, one can think of a few things Bowser might want with a princess; what does an alligator king need with bananas?  K. Rool continues to take Donkey’s bananas while also stealing Donkey himself or members of his family over the course of the games he is in, for reasons that have little explanation.  The only probable causes for his behavior are a ridiculously inflated ego, terribly under-developed sense of reality, or mild cases of schizophrenia or multiple-personality disorder.

This is somewhat endearing, as he is certainly a villain that is wildly unpredictable.  This also allows some interesting translations into a playable character, as his many personalities allow him to have a greater variety of abilities to pull from than other characters.  They also allow for some possible alternate costumes, or even lend themselves to a new mechanic by changing his outfits.  K. Rool is a varied and unique villain, and with more villains entering the Smash Brothers arena, it is argued that he is a guaranteed addition to the franchise.

Or is he?

Despite his odd cult following (or extreme internet popularity, it’s at times difficult to determine which), K. Rool has a few issues that may take him out of the Smash Brothers spotlight. 

V is for Villain

The preconceived notion that supports K. Rool’s inclusion is as I described above: more villains appear to be entering into the Smash Brothers franchise as playable characters.  However, upon closer inspection, that isn’t necessarily the case.  The total cast of Super Smash Brothers Brawl is 36 characters.  The total number of characters that could be described as villains amounts to 6 at most.  Of those 6, only 4 were newcomers in Brawl itself.  We discussed one of them, Wario, in great length in our last installment.  Also, Wario almost doesn’t qualify, since he is also the protagonist of his own series.  However, 5 is a nice small number.  So then, lets compare our five other playable villains to K. Rool and see what sticks.

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Wolf O’ Donnell

Starting with the least well known of the five, we’ll look at Wolf.  Wolf is the leader of the Star Wolf team, and a rival pilot to Fox.  However, he has never been the primary antagonist.  His first appearance was in Star Fox 64, where he and his team were simply reoccurring boss fights, showing up at most twice in a typical play-through.  Wolf and his cohorts are a challenge, but not the main figures to be defeated.  It’s also worth noting that Wolf actually joined forces with Fox in StarFox Assault, and could do the same in StarFox Command as well.

So why include Wolf?  It’s likely because he forms a good triangle with Fox and Falco that represents what the series is about.  Fox is the ace pilot; Falco is the hot-headed wing-man; Wolf is the rival pilot.  In a series that primarily focuses on dogfights, this creates a strong sense of what the games are about.

But then, you could argue that K. Rool completes a similar triangle — DK the hero, Diddy the sidekick, and K. Rool the villain.  The question then  becomes ‘is that what the DK series is about?’  We’ll continue to revisit that question; in the meantime, there are still 4 more characters to discuss.

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Meta-Knight / King Dedede

I decided to talk about these two together, as they are somewhat intertwined.  Both of these characters serve as typical antagonists in the Kirby series.  However, both share some commonalities with Wolf that are worth mentioning.

Meta-Knight is a mysterious creature that looks very similar to Kirby, who has appeared in several Kirby titles over the years.  Much like Wolf though, he is rarely (if ever) the primary antagonist, and many times actually aids Kirby — though sometimes only after Kirby has bested him in a duel.

Meanwhile, King Dedede is the ruler of Dreamland, who is at best lazy, and at worst indulgent.  He’s the most similar in personality to K. Rool in the current zSmash Brothers cast, though Dedede is not as loony.  He premiered in Kirby’s Adventure, where Kirby spends most of his time fighting to reach him.  King Dedede is not the ultimate enemy in Kirby’s Adventure though.  King Dedede was being manipulated by a dark force called Nightmare, who Kirby then has to destroy upon Dedede’s defeat.  While this isn’t always the case, many of Kirby’s final foes are actually some dark force that is controlling Dedede, as opposed to the giant penguin himself.

What’s more, King Dedede’s relationship to Kirby is more complicated than just being an unjust ruler over Kirby’s homeland.  Dedede competes with Kirby, and even helped him and his friends in Kirby and the Crystal Shards for the Nintendo 64.

Therefore, while the relationship between Kirby, Meta-Knight, and Dedede can be stereotyped as hero-rival-villain, it is often more complicated than that.  It’s that odd combination of rivalry and friendship between them that makes the series odd and unique.  By comparison, the relationship between DK, Diddy, and K. Rool is not this deep or complex.

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Bowser

King Koopa himself, Bowser needs little introduction, as he as dogged the Mario Brothers for nearly 30 years.  He’s faced the plumbers in wide array of arenas, and has failed time-after-time. His relationship has also changed from time-to-time, siding with his red-shirted arch-enemy in bad times, but as soon as the dust clears, Bowser is back to his old ways.  In many ways, Bowser is similar to K. Rool in literary function.

Bowser has a significant difference over K. Rool, however;  namely, Bowser is incredibly prolific within the Mario franchise.  In the original Mario brothers, Bowser appears in every castle, regardless if there was a princess in it or not.  In Super Mario 64, Bowser appears on every floor to thwart Mario’s progress.  Other games take his appearances at a slower pace, but Bowser makes himself known in every Mario installment he appears in, not just appearing at the end of the game.

K. Rool, unfortunately, is notorious for doing the opposite.  Donkey Kong 64 probably gives K. Rool the most screen time, but even there, he appears in his crown and cowl early on, which he subsequently ditches by the end of the game.  In just about every other game, K. Rool is simply the unknowable baddie at the end.  Anyone who doesn’t complete the game will likely never see him.

Something else Bowser has that K. Rool doesn’t is relevancy.  Bowser has appeared as the antagonist in all of Mario’s recent forays.  K. Rool has not appeared, villain or otherwise, in Donkey Kong Country Returns or Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze.  K. Rool hasn’t appeared in a main series Donkey Kong game since the Gamecube era (his last appearances being a DK racing game called Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, and a Mario baseball game called Super Mario Sluggers — and as a secret character in both).

Therefore, even though K. Rool is similar to Bowser in some respects, it is clear K. Rool does not match Bowser, both in his renown and his relation to his own franchise.  But perhaps there is hope.  After all, there is one more classified villain to go.

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Ganondorf

The proper Legend of Zelda villain, Ganondorf knows what he wants; he gets what he wants.  Only the Hero of Time stands to impede his progress, and he will stop at nothing to destroy the hero when he reveals himself.  Ganondorf isu unique, as he is the only one on this list to never appear either as a playable character in his series proper, nor as an ally to the protagonist at any point.

In all of his appearances, Ganondorf is the primary villain, but doesn’t appear in every Legend of Zelda game.  In fact, his first appearance was in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64.  He also wasn’t featured in the last Zelda title, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.  Ganondorf appears to counter every possible point built up in this article.  Surely, this lends K. Rool some credence.

In spite of all this, Ganondorf still holds a stronger foothold than K. Rool.  Firstly, Ganondorf is still prolific, even if he’s not in every game.  In Ocarina of Time, he shows up very early in the story, even if he is not interacting directly with the player character yet.  In The Wind Waker, Ganondorf appears frequently throughout the proceedings, and is given more depth to his character.  Secondly, Ganondorf’s relationship to Link and Zelda, as well as their relationship to the Triforce, inevitably shows up in every installment that involves Ganondorf.  Thus, the Legend of Zelda trifecta feels incomplete without Ganondorf, and Toon Link does not fill the niche by any stretch.

Most importantly, however, Ganondorf is the only villain in the Nintendo Universe who ever won.  One timeline in Legend of Zelda’s collected history actually accounts for Link failing to save Hyrule from Ganondorf during the events of Ocarina of Time.  As strong and persistent as he is, not even Bowser can claim that.  This means Ganondorf is possibly the most dangerous villain Nintendo ever created.  Ganondorf’s incorporation into Smash seems more like an inevitability, rather than a privilege.

But on the topic at hand, K. Rool has not seen such success as the primary villain.  He has kidnapped Donkey Kong, only to be defeated by Diddy.  He’s captured Diddy only to be defeated by Dixie.  He’s captured all the available Kongs, only for them to break each other free and beat him anyway.  He’s more on par with Bowser in that respect, but as stated before, he still falters in that comparison as well.

Krool, Krool World

Looking to the most recent Donkey Kong outings, it has become apparent that the series has little to do with the villains.  When a bunch of tikis or penguin vikings can evoke the same amount of animosity as the Kremlings, it becomes clear K. Rool and the Kremlings are not anywhere near the heart of the franchise.  Instead, the Donkey Kong Country series is more about the Kong family uniting to protect their home and belongings.  Family, friendship, and teamwork overcoming obstacles is a stronger theme than the Kongs’ relationship to the particular threat befalling them.  For this reason, it seems more likely to me that another Kong would join the fray before K. Rool.  Even then, I’m not even sure another Kong is necessary to represent the series.  Donkey and Diddy perfectly encapsulate this theme by themselves.

K. Rool meanwhile, has no other legs, or tails, to stand on.  He’s not as significant as Bowser or Ganondorf, does not relate to his counterparts like Dedede or Meta-Knight, and does not even serve as an approachable rival as Wolf does.  K. Rool is simply a villain with a few interesting, but forgettable quirks.

Probability Forecast: Fair to Slightly Unreasonable

As one may recall, I gave Krystal as similar Forecast a few installments ago.  My reasoning is a little different this time, however.  While I’m pretty sure I’m accurate on this one, there are fewer roadblocks in the way for this character — the main one being that it’s very clear he is owned by Nintendo (his appearance in Mario Sluggers was well past Microsoft’s acquisition of Rare).  Also, in spite of him not being a good choice, he would offer a distinct difference in the cast.  If he did not, he would have scored much lower.

Also, as a side note, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he was worked in as a mini-boss of some kind if this game is doing those again.

I’d probably place a couple copies of Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D against his inclusion as a playable character — though this time I don’t have anyone to give the other copy.  Post a comment detailing why I should give you the copy of Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, and I’ll contact the best one if K. Rool shows up playable later this year.

Of course, if you just want to voice your opinion, have at the poll below:

Super Smash Step-Brothers Double Feature: Daisy & Waluigi

Welcome to a special double edition of Super Smash Step-Brothers.  Today, we’ll be discussing two potential entrants into the Smash Brothers series, mostly because both tend to come up in discussions of each other more often than not. Without any further ado, let’s talk about the lovely Princess Daisy and the despicable Waluigi!

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Different Strokes

While having some similarities, Daisy and Waluigi have very different histories.  Daisy originates from Super Mario Land, being that game’s particular objective.  Since Peach didn’t have a first name yet, Daisy was also the moniker user for the princess in the Super Mario Brothers movie (starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo).  In the games however, Super Mario Land was Daisy’s only foray into what is considered the ‘Mario canon.’  She appeared in the first Nintendo golf game, NES Open Tournament Golf, as Luigi’s caddie.  Subsequent Mario Golf titles would later include Daisy as a playable character.  Eventually, her path finally crossing with Waluigi in Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color.

Waluigi, on the other hand, was an original creation for Mario Tennis.  While developer Camelot felt it reasonable to pull in Daisy as a partner for Peach, Wario was sadly without a counterpart at this time.  Waluigi was created to have an ‘evil’ Luigi to pair with Wario in doubles matches.  He was moderately successful, due to filling a niche that was left vacant in the Mario sports universe.

The relative success of Mario Tennis catapulted Waluigi to stardom, and raised Daisy’s awareness levels to new heights.  From here, both characters were placed into more Mario sports titles, such as Mario Hoops 3-on-3 and Mario Strikers.  They were also incorporated into later installments of the Mario Party and Mario Kart series of games.  Waluigi was also featured as the antagonist in Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, and was featured as an assist trophy in Super Smash Brothers  Brawl.  In addition, Peach touted an alternate color scheme to resemble Daisy in Super Smash Brothers Melee and Brawl as well.  Things look good for the dynamic duo to finally break through into the realm of Smash as fully realized characters.

The Luigi Test

Things look good at least, until one starts to analyze the characters a little bit, and realize they come up somewhat lacking as compared to other characters already in Smash Brothers .  How they lack is something I’ve been covering since Step-Brothers began, but since Mario series characters make up about a third of the Smash cast, I can actually cite examples this time.  So, then, let’s take a look at a few other Mario characters and see how they fit into the Smash Brothers roster.

We’ll start with the brother in green, Luigi, first added to the Smash Brothers series in the original Super Smash Brothers for the Nintendo 64.  This is a good place to start, as Smash 64 came out before Luigi had his own Gamecube game, before the Mario & Luigi RPG games came into being, and before he had the year 2013 dedicated to him.  Luigi had been surprisingly absent from much of the N64 action — featuring mostly in the Mario Party and Mario Kart titles during this time.  Even the last two Mario games for the Super Nintendo — Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island and Super Mario RPG — had a significant lack of Luigi in them.  So for purposes of our test, Luigi is the perfect example.

Firstly, despite Luigi having been excluded from games for a long while, he was still well known among fans at the time.  Mario was more or less a household name at this point, and Luigi was not far behind.  What’s more, Luigi’s absence was actually felt among the fan base.  While the core Mario titles were good, the lack of Mario’s brother was certainly noted.  Luigi had a legacy that went back to Mario Brothers, the game that brought the jumpman to stardom.  Mario may have been on top of the world, but it was atop his younger brother’s shoulders.

Secondly, Luigi had appeared in at least one game that defined a specific personality and skill set to Luigi.  Super Mario Brothers 2 featured Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and Toad as playable characters, each with their own abilities.  In Luigi’s case, he was able to out-jump his younger brother, though he was a little slower and not as strong.  As minuscule as it sounds, those are abilities that are very specific — being able to do everything Mario can, though better at jumping and not as fast or strong.  His personality, on the other hand, is inferred.  Luigi is always being compared to Mario, and trying to be as good or better than his brother.  From this point, games that incorporated differing skill sets for Mario characters would use this as a template for Luigi from which they could expand.

Lastly, believe it or not, Luigi did feature as a protagonist in a game during the Super Nintendo era.  In Mario Is Missing, the player plays as Luigi scouring the real world in search of his brother Mario.  The game was a little off-putting to some, as it was an education-puzzle game more than an action-adventure.  However, it was the first adventure Luigi embarked on without his brother.  So, Luigi also has at least one signature title at this point.  Based on this we have at least 3 characteristics to look at with future Mario series entrants:

1) well-known and significant to the franchise

2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters

3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character

But no test is complete without a control test, so let’s put some other Mario characters under the knife:

Wonders of Wario

An easy test of our hypothesis is Mario’s criminal opposite Wario.  Wario was not included into the Smash series until Super Smash Brothers Brawl, so we will only look at titles prior to that — which are still significant.

     1) well-known and significant to the franchise: 

While Wario doesn’t have quite the history of Luigi, he is still fairly significant to the franchise.  He served as an antagonist in Super Mario Land 2, and was the first non-Bowser antagonist to be featured in subsequent games.  By the end of the Super Nintendo era, he had replaced the Koopa Troopa in Mario Kart, and had been featured in every Mario Party title.  His presence was felt throughout the Mario sports games, despite not featuring in Mario canonical titles very much by this point.  Of course, his lack of presence is made up for in his own spin-off series, which ties into a later part of our test.  In conclusion, Wario passes the first part of the test handily.

result: PASS

     2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: 

Next we have to look at Wario’s distinctive style.  While it is not fully addressed in all Mario games, Wario tends to follow a pattern in his distinctiveness from Mario.  He is always rude, greedy, physically fatter than Mario, but also physically stronger as well.  His characteristics, however, are far better defined in his own WarioWare series, which had gone from the Game Boy all the way to the Wii at this point.  WarioWare defines Wario as lazy in addition to his greed, as well as having a rather short attention span.  He is also a motorcycle enthusiast, separating him from his step-brother Mario even further.  He also loses the traditional plumber duds for motorcycle gear in WarioWare, giving him a completely different aesthetic.  Naturally, I think this makes Wario perfectly qualified by our Luigi standard.

result: PASS

     3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: 

Lastly, as previously mentioned, Wario had several spin-off titles of his own.  Starting with the Wario Land games on the Game Boy, he also had Wario World on the Gamecube.  His most successful spin-off, however, was the WarioWare series, which gave Wario a large supporting cast, as well as a unique genre of games to call his own.  Therefore, Wario is a shoe-in for category 3 as well.

result:PASS

The test results are as follows:

1) well-known and significant to the franchise: PASS

2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: PASS

3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: PASS

Despite what dissenters may say, Wario has earned his place in Smash according to this test.  However, let’s look at one more for comparison.

Rosalina’s Robbery

One of the latest announcements at the time of this writing was the reveal of Rosalina as a playable character in the next Smash Brothers for Wii U and 3DS.  This comes as a surprise to some, as Rosalina is a very fresh character to the Mario Universe, having debuted in Super Mario Galaxy on the previous system, the Wii.  This also has a number of fans somewhat upset, since she seems to be included to the detriment of other characters in the Mario universe (similar to characters I’ve covered before).  However, she is the first new pick from the Mario franchise for the new Smash game, so let’s give her the Luigi test.

     1) well-known and significant to the franchise: 

To start, it seems Rosalina is lacking in significant aspects.  After all, with only two core titles, a couple of Mario Kart outings, and an appearance as a hidden character in Super Mario 3D World, she has nowhere near the presence as many other characters in the series.  However, there are some loopholes Rosalina falls into.

One of which being that she is one of first female characters in a core Mario game not featured as a damsel-in-distress (the first being Princess Peach Toadstool in Super Mario Brothers 2 who subsequently became a damsel again).  Rosalina doesn’t need saving herself, but instead aides Mario (spoilers: and Luigi) in tracking down, defeating Bowser, and saving Peach.  Every lead lady in the core franchise, from Pauline to Peach to even Daisy, has been a damsel-in-distress at some point;  Rosalina is the exception.

Furthermore, while I would not say Rosalina is well-known, it does appear she is well-liked.  Scouring youtube posts (the best place to go for a daily dose of vitriol), most don’t hate Rosalina as a character; most just aren’t really aware of her.  Those that have played Mario Galaxy, however, generally approve of her as a Smash Brother — so she may just barely squeak by on test number one.

result: PASS

     2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: 

Next, we have to look at her skill-set and determine how distinct a personality she is.  Honestly, she blows this one out of the water.  Being in control of the Lumas and having magic and a ship to manipulate space and time makes her significantly different from just about any character in the Mario Universe. In addition, she’s the first humanoid magic-user ally Mario has had since Super Mario RPG (other magic users have either been villains or particularly non-humanoid).  Her powers are subtle however, and not very extravagant.

Her backstory, told in a story book in Super Mario Galaxy, paints her as a loving, compassionate, motherly character, the likes of which never before witnessed in a Mario title.  While Peach could be defined as caring, we rarely get an opportunity to witness it, and we certainly haven’t seen her in a mother role (those pesky Koopa kids!).  So, even if we had failed her on point 1, she more than makes up for it on point 2.

result: PASS

     3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: 

Lastly, of course, Rosalina has not had a title of her own, and was not even a playable character in a core Mario title until Super Mario 3D World.  She has to fail the third test, right?

I would argue the opposite, as Super Mario Galaxy (and to a certain degree it’s sequel) have more to do with Rosalina than it ever did with the rest of the Mario cast.  She helps Mario and Luigi save Peach from Bowser, but Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Bowser are simply doing what they always do.  The story of Rosalina’s past in Mario Galaxy is the far more unique, and far more engaging than Mario saving Peach in space. Rosalina’s ship, her story, and abilities are what make the Galaxy games not only possible, but compelling.  Without Rosalina, Super Mario Galaxy would look just like another Super Mario 64.  So, for that reason, I argue she cheats this one a bit as well.

result: PASS

The results are a little different, but still look promising:

1) well-known and significant to the franchise: PASS

2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: PASS

3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: PASS

Admittedly, Rosalina is not an A student like Wario on this test, but she manages to slide in just barely.  Her being a character introduced in a game with stronger than usual story-arc seemed to help somewhat.

According to her example then, a character can still get in with a compelling story, or strong presence.

So, now it’s time to judge Daisy and Waluigi by the Luigi test.

D is for Daisy

We’ve already talked a bit about Daisy, so let’s go ahead and put her to the test.

     1) well-known and significant to the franchise: 

We already know that Daisy has played a role in Super Mario Land.  After that, she fell into obscurity.  Even now, she’s never appeared in any other Mario titles that were not Sports related. This hurts her recognition somewhat.  Her recognition is both aided by the Super Mario Brothers movie, but harmed as well by being associated with it.  By this point, most recognize the blonde bombshell Peach as Mario’s princess, so Daisy is left by the way side.  She’s well known enough to the fan base that I can give her partial credit at least.

results: PASS

     2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: 

Daisy is another princess like Peach, and is possibly Peach’s sister.  She may also be in a relationship with Luigi, though that too is vague.  That’s the most you can really get out of Daisy.  She was a young lady that needed rescue, much like Pauline before her.  She’s described as a tomboy in manuals and other material, but we are never really shown that.  It could be inferring that because she shows up in the sports games, she’s a tomboy.  However, she’s never doing anything in those games that Peach herself isn’t also doing; therefore, how is she more of a tomboy than Peach?  This isn’t helped by the fact that Daisy really isn’t given any story of her own to help define her, and isn’t put into a scenario where she can be easily compared to her compatriots without technical knowledge of a sport interfering.

results: FAIL

     3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: 

Daisy has no titles of her own, except for Super Mario Land, where she is no more defined than Pauline or Peach at the time.  She is never developed on a personal level, and has no amount of significant back story.  She unfortunately receives 0 points.

results: FAIL

Daisy’s results are pretty abysmal:

1) well-known and significant to the franchise: PASS

2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: FAIL

3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: FAIL

Even though we gave her a pass on question 1, she still falls short in the other two categories.  She’s hurt primarily by her reliance on sports titles to define her, which doesn’t allow for much definition at all in terms of personality.  It might help if we had some explanation to why she disappears whenever her sister is kidnapped… or why Bowser never bothers kidnapping her.

7 for Waluigi

Waluigi we’ve also covered quite a bit, but let’s see how he does.

     1) well-known and significant to the franchise: 

Waluigi was created to be a partner for Wario in doubles.  It is claimed that he is supposed to be an antagonist to Luigi, much as Wario is to Mario; however, this is never specifically shown.  Waluigi has appeared as a primary antagonist in Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, but even then, he’s harassing both brothers, not just the one.  Waluigi is recognizable to some fans, but saying Waluigi to anyone outside the gaming universe, will probably result in head scratching, if not confused laughter.

results: FAIL

     2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: 

Waluigi is tall, lanky, and evil.  He has characteristics defined more or less by the two other characters he’s meant to imitate.  Sure he looks cool, but he does not exhibit any more greed, cleverness, or stupidity than his fatter, stockier counterpart Wario.  The sports games don’t really show us he’s particularly interesting outside of these aspects.  Wario doesn’t bring him along for the ride in the WarioWare games either, so he misses out on that as well.  He may know how to dance though.  Okay, give him a point for that.

results: PASS

     3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: 

As stated a couple times already, Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix features him as the antagonist, where he does about what one would expect from a Mario antagonist in a dance game.  If Bowser or Wario weren’t big clumsy oafs, they would probably have been featured instead.  It’s debatable whether the DDR game counts or not though, and he never really went on to other titles that featured him specifically as an antagonist.  As stated before, he is not featured in his brother’s or step-brother’s spin-off games either.  We’re never really privy to what makes Waluigi tick as a villan, but I suppose we don’t always have to in a Mario game.  I was feeling generous, but I still can’t be swayed to grant any points on this one.

results: FAIL

Based on these results, Waluigi isn’t looking too hot either:

1) well-known and significant to the franchise: FAIL

2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters:                                                                                           PASS

3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: FAIL

Waluigi is not really a character; he’s a caricature.  He has no particular significance to the Mario series, and he has no characteristics aside from being basically two other, more prominent characters mashed together.  His stand-out game only features him because of his build, not any other more substantive reason.  Even if I awarded him a point on question 3 anyway, he still doesn’t have enough to make the cut.

Now Play Nice

Granted this test isn’t completely objective, but I do not feel that Daisy and Waluigi are fully qualified in any category, whereas Rosalina excelled in one of them at the very least.  Daisy and Waluigi are simply characters that exist in the franchise when they need space filled.  They do not define franchise; they do not support the franchise.  The Mario series was there before they existed, and the series was not dramatically changed with their inclusion.  It will not change to an significant degree should they pass into obscurity again either.  I look forward to a day that isn’t true, but for now, that is how they stand.

Probability Forecast: “Highly Unlikely, with a chance of Unreasonable”

If either character was made a playable character in the new Super Smash Brothers game, I’d probably have to eat a Mario Kart 7 box to stop my eyes from rolling.  I still place them ahead of many of my previous subjects due to lack of legal issues involved.  Them appearing as assists and alternate costumes is perfectly acceptable, but I would question Sakurai’s priorities including them into the player character roster.

But don’t take my word for it.  Let your voice be heard!

Super Smash Step-Brothers: Sneasel

Welcome back to Super Smash Step-Brothers, a series where we discuss possible entrants to the Super Smash Brothers series, and explain why they are unlikely to appear in Nintendo’s All-star gathering. Today’s installment is a bit of an indulgence on my part, as I have seen no one suggest this as a possible character, and it’s one I have a particular soft spot for. So today, we will be discussing the Dark rat, Sneasel.

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Sneasel is a Pokemon introduced in the second generation of games — Gold, and Silver. It is one of the premier Dark type Pokemon of the series, along side creatures like Houndoom, Murkrow, and Tyranitar, which are immune to the powerful effects of Psychic Pokemon. This was fairly significant at the time, as Psychic Pokemon in the previous games were far stronger than other Pokemon types. This was due mostly to Psychic’s original weaknesses were Bug and Ghost. However, since most Bug and all Ghost Pokemon had the sub-type of Poison, most never lasted long enough to land a hit against them.

Sneasel was also one of the last Pokemon you could capture in Gold and Silver, as the area they roamed about was only accessible after defeating the Elite Four. It finally gained an evolved form of Weavile in the forth generation of games — the Diamond and Pearl generation.

I remember seeing the character design first, as a friend had a magazine that spoiled the new cast of Pokemon for Americans. The names hadn’t been translated or relabeled yet, so a number of them were not what they would eventually be called here in the States. They had given the creature the name Nyuura and colored it dark green. I had no idea what it meant, but it was pretty awesome looking. Once the trading card art for the creature started floating around the Internet, I got more excited to try it out.

Sneasel, as the name is meant to imply, is a weasel-like creature that hangs out in cold climates — i.e. snow weasel. It has dark fur, typically dark blue or purple, with yellow markings and pink or red blade-like feathers which come out of it’s spine and replacing one of it’s ears. The incredibly rare versions are pink with yellow feathers, though the yellow markings typically stay the same color. Their least prominent, but most significant features are the claws on hands and feet, which are razor sharp and are used as Sneasel’s primary weapon.

Sneasel biggest weakness .. is, well, it’s weaknesses. Sneasel turned out to be a Dark and Ice hybrid type. At first that sounds pretty cool. However, the Ice type does very little for Sneasel defensively. Dark is weak against Bug and Fighting type pokemon to balance out it’s strength against Psychic types. Ice not does nothing to help against the weakness against Bug, but Ice is also weak against Fighting types as well. Ice also adds a whole host of other weaknesses. Complicating matters was the fact that Sneasel in Gold and Silver did not learn very many strong Dark or Ice type attacks. Building a good Sneasel team involved patience and careful use of TMs, something a young me didn’t have much of. I felt let down by the fact that the character was not terribly strong in those games, but still loved the design. Sneasel’s evolved form Weavile alleviated some of it’s statistical weaknesses later on, and Weavile, has appeared in Smash Brothers as a Pokeball assist. However, Weavile is not the topic at hand.

That being said, Sneasel has had a history in the card game. Being one of the earliest cards in the game that was banned from play, Sneasel’s Beat Up skill became far too powerful for a two energy attack during it’s debut. It also shows up in the latest variation of the card game, Plasma Freeze, though it’s superior Weavile is still the highlight in that case.

Regardless of his strengths or weaknesses in the Pokemon games, Sneasel would make for an interesting contender in the Smash Brothers series. Many of it’s Pokemon abilities, such as faint attack, slash, or steel claw, all play on it’s physical advantages, it’s claws. Sneasel is also well known for being a quick and agile Pokemon, so a play-style that lets it use its speed to get into an opponent’s face and slice and dice is ideal. Also, while not the most learned Pokemon, it could learn some more devastating attacks through TM’s, such as Blizzard, Ice Beam, or Shadow Ball. This keeps Sneasel’s repertoire reasonably flexible, while still giving it it’s own flair.

All this taken into account, however, Sneasel being a playable Pokemon in Smash Brothers is little more than a pipe dream. Much like Knuckles before it, Sneasel faces stiff competition from more popular and well-known Pokemon, such as Victini, Lucario, Mewtwo, or Blaziken. Also, it has an evolved form that has appeared in the games already. Even without the high contenders, Sneasel also faces an actual animal kingdom’s worth of competition. This also makes it’s chances of coming out of the PokeBall item slimmer as well, since there are so many other possibilities out there now.

Probability Forecast: “Completely Unreasonable”

I would bet not only the purchase of a WiiU and eat the box, but the purchase of a WiiU for each member of my family as well against Sneasel appearing as a playable character in the next Smash Brothers. I label this as completely unreasonable, since there’s no way I’d be able to manage spending that much money in one place, not to mention the ramifications of eating an entire WiiU box. This is a character I really like, and would love to see in the game, but even I have to admit the chances of this happening are so slim as to be non-existent.

Further reading: Serebii.net’s link on Pokeballs in Smash Brothers, JWittz’s Banned Pokemon Cards video

 

Super Smash Step-Brothers: Goemon

Welcome to Super Smash Step-Brothers, Goemonth edition. Today we will be discussing the history, opportunities, and skills of the pipe-wielding Mystical Ninja, Goemon. So enough with the introductions, let us begin!

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Goemon is a cartoony rendition of the legendary thief of feudal Japan, Goemon Ishkawa, who premiered in Konami’s arcade game Mr.Goemon. From there, he would develop into his own persona (more like the picture above), as well as his own wacky rendition of ancient Japan. Goemon became well-known in Japan, and was a gaming icon, on par with Mario or Megaman back in the early days of the Famicom and Super Famicom. While his history is known little here in the states, you can read up on some of his gaming history here, as well as in the previous post of Big in Japan: Ganbare Goemon.

As a character, Goemon has seen more change in his portrayal than any of his peers from the early days of gaming. His early depictions were based heavily on the legend and artwork of the period he was from. As more games were made, however, he changed from a common thief, to a more kind-hearted thief, to a misunderstood hero. His appearance changed from a traditional Japanese-style painting, to something a little more Famicom friendly, to eventually the happy, blue-haired punk that would stick with him during the height of his success.

His appearance wasn’t the only thing that changed. Similar to Mario, Goemon was a jack-of-all-trades, being in adventure beat ’em ups, platformers, adventure puzzle-games, turn-based rpgs, and other various game styles. Unlike Mario, most of these are part of his core series, and significant to his development. Even among his American releases, he has dabbled in roleplaying action, and side-scrolling platforming.

As he developed into the misunderstood hero of Edo, Goemon’s demeanor changed. Although not completely above stealing occasionally, he sought out those that wanted to do harm to his home and country — although most of the time his work went unappreciated by the masses. The best illustration of this being in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon. In this game, Edo Castle is changed into a theater and sound-stage for the villains to sing, dance, and do with as they please. Princess Yuki implores Goemon to undo the spell on the castle. Goemon gathers his crew and sets out to do just that, only for the people of Edo to turn on him because they were enjoying the villain’s shows.

This also illustrates the kind of mood the games had going for them. The Goemon games never took themselves terribly seriously, and the more mad something could be, the more likely it was to be included. The American releases were full of puns and pop-culture references — things that were likely common in the original language as well. Goemon even had his own giant robot he could summon via a conch-shell, which would then progress into Power Ranger’s style Megazord battles. The series tried hard to keep one hand on the controller, and the other on the player’s funny-bone .

This, in and of itself, is the primary reason Goemon would be a perfect addition to the Smash Brothers roster. Super Smash Brothers has never been a series that took it’s ideas seriously — in a game where a giant monkey fights a bald man with a bunch of plant creature pets who fights a anthropomorphic wolf who fights a swash-bulking army general, it’s hard to argue realism to any degree. Goemon fits this by having a great sense of humor, as well as a crazy setting and cast of supporting characters to include.

Moving to Goemon himself, it could be argued that he does not present much in terms of possible abilities. Despite having more diverse library than most, he actually manages to make do most of the time with his trusty pipe, which he uses to bash enemies upside their heads. However, he also does have the chain pipe — originally an upgraded version of the pipe, it was modified in later games to allow him to latch onto star blocks. He also has an alternate form that changes his hair gold and skin red. While in this form, Goemon deals twice as much damage, but also takes damage faster as well. Another odd ability for Goemon is the ability to throw Ryo, or gold currency at his enemies. This can be charged into a flaming version for greater effect. Lastly, of course there’s the ability to use his conch-shell to summon Impact, which would likely be reserved for Final Smash status. While this doesn’t totally spell out his moveset right away, it’s far more likely a designer would appreciate the ability to fill in gaps, rather than trying to cram as much as they could into a single character.

But that brings us to some of the dissenting arguments against Goemon, which are actually not as difficult as some of the others we’ve seen previously. An argument that could be raised is that Goemon’s international fame is not very high; however, that point is moot since Marth, Roy, and Lucas all made it into previous Smash Brothers games without having even released in America at the time. It could also be argued that he is simply too Japanese to fit in with the rest of the cast; however, I would argue that for a Japanese game made by Japanese staff for a Japanese company, the lack of traditional Japanese style characters and stages is mind boggling. I’m sure, if not the players, the programmers and designers would find the influence that Goemon brings a pleasant change of pace.

However, there is one reasonable argument to be had against Goemon, and unfortunately it’s one we’ve covered at least once before. Goemon is property of Konami, the same company that owns Solid Snake. The reason Snake was included in Brawl was because Hideo Kojima specifically requested it, so it’s unknown if this was a deal cut exclusively with Kojima or with Konami as a whole. This puts Goemon in a similar boat as Knuckles or Bayonetta however, in that we still don’t know how many characters per company will make an appearance. If Snake returns, Goemon has a chance as a dark horse secondary representative, but little else. Without Snake or Konami rejoining the fray, Goemon’s chances look bleak.

It also isn’t helping that Goemon has not been particularly busy in the past decade. His last console title launched in 2005, and while he still lives on in slot machines, it’s hardly a triumphant return. Goemon has all but been put out to pasture with the Metal Gear series becoming Konami’s forefront series, and most likely entry to any crossover ideas that cross their desk.

Of the characters I’ve covered so far, however, this is the first that I am reluctantly optimistic on. However, unless there is some piece of information that really changes the field, Goemon’s chances still meander in the ‘unlikely’ territory.

Probability Forecast: Unreasonable

Goemon’s chances aren’t bad if the game includes more classic gaming characters, or if Snake is shelved as a Konami representative. His chances weaken severely, however, if this isn’t the case. Still, I would be willing to put the cost of a 3DS against his inclusion, since he has not been relevant to Konami and video games in general for sometime.

Agree? Disagree? Have more SSSB suggestions? post them in the comments below.

Further Reading:

theNightbizzle’s Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon intro

Enigmaopoeia’s Hyadain – Ganbare Goemon, Goemon – English subtitles

Goemon International’s Ganbare Goemon Pachislot Trailer 1