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~~
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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?