Some More Potential New Super Smash Bros. Characters
For real this time
If you have read my previous article on the subject of Smash Bros. characters, dear reader, you’ll have assuredly already been converted to a champion of characters like President John Adams, Moby Dick, or even the letter R. Some claimed that I was simply being obstinate for not including more common, crowd-favorite characters like Shrek or Thomas Jefferson. “A hipster,” they called me. “Damn thee, federalist hipster, with your Blue’s Clues and your unpaid-for suit.” Others, however, were absolutely elated to see some of their most-desired characters finally appear in someone else’s writing.
It is with deep embarrassment that I feel compelled to own up to my sins: it was a joke. John Adams, nor any of the other Adams variants I’ve selected, would actually be a good fit for Super Smash Bros. I have it on good authority that, after reading my article, gun control activists across America immediately dropped their cause, bought plane tickets to Tokyo, and began protesting outside of Bandai-Namco’s headquarters with picket signs decorated with the faces of Paul Giamatti and Shigeru Miyamoto’s thumb. I thought I was being a funny man, but I was actually being a thought leader and I feel that I should take responsibility for my actions. I can only hope that this retraction article reaches as many minds as the original did and that we can continue functioning as a world of educated peers, above the influence of such frivolous jests.
In exchange for removing the phrase “John Quincy Adams for Smash” from the public vocabulary, I’d like to offer my actual list of desired characters for the upcoming Super Smash Bros. title.
I believe that the roster for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U got a bit out of hand. Six different Fire Emblem representatives, a third-party who never appeared on Nintendo consoles in any major capacity, and an over-abundance of swordsmen with traditional anime designs rubbed me the wrong way. Thankfully, I think the inclusions ripe for this Smash title are much more diverse than before and are, on the whole, pretty exciting.
As the face of ARMS, one of Nintendo’s newest intellectual properties, Spring Man has a great chance of making it in this iteration of Smash. Personally, I’m a fan. He’s got enough visual identity to establish himself as a modern-day Nintendo icon and he would work perfectly as a fighting game character. With his extending arms, it’s not hard to imagine him being able to punch and grab from across the stage. He’d be a rare combination of a range-focused character and a traditional melee-based attacker, unlike anything else in the game. Some say that Spring Man is one of the blandest characters to choose from in ARMS, but I don’t see it. He’s got crazy, blue, toothpaste hair. If he’s too bland, Link and Mario don’t stand a chance.
The Pokémon Trainer is an actually four characters at once. Red cycles between his three Pokémon, Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard. Pokémon Trainer wouldn’t technically be a newcomer to Smash, having already appeared in the series’ Wii entry, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. It is assumed that he did not return in the next installment because the 3DS version of the game was reportedly unable to deal with transforming characters like Zelda and Sheik or Samus and Zero Suit Samus. While the Pokémon Trainer’s Charizard did return, Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Red himself did not. This is pretty unfortunate. These three Pokémon are the Pokémon the player is given the option of choosing to be their very first partners. While Pikachu is the mascot of the series, these three Pokémon, in my opinion, are the real main characters of the series. It would be fantastic for them to return in the Switch version of the game.
I would like to see some alterations to how these fighters worked in Brawl, however. There was a mechanic known as “stamina” that effectively made the character you were playing as worse over time, forcing the player to switch to another Pokémon to maintain effectiveness. I am of the opinion that the player should be allowed to only play as one of the three Pokémon for the whole match if they so choose. Additionally, there was a system of type effectiveness drawn from the actual Pokémon games. Squirtle was weak to electric moves, Ivysaur was weak to fire moves, and Charizard was weak to water moves. This proved to be a bit unbalanced because it created strange situations where characters like Mario were necessarily at an advantage against Ivysaur. If both of these factors were removed, Pokémon Trainer would be one of the most interesting and valuable additions to the game, even if not a newcomer.
King K. Rool
It is thought that King K. Rool did much better than expected in the Smash Ballot, a poll Nintendo issued after the release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. This is evidenced by the creation of the King K. Rool Mii costume DLC issued late into the game’s DLC cycle. Perhaps Nintendo had no idea about the desire for the return of K. Rool and couldn’t react quickly enough to include him as a full character? Maybe? Sure, let’s go with that.
Now that development has begun anew, it might now finally be the time for Rare’s reptilian ruler to reign. Super Smash Bros. has a notable lack of villains and K. Rool is one of the most notorious. While he would join Donkey Kong, Bowser, and King Dedede as one of the heaviest characters in the game, he’d also be one of the fastest. As he manically dances across the stage, he’d be able to use all kinds of trickery to trap opponents and fix the tide of the battle in his favor.
I’ve expected Paper Mario to show up in every Smash title since Melee. If I keep predicting him, statistics say I will eventually be right. Paper Mario is one of the most beloved sub-series under the Mario umbrella and his moveset almost writes itself. For standard attacks, Paper Mario would bust out his wooden hammer and go to town on anyone in his way. For his special attacks, he can utilize any of the various assist characters he’s had over the years from Koops from The Thousand-Year Door, to Tippy from Super Paper Mario, to Huey from Color Splash.
As characters like Dr. Mario indicate, being a different version of an existing character does not disqualify you from being inducted into the fray. It is interesting to note, however, that the events of Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam indicate that Paper Mario is actually an alternate universe version of regular Mario rather than just the same character in a different art style. Fun fact, right there.
Every entry in the series from Melee on has had a “retro representative,” usually a character from the early NES era. Previous examples of this trope include the Ice Climbers, Pit, Mr. Game & Watch, R.O.B., and Duck Hunt. While I think it should be stressed that not every Smash Bros. game needs one of these characters (because we’re kind of running out of usable choices), I believe that the Balloon Fighter from Balloon Fight is a worthy inclusion.
According to Mr. Sakurai himself, the Balloon Fighter was actually considered as an inclusion during the development of Melee. Bringing him back now would be a touching tribute to Satoru Iwata, the former Nintendo President, HAL employee, and Balloon Fight programmer, who died after battling cancer in the summer of 2015. Tribute characters have a history in the series (Mr. Game & Watch was reportedly included as a tribute to prodigious Nintendo engineer, Gunpei Yokoi) and no one quite deserves one quite as much as Iwata, who worked with Sakurai on the original Super Smash Bros. titles.
As for the character himself, it’s clear that he would thrive in the air. Perhaps he would be a counterpart to Little Mac, a character who only performs well while grounded. He could potentially also use electricity attacks in reference to the balls of electricity that litter the skies in Balloon Fight.
Kass is a Rito musician from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and I like him a lot. While not particularly important to the extended Zelda series, there aren’t too many characters that actually are other than Link, Zelda, and Ganon, who are all already in Smash. Breath of the Wild is on track to becoming both the best-selling Zelda title of all time and being one of the best-received Nintendo games across the board. Not representing it in some form would be short-sighted. While Link now takes his appearance from this game, a full new character would be great as well.
Kass is perfect because, while he’s garnered quite a bit of popularity online, his body-type would work well as a fighter, and his look is distinctive enough to be instantly recognized, he wouldn’t be expected by too many folks. Pleasant surprises are the best kind of character additions. He could have the power of flight and use his accordion as a weapon of some sort.
Rhythm Heaven might be the largest Nintendo franchise without a representative. While sales in the west have been low for this series, Japanese sales have been consistently pretty great. In the lead up to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, the Chorus Kids were rumored to appear thanks to a “leak” from Sal Romano on Eurogamer. While many consider the leak to have been busted by the lack of the Chorus Kids and Chrom, Chrom was confirmed to have been considered at one point and Rhythm Heaven has some unused logo data within the code of Smash For. All signs point to the idea that a Rhythm Heaven representative was planned, but didn’t make the final cut. Now would be a great time to finally add the Chorus Kids into the game.
If I were to guess why they were cut last time, it would be that the 3DS version of the game was technically limited and characters that have multiple playable entities, like the Ice Climbers, didn’t work on the console. The Switch is the most powerful console yet to have a Smash game, so I doubt that would continue to be an issue. I envision the Chorus Kids to be a rhythm-based fighter. Perhaps tapping out certain moves in a rhythm would make them more powerful or otherwise augment them.
This is a bit of a contentious pick because the chorus kids are not the protagonists of Rhythm Heaven. In fact, there isn’t really a traditional protagonist in the series. Many would prefer the slightly more prominent character, Karate Joe. While he wouldn’t be bad either, Karate Joe is much closer to a regular fighting game archetype than the Chorus Kids and, in my opinion, is less interesting for Smash Bros.
There are a number of reasons why King K. Rool might not appear. He hasn’t been used in years and he seems to have been phased out as the main evil force in Donkey Kong games. Dixie, however, has remained relevant. Back in the day, Dixie Kong was the main protagonist of Donkey Kong Country 3. She even got her name in the subtitle: “Dixie’s Double Trouble.” After appearing in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze alongside her boyfriend, Diddy, she’s cemented herself as the third-most-important Kong in the DK Krew.
In addition to being an easy grab for increasing female representation in Smash, she’d also be an easy character to implement altogether. Due to similarities in size and shape, she would likely be a partial Diddy Kong clone. I don’t view clones to be a negative inclusion in the game at all because even the smallest change in a character’s moveset dramatically changes how they are played, especially at a high skill level. Dixie would likely have her hair twirl as her recovery move rather than Diddy’s jetpack. Other moves, such as her grab and dash attack, would also likely use her hair.
Sheik is a weird character, isn’t she? She made sense in Melee when we were in the wake of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s impact on the industry and she functioned as something interesting that Zelda could do, but I don’t know if she still does. She hasn’t appeared in a main-series Zelda game in almost twenty years and she doesn’t seem like she will again any time soon. In Smash For, Sheik was fully separated from Zelda, so she’s not even unique as a transforming character anymore. I don’t want to see her iconic moveset lost from the franchise, but Sheik as a Zelda representative doesn’t fully make sense to keep around anymore.
While I said earlier that there aren’t too many characters that are important to the whole of the Zelda series other than Link, Zelda, and Ganon, Impa is one of the few exceptions. Impa, like Sheik, is a ninja-like warrior from the Sheikah tribe. Unlike Sheik, she appears in many Zelda games and has maintained a certain level of iconicity over the years. I believe that Impa could inherit Sheik’s moveset and appear in Smash as a newcomer. The Zelda series’ representation would be much more well-rounded and competitive players wouldn’t have to give up playing as Sheik (in spirit).
Ray Mk III
Ray is a cool mech from Custom Robo. That should be enough reason on its own. C’mon, he’s just perfect for Smash.
Since they were introduced in Brawl in 2008, third-pary characters, or “guest characters” have been controversial, but exciting picks. Being that Nintendo is running low on heavy hitters they actually own, I can see the pool of third-parties in this Smash being larger than before. I’d personally like all future third-parties to make sense as Nintendo representatives as well as representatives of their own developers. They should be important to the history of Nintendo and should be considered “Nintendo All-Stars” in their own right, regardless of who owns them.
With that in mind, I’d consider the following characters great fits:
Banjo-Kazooie is one of the few IP that Nintendo has ever lost. While Rare’s other output during their partnership with Nintendo like Killer Instinct, Perfect Dark, and Conker were all owned by Rare themselves, Banjo was always a Nintendo character until he was sold to Microsoft during Rare’s 2002 buyout. Being that Xbox-man himself, Phil Spencer, says that he would love Banjo and Kazooie to make an appearance in Smash, I think it’s about damn time.
I’ll admit, I’m fairly biased here. Banjo is my number one most wanted character inclusion and has been since before Melee was released in 2001. I feel fairly confident, however, that I’m far from alone in this regard. Including Banjo in a Smash Bros. game could be the first steps in him and Kazooie making a comeback in their own series as well.
The Wii U era was a dark era for Nintendo’s third party support, but while Ubisoft, Square Enix, Capcom, EA, Activision Blizzard, and all the other major third-parties in the industry slowly fled the murder scene, Nintendo was kept on life support by a steady stream of innovative, plucky game developers without ties to big publishers. These “Nindies,” as they would later be called, are often childhood Nintendo fans, grown up into creative capability. Leading the pack was Yacht Club Games and their critical darling, Shovel Knight.
Shovel Knight himself is an iconic character with many gadgets and abilities at his disposal and is closely associated with Nintendo systems. The new Specter Knight DLC campaign even launched on Switch before any other console. He could use the Propeller Dagger to recover or blow his powerful War Horn for his down special.
Apparently, Ubisoft provided Sakurai’s team with a model for Rayman for Smash For. Sakurai’s team took the model and made it into a collectable trophy. Whether or not this is what Ubisoft had in mind is unclear, but from an outsider’s perspective it felt pretty awkward. This time around, there are no more excuses. Let’s go ahead and get Rayman in there.
Rayman’s lack of limbs would make for an interesting fighter whose moves don’t necessarily need to be defined by his dimensions. Across the original Rayman, The Great Escape, and the more recent Origins and Legends, there are a multitude of unique ideas that can be used for his character. After Ubisoft’s support of Nintendo throughout the years, they could use a win.
Speaking of Ubisoft, if you’re looking at what the most valuable third-party franchises are to Nintendo, you’d be wise to look at the best selling third-party game on the Switch: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Beating out both Skyrim and Minecraft, the Rabbids have had a bit of a resurgence thanks to Mario and company. I have to say, this game has charmed me on the Rabbids quite a bit. A year ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of a Rabbid in Smash, but now I’m all in, baby.
They can use weapons from Kingdom Battle in addition to the plungers they’ve always held so dear. Rabbid Peach, Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi can even be alternate costumes in addition to the standard Rabbid look. I’d understand if the general public is so reticent to the idea that Nintendo would be scared off. If it were only Rayman, that would still be great. I just know that I, personally, would be thrilled to see a Rabbid on the battlefield.
Goku is a crowd favorite. Goku would be one of the biggest bringers of hype in the realm of third-parties. Goku would reinvigorate an entire market of people who had given up on Smash as a series to go and check it out on Switch.
Goku would still not be a great idea.
It’s a slippery slope. Yes, Goku would be cool in a lot of ways, but he’s not a video game character. Brawl already broke down a barrier by including non-Nintendo characters like Sonic and Snake and For took it a step further by including Cloud, the protagonist of a game that never released on a Nintendo console at all. Personally, I would have drawn the line before Cloud, but, now that he’s in, Cloud needs to be the outer limits of what a third-party character can be. Otherwise, Smash will go from a focused ordeal, celebrating Nintendo and its associated characters, to an absolute free-for-all where nothing matters and any character can just show up. Goku is the first step to John Adams actually having a chance.
There is merit in Goku’s character, though. His design is great and comes from Akira Toriyama, acclaimed Japanese artist whose work has informed anime, manga, and even video games. Chrono Trigger is also a work of his and I believe that it is one of the most worthy inclusions to Smash out of all third-party options. Having originally launched as a Nintendo-exclusive on the SNES, Chrono Trigger is remembered fondly by many as one of the best RPGs of all time. If Nintendo included Crono in Smash, they would be honoring one of their most successful third-party partnerships and would be alleviating some of the hate they might get for not including Goku.
Maybe they can’t get Crono, though. Chrono Trigger is, after all, wrapped up in so many layers of legal red tape that remaking the game or even porting it to different consoles has been considered a dead end for years now. What other Square Enix characters could make the cut? I’d put my money on Sora.
With Kingdom Hearts 3 on the way, albeit not to Nintendo consoles, Sora would certainly make a splash. Similarly to how Goku is being requested, Disney characters are also being discussed online by Smash fans. Sora might be a gateway to characters like Donald, Goofy, and Mickey appearing as part of his Final Smash or as an assist trophy. Meanwhile, Cloud has been criticized for only representing one Final Fantasy game, especially with it being one of the ones most notably not on Nintendo consoles. Sora represents all Kingdom Hearts games and has appeared on Nintendo consoles quite a few times. He could solve a number of problems at once and I’d be glad to see him join the fray.
Maybe, though, it must be Final Fantasy. I could see Square Enix putting down an edict that if Nintendo wants a character for Smash, it needs to be from Final Fantasy because that’s what they care about promoting the most. Well, Cloud is still a weird choice to me, but who else would represent the series? Every game has a different world and cast of characters and picking any one of the games over the others (other than VII) is very difficult. Well, there might be a solution.
The Black Mage/Dark Magician class exists in many FF games and could potentially represent the series as a whole more accurately than any one protagonist. With his face covered by the shadow of his hood, the Black Mage looks stylistically closer to some of Kirby’s friends than other FF characters, which might help him blend into the cast. Smash could use more magic users in any case.
Minecraft is the best selling game of the last decade by a considerable margin and that isn’t something likely to be ignored by the heads of Nintendo. The default skin for the player is named “Steve” and more kids currently in their teens have grown up controlling Steve than have grown up controlling Mario. Minecraft is owned by Microsoft and, with Phil Spencer being open to letting Nintendo use Banjo, I’m sure he’d also be game to let them use Steve.
Steve might be able to drop heavy blocks either to crush opponents or to erect structures in different places on the stage. With his pickaxe and huge array of materials to use, he’d be quite the interesting inclusion.
Those are all the characters I want. Presumably, a very small percentage of them will actually make it in. I don’t want people to say I didn’t see the finalized roster coming, though, so here are the things I think will be in the game, but don’t actually rank too highly on my wish list.
The Ice Climbers were apparently supposed to be in Smash For, but were cut because the 3DS’ hardware couldn’t handle it. Presumably, this means that there were models, animations, and a moveset created for the Ice Climbers, just waiting to be implemented into a new game. These characters are iconic to the Smash series at this point and their absence in the past was only a technicality.
Wolf is one of the most egregious missing veterans from Smash For. Why didn’t he make it? No one’s quite sure. Even Lucas and Roy made it back as DLC. Wolf will probably rejoin Fox and Falco in this iteration of the game.
Rex & Pyra/Mythra
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has made quite a splash on the Switch, being the first entry in its otherwise niche series to sell over a million copies. Rex is the Xenoblade 2 analog of Shulk from the first game and screams “Smash Bros” just from his design. Rex might play a bit more uniquely than Shulk, however, in his relation to Pyra. Just like in the source game, I expect Pyra to float in back of Rex, boosting him while he fights. Similarly to the Ice Climbers, this would technically be two characters with one of them being directly controlled by the player and the other being an AI assistant, helping in where she can.
In Xenoblade 2, Pyra also can turn into the character Mythra depending on certain factors. While this is technically a spoiler of sorts, Smash has never been shy about that sort of thing (see Sheik and Zelda). I imagine that, in Smash, Pyra would swap out with Mythra to offer Rex a different variety of boosts.
A representative from Fire Emblem Switch
Sakurai loves his Fire Emblem, doesn’t he? Smash For had six Fire Emblem characters! That’s insane! To go from four new characters to none would be ridiculous, so I have to assume they’d include whoever the protagonist of Fire Emblem Switch is. Ideally, they will include this character as DLC rather than in the base game so fans will actually have time to learn about the character and play the game they’re from, unlike with Corrin and Roy, who were both introduced to Smash before their respective games.
A representative from the newest Pokémon
Just like Fire Emblem, Pokémon seems to always get a representative from the most recent installment in the series. Melee’s Pichu is a generation two rep, Brawl introduced Lucario as a generation four rep, and For has Greninja representing generation six. The big question is, at the time of this Smash title’s launch, whether the eighth generation of Pokémon will already be announced and will have known new Pokémon or if the newest Pokémon games will still be Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. If it’s the former, there is no way to predict what that character will be. If it’s the latter, however, it is likely to be Decidueye.
Decidueye is the fully evolved version of the grass starter, Rowlet, from the generation seven Pokémon games. Not only is its design perfectly suited for a fighting game (as shown by his inclusion in Pokkén Tournament DX), but he would also complete a trio of fully evolved starters along with Charizard and Greninja. While expecting a character specifically because of a pattern has never been a good way to predict new characters, a lot lines up for Decidueye.
Between Solid Snake and Cloud appearing in previous Smash Bros. games, one must wonder if Sakurai thinks the first Playstation was a Nintendo product. While this is puzzling, it’s great news for fans of Crash Bandicoot. After last year’s original Crash Bandicoot trilogy remake (and the fact that it’s coming to Switch this year), the manic marsupial is looking like he’s good to go.
After Mega Man, the next big third-party inclusion is kind of up-in-the-air. No one else quite carries the hype that he did. Crash Bandicoot, while still not at Sonic or Mega Man levels, might serve as that kind of inclusion, especially considering how unlikely Banjo and Kazooie are. I don’t quite know what his moveset would look like, but there are many exciting things to draw from in his over two decades of games.
Nintendo Labo Robot
I’m going out on a limb here. I feel like this is happening. Sakurai seems to enjoy his outlandish comedy picks and this definitely fits the bill. I don’t know if it’s going to just be a kid wearing cardboard, just the cardboard, or the in-game robot, but something Labo-related is happening. Just like Pichu or Wii Fit Trainer in previous games, this will be the unbelievable “I can’t believe they went there” inclusion that blows people away. I don’t have much of a moveset for it, but I don’t want anyone to say I didn’t see it coming, so here it is.
Media credit: Header image originally produced by IGN.