Rounding Out the Super Smash Bros. Roster
At E3 a few days ago, Nintendo demoed their latest iteration of the Super Smash Bros. franchise, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, most notably the entire (starting) roster of characters. It includes all 63 characters that have appeared in the first four installments (counting Dark Pit + regular Pit and Marth + Lucina as one, while counting Mii fighters and the Pokémon Trainer triumvirate separately) – a staggering increase since the twelve characters that made up the original game, and even more than the 58 that Smash 4 ended with (including all seven downloadable content characters) – and two newcomers in Inkling (from Splatoon) and Ridley (from Metroid).
As with any roster reveal, there is plenty of speculation as to which characters will be released later on to siphon even more money from faithful players, in installments of $5 at a time. While Ultimate is already the biggest teamup in history (surpassing Avengers: Infinity War which had somewhere between three and five dozen primary characters, depending on your definition of a primary character), Nintendo has an opportunity to cement this game as the best fighting game of all time by making a few small modifications to the roster.
Quick Note: Ultimate isn't a very fitting name for a franchise that has had cool subtitles like Melee and Brawl, before settling for a disappointing Smash 4 (stylized as SM4SH). Some possible improvements include Clash (probably not because of Clash of Clans), Impact (doesn't quite roll off the tongue), Rumble (doesn't have the same punch), Skirmish (a word reserved for two geese playfighting in a pond), Rumpus (an actual viable word), Battle (too basic), Brouhaha (too many syllables), Free-For-All (fits with the 'Five' alliteratively), Fracas (getting closer), or Showdown (there we go). Besides, Showdown can be stylized with the '5' to get 5HOWDOWN. Come on, creative team.
Smash Bros. is exceptional because of its diversity, but that diversity is skewed in favor of certain franchises. Fire Emblem and Zelda each boast six characters (five, if Marth and Lucina are regarded as one), while Mario and Pokémon bring a full nine (treating Pokémon Trainer as three). While combining Marth and Lucina (in what appear to be different skins of the same character) is smart, the next one to fall (or become a skin himself) is Roy. While the fire-sword gives him a cool factor, his moveset is largely the same, with the exception of the neutral and up-special. Pichu is like Pikachu, except he (she? Pokémon in Smash Bros. aren't gendered) hurts himself when using certain moves. Wolf is pretty much Fox, but with a different color palette. That’s enough to garner a cut.
Two slightly more (probably) controversial cuts are Captain Falcon and Lucario. Despite Falcon's iconic 'show me your moves' taunt, he is effectively a clone of Ganondorf but faster and more graceful. Perhaps this will change with the introduction of Ganondorf's sword as an actual usable weapon. As for Lucario, it was never clear why or when he became an important Pokémon – it's most likely due to his somewhat doglike appearance and the fact that he can sort of talk to people? Ultimately, if you're picking Pokémon, he's the least unique considering that Mewtwo exists, and Mewtwo is a clone of god.
But we're not making these cuts for no reason. After all, there's a reason why franchises like Pokémon have so many representatives – there are literally more than eight hundred to choose from, with a hundred new ones coming out every few years. But there are definitely some better choices which have already been tested as fighters in Pokken Tournament and forty of whom that have appeared as Poke/Master Ball items in Smash. Between the tentacley Deoxys, the multi-formed Necrozma, the underrated Raikou, the sneaky Gengar, or any assortment of humanoids (Blaziken, Machamp, Aggron, Groudon, Darkrai, Golurk, Trevenant, Golisopod, Xurkitree, Buzzwole, and more), there are plenty of choices besides, you know, Pichu.
Even Zelda can do better than using three iterations of Link (and only one variation of Ganon, who has a number of forms with different spellings and everything), especially with better swords-wielders like Ghirahim and Impa ready to go. And don't forget about Mario. King Boo is a less iconic villain than Bowser or Donkey Kong, but definitely more iconic than Count Bleck, Dimentio, or King K. Rool.
Let's take a look at the underrepresented franchises first. Despite having seven different video game *franchises* that collectively delivered upward of sixty total games, six different TV shows, and a Lil Wayne song, the Megaman franchise has only ONE character available – the titular one. Among the signature characters available include Roll (the foil to Megaman's original Japanese name, Rock), Protoman (Megaman's primary rival), Bass (the ultimate villain), Zero (the deuteragonist and antihero), all of whom are already built to star in a fighting video game because they have all already starred in a number of fighting video games. While Sonic is a likewise iconic franchise (the Flash to Super Mario's Superman), the main problem is that all the main characters are also hedgehogs. Some of the auxiliary characters are possible, like Jet the Hawk (who also looks kind of like a hedgehog) or Charmy Bee (who looks like a hedgehog without the hair on the back).
The vast, expansive catalog of fighting games means that Nintendo can bring in characters from games that don't yet have representation, like they did with Ryu and Cloud in Smash 4. Simon Belmont from Castlevania would add another whip-user next to Zero Suit Samus (a criminally neglected subset of fighters ever since Iron Man 2). Sub Zero from Mortal Kombat gives the roster another ice-friendly star alongside Ice Climbers.
And yes, if you were wondering, the last 800 words were just an excuse for me to get to what I wanted to actually talk about – the criminal lack of a Golden Sun character in any of these games. Golden Sun is a trilogy of video games that spanned the aughts and all garnered critical approval of 80% or more. The first one was bestowed with 'Game of the Year' honors, and the first two installments went on to rank on IGN's (at the time) Top 100 Games of all time (and still persist on anyone's list of the top Gameboy Advance games of all time). All that to say, the franchise – from its plot to gameplay to visuals – are all pretty fucking great. Nintendo, to its (very small amount of) credit, hasn't entirely ignored its existence, using the protagonist Isaac as an assist trophy (where he uses his signature psynergy 'Move'). They even had him as an option in a fan-voted poll to determine the final DLC for Smash 4, the slot that ended up going to Bayonetta. Besides, he's a particularly easy character to design a moveset for, considering he has quite the range of powers. Third-party developers have been able to make respectable versions of an Isaac character, fine-tuning his outfit quite effectively, even making introductory trailers for his arrival. Come on, Nintendo! It's right there! Do it! It doesn't even have to be Isaac! It can be Alex, or Saturos, or even the Wise One! Is that too much to ask?
There are three Links! Three!!