What’s New and What We Want from the New Super Smash Bros.

At E3 a few weeks back, Nintendo unveiled the big debut for what is certain to be one of their upcoming hits: the fourth Super Smash Bros. game.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQD1yJinzeQ&feature=youtu.be]

As to be expected, a number of necessary classic characters from the original game are making their triumphant return: Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Samus, Kirby, Fox, and Pikachu. Coupled with that is the expected return of two others: Bowser who began his run in Melee and Pit who flew into the fight in Brawl. My only gripe with this mix is Pit, who sucks – Roy would have been a much better choice to keep. This familiar party of nine is rounded out to a total of 12 by three equally surprising new additions:

Villager (Animal Crossing)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7TK_0rFcuA]

My gut reaction is to register Villager as one of the “annoying” characters that pops up in every SSB game. In Brawl it was Olimar and R.O.B. and in Melee it was Dr. Mario and who the heck knows who else! These are the characters who some people play as just to be aggravating. It probably has something to do with the level of cuteness in a character model. Go figure! But when you pay attention to Villager in action, he seems like he might be one of the more dynamic characters in the game. Not only does he have a variable move set, but one of his specials is to shove basically anything into his grubby little pocket, including Samus’ giant blast and especially Mario’s dinky little fireballs. With a handy move like that, you can bet that Villager will more often than not have something powerful up his sleeve.

Mega Man (Mega Man)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSS2HupWQcw]

The design for Mega Man’s SSB character model sports a very classic look, with all of his moves being derived from his first games. While Mega Man does fill the “third party cool character” that made Sonic and Snake so popular in Brawl, he looks to be a bit unwieldy. The SSB series does have a tendency to vary its characters from the painfully easy to use to the incredibly challenging to master but worthwhile. Ness has always been a perfect example of the difficult to use characters who, if used well, can be a formidable choice for anyone to play as. It’s refreshing to see that Mega Man has a unique play style considering it would have been all too easy to make him into a generic Samus clone – who is basically the only original SSB character to not be cloned yet.

Wii Fit Trainer (Wii Fit)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOhPnOfYYvk]

In a genius stroke of marketing, Nintendo loves to say that Wii Fit Trainer is going to “weigh in!” as a new contender in Super Smash Bros. Everyone was surprised by her inclusion and I’d imagine plenty of die-hard fans (including myself) were a bit angry. I’m sure just about everyone would rather choose a different character to be included rather than have a yoga trainer be poking her way to victory on the battlefield. The above video notes that her combat style seems similarly nimble to that of Zero Suit Samus and I wouldn’t be surprised if it also compared to Sheik with a bit more power. Granted, I was a big fan of Wii Fit a few years back, but this does seem like a weird choice on the part of the game developers. We’ll have to wait and see if she’s worthwhile!

What else do we know?

Without delving too deeply into all of the announcements, it seems like the developers are being a bit more judicial about what characters will be included. In past installments, there were very few differences between certain characters, despite obvious attempts to foster uniqueness. Fox and Falco were nigh on identical in Melee and noticeably less so in Brawl – not to mention the fact that Wolf was basically Fox moving at awkward angles with more power. While it would be a good decision to limit the number of characters for a tighter, cleaner experience with varied and balanced characters, the entire draw to a SSB game is being able to pit all sorts of different characters against one another. If you click on the link just above, you can see an interview with the maker of Super Smash Bros. in which he hints at this from a developmental perspective.

He also hints at some degree of character customization, at least on the 3DS version that can then be imported over into the Wii U. Whether this means adjusting existing characters to emphasize your specific, favorite moves, OR the creation of a unique character from scratch, remains to be seen. As awesome as it would be to create your own character and assign specific moves from characters (in a balanced way), it seems highly unlikely and impractical to do so. It seems more likely that you’ll be able to use some sort of point system to amplify the power of your favorite moves at the expense of leaving others alone. Another option might be adding various status effects to specific moves (i.e., poison or sleep). Considering the plethora of items that are always included, this seems the most likely option for them to pursue.

One thing that maker Sakura has said is the following:

Perhaps the best way to think of it is: it’s not the strength of the attacks that change–their power–but the directionality of those attacks will change with customization.

It’s hard to really comprehend what this change can mean for players, and might be one of those things that we have to wait and see.

What do we want to see?

**Note: everything that follows is purely speculative**

Despite what has been said about character customization already, I can’t help but still dream! I would love to be surprised and actually have a character creation system. Brawl had a stage customization mechanic that I reckon went largely unused. My one excruciating attempt did little more than anger my friends when it came up on Random (the entire bottom of the stage was spiked, hence, Dentata!). Status effects and added damage – even of specific elemental types – would be an interesting thing to add to any character’s move set, particularly if these types interacted with what was already in place. I’d envision it similar to the battle system in Pokemon where each element has specific strengths and weaknesses. Then there’s also the relationships between Attack/Defense and Special Attack/Special Defense. For instance, most of regular Pikachu’s attacks are Special Attack because they are energy-based. The same could be said of any laser guns (Fox, Samus, Mega Man) or moves like Mario’s fireball. This kind of system could certainly stand to overcomplicate things, but if simplified, you could easily just stick some poison on Link’s sword and go to town, or even add an extended stun effect to Samus’s big blast. You could even adjust Samus’ armor or Link’s shield to absorb specific kinds of damage. Who knows?

Personally, I would prefer it if they invested a lot less in making up a Story mode. If this game were all multiplayer with a campaign mode similar to the first game, then I would be a happy camper. This isn’t a game like Halo that relies equally on multiplayer and story to draw players in. Super Smash Bros. thrives in the slumber parties of pre-teens and the consequential resurgence of interest in college years. Learn your target market Nintendo!!

Who do we NOT want to see?

Non-Returners:

Diddy Kong, Dr. Mario, King Dedede, Mewtwo, Mr. Game & Watch, Olimar, Pichu. With the addition of Villager, there’s really no need for Olimar, and there’s really no point of including Pichu and Mewtwo – both of which only appeared in Melee – when their counterparts of Lucario and Pikachu are obviously preferred. I would be incredibly surprised if they kept third-party characters like Snake and Sonic around, considering what they’ve already said about third-party characters and the fact that Mega Man is already involved.

Lucas was a nice addition but far too similar to Ness to make him worthwhile. For the sake of a concentrated balance, I don’t think he’ll stick around. The same can be said of Lucario. His unique passive ability of dealing more damage than receiving was welcome, but with all the potential candidates in the Pokemon universe, they’d do well to pick a newer Pokemon (if even just to promote the new Pokemon games).

I could also care less about Ganondorf, Meta KnightIce Climbers, and that fart-rocketing Wario. It’s also about time they just let go of Falco and Jigglypuff – along with any other characters that overlap with others too much (i.e., Wolf). Oh, and please, stick with just one Link. One is enough. We don’t need a Young One and we don’t need a Toon one – unless the young one can pull the Master Sword out of the ground mid-battle and transform into regular Link and vice versa.

Luigi is probably as on the fence as you can get. The few people that would miss him will just as easily find a new character to Smash with. The same can be said of Peach, who may or may not still make it in to satisfy the gender diversity quota. The fact of the matter is: there are too many Mario characters! SSB needs to make some heavy cuts and/or give us some fresh faces – preferably Toadstool.

Who the HECK used Pokemon Trainer anyway?

Who do we want to see?

Returners:

I would be rather surprised if they cut Captain Falcon. While he’s never been a particular favorite, his uniqueness does add a considerable amount of balance to the roster. The same could be said of Yoshi. For personal preferences, I would be outright angry if they did away with Zelda/Sheik, my personal go-to character choice in Brawl. Ness will either stick around or be replaced altogether by Lucas – including the both of them would be a waste of space. Some other sword wielder should stick around from Fire Emblem. Between Melee and Brawl we saw Roy, Ike, and Marth. Better yet, how about a fresh face from the franchise? Chrom perhaps?

New Faces:

The SSB team needs to clean house and bring in some fresh faces. In each game they’ve increased the roster by about ten. In Brawl, we saw 37 total (if you count transformations!). Too many. If they invested less in overlapping character styles and more in quality characters that were fewer in quantity, then SSB4 can be the best one yet. Here’s who I propose

Toadstool (every Mario game ever)

His Super Smash move would be the typical “here’s a bajillion of multicolored Toadstools here to punch you in the face!” which would be perfect. Toad would be a medium-speed close-combat brawler. Picture Fox with more grabbing and head-butting and no fancy tricks. Toad is here to mess you up. He’d be compact and small but carry a lot of weight, similar to Mario perhaps – but heavier! His Down-B move? He flips upside-down and crashes into the ground shroom first creative a small shockwave.

Chrom (Fire Emblem Awakening)

I know next to nothing about the franchise and even less about the character, but he’s got a very cool look. I’d imagine him being like Marth but with less of the cramped, linear movements. Graceful and powerful, Chrom is Link with a longer sword and no shield which would make his movements less cramped. I’d also like Chrom to keep the sword-charging abilities of Roy and Ike, but perhaps with electricity instead of fire?

Professor Layton

I’ll admit to having no ideas whatsoever about how to integrate what appears to be a puzzle game version of Sherlock Holmes into a fighting game, but if they can somehow put Mr. Game & Watch into SSB then they can swing this one, right? All this guy needs to do is pull various weapons out of his hat or even stuff people into his hat like Kirby does his fat mouth. Hey! Maybe that’s what his Final Smash move would be?

Sora (Kingdom Hearts)

The protagonist of Kingdom Hearts (a game series that began as a clusterf*%k crossover between Final Fantasy and Disney and eventually became pretty much just a clusterf*%k in its own right). While his best friend and sometimes-ally, sometimes-enemy Riku always provides a more interesting playable character, Sora would be a very simple addition to make work in Super Smash Bros. With an emphasis on aerial combat using his signature Keyblade, Sora’s smash moves could incorporate some of the Magic spells that he learns in his game. Simple stuff like Fire, Ice, and Thunder. There’s lots of potential for his Final Smash, including calling Donald and Mickey to his side to fight, or even just Riku. He could even transform and go crazy like the typical sword-wielding characters in SSB.

Awakened Mewtwo (Pokemon X & Y)

Nothing’s better from a marketing standpoint that a collision of the familiar and classic with the new and exciting. You’ve got both in the form of Awakened Mewtwo from the upcoming Pokemon games. From a development standpoint, making this character would be easily. Not only can you work off of Mewtwo’s previous moves from Melee, but you’ve also got Lucario from Brawl. Given the psychic abilities of Mewtwo, the limits are endless when it comes to developing this one, but I’d be happy with something similar to the previous installments of humanoid Pokemon.

Knuckles (Sonic the Hedgehog games)

This one almost definitely will not be happening, but a kid can dream can’t he? In the Sonic games, Knuckles is an antagonist turned friend and ally who is adept at both climbing walls and gliding through their air. In SSB combat, he would use complicated grab moves against his enemies and be able to glide back and forth through the air hitting anyone who was in the way regardless of their moves. He’d dole out some serious damage with those fists too. His super smash move would have to be almost identical to Sonic’s from Brawl, but a bit slower and easier to control.

Additional Requests that I Have of Nintendo

For Link‘s Final Smash, just have him transform into Fierce Deity Link so it’ll actually be good, eh? And tell Pikachu to chill the frak out with his lightening ball. In fact, revamp all of the Final Smash moves that were terrible.

Do you disagree with anything I’ve said? Who do you want to see in the game? Comment below!!

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