Early Thoughts (and Concerns) on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

The Switch’s iteration of Super Smash Bros. has been revealed as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate! So far, from what I’ve seen and the little I’ve played, it seems like a refinement of the franchise. It’s faster paced like Melee, but looks to incorporate the sense of balance from the Wii U version. Despite Nintendo’s overall lackluster E3 Direct, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate looks to please its loyal fanbase, and then some.

However, even though Ultimate looks like it could be the definitive Super Smash Bros. game, I do have a few reservations about it. Primarily, it may seem awesome on one hand that the game will feature every character who has ever been in Super Smash Bros. history – from the N64 originals to the one-timers from Melee and Brawl to the DLC characters from Smash Bros. on Wii U – on the other hand, series director Masahiro Sakurai said they planned to emphasize the inclusion of every past character, so to “not expect too many new additions.”

But is that really what anyone wanted? Sure, Ice Climbers and Solid Snake had plenty of support to make a return, but did anyone really want characters like Pichu and Wolf O’Donell to make a comeback? Don’t we have enough clones as it is?

Speaking of clones, that brings us to another source of concern: Sakurai has given clone characters the official name of “Echo Fighters.” The problem with this is that the fact that clones nw have an official label could imply that Ultimate is doubling down on clone characters.

I know, a lot of people like to claim that “clone characters don’t take up much data, and so they aren’t getting in the way of anyone else.” Maybe, but if you ask me, I’d rather see a smaller roster with unique characters than a large roster filled with half-assed, copied-and-pasted clones.

The reason why I’m concerned about this (other than the fact that the clone characters are already just lazy additions) is that, with the Inklings from Splatoon and Metroid’s Ridley being the only completely new characters announced for the new game, along with the grim promise that there won’t be too many new additions, this could mean that most of the potential new characters could just be clones. And who the hell wants that?

Things get worse, however, with the revelation of the first new “Echo Fighter” in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is none other than (oh lord, give me strength)… Princess Daisy.

Ouch! It hurts just to type that.

Look, I understand that Ridley was one of the most requested characters for years, and Splatoon is Nintendo’s biggest new franchise, but Daisy? I don’t know, seems like we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel here. And yeah yeah, once again “clones don’t use up a lot of data,” but when they start stacking up clone after clone, the roster just feels watered down.

Now, part of me isn’t too disheartened with the idea of only a handful of new characters (I remember when Melee first showed off Bowser, Peach, Zelda and Ice Climbers as new additions, and I didn’t mind it when I thought they were the only new additions to Melee). But, if we do see only a handful of new characters, and most of them are just going to be clones, it would feel like a waste. And don’t even get me started on Bomberman being relegated to an Assist Trophy while Princess Daisy makes the roster. That’s just insulting.

I hope I don’t sound overly negative, because I love Super Smash Bros., and from what I played of Ultimate at E3, it looks to be excellent. But while it looks like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate may refine the series’ mechanics and competitive nature, it runs the risk of diluting the experience with an overtrumped roster largely comprised of characters who lack uniqueness. I mean, this is a series built on Nintendo’s illustrious history and peerless catalogue of video game icons. I’d hate to see it simply decide to settle on the quick and easy alternatives in place of meaningful additions.

Sakurai is known for asking his fans to “just be happy.” But if we’re getting a bunch of throwbacks and cookie cutter additions at the expense of worthwhile newcomers, it makes it kind of difficult.

“The physical incarnation of “we’re all out of ideas.””

But seriously, just give me Geno and Dixie Kong and I’ll take it all back and love it 100% LOL.

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7 thoughts on “Early Thoughts (and Concerns) on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

  1. Matt

    As long as the clones (or Echo Fighters) have distinctions in relation to the originals, I am fine with them.

    Since I did not buy any of the Wii U DLC, I feel Ultimate will have a decent amount of new characters for me. But I can obviously see why people are disappointed with Sakurai telling them not to expect too many fighters. I am sure we will get more than the Inklings and Ridley, as Nintendo will make announcements as the year goes along, but I am also certain people will be disappointed no matter what.

    I think that, as time goes along, new characters will become more scarce with every installment, because we are talking about a limited group of options, and the roster is so big as it stands there is not much left to cover (even if there are some pretty big absences). Due to that, Smash Bros games will have to focus more on new mechanics and twists to justify new installments, which is a good thing. Ultimate gets a pass because it is built around the idea of bringing everyone together, but for next entries Nintendo will obviously have to do more than that.

    I find it hard to complain about Sakurai’s work, because I don’t think there is a gaming franchise that puts as big of a burden – in terms of expectations and work – on its developers shoulders as Smash Bros. Making those games with so many stages and characters must be brutal, and they have pulled it off wonderfully time after time.

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    1. themancalledscott Post author

      I do understand Sakurai works hard and on a very personal level with his games, and I respect him for that. But I just think resorting to clones is just an easy way out, and well, with the past two entries he certainly played favorites a little too much (Meta-Knight’s blatant overpowering in Brawl, an excess of Kid Icarus in Smash 4). I love the games he makes and respect the man, but also seeing as this is a series that – let’s face it – is built on fan-service as much as it is Nintendo’s history, it gets kind of disheartening thinking about the seemingly-obvious characters who haven’t appeared (seriously, Dixie Kong) in favor of Sakurai’s personal favoritism (good lord, we get it, he likes Fire Emblem).

      I think Ultimate has all the makings of being the definitive Super Smash Bros. game, and in that sense, it’s great to see Sakurai and company focusing more on making the game basically “Super Smash Bros. Complete.” But if that is the case, combined with the fact that there will only be a ‘few’ new additions, those few really have to count. The fact that he added Ridley is a good sign, since he had been asked for for so long. So if the remaining newcomers fall into that category (and not just be clones), then this will basically be the series’ perfect entry. But if the newcomers do just end up being clones and uneventful characters, well, it will kind of soil the whole point of the game.

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      1. Matt

        I agree. Dixie Kong and K. Rool need to be in this thing. Who knows? Maybe they will be part of the small group of newcomers this time around. But I am obviously not holding my breath for that, since (as the fact Bomberman is just an Assist Trophy) Sakurai does have a tendency to overlook characters that should quite blatantly be added to the roster.

        Like

  2. Kariyanine

    I am admittedly not a huge Smash fan but I’m happy with the option to play as all the previous characters. Can’t say I care much about Daisy one way or the other but friends, who are big Smash fans, seemed pretty excited that she was an option as they like her over Peach.

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    1. themancalledscott Post author

      I really don’t get the people who claim Daisy is better than Peach. They’ll always say “because Peach just gets kidnapped all the time” which isn’t actually true. In SMB2, Peach was playable, and the best character. In Super Mario 3D Land, Peach was playable, and the best character (until you unlock Rosalina). In Super Mario RPG, Peach is playable, and probably the best character. Meanwhile, Daisy only appears in spinoff games to fill up space, and the one time she had a role in a platformer…she was kidnapped. But worst of all, Daisy is just so dang annoying (“Hi! I’m Daisy! Hi! I’m Daisy!”). *Shudders*

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  3. ju

    I take echo fighters as pretty much alt skins at this point, even sharing the same slot number as their originals, but I honestly don’t understand how some don’t fall into the category of an echo fighter? Ok, Pichu and Wolf I can sorta understand, but what makes Falco and Doctor Mario so different from their originals? What about Young and Toon Link? It’s a really dubious term.
    But honestly, there’s always someone claiming for someones return, so even if I personally don’t care for someone like Roy or Pichu (to name a few examples), I’m fine because I also got all of my favorites back.
    I’m fine with few newcomers as this feels more like the “complete” edition moreso than a brad new game from the looks of it, and that’s cool in my book as someone that didn’t bother with the WiiU. What I do expect is crazier reveals due to the limited amount, like, I wouldn’t cross the idea that we get only like 2-3 more new characters (not echo fighters) and they’re all 3rd parties.

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