The Inconsistency of the Smash Roster

I ramble about Super Smash Bros. a lot, and I plan to write my full review of Ultimate really soon, so I’ll try to keep this quick. But the other day, I saw a tweet that made a good point, claiming that Ultimate, more so than Brawl or Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS, has a list of Assist Trophies who should be playable characters, and playable characters who should be Assist Trophies.

Now, this person did leave out the first four announced newcomers in Inkling, Ridley, Simon Belmont and King K. Rool in their argument. Some people argued that that skewed the original poster’s point, but they emphasized that they left those characters out because they thought they were deserving newcomers. Hard to argue that, seeing as Ridley and K. Rool have been two of the three most wanted characters for over a decade, Inkling represents a contemporary Nintendo franchise, and Castlevania’s history with Nintendo goes without saying. But they pointed out that the remaining newcomers – including echo fighters – when compared to a number of characters who were relegated to Assist Trophies, leave a lot to be desired. And I kind of agreed.

Yes, I am aware that the echo fighters “don’t take up much programming space” yada yada yada. I get that. But let’s face it, they’re still difficult characters to get too excited over. Especially when we get reminded of the characters we could have had. And if the remaining newcomers are a little on the… ‘iffy’ side, well then those echo fighters are going to mean even less.

But let’s get back to the remaining newcomers. Isabelle is a choice that makes sense given Animal Crossing’s immense popularity. And you know what, I like that she’s in the game and think she’s very fun to play. However, whenever I remember that Shovel Knight and Bomberman are simply Assist Trophies, Isabelle’s placement as a playable character loses some of its appeal. Yeah, she’s a good addition, but if I – and many, many others – had a choice between Isabelle and Shovel Knight or Bomberman, well, I think we could all agree that’s a runaway victory for Shovel Knight and Bomberman.

“Even Incineroar is embarrassed he made it in before Geno.”

Then of course, we have Incineroar. Now, again, I completely understand the popularity of Pokemon, and have stated in the past that it’s one of the few series where it could potentially have as many characters as it wants. But, also again, when we look at characters who didn’t make the cut who fans have been begging for for years (Isaac from Golden Sun, anyone?), it boggles the mind that a Pokemon as random as Incineroar would be chosen instead. I mean, at least someone like Decidueye would be unique with his grass/ghost typing and emphasis on archery. But Incineroar kind of just seems to cover ground that’s already been covered in Smash being a brute character with fire moves. Again, I don’t hate Incineroar, but why are so many characters fans have wanted relegated to Assist Trophies in favor of random selections like Incineroar.

“Kill it with fire!”

Oh, but then we have the soon-to-be-released Piranha Plant. Now this is where I feel the selection was just a massive letdown. I mean, no one asked for a generic enemy (and if they had to add one, why not Goomba? At least Goombas are kind of the most iconic generic enemy in games, so they have that going for them). Some people claim Sakurai wanted to do something unexpected to surprise fans, but does a surprise really matter if it ends up disappointing? I mean, if someone ding-dong-ditched me and left a flaming bag of dog poop on my porch, I’d be surprised, but certainly not happy about it.

Sure, Piranha Plant could end up being a fun character to play. But its inclusion still seems like a slap in the face to all the fans who have been dying to see their favorite characters make the cut. I repeat, people really, really wanted Isaac, Bomberman, Shovel Knight, and many others. No one wanted Piranha Plant. And for a series as grounded in fanservice as Super Smash Bros., it just seems like a counterproductive move to so blatantly go the opposite direction of what fans want.

Yeah yeah, I’m going to bring up Geno again. Of course I am. But I don’t continuously bring up Super Mario RPG’s possessed puppet without reason. Fans have begged for the character’s inclusion for perhaps longer and more adamantly than any other character (wit the possible exceptions of K. Rool and Ridley), and yet, time and again, Super Smash Bros. fails to deliver on him. Granted, there’s still hope for Geno to make it as DLC, seeing as he doesn’t appear as an Assist Trophy. But there’s no guarantee to that. Some people think the fact that he shows up as a spirit deconfirms him, but that just sounds like a weak argument, since the spirits are just stock images that boost stats and don’t actually appear physically in matches.

But as I’ve stated ad nauseam, Geno’s continuous absence seems to personify the wonkiness of Smash’s character selections and omissions. I mean, if the most requested characters by fans can’t make it in, but Piranha Plant can, it seems to go against the very nature of the series.

Some people defend these selections by claiming that “it’s Sakurai’s game” and while that’s true, his is a game series built on fan service. It’s not like he’s telling a deep, personal story with the series. It’s Nintendo (and other) characters beating the crap out of each other.

What’s really annoying is when Sakurai apologists lash out against disappointed fans, as though they don’t have a right to be disappointed. We all love Smash Bros., but again, when the characters people want keep getting ignored while seemingly random selections make it in, it’s annoying. I love Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and I think it’s the best game in the series. But would I enjoy it more if I could play as Geno? Oh, hell yeah! Without question.

Look, I understand that not everyone can be pleased, and some fans are always going to be disappointed. But there’s a difference between certain characters not making the cut, and the characters people have wanted most for over a decade not making the cut in favor of characters no one asked for (again, that damn plant!). It just comes off as spiteful (even if that isn’t the intent).

Even K. Rool and Ridley, despite their demand, had to wait until now to finally make it into the series, with Sakurai always coming up with rather weak reasonings for their omissions in the past (the “character uniqueness” statement in regards to K. Rool was particularly laughable, given all the similar characters already present in the series). I don’t want to complain too much about that, since they’re here now. Better late than never and all that. But given some of the characters who made it in before them, it’s pretty head-scratching.

What’s particularly hypocritical of the fans who dismiss those who express disappointment is that they’ll often ridicule fans of a particular character when they’re not in, but once a character makes it in, they suddenly act like they were always onboard with the idea since Sakurai and company gave the green light. It’s like, what a bunch of trollish sheep.

Look, I hope I never sound too negative in regards to Super Smash Bros. I truly love the series. But that’s why I get so passionate about it, both the good and bad. It’s easy to love the games themselves, but it’s often hard to ignore what could have been… especially if what we get is Piranha Plant.

Again, I hope to have my review of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate up soon. And since the omissions of my (and other people’s) most wanted characters isn’t a serious fault in terms of game design, I won’t be talking much about this stuff in my review. Hence why I decided to get it out of the way here. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve ranted about the Smash roster, and it surely won’t be the last.

My review of Ultimate is definitely going to be mostly positive (except in regards to World of Light). So please don’t think I’m just a grumpy guys when it comes to Smash. It’s just that I, like many fans, have the right to be disappointed when the series, frankly, disappoints in certain areas.


Author: themancalledscott

Born of cold and winter air and mountain rain combining, the man called Scott is an ancient sorcerer from a long-forgotten realm. He’s more machine now than man, twisted and evil. Or, you know, he could just be some guy who loves video games, animations and cinema who just wanted to write about such things.

One thought on “The Inconsistency of the Smash Roster”

  1. Echo fighters were a weird addition, you’d think they’d have at least taken the opportunity to add more popular characters this way to cope with fans while not wasting too many resources (like Shadow as an echo of Sonic, making Alph an echo of Olimar instead of a skin, somehow making Dixie work as a Diddy echo despite the lack of a tail and her specials requiring something completely different to make sense, maybe making Black Bull or Blood Falcon echoes of Captain Falcon to give F-Zero an extra slot? Just a few examples), but it was a really underutilized idea at the end of the day, and I’m surprised they have no announced plans to release some more as cheap DLC in between the real challenger packs for some extra profit.
    I wouldn’t put too many chips on no Isabelle would mean someone like Shovel Knight could be promoted to playable, besides the former being more popular, she lends a lot from Villager, so it was likely an easy addition with a few parameters changed up later (besides the fishing rod, one of the most annoying moves in the game) to make her not an echo. I often see people dismiss AT as a idea that should be scrapped, and I disagree, if a character was made into an AT, they likely never had much of a chance to be playable in the first place in the current entry, not seeing them would just raise some false hope on the fans of characters like Isaac, who I don’t think would be prime DLC candidate given that Golden Sun is pretty niche (I’m aware you could say the same for Corrin but Fire Emblem was at its “peak” when he was announced or something like that, besides Nintendo’s love to promote the series through Smash for whatever reason), so if he wasn’t on the base roster, he wasn’t really gonna become playable anywhere else. Not to say I agree with the decisions on who should be what in the game, but I can’t say I’m shocked over how some results turned out. I’ll say I still find AT cool in a way to try and recognize a characters abilities, and while I don’t consider seriously anything Smash does a “spit in the face to fans”, I find Mii outfits more offensive, as those just feel like you’re playing a bootleg version of the character with a moveset nothing like they’d play. Exceptions may apply if we end up getting Steve as DLC and he has a Banjo skin.
    There’s little arguing regarding more Mario or Pokemon characters, but I have problems with how both series handled some of their more recent newcomers. Up until Rosalina I’d say just about every Mario character was a sensible choice, Dr. Mario being the only questionable addition but being a Melee clone eh… Bowser Jr. was borderline, he has a very unique moveset and I can’t say he’s irrelevant to the series besides maybe representing Sunshine? But even big fans of the series often dismiss him as just being an annoying brat, so I’d say he was a pretty expendable addition that could have been used for, I don’t know, a real Zelda newcomer? Piranha Plant is definitely the bottom of the barrel, I understand the appeal of a gag character, and I can’t say I even find PP to be the worst of character additions ignoring clones/echoes, but the likes of Game & Watch and Wii Fit Trainer did it better, not only do they represent two different eras of Nintendo, but I don’t think many people saw them as characters until Smash, they were real shockers. I knew who Piranha Plant was before, and even among Mario baddies, they were never even close to be among my favorites. Maybe if it was a culmination of mooks and summoned stuff like Koopas, Boos, Shy Guys, etc as part of its movesets I’d like it more, but as it is, meh.
    Incineroar is simply redundant, another fire type pokemon on the pretext of being a wrestler fighter when they could have gotten a really out of left field choice on the Rhytmhn Heaven (a really popular series in Japan not represented) character to do pretty much the same thing, and he isn’t even popular from what I’ve read online (not in the top 10 more popular Alolan pokemon, and that’s a region with like less than 70 new critters). Also preference speaking but it’s hella ugly and Pokemon Sun & Moon sucked, not as bad as Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, but they were still a crawl to go through.
    I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the Smash fanbase, I hold the belief every fanbase is bad because the worst parts are always what stick out the most, but with Smash being as big as it is alongside how nightmare-ish character speculation can become, it’s nothing short of cancer. This is where I feel bad for Sakurai, because no matter what the DLC might end up looking like, there’ll always be thousands of people saying how lame and disappointing it was, it’s literally impossible to please! I kinda miss the Brawl days when I knew little to nothing on anything so just about every character announcement was exciting whereas in Smash 4 I could get a lot more heated on who gets in or who doesnt (nowadays I’m more middle of the ground, and with how the character unlocking works now I can simply ignore the faces I simply don’t wanna see in my CSS). I’m not particularly a hardcore Geno fan, but I was surprised to not see him after Ridley and K. Rool, and while I still think he has a chance as DLC, he’s less likely compared to base roster, especially with the rumors of Erdrick going around lately thanks to a codename found in the games files (at least I don’t think a 3rd party will get 2 characters through DLC if we only get one Smash pass).
    I admit I’m in a more mellow state regarding what will happen because I was ready to not see any DLC newcomers that’d interest me (shameless plug to a wishlist I did a few days ago if you were ever curious: and well, Joker happened, so getting at least one off my wishlist is enough, but it’s understandable to be bummed on seeing a favorite not make it in, as long as it wasn’t a super unlikely character and disappointment doesn’t translate to actively harassing Sakurai.
    I’ll probably prepare a response to your criticisms of WoL when the time comes, I have a lot of gripes with the mode, but there were also a lot of things that I really liked about it, which is more than I could ever say about SSE, I’m sorta baffled that’s growed a cult post the Brawl days despite being a pretty craptacular platformer/beat em up hybrid.

    Liked by 1 person

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