Another Smash Bros. Nintendo Direct has come and gone. And while not all the new info was golden (Shovel Knight merely being an Assist Trophy instead of a playable character, another Fire Emblem clone character, etc.), for the most part, there was a lot to get excited over. A dizzying number of stages and music, new items, Dark Samus as an additional clone character, the whole shebang.
The biggest news, however, were the reveals of Simon (and Richter) Belmont from Castlevania and King K. Rool from Donkey Kong Country as new playable characters!
Admittedly, rumors about Simon Belmont’s inclusion have been around for a while, but it’s still awesome to see its confirmation. And he even gets a clone in Richter Belmont. I guess on the downside, Alucard is relegated to an Assist Trophy, but I guess I can understand that. It’s just…Symphony of the Night is so good! Y’know?
But no news from the Direct was more exciting for me than the reveal of DK’s archenemy, King K. Rool. I have to admit, it’s surprising he made it in before Dixie Kong, but as I’ve stated ad nauseam, I’m a huge DKC fan, and I just wanted an additional character from the series. I’m not greedy.
Better still, Simon/Richter’s moves look to be pulled right out of the Castlevania games, and King K. Rool replicates his moves from his various boss fights throughout the DK series.
Of course, now we have Ridley. And we have K. Rool. Now all we need is Geno, and the Triforce of Smash’s most wanted will be complete!
Super Smash Bros. hype is a unique entity for me. On one hand, Super Smash Bros. is one of the few remaining series where the announcement of a new entry gets me genuinely excited. But of all my favorite gaming franchises, Super Smash Bros. is the one that can (and has) disappoint(ed) me the most. Of course, it shouldn’t be too surprising, considering this is a series largely built around fanservice, so when it fails to deliver on a much-wanted character or (in the last entry’s case) seems to cater to director Masahiro Sakurai’s favoritism, the experience can feel a bit sullied.
That’s not to say that the games aren’t good though. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, despite being the entry I have the most complaints about in terms of character selections and omissions, is actually the most solidly designed and technically sound iteration yet. Hell, even the bafflingly reviled Super Smash Bros. Brawl is still a really well made video game. But again, this is a series that’s built around Nintendo’s history, and its fandom. So when it feels like Nintendo’s history and its fans are being ignored, it really stings.
Case in point, Masahiro Sakurai has actively asked fans to suggest characters for the series since Super Smash Bros. Brawl was in development, and yet, the three most consistently requested characters – Metroid’s Ridley, Donkey Kong’s King K. Rool, and Super Mario RPG’s Geno – were just as consistently ignored. None of them made it into Brawl, and in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, Ridley was made into a stage hazard, while Geno and K. Rool weren’t even that lucky, being represented solely by Mii Fighter costumes, which felt like a blatant middle finger to the fans on Sakurai’s part, especially seeing as that particular entry had a sudden emphasis on his own characters (Kid Icarus suddenly seemed to get plenty of references, conveniently after Sakurai directed Kid Icarus: Uprising on 3DS).
Sakurai has tried to explain his reasons for leaving out requested characters, but most such reasons seem more like half-hearted excuses than anything. He often claimed that “Ridley was too big,” even though by that logic, Captain Olimar should be too small. Or he would claim that he would go over the character and see what uniqueness they would bring to the table…only to fill a good chunk of the roster with clone characters.
Basically, Sakurai’s excuses end up feeling like just that, excuses. Look, I get that not every character can make it in, but when you actively ask people to suggest characters, and then continuously ignore their most wanted characters for over a decade, it’s kind of hard to accept the excuses.
Even worse, however, are the people who defend Sakurai’s every action (whom I refer to as “Sakurai apologists”). Again, I understand not everyone can make the cut, but when people actively defend things like the “Ridley is too big” argument and the overabundance of clone characters, it’s like, just… come on! Sakurai is a great game designer, but it’s okay to admit to his mistakes. And well, blatantly ignoring fan requests after asking for fan requests, and resorting to simply copying existing characters and claiming its another are definite mistakes.
These people will often question what a potential character’s moves would be, but that’s an argument that seems beyond pointless, considering that from Super Smash Bros’ very first entry, Captain Falcon has been a playable character. He’s a character who, in his own series, was never seen outside of his racing vehicle! If they could turn him into a fighter back on the N64 in 1999, there’s no reason why Sakurai and company couldn’t get even more creative with current hardware.
This brings me to the point of all this ranting: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has the opportunity to live up to its name. The game is being billed as the “Smash Bros. for everyone” and is set to include every single returning character from the series’ history, which is a good start. However, the real big news is that Ridley has finally joined the Super Smash Bros. roster as a playable character! Finally, after over a decade of waiting, the patience of Metroid fans has been rewarded.
On the downside of things, Sakurai has already stated that there won’t be too many new additions to the roster this time around. I suppose that makes sense, with so many characters in the game, they’re running lower and lower on classic characters to choose from. But that’s just my point, if we’re only going to get a ‘few’ new characters, why not make them characters that count?
Of the three most consistently requested characters, Ridley has now become the first of the trio to make the roster. So, why not finally pull the trigger and deliver the other two as well? K. Rool and Geno are two characters that have so much potential for the series – let alone their fan support – that not adding them in at this point would seem like petty spite. Hardly what you would want from a game that’s supposed to be the Ultimate edition of a franchise largely built on fanservice.
That would already make something of a statement for the series. It’s like, not only would we be getting every past character from the series history, but also the three most requested, ever-elusive characters. Whatever other newcomer selections could also potentially be filled with old fan-favorites. Again, if the newcomers are going to be few in quantity, they really better make them count in terms of quality.
Of course, even with Ridley’s inclusion, there are still causes for some concerns. The fact that clones now have the ‘official’ label of “Echo Fighters” has me greatly worried that Sakurai might just be doubling down on them (again, quality, not quantity. A bunch of clones is hardly something to get excited over). And in another downer, Bomberman is finally making his debut in the series…as an Assist Trophy. Considering how big of a multiplayer franchise Super Smash Bros. is, it’s a real shame that Bomberman – one of the pioneers of multiplayer gaming – can’t make the cut as a playable character.
Still, Ridley’s presence gives hope that not only could Geno and K. Rool make their long-awaited debut, but that the select amount of newcomers might bring out the more creative side of the developers. If Sakurai and company can deliver everything from Super Smash Bros. past (which looks to be the case so far), and throw in the few remaining missing elements that fans have been craving, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate may just live up to its name.
Between the presence of every returning fighter and the debut of Ridley, so far so good. But to make Super Smash Bros. Ultimate truly the ultimate Super Smash Bros. experience, the rest of those newcomers really have to mean something.
Super Smash BRos. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS saw another major update recently, with a lot of additional content including Tournament Mode, the ability to upload videos to YouTube, and DLC stages and costumes for the Mii Fighters.
Unfortunately, one of those Mii Fighter costumes includes King K. Rool, the recurring antagonist from the Donkey Kong series. Why is this unfortunate? Because K. Rool has been one of the most requested characters to join the Super Smash Bros. roster, and him being included as a Mii Fighter costume almost feels like a mere token. He’s included as a Mii costume, so will Sakurai just stop there?
Now, it is possible that if K. Rool (or anyone else) gets enough votes in the Smash Bros. character poll he could potentially still be added. But that really depends on how many new characters the poll will allow. It’s an uncertainty.
I understand it’s difficult to write coding and add a whole new character to the game, so I understand people can’t get every character they want as DLC. My problem though, is that the Donkey Kong series, one of Nintendo’s premiere franchises, is sorely underrepresented in Super Smash Bros. DK shouldn’t have to wait for DLC.
Donkey Kong and Diddy are great characters in Super Smash Bros. But considering the series’ importance to Nintendo’s history (it was their first full-fledged franchise, the Mario series itself is a spinoff from it, I could go on), having just two characters when it has more to work with seems unfair to the beloved series. Especially when one considers that Kid Icarus, a series that didn’t even have a new entry for over two decades, has three characters. And don’t get me started on the small army of Fire Emblem characters.
I’m not even saying that the game needs to include the whole Kong family (no one wants Chunky Kong), but Dixie Kong should have already been in Super Smash Bros. some time ago. Not to mention her prehensile hair could give her a unique moveset. King K. Rool would also be a great addition, since he’d not only bring more DK representation, but the series could use some additional villain characters (the current games only have Bowser, Bowser Jr., Ganondorf and King Dedede filling the villain roster), and K. Rool could add to that category nicely. Even Cranky Kong makes more sense than a lot of the characters who actually made it into Smash Bros. (because seriously, Dark Pit)!
Metroid is another series that is sorely underrepresented in Smash Bros., also having only two characters (both of which are two versions of the same character). But I understand that Metroid has a bit less characters to work with. So while Metroid definitely deserves more characters, it isn’t quite as baffling as DK’s underrepresentation. There’s no shortage of material to work with when it comes to Donkey Kong.
Again, there is still some shred of hope for the DK faithful with that character poll. But the big question is, why should Donkey Kong, one of Nintendo’s greatest franchises and one of gaming’s most iconic series, have to rely on the character poll just to get one additional character?
Hopefully, the K. Rool Mii Fighter costume is just an appetizer for something better for the DK crew around the corner, and not just compensation.