What Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Needs to do to Actually be the Ultimate Super Smash Bros.

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.

“Proof that Sakurai hates us all.”

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.

Advertisements

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.

10 Things I Want to See in Super Smash Bros. 5

Can you believe it? A new Super Smash Bros. is on the way to the Nintendo Switch this year! Man, we didn’t need to wait seven years this time!

Now, of course, is the time when fans start to express what they hope to see in the newest entry in Nintendo’s crossover super-franchise. And although I usually try to refrain from getting too hyped about a game with so little information to it, when it comes to Smash Bros. I have to have a little bit of fun.

Here are – in no real order – ten things I hope to see in Super Smash Bros’ outing on the Nintendo Switch. I may make a list of my most wanted characters at some point. But for now, here’s ten different ‘things.’ Some are things I’d like to see added, others are things I’d like subtracted. Either way… All aboard the hype train! Toot toot! Continue reading “10 Things I Want to See in Super Smash Bros. 5”

Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 64) Review

SSB64

Super Smash Bros. quickly became one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises. And how could it not? It’s a fighting series where Nintendo’s most beloved characters duke it out with sumo-style rules, and Mario Kart-esque weapons. But after the sequels built so strongly on the series’ formula, going back to the original may come us a slight disappointment. While the 1999 original Super Smash Bros. remains a fun game in its own right, it feels more than a little empty when compared to any of its sequels.

As stated, Super Smash Bros. is a fighting game where – rather than depleting your opponents’ health – the goal is to accumulate enough damage to send them flying off the screen, thus eliminating them. It’s a simple enough setup, but it has proven so much fun that the series has produced some of the most insanely replayable games of all time.

On the downside, much of the depth found in the gameplay wouldn’t arrive until the GameCube sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee. Melee would add more moves, more specials, and tighter mechanics. Brawl would add Final Smashes and some really creative movesets. And the recent Wii U and 3DS editions add depth and polish to pretty much every facet of the gameplay.

By comparison, the N64 original feels barren. Here, the characters only have three special attacks (performed with B, B + up, and B + down), as opposed to the four found in Melee and subsequent titles. Even more notably, the number of standard attacks each character has is incredibly limited. There are no Smash attacks or more intricate moves. You can’t midair dodge, or perform very many fancy combos. You only have a few directional ground and midair attacks, and the aforementioned specials. The gameplay is still fun at its core, but knowing just how much depth the sequels added to the equation, it’s easy to feel that the original Smash Bros. is a bit dated.

On top of that, some of the mechanics also haven’t aged too well. Here, opponents will be sent flying off-stage with relatively little damage. In later entries, opponents usually need to be well above the one-hundred damage mark before you can think about sending them packing. But here, you can defeat enemies after having only dealt about half of that damage. This leaves many battles feeling incredibly short. Another downside is just how slow the characters move. Many people complained that the characters in Brawl moved too slowly, but I might assume those same people hadn’t played the original in a good, long while. Here, the characters move so slowly and jump so floaty it’s hard to complain about Brawl’s movements by comparison.

SSB64On the bright side, the original Super Smash Bros. featured an indisputable roster of deserving characters. From the get-go, players can select Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Yoshi, Samus, Kirby, Fox McCloud and Pikachu, while the secret characters include Luigi, Jigglypuff, Captain Falcon and Ness. It’s an incredibly small roster compared to the sequels, but it also benefits by predating the clones, self-damaging characters, and seemingly random character selections found in later games. Every character here strongly represents Nintendo’s diverse franchises, and you can’t really complain about the the character inclusions (though it is a shame the low memory of the N64 meant that Princess Peach, Bowser and King Dedede were left out of the mix until later entries).

Super Smash Bros. also featured a good number of fun items and a small but creative selection of stages, each one boasting their own gimmicks. There are also some additional modes to be found, though understandably, there’s not nearly as much content as there would be in future installments.

Single player modes are limited to an arcade-style “story mode,” where you battle in a series of fights until you make your way to the Master Hand, and the mini-games Break the Target and Board the Platforms. They aren’t much, and once you’ve played through them to unlock the secret characters, you’ll probably be sticking with the multiplayer battles.

The original Super Smash Bros. is still a fun game, particularly with a full group of four players. But it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as any of its sequels. The game feels prototypical and a bit shallow, and it simply isn’t nearly as fun as Melee, Brawl or the Wii U and 3DS editions. It does hold up better than many of the other multiplayer titles on the N64, however.

If you want to play a more definitive and deep Smash Bros. experience, stick to the Wii U version. But if you simply want to have some old fashioned, multiplayer fun, you could do a whole lot worse.

 

7

My Complete and Utter Disappointment with the Final Smash Bros. Direct

Sakurai

So the final Nintendo Direct dedicated to Super Smash Bros. is done. And it sucked.

The good news is that Bayonetta is in the game. The bad news is… everything else.

Along with more information on the previously announced Cloud, we got one additional new character… Corrin! Who’s that, you might ask? It’s the main character from the upcoming Fire Emblem Fates, a game that’s currently only released in Japan. That’s right, another Fire Emblem character. Because lord knows there aren’t enough anime swordfighters in Smash Bros. already. At the very least it’s not more damn Kid Icarus characters, I guess.

Let’s do a head count though, we have Marth, Ike, Roy, Lucina and Robin all from Fire Emblem in the game. And now with Corrin, that’s six characters. That ties it with Pokemon in represented characters, and is surpassed only by Mario. I’m not going to complain about the Mario and Pokemon characters, because their series are relevant enough to Nintendo to justify that many characters, not to mention that each of their represented characters are pretty distinct. Aside from Robin, all of the Fire Emblem characters are basically in the same category. A category that is also filled by Pit, Shulk, and that useless waste of space called Dark Pit.

Meanwhile, Donkey Kong and Metroid are still only at two characters apiece. And Metroid’s two characters are just variants of the same character. Forget that they’re two of Nintendo’s most iconic and acclaimed series. They get two. Kid Icarus gets three, and Fire Emblem gets a small army.

No new DK characters, no new Metroid characters. No newly represented franchises (Inklings please!). But that’s not the worst part.

No. The grand crescendo of this Smash suckage was the reveal that Nintendo and Square-Enix had come to an agreement on another addition to the series. Yes, they finally revealed Geno is coming to Super Smash Bros!

As a Mii Fighter costume…

"Proof that Sakurai hates us all."
“Proof that Sakurai hates us all.”

A freaking Mii Fighter costume. After years and years of hoping, wanting and dreaming. This is how Sakurai decides to represent the beloved classic, Super Mario RPG? This is nothing short of a kick to the crotch and a snidely middle finger raised on Sakurai’s part.

Yes, Bayonetta being added to Smash Bros. is cool (she apparently won the fan vote). But the increasung ignoring of classic franchises, and the constant slap to the face of more deserving characters (K. Rool costume!) has greatly soured me to Super Fire Emblem Smash Bros. Yeah, the game’s still great, but it’s hard to get very excited fir it anymore when its becoming less of a Nintendo fighter and more of a Fire Emblem/Kid Icarus one.

My Disappointment in Cloud Being in Super Smash Bros.

*Warning! Angry rant approaching!*

My nightmares have become a reality, as Cloud from Final Fantasy VII has been announced as an upcoming DLC character for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS.

The November 2015 Nintendo Direct was mostly solid, with the official confirmation of Twilight Princess HD for Wii U, a release date for Star Fox Zero and a number of other titles, and some interesting news on updates for already-released games like Splatoon. But then it ended in the worst way possible (for me, anyway).

A new Smash Bros. character reveal is usually an awesome thing, so I was happy to see the Nintendo Direct ending with the words “Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS” showing up. But then, the horror of it all, it was followed up with the words “X Final Fantasy VII.” My reaction was something like this.

NOOOOOO!

Quickly followed by this.

Anger

After naming Cloud as one of the five third-party characters who should never be in Super Smash Bros., it’s suffice to say I didn’t take kindly to the character’s addition to the series. There go my hopes of Smash Bros. ever getting a good Square-Enix character.

"This is the only cloud I want to see in Super Smash Bros."
“This is the only cloud I want to see in Super Smash Bros.”

Cloud’s inclusion in the game just doesn’t make any sense. Weren’t any possible third-party characters in Smash supposed to be characters who have significant ties to Nintendo? Sonic, Pac-Man, Ryu and especially Mega Man all make sense. Even Solid Snake made sense. But Cloud? His biggest appearance in Nintendo’s history were a handful of cameos in those handheld Kingdom Hearts games that people like to pretend don’t exist.

There are just so many more deserving characters out there. Simon Belmont comes to mind. Or how about Bayonetta? Banjo-Kazooie? Hell, there are actual Nintendo characters who have yet to make the Smash Bros. roster (Dixie Kong). Yet Cloud makes it in?

Besides, don’t we have enough anime sword characters in Smash already? We already have a small army of Fire Emblem and Kid Icarus characters. Cloud is little more than white noise at this point.

"DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!"
“DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!”

 

*This has been a comical rant intended to exaggerate my harmless opinion of a video game character, and you shouldn’t have your feelings hurt over it. Take a joke, people.*

Top 5 Third-Party Characters Who Should NEVER be in Super Smash Bros.

I’ve already written lists of characters I’d like to see added in Super Smash Bros. as DLC, and specified my top five most-wanted third-party characters. But with the Smash Bros. character ballot ending today, I’d figured I’d make another, much more unpleasant list. These are the top five third-party characters who I fear some troubled souls have actually voted for, despite their not belonging/deserving to be in the series, or just flat-out being lame characters.

 

5: Master Chief (Halo series)

"Take it easy, Master Chief! You're still cool!"
“Take it easy, Master Chief! You’re still cool!”

I love Halo. I really do. It’s one of the most consistently fun and deep FPS series out there. So much so that it’s an FPS series I still enjoy playing despite my overall loss of interest in the genre.

But why exactly should Master Chief be in Super Smash Bros? There are still a fair number of people who want him in there, but why? He has literally zero connection to Nintendo, and putting him in the game would just be advertisement for a competing console. Not to mention Nintendo is adamant about no guns in Smash Bros. (save the ray gun and Super Scope 6). When Solid Snake was in Brawl his guns were removed in favor of the more tactical side of the character. But Master Chief is all guns. What could they do with him?

A cool character from a great series. But he has no place in Smash Bros.

 

4: Any Indie Character Who Isn’t Shovel Knight (Various)

 

"Go on and cry because YOU DON'T BELONG HERE!"
“Go on and cry because YOU DON’T BELONG HERE!”

I get it. Indie games are a thing now. But just because most of them seem to replicate the same kind of old school feeling of Nintendo games doesn’t automatically give them Smash cred. Just because they have a tendency to take the blueprints of Super Mario and add in a heap of pretentiousness their own twists doesn’t mean they’ve earned their spot.

The only indie game that I feel perfectly captured that “Nintendo feeling” is Shovel Knight. In fact, I might say that it’s the only modern game that can rank among the best 8-bit games. It’s the best NES game never to have been released on NES.

But as awesome as Shovel Knight might be, even he might be a bit early in his resume (seeing as he’s not a Nintendo character) to be put in Smash Bros. against some other contenders. But at least he’d fit in, seeing as he comes without the self-righteousness or quasi-gross out humor of his indie contemporaries. You know who I’m talking about!

 

3: Sora (Kingdom Hearts)

 

"NO!"
“NO!”

Sure, Kingdom Hearts has had various spinoff titles on Nintendo’s handhelds, but who cares? Notice how Kingdom Hearts 3 is being treated like the return of a long-dormant series, even though there’s been a small army of Kingdom Hearts titles released since Kingdom Hearts 2. That’s because no one cares about the handheld spinoffs (except for the lot who has the Bizarro World belief that anything Tetsuya Nomura touches is good). Sora’s presence on Nintendo consoles has been nothing but filler, and has only served to send the convolution of the series’ plot into the stratosphere.

Do I even need to bring up the fact that his buddies Donald Duck and Goofy are way cooler than he is? Even Winnie the Pooh is more badass! And don’t even get me started on the legalities between Square and Disney.

Plus, do we really want another spiky-haired anime dude in Smash? Do we not have enough of those already?

 

2: Cloud (Final Fantasy VII)

Cloud
“Hey look! It’s every Tetsuya Nomura character ever!”

 

 

Don’t give the weaboo what they want! Don’t do it, Sakurai! They don’t deserve to be catered to!

Look, I understand that Final Fantasy VII is a beloved game (if maybe more than a little overhyped compared to many of its predecessors and successors). But seriously, his only presence on any Nintendo console have been bit parts in the aforementioned handheld Kingdom Hearts titles. And well, see above.

Besides, it’s not even like Cloud would be the best Final Fantasy representation for Smash Bros. I know  those Nomura fanboys would whine about this, but honestly, the best Final Fantasy representation in Smash Bros. would just be a basic Black Mage or White Mage or something along those lines.

Not to mention Cloud is more commonly associated with Playstation. So again, what incentive does Nintendo have to add this character over so many others? Need I repeat… Spiky-haired anime dude! No more! Please!

"At least when Cloud looked like clumps of dough he had some charm about him..."
“At least when Cloud looked like clumps of dough he had some charm about him…”

 

1: Shadow the Hedgehog (Sonic the Hedgehog series)

 

*Cue long, drawn-out sigh*
*Cue long, drawn-out sigh*

Lord help us all if Shadow the Hedgehog gets voted in.

Cool to 12-year old boys, creepy Sonic weaboos, and no one else, shadow the Hedgehog is the bottom of the video game character barrel. Not only is he just another member of the infinitely tired anime trope of a “dark” lookalike of a main character (a spot that’s already needlessly filled in Smash Bros. by Dark Pit), but the downward spiral of the Sonic the Hedgehog series can be linked to the character’s introduction. At that point, it seemed like Sega’s main focus was no longer making good Sonic games, but introducing a bunch of goofy animal characters and giving them generic anime personalities that they magnified by emphasizing story over gameplay.

Not to mention that Sonic already kind of has the least imaginative moveset in Smash Bros. (he spins… a lot!), and it’s easy to imagine Shadow would just have a cloned moveset. But, y’know, “dark and edgy.” Uggh.

For one thing, there really doesn’t need to be any more Sonic characters in Smash Bros. But if there were to be another, it should be Dr. Robotnik. Or Eggman. Whatever he’s called. He’s fine.

Shadow already tainted one series, we really don’t need him doing the same for another.