The Next Super Smash Bros.

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It’s no secret that I love Nintendo. Many of the posts on this blog heavily revolve around the design of their games and my own experiences with them.  There isn’t a game that this is more true for than Super Smash Bros. 

As a pass time, I take an interest in researching the characters, learning about their origins, and deciphering the design choices made by series director Masahiro Sakurai. Being a celebration of all of Nintendo’s characters, the pressure to portray them correctly is met with the sharpest of eyes.

Image result for Kirby smash 4

That’s the Crash Bomb from Mega Man 2!

Nothing gets me more excited about this game than talking about the future of the series. Because the last game released in 2014 and stopped receiving DLC in 2015, I’d expect the next installment in the series to be released between 2019 and 2021.  A graph put together by Source Gaming has put this together and, based off of it,  it seems there are 7 year gaps between each of the releases.

At this point, I believe the ideas about this next game are swirling in the mind of Sakurai – who’s gonna be in it? what new modes will I add? what will I change? Let’s try and take a dive into his mind and figure out just what we can expect.

First, let’s look at Smash Bros for Wii U:

For starters, this game sports 58 combatants and 84 stages. That doesn’t even mention that this game includes characters such as Cloud from Final Fantasy, Ryu from Street Fighter and Pac-Man, Bayonetta, Mega Man from their titular games. 

To put in perspective how crazy this is, Smash 64 has 12 characters, Melee has 26, Brawl has 36 and Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS has 58 (after the DLC).

The size of this roster rivals that of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, which had 53 characters. Even further, it can be compared to good ole Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3, a game with 150 characters (most of these were costumes and transformations, but it’s still impressive.) 

I think it’s safe to say that Smash for Wii U has the strongest Smash roster of them all. Not only are there a heck of a lot of characters, but each of them were designed with care to represent their series adequately. 

Sakurai reports in his Weekly Famitsu Column that the way he goes about adding characters is if he can “see them dancing strongly in his head.” This refers to if he can envision a character fighting while keeping true to their core attributes. For example, Sakurai did not include a Nintendog in Super Smash Brothers Brawl due to not being able to picture how they’d fight (plus I don’t think hitting dogs would go well with PETA).

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A Nintendog as an Assist character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl

A Smaller Roster?

I loved Smash 4 for these intricate and thoughtful characters – Villager relating to the collecting focused gameplay of Animal Crossing, Wii Fit Trainer having yoga based moves, Mega Man having robot master abilities from all the Mega Man games – it was beautiful to see these characters appear in Smash with unique fighting styles.

However, when I think about the next Smash Brothers and the inevitable logic of “NEW GAME = MORE CHARACTERS” , it doesn’t sit well with me.  I know this is my own opinion, but I am a person who values quality over quantity.  Larger rosters mean more characters interactions and dream match ups, which is usually good. But I see it differently. I see it as a huge roster with characters you may not enough touch.

Further,  adding more characters at this point would be arbitrary. There are a few characters from new franchises that may deserve a spot like ARMS and Splatoon, but I’d struggle to think of even more characters after that. At this point, you’d have only a few new characters and a roster full of the same characters from 2008. That’d be okay if it were a port, but not a totally new game.

My proposal for the next Smash, and subsequent Smash games after it, is to start from the bottom up. – to totally nuke the roster down to 0.

No Mario. No Link. No Pikachu. Nobody.

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Bye Bye… See you later.

From here, I would take a look at all Nintendo properties and characters to establish which of them are important to the company in the year 2017. After this, I would narrow down 30 characters that are truly Nintendo’s biggest All Stars. Except, this wouldn’t be 30 characters with 20 veterans and 10 newcomers – it’d be all new renditions of the same characters.

Think about this: many of the older Smash characters have pretty outdated themes. It’s because many of them were conceived over 15 years ago.  Some may disagree, but I think it could be cool to re-imagine many older movesets to make them more current. Mario has had his cape and F.L.U.D.D. special moves for quite awhile. Why not try to make Mario more current?

What about Link? What if he could implement more traits from the Legend of Zelda series? Locking onto enemies for attacks, toggling if his shield is up, and selecting items he’d like to use for specials!  I feel this would breath new life into old characters and make the next Smash feel truly new.

Increase Longevity

New characters, New IPs!

Having 30 characters may seem criminal considering how many characters were in past Smash games, but this number could be greatly increased if this game were to support ongoing DLC.  Imagine every 2 months, a new character is announced and released to the game for free! With balance patches with patch notes coming alongside it! (A bit of wishful thinking considering Nintendo’s track record).  Doing this for 2 years could present up to 12 new fighters and make a roster and meta that’s truly exciting for players.

The next Smash could also go down the Injustice 2 route and include a plethora of alternate costumes and skins. Similar to how you can play different versions of Batman or the Flash, Mario could have many different versions you can unlock with different voice lines and sound effects – 8 bit Mario, 64 Mario, Ice Mario, Fire Mario, Odyssey Mario, Sunshine Mario … the possibilities are limitless!

We’ve been talking about the characters, but what about the actual gameplay?

Overall, I wouldn’t alter the main fighting style of the game too much. Sakurai has expressed his distaste for doing so in one of his Famitsu columns, where adding gauges and new fighting mechanics take away from the Smash game’s main formula. However, he’s known to change his mind on these things, so it’s possible we could see new mechanics introduced to the next game.

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Don’t be fooled – Sakurai is quite the unpredictable guy.

For me , the addition of new mechanics could be minor. I’d expect things such as air-grabs,  jump-cancelling or rush moves. However, I think these traits are way stronger when they’re utilised in a single characters kit. It makes them feel fresh and unique compared to the rest of the cast.

No matter what they do, my hopes for the next installment are that they bring something new to the game of Smash Brothers. I’ve played the same versions of veterans for years and truly think each of them have more to offer to the game. However, the joy of Smash Brothers is it’s sense of community – what additions would you liked added to the next Smash?

Sources:
http://nintendoeverything.com/sakurai-talks-about-trying-to-keep-smash-bros-fresh-with-new-fighters/

http://sourcegaming.info/2015/07/09/megaman-villager-wiifit/

http://sourcegaming.info/2015/07/09/megaman-villager-wiifit/

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