We will never see a crossover like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate again

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has lived up to its billing as one of gaming's greatest crossovers and it's becoming more apparent that we will never see anything like it again in our lives.

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Wednesday's Nintendo Direct proved to be an exciting one for the Super Smash Bros. fan base. Not only did Banjo & Kazooie release for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate that very day, but Nintendo revealed more ambitious plans for the game's post-release schedule. Fatal Fury's Terry Bogard was unveiled as the next member of the DLC roster, which was shortly followed by the announcement of a second batch of DLC fighters. Wednesday proved to be an epiphany moments, one that many knew in the back of their minds, but haven't said out loud enough. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the greatest video game crossover of its time and it's a crossover that gaming will never see again.

"To me, it feels like the finish line is sliding farther away," Sakurai said during Wednesday's post-Direct edition of Mr. Sakurai Presents. "You may wonder, 'How much longer can be involved with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?' But I'm also excited. Adding more characters into the game means that more game worlds will be addede to the series and ultimately, that means that there will be an even greater opportunity to delight the fans. At the same time, I feel that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is now representing so many characters in game worlds, that it's become an enormous game. Even if the Super Smash Bros. series continues moving forward, I doubt there will ever be an opportunity to bring this many characters together again."

It's that last part of Sakurai's statement that feels the most impactful. To understand the gravity of what it means, it's time to look at the Smash Bros. Ultimate roster and see just how many characters have found their way in. Even if it was just restricted to Nintendo's first-party characters, it's one of the most ambitious crossovers of its kind, bringing together Mario, Link, Samus, and Pikachu, just to name a few characters. The series introduced North America to Fire Emblem for the first time. It gave a greater platform to overlooked characters and franchises, like Shulk and the Xenoblade Chronicles series. But Ultimate upped the ante in ways we may never see again.

The third-party star power is mind-blowing. Ultimate has not only assembled third-party characters from throughout Nintendo's storied history, but it's also wrangled in characters many would have deemed unthinkable. Look at Cloud from Final Fantasy VII, a game that for many years only graced a PlayStation console. Look at Joker, the star of a PlayStation 4 exclusive hit, whose inclusion stunned attendees at the Game Awards last year. Heck, look at Banjo & Kazooie, whose rights not only belong to a rival platform, but whose inclusion also have said rival platform actively excited for their arrival. If a picture can speak a thousand words, imagine the Dostoevsky-length novels that these images spout out.

For as much effort as Sakurai and Nintendo have put into assembling this all-star roster, it's paid dividends. It's set sales records, not only blowing its Wii U predecessor out of the water, but also breaking its own record as the top-selling fighting game of all-time, besting the Wii's Super Smash Bros. Brawl. But what happens when this much money is involved? Inevitably, more people are going to want a piece of the pie.

Imagine how much tougher negotiations get from here, in regards to the third-party roster and their Smash Bros. future. Given Ultimate's success, the inevitable next entry to the franchise (whether it come three years, five years, or even ten years from now) will have the highest of expectations attached to it. And if third-party rights holders are expecting a Smash Bros. game to make a certain amount of money, it stands to reason that they may up their price for the use of their characters.

The closest comparison would be the ongoing game of chicken between Disney and Sony over the film rights to Spider-Man. Yes, Disney and Marvel are making money hand-over-fist on these movies like nothing that has ever been seen before. But with the increase in revenue comes the desire to be proportionately compensated. With Sony seeing how much money was coming in, they inevitably wanted a bigger share, which has led to a standoff that continues as of this article's post.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - Banjo and Mario
This may be the only time you'll ever see Mario and Banjo in the same game

Now imagine Nintendo wanting to move forward with a new Smash Bros. sometime in the distant future. Perhaps Konami will see how much money it could bring in, so it increases the price tag for Snake and the Belmonts. Square Enix could ask for a little more for Cloud. Imagine Capcom asking for more for Mega Man and Ryu, using both characters massive popularity as leverage. And if the next-generation Xbox helps Microsoft climb back to the console gaming mountain, do you think they'll be so willing to lend out characters like Banjo again? Not to mention, I'm not even talking about the fighters who are still yet to come. And I can guarantee, we haven't see the craziest surprise character yet. That's still coming! There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen and when the restaurant is making this much money, the cost and demand for ingredients is inevitably going to spike.

A lot can and probably will change in the next decade. Bringing together this many popular characters is a magic trick that Sakurai, in all likelihood, will not be able to pull off again. He, himself, seems well aware of this and acknowledged it during Wednesday's presentation.

So as you pick up Banjo, Snake, Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man, Ryu, Joker, Cloud, Bayonetta, Simon Belmont, or a Mii Fighter dressed up like Sans from Undertale, take a moment to reflect on what's in front of you. Take a good look at what you're seeing, as a Shovel Knight assist trophy buries your fighter or an Akira assist trophy punches you into next week. You're not going to see this again. You're not going to see Mario and Link trade blows with this many third-party characters. Look at how many things had to go right just to make this game happen. Going back to the Marvel comparison, they can keep pumping out movies, but you're never going to see anything like Avengers: Endgame again. That was a once-in-a-lifetime movie crossover and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a once-in-a-lifetime video game crossover.

Nintendo has never done like Marvel and claimed that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the most ambitious crossover ever created. But the more time passes, the more it becomes apparent that it is.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 5, 2019 1:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, We will never see a crossover like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate again

    • reply
      September 5, 2019 1:01 PM

      It would take something special for sure.

    • reply
      September 5, 2019 1:07 PM

      Until the next game is released in 5 years.

      • reply
        September 5, 2019 1:14 PM

        No.

        The whole thesis of this piece is that even when we get the next one, they’re not getting all of these characters back. It’s a virtual impossibility.

        • reply
          September 5, 2019 1:17 PM

          Then we'll just get new characters like they did this time around and thus we're getting another crossover that probably won't be made like that again.

          Not every unit from StarCraft came back into StarCraft 2.

        • Zek legacy 10 years
          reply
          September 5, 2019 1:18 PM

          In terms of signing new contracts, they might have to drop a few, but I think these companies must all realize that being in Smash is win/win with no downside. I wouldn't be surprised to see the characters be separate DLC you have to pay for again though.

          Whether Nintendo is willing to do all this work to do "Everyone is here" for the next Smash game is another question. Personally I think there's no reason for them to start again from scratch next time. The assets from Ultimate are fine pretty much as they are into perpetuity, with some work to bring them up to 8k or whatever.

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            September 5, 2019 1:29 PM

            From a game development side, SSB has to be tuned to at *least* N^2 character interactions, N being the number of characters. I mean, I know that there are not 75^2 different routines for how character A punches character B, but there is a balance factor around that Nintendo has to test. And that's only considering 2 players, the game supports up to 4 (8?)

            Licensing is more trivial than this balancing.

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              September 5, 2019 1:32 PM

              I don't think they're balancing the same ways they used to. Doing more overaching evening out for everyone like they did with jump lag this time around makes a lot of sense for the kind of changes a larger roster would need going forward.

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      September 5, 2019 1:08 PM

      If/when we get the next game,we're still going to have people complaining that they had to drop fighters (third-party) and otherwise be annoying. I can already see these people complaining about the lack of Snake or Bayonetta.

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      September 5, 2019 1:39 PM

      I am thinking it is very plausible Smash Ultimate is truly the final and ultimate Smash game.

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        September 5, 2019 2:37 PM

        I kinda hope Sakurai doesn't work on the next one. I seriously think it might kill him.

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          September 5, 2019 2:41 PM

          Eh, that's a but over dramatic. He probably has a better work-life balance nowadays.

          Honestly, I hope they don't make a new Smash Bros ever. I don't want a new one without him, but I don't want him to be chained to Smash Bros.

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