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Smash Bros roster may have 'reached the limit of what's feasible'

Given sequels are supposed to be bigger and more badass than their predecessors, logic suggests that the next Smash Bros game for Wii U and 3DS should have even more characters, right?


It's odd to remember that the original Super Smash Bros on Nintendo 64 debuted with only 12 playable characters. Since then, the franchise has expanded quite a bit, from 25 on Gamecube to 36 on Wii. Given sequels are supposed to be bigger and more badass than their predecessors, logic suggests that the next Smash Bros game for Wii U and 3DS should have even more characters, right?

Unfortunately, game director Masahiro Sakurai may have dashed hopes for a Smash Bros game with a giant roster. "In terms of quantity, we've probably already reached the limit of what's feasible," he said. "I think a change of direction may be what's needed."

"It isn't a matter of 'if the next game has 50 characters, that'll be enough,'" he told Nintendo Power (via Nintendo Everything). "There is a certain charm to games that have huge casts of playable characters, but they tend to have issues with game balance and it becomes very difficult to fine-tune each character and have them all feel distinctive."

Certainly, having characters feel "distinctive" is a challenge for Nintendo's fighting franchise. For example, Brawl featured numerous characters from the Star Fox universe: Fox, Falco, and Wolf. While they did play slightly differently from each other, the differences were quite minimal.

Still, Smash Bros games offer Nintendo a unique opportunity to revive some of its oldest franchises. For example, Brawl reintroduced Kid Icarus' Pit to gamers--years before the character had a new standalone game, Kid Icarus: Uprising. Here's hoping to some surprises in the next game.

Image from @Sora_Sakurai.

Andrew Yoon was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    July 2, 2012 11:00 AM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Smash Bros roster may have 'reached the limit of what’s feasible'.

    Given sequels are supposed to be bigger and more badass than their predecessors, logic suggests that the next Smash Bros game for Wii U and 3DS should have even more characters, right?

    • reply
      July 2, 2012 11:11 AM

      I hope they have fewer characters. Back to 25 felt about right. And the game needs to back towards the direction of melee. Brawl was horrible.

    • Zek legacy 10 years legacy 20 years
      July 2, 2012 11:18 AM

      Brawl had quite a few extraneous characters. I think it makes sense to ditch characters like Falco, Wolf, Ness (;_;), Toon Link, Marth, etc in favor of getting more franchise representation. They can't remove any of the really noteworthy characters though, that's what Smash is all about.

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        July 2, 2012 11:21 AM

        Ness has been in every game. Can't get rid of him.

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      July 2, 2012 11:26 AM

      The kings of clones bemoaning a large roster? Get over it ya big babies, it's a damn party game. We won't more characters! At least if there is fifty of them, it'll be less silly when three of them are constantly screaming "RANDURUMASTER"

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        July 2, 2012 11:34 AM

        Every word you wrote is wrong, it's so weird

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          July 2, 2012 11:38 AM

          "we wont more characters" lololololol

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          July 2, 2012 12:05 PM

          Smash Bros being full of clone characters - True
          Nintendo being big babies - Opinion and debatable
          Smash Bros a Party Game - Stone Cold Fact
          'We' Want More Characters - Opinion, and you never know, I coulda been using the royal 'we'

          What part of my post was mistaken?

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            July 2, 2012 12:25 PM

            The Smash Bros characters aren't clones of anything unless you're citing previous Smash games. In fact, unless you're a hardcore Shonen Jump DS player, you have literally nothing to compare the character move design sets to. You're citing Nintendo as being babies because they're discussing their methodology for being reasonable in game design. I think the childishness aspect isn't debatable, aside from where its being applied. Calling Smash Bros a party game is like the little kid that calls everything with wheels "A TRUCK". I mean, you could play it at a party, yes, but otherwise you know what's a party game? Party games. You know, with the faux board game boards and oodles of mindless minigames? That's a party game. As far as more characters, that's your own opinion, but more refined gameplay mechanics ala SSBB would be more important/interesting, and that's far easier to achieve with a smaller roster.

            So, pretty much all of it. :D

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              July 2, 2012 1:55 PM

              A clone isn't a character taken from something else, it's a character that is a copy-and-paste of another character in the same game.

              Mario/Doctor Mario
              Link/Kid Link/Toon Link

              I'm probably missing a few, but no game is as chock full of clones as Smash Bros.

              And it's a party game. Its own creator calls it a party game, and railed on the tournament community that erupted around it, intentionally placing things in Brawl just to fuck with them (like dat delicious random banana slip).

              I'd call you an idiot, but you got a little hammer, so you'd probably get really butthurt and ban me. So I'll just say you're very wrong. I'm sorry if you have a giant boner for Nintendo and my little complaints about a series of games (That I actually LOVE) rustles yer jimmies, but the facts is the facts.

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                July 2, 2012 4:07 PM

                Given your argument is apparently so weak you need to call me names, here you have a wide open license to say anything. Go nuts big boy, show me this amazing wordcraft you're holding back. I want you to drop that science so hard that Larry Niven mistakes you for a car-sized elephant.

                I mean if you want to call those clones, go nuts, I think they have nuance and I'm just super dupers apologetic for not realizing how limited a scope you were talking about. Super duper sorry. I thought you meant how most fighting games just copy characters cross-game. I thought the depth of Smash would get us past that, but, my bad. I guess I understand how your noggin is working better. Sorry.

                Magritte said this is not a pipe, and people are still arguing over it. I'm fine with calling it a fighting game. Again, if you don't get this reference and want to make personal attacks, then you really do have permission.

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                  July 2, 2012 4:47 PM

                  It's not a fighting game. When you call it a fighting game you are ARGUING WITH THE CREATORS OF THE SERIES ITSELF and that is possibly the most petulant, childish thing I can imagine.

                  And you never refute my argument, so who is weak here? You've never actually given proof against my claims, simply said that they are wrong and that I am bad for saying them. You've never said "Oh, well, ____ isn't a clone of ____ because ____", you just got "BAAWWWWW BAWWWWW IT'S DIFFERENT SMASH BROS IS JUST SUCH A DEEP GAME GUIZ"

                  IT's not. Smash Bros is a fun, but super dumb, party game. It rocks, but what it rocks at is going crazy with a bunch of friends playing a bunch of crazy characters and just womping out. It is the only thing it is good at. I hear "Depth" coming out of Sakurai's mouth and I think of the travesty of SSBB's story mode, or the retardation that is the Super Smash tourney scene, or even worse the train-wreck that Kid Icarus game turned into.

                  Again, I'm sorry if maybe you've invested a lot of time and money into Smash Bros and consider it the god-king of fighting games. I'm sorry also because that probably means it's the only thing close to a fighting game you've ever played. But it's not a fighting game, it does not have any depth, and it SHOULDN'T. It should stay just the way it is, and stay in just the awesome niche it already sits in.

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                    July 2, 2012 5:21 PM

                    See, just because one has a hammer doesn't mean they have to smash others over the head with it. I addressed your points, but apologies for not putting neon lights on my answers. The so-called clones are a non-issue for multiple reasons. One is that Smash Bros has a non-standard fighting system, as we know. So when you say clone, I think the ubiquity of of Ryu in every 2d fighting game. You can go to everything single one of them, cycle through the characters doing a dragon punch and find the Ryu-alike. So that's what I'd call clone. Second of all, the game is underpinned by the Nintendo license, so having Mario and Luigi or Pikachu and Pichu or whatever, actually mean something vs. another reskin from Tekken. Third, I do think those characters while based off of the same source, generally have some useful nuances. Forth, those characters help manage the cast numbers, allowing what looks like a big # to still be reasonable for balancing purposes... thus making the solution for your core criticism... to be something you criticize? Hmm.

                    I mean, really we're discussing pedantics. If you want to call them clones, go nuts. I understand what you're referring to, and will now find the worlds smallest violin with which to play an appropriately sad song. If you want to call it a party game, go nuts. I get that the creator calls it that, but that could be the translation, that could be just goofy artist speak. We all know it's a fighting game. Any reasonable discussion between 2 persons would use that as the first reference point. I mean even party fighting game, although I really think that loses something.

                    I don't really have anything about your other points. After seeing sentences with "you..." in them they just seemed like frivolous character commentary rather than anything of real insight

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                      July 2, 2012 6:07 PM

                      A sad song about what?

                      You're the one who is obviously very pained by the fact that I called Smash Bros a party game with no 'depth' needed to be protected. I pointed out they have clones because I think it's silly they are thinking of restricting the cast in an effort to save some sense of -balance-, when the games have never had any balance, and a fourth of the cast in the last game were clones anyway.

                      And let me tell you something of insight. Your first comment was simply an observation that I was wrong, even though everything I said was right, and now all you are doing is backpeddling in a desperate attempt to not look like a sad little boy whose found someone else calling his toy dumptruck stupid.

                      Get. The. Fuck. Over. It.

                      • reply
                        July 6, 2012 12:49 PM

                        Hey Gigi, if you're going to ignore the differences between similar characters that's fine, but if you're doing it in order to create false support for a point (namely, that those characters are clones) then that's probably the wrong strategy to take! It makes your point look weaker.

                        In any case geedeck is pretty visibily stomping your argument into the dirt, so I'll bow out for now.

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                July 2, 2012 4:16 PM

                Marth/Roy - although visually similar, they play different. speed vs power and also weapon damage based on weapon location that hits (tip vs middle). and in fact, Ike in brawl is even more different, so though this is sorta valid for melee (even though I vastly preferred Roy's style), this is really not an issue in Brawl.
                Ness/Lucas - not played enough, but at least superficially similar. enough that I don't differentiate when choosing characters.
                Pikachu/Pichu - yes, they were. possibly why they got rid of pichu in brawl?
                Mario/Doctor Mario - possibly. didn't play doctor mario much, maybe why he's not in brawl.
                Link/Other link - similar, but still play quite a bit different. speed/power thing I think, and I generally prefer kid/toon.
                Fox/Falco/Wolf - truly clones, way too similar indeed. differences are there, but barely. Not enough for me to differentiate when choosing characters even though I've played as all of them quite a bit. I'd like for it to be just Fox and one other, and for them to be even more different, either in movement or skillset.
                Mario/Luigi - quite a bit different in how I play as them, even though moveset is similar. I'm not exactly sure why that is.

                These are my views as a normal (non-competitive) player with a few hundred hours spread between the original, melee, and brawl. Maybe it's not quite a cut and dry as you make it out to be?

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                  July 2, 2012 4:18 PM

                  Ness and Lucas feel pretty different to me, though they are definitely similar.

                • reply
                  July 2, 2012 4:49 PM

                  It's not cut and dry, it really isn't. I'm actually a huge fan of the Smash Bros series, and I agree with you that often (aside from the Star Fox characters), the clones usually have their own feel to them, giant similarities aside.

                  However, my original point wasn't that the clones were a problem, simply that they were clones, and that Sakurai and the SSB team has no place trying to act like they are suddenly great technical developers, and instead focus on fan-service and fun, which is what the games are about.

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      July 2, 2012 11:37 AM

      Brick back MewTwo!

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      July 2, 2012 12:13 PM

      I am completely astounded that nintendo hasn't tried a freemium version where you pay / get experience to unlock characters, ala LoL.

      I would hate if they did this, but still.

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      July 2, 2012 12:22 PM

      As long as they keep Jigglypuff, I don't give a shit what they do with the rest of the roster.

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      July 2, 2012 12:45 PM

      Less dupes would be nice. Do you really need Roy and Marth?

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        July 2, 2012 1:41 PM

        Roy and Marth are acceptable dupes. Opposite ends of the speed/power spectrum. However, the Fox, Falco, and Wolf are not necessary, in my opinion.

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          July 2, 2012 2:17 PM

          Falco and Wolf aren't necessary, but either one of them and fox fits the same "spectrum" deal, personally I'd rather have those holes filled with entities from other games, we should probably limit it to two characters/series, with some mainstay exceptions.

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      July 2, 2012 1:59 PM

      Basically someone sat up in a meeting and said, "Looks like we will have to create something new." The office got real silent, cool and dark. Then someone said "naaaaaaaaa" and things went on like normal.

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      July 2, 2012 2:19 PM

      Each new iteration I have a new character that is the only one I was good at. SSB1 I was great with Pikachu, SSBM I was good with Link, SSBB I was only good with Kirby. I bet I'll be good with Bowser or something in the next.

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      July 2, 2012 2:30 PM

      They should go back to the N64 lineup

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      July 2, 2012 2:41 PM

      They should just do off the wall awesome things like add the old robed guy from NES Zelda with his wooden sword. Have him move around like a Kung Fu Master. Who would have thought?

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      July 2, 2012 2:48 PM

      They should get Travis Touchdown in the next Smash Bros game.

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      July 2, 2012 6:03 PM

      I would love to see a larger crossover. Sonic and Snake already broke the barrier. There are lots of other characters that would be neat to see in a party fighter like SSB.

      - Megaman or Megaman X (X would be cool with an alternate costume that has all of the upgrades from X1)

      Squeenix - Some Final Fantasy Characters
      - Near FFVII re-release? Cloud and Sephiroth (More sword-wielders, I know)
      - Otherwise? Kefka and one of the many cool protagonists (Terra, Sabin, Celes, etc.)

      Just a couple ideas.

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