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Next Smash Bros. roster may need a 'change of direction'

Super Smash Bros. Brawl image

Sakurai says it may be time to trim the game's amount of playable characters.

Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series, which we already know has a Wii U and 3DS iteration on the way, has always increased the amount of playable characters with each new edition of the game. In 2008, Super Smash Bros. Brawl had 35 characters, including non-Nintendo firsts like Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog and Konami's Solid Snake, compared to just 12 characters in the original title when it launched on the Nintendo 64 in 1999.

It sounds like that trend will likely change whenever the newest game hits the Wii U and 3DS in the future, according to comments by series director Masahiro Sakurai in Nintendo Power (as found by Nintendo Everything).

"It isn’t a matter of ‘if the next game has 50 characters, that’ll be enough.’ 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," said Sakurai. "In terms of quantity, we’ve probably already reached the limit of what’s feasible. I think a change of direction may be what’s needed.”

While initially a bit disappointing for me, what Sakurai said makes sense. Who else remembers Captain Falcon and Ganondorf being essentially the same character in Super Smash Bros. Melee? Falco being pretty much a way quicker Fox? Dr. Mario and Mario? Sure, there were slight alterations to each, but one can't deny the pretty obvious similarities. It sounds like Sakurai is giving us the cliché "quality over quantity" line.

We still don't know much else about the next Smash Bros. aside from Nintendo's intention to make the Wii U and 3DS versions of the game "interact" and the fact that it's begin co-developed by Namco-Bandai. We'll definitely be sharing more information on the title as details begin to surface.

Until then, keep your fingers crossed that your "main" isn't getting the axe.

JonDavila's avatar
Staff article by Jonathan Davila (July 02, 2012)

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zippdementia posted July 02, 2012:

I agree, especially in Melee, the roster was a bunch of repeats. I was actually impressed by Brawl's ability to strike a nice balance where most of the characters felt very disimilar and balanced. Some of the specials, like Ness and Lucas, or Link and, uh, Wind Waker Link, were basically costume changes, but it was at an acceptable level.

I think the key for me is variety. I was never very pleased with having Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Bowser all in one game. The first game was cool that way. Unfortunately, some of the names I'd most like to see appear in the game may never appear due to property rights. Megaman has always been the perfect character for Smash, for instance. Banjo and Kazooie would also be perfect.

I'm not as crazed over the loss of Final Fantasy representation, now that Dissidia has come and gone (twice) and I've always felt like I somehow got off lucky with the earthbound call-outs.
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bbbmoney posted July 02, 2012:

Yeah maybe they're concerned about balance now because Brawl was a legitimately broken brawler in terms of mechanics and roster. Not that most smash players take any notice, but if we can get something as polished as Melee again that would be fantastic.
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zippdementia posted July 03, 2012:

Ha, see for me it was the other way around. I thought the roster was much more broken in melee (gamecube) than in brawl (wii) though I played WAY more melee than brawl. Just got.... bored with brawl.
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bbbmoney posted July 03, 2012:

I speak from a competitive perspective. I prefer Brawl casually, too.
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Suskie posted July 03, 2012:

I kinda miss the days when it was just the big Nintendo all-stars. I get that "more is better" is really the only way to expand the series without fundamentally changing it, but Brawl was so bogged down with excess that I stopped caring. I also felt that inserting non-Nintendo franchises kinda beat the point, and the idea of Final Fantasy characters appearing in Smash Bros. is one that can piss right off.

I don't think anyone takes these games terribly seriously, but a major overhaul to balance the roster would be appreciated. I'd like to, at long last, actually have a reason to play as Donkey Kong.
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honestgamer posted July 03, 2012:

I'm with Suskie. Characters from non-Nintendo franchises are unnecessary and unwelcome in my book. Give more balance to the many Nintendo characters you already have. The idea that the next roster may change is promising, though I fear we're in for some Namco Bandai character cameos and that would suck. Then again, Nintendo has partnered with other companies to produce its games for years (much, much more than many people realize) and with good results, so there's reason to be at least slightly optimistic. I'll wait to judge until we see actual footage.
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Roto13 posted July 03, 2012:

No items, Fox only, Final Destination.

I don't really care what competitive Smash players want. They're all nuts anyway.
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bbbmoney posted July 03, 2012:

Hey now, there a lot of people who take these games seriously! Local smash communities can be quite large. And In a way, I think the next game has an opportunity to be the biggest yet, because I assume it will finally have a competent online component. We could see a surge into the mainstream like we saw with Street Fighter 4.
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jerec posted July 03, 2012:

I always wanted to play as Donkey Kong in the first game, but this forced me to be twice as good at the game as people playing Kirby or Fox were. I think Sonic fit well in the game, and considering we've had Mario & Sonic sports games and stuff, it seemed logical. I don't think Snake really fit well, though. There's a sort of gritty realism to him that makes him stand out from the rest of the cast.
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zippdementia posted July 03, 2012:

Yeah, I agree that Snake didn't really fit. It was a poor compromise that kept him too gritty to be in the game but too goofy and cartoony to really feel like Snake. Especially coming so close to Metal Gear Solid 4, whose main selling poster was Snake with a damn gun in his mouth.

Sonic did fit right in, really well in fact; Meta Knight and Kid Icarus (maybe the cheapest character in the series) also worked. Pretty much everyone new fit in aside from Snake. Not that I didn't appreciate having him there. ROB the robot was a cool addition, in my opinion.

The heavyweights have always gotten the short stick in the series. King Deedee was perhaps the most playable of them, but Bowser is a wandering tower of sadomasochism and Donkey Kong didn't compare to Diddy Kong at all.

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