10 Characters that I want in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
The best selling fighting game's roster can only get bigger, better and more famous
With the release of the next fighter for Super Smash Brothers Ultimate creeping ever closer, fans wonder who else could be joining the cast of 76 characters. Over the years, the Smash Bros games have gone from being a series where you pit your favorite Nintendo characters against each other to being a celebration of gaming as a whole when characters like Sonic and Snake made their debuts in Brawl. Fast forward a handful of years and we have a plethora of third party fighters like Mega Man, Pac Man, Ryu, Cloud and more. After Joker, Hero, Banjo and Kazooie, Terry Bogart and Byleth were added thanks to the first Fighter Pas, it was announced that there would be a second Fighter Pass with six more fighters joining the roster. It has already been revealed that the first of these six characters would be a character from one of Nintendo’s newest IPs: ARMS. That character is set to be revealed on June 22, but there are still five other spots up for grabs. With so many possibilities for those spots, it was rather tough to narrow this list down to just 10, so I needed to set some ground rules first.
Firstly, any character that is already an assist trophy is not going to show up on this list. Apologies to any Bomberman, Isaac, Krystal, Shadow, Shovel Knight, Waluigi and Zero fans out there. If the ARMS representative ends up being Spring Man, then we can return to the discussion of assist trophies becoming characters. Also, I wanted to keep these choices as realistic as possible. While Kingdom Hearts has had a huge impact on gaming, Disney has reportedly already told Nintendo that they won’t let them add Sora to the game. All of these entries are also going to talk about the relationship that these characters parent companies have with Nintendo. Finally, a majority of these choices have a long history of being on Nintendo systems. Of all the characters currently in Smash Ultimate, all of them have a history of having their series be on Nintendo consoles, with the exceptions being Bayonetta and Cloud. Platinum Games is now fully backed by Nintendo, with Bayonetta 3 being a Switch exclusive. Cloud was a weird exception to the rule, as the Final Fantasy series has a history with Nintendo, but not his game specifically. That finally changed when Final Fantasy VII made the jump to the Nintendo camp early in 2019. That is an interesting fact that he actually shares with someone on this list, but more on that later.
The history of Rayman and Nintendo dates all the way back to 1999 when Rayman 2: The Great Escape was released on the Nintendo 64. The Rayman series is one that fans have loved for 25 years, and was one of the games that looked to improve on the side scrolling platformer that the Super Mario and Sonic franchises made popular. In the late 90’s Mario had gone from a side scroller to a 3D platformer, and series like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro weren’t traditional platformers, rather they were third person platformers. With Sonic as the only series that was still a side scrolling platformer that fans knew and loved, seeing a competitor in Rayman step up to the plate was a welcomed thing in the gaming community. As I said in the intro, another factor is the character's parent company's relationship with Nintendo, and it seems like Ubisoft and Nintendo are on very good terms. We already have characters like Altair and the Rabbids being Mii Fighter costumes, and the collaboration of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle in 2017. But with the good relationship between Ubisoft and the legacy of Rayman, why is Rayman only at 10 on this list? The main reason is because of Brawlhalla. Brawlhalla is a fighting game that was developed by Ubisoft that at first featured a lot of unique and new characters. But after a while, the game started to get some DLC packs. There were some unique ones like a Shovel Knight pack, a WWE pack and eventually, a Rayman pack. Many fans of Smash fear that Rayman’s inclusion in that game severely harms his chances of getting into Smash.
9. Leon Kennedy
He is the main character of one of the top 15 best selling games from the Gamecube, and the second best selling survival horror game of all time, to me it just makes sense to have Leon Kennedy in Smash Ultimate. When looking at many of the new fighters that were added to Smash Ultimate, a lot played a key part in the history of Nintendo’s various consoles. Simon was a great callback to the NES, King K. Rool was a major villain in the SNES era, Banjo-Kazooie were some of the standout titles for the Nintendo 64, Isabelle and Incineroar were great choices from some of the best selling 3DS series and Inkling was a bright light in the dark times of the Wii U. But if you go back and look at that list, you’ll notice that two systems are missing. The Wii and the Gamecube. I’ll touch on the Wii a little later, but a perfect representative of the GameCube is Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 4 (yes, I know he is playable in Resident Evil 2, but 4 was his first solo outing). When I was first putting together this list, I honestly was skeptical about having Leon on the list at all. How do you take a character that isn’t very physical in his own game and turn him into a character in a fighting game? But the answer was staring me straight in the face and was already a member of the Smash Ultimate roster, Snake. A lot of Snake's move set is to keep his distance from his opponent with all of his weapons. The main weapons that Leon uses in his game? Military hardware like guns and grenades, just like Snake. Let’s implement those into his move set and work from there. It does help that Nintendo and Capcom have a really good relationship right now, especially when it comes to Smash Bros, with Ryu, Ken and Mega Man already on the roster. A fourth representative in the game, one from the best horror game series ever developed, would be a fantastic addition and Leon Kennedy would be the best choice.
8. Black Shadow/Jodi Summers
By my count, there are 23 different series that are represented by just one character (I give Luigi and Dr. Mario their own series since they have multiple games). If you take out the series that are added in the DLC of the game, then we are sitting at 19. There are several series that could use another representative. While characters like Rex and Pyra from Xenoblade Chronicles 2, King Hippo from Punch Out or Ashley from WarioWare are common choices, I decided to choose Black Shadow or Jodi Summers as another representative from the F-Zero series. While we haven’t seen a game in the series since 2004, a new character could spark a new interest in the series. But why do I have two characters in this slot? Well both fit a need in the Smash roster. Villains are scarce to come by, as we only have six on the roster (seven if you want to count Bowser Jr.). Black Shadow is the main antagonist to Captain Falcon in the F-Zero series, and would help add to the villain roster. He could also add to the heavy character roster, but given how similar in stature that he is to Captain Falcon, that could be a long shot. Jodi Summers on the other hand focuses on the lack of women in the game. Recently, that problem has been addressed, as there are 12 different women fighters with Robin, Corrin, Byleth and Inkling having half of their skins be female options since they are main characters in games where the player can choose their gender. Both Black Shadow and Jodi Summers would have a completely blank slate when it comes to their move set, much like Captain Falcon. As racers we don’t often see them out of their cars, so they would both most likely be pseudo clones of Captain Falcon in a way. But as one of the few Nintendo owned properties with a severe lack of representation on the Smash roster, one of these two racers would be a welcomed addition to the game.
7. Dr. Eggman
I mentioned how there is a lack of villains when talking about Black Shadow, but there are currently no villains from third party series that are in the game. There are plenty of contenders from Sephiroth to Dr. Wily, but one really stood above the rest to me, and that was Dr. Eggman. The main antagonist in the Sonic the Hedgehog series has been trying to get the best of the blue blur since 1991, and has been in nearly every game in the series with the exception of Sonic and the Black Knight. While a lot of other Sonic characters could get the nod over Eggman, I feel like Eggman offers something a little more unique than the rest, and that is incorporating his mechs into his move set. Having the long history of unique mechs that he has and incorporating it into his move set would be a great idea. Let's have Eggman be the first third party villain in the game to open the door to possibly adding more like Sephiroth and Wily in the future. There is also the great working relationship between Sega and Nintendo, I mean just look at all the Mario & Sonic Olympic Games that have come out. I don’t think the partnership between those two will be ending anytime soon.
6. Travis Touchdown
When first thinking of characters for this list, I initially thought that No More Heroes was a Nintendo owned IP. With the first two games being exclusively on the Wii until 2010 and the third installment coming exclusively to Switch, it never crossed my mind to check who actually owns the rights to the game. The series is actually owned by Grasshopper Manufacture, who also helped in the development of one of the games in the Fatal Frame series, which has an assist trophy in Smash Ultimate. While Grasshopper Manufacture has a few notable titles, No More Heroes is arguably their biggest success, and series protagonist Travis Touchdown would be an excellent addition to the roster. While technically Travis would be another sword fighter, he would be very different from a majority of them. The beam katana that he uses partnered with the hack and slash gameplay from No More Heroes opens up a lot of ways for him to play differently than the other 20 or so sword fighters that are already in the game. Plus with No More Heroes 3 set to launch exclusively on Nintendo Switch this year, a perfect way to drum up sales would be to include the face of the series in Smash. I also mentioned in the Leon Kennedy entry that a lot of the new fighters played key roles in all of their consoles. Leon covered the Gamecube, but that left the Wii without representation. While No More Heroes wasn’t one of the top selling games for the Wii, its implementation of the motion controls was done very well. Travis Touchdown would be the perfect representative for the console and could be the thing that the series needs for a bump in sales when No More Heroes 3 comes out.
5. Crash Bandicoot/Spyro
The reason I have Crash and Spyro lumped together here is because it’s hard to think of one without thinking of the other. Also whichever one I excluded, that fan base wouldn’t be very happy. I’ve already mentioned these two earlier in this list, but now let's take a look at why I think they should be in the game. Back in the 90’s, the gaming market was dominated by Nintendo and Sega with Mario and Sonic respectively. There weren’t too many other mascots that could rival the two. But Naughty Dog stepped up to the plate to try and compete with the big dogs in 1996 with the release of Crash Bandicoot. Sony would follow suit two years later with Spyro the Dragon. And thus we had the birth of two new beloved franchise mascots. Sequels and spinoffs would come in the years to follow. But come the early 2010’s, both characters would fade into the background as other series took their developers attention. With both franchises being acquired by Activision and sitting on the back burner, fans were holding out hope to see something from the franchises. Both would get their wishes granted with the launches of the Crash N. Sane Trilogy and the Spyro Reignited Trilogy in 2017 and 2018 respectively. With new fans getting into the series for the first time and old fans coming back, right now would be a great time for one or both of these characters to come to Smash. Leaks and rumors have been speculating Crash coming since earlier this year. Spyro has had support for years from the fans to join the games. The only real hurdle left is if Activision would let them into the game. While Nintendo and Activision don’t necessarily have a real relationship, there are a slew of Activision titles on the Switch, so it could only be a matter of time before we see either of these two, or both, finally get the invite.
4. Ryu Hayabusa
Ever since the first fighter pass was announced, I have been pushing for Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden to be included in the game. For those that have never played the Ninja Gaiden games from the NES, a proper analogy would be comparing those games to Dark Souls. If you wanted to play a game back in the late 1980’s where you had to git gud, you were going to play Ninja Gaiden. While he does have a katana, I would be hesitant to call him a sword fighter, much like I am with Byleth. Especially when Ryu Hayabusa has a lot of other weapons that he could use. These can vary from shuriken to nunchucks to throwing knives and his martial arts. With all these varieties of weapons, just lumping him into the sword fighter category wouldn’t be right. It would also be a nice call back to the NES days, like when Simon was first introduced. Adding another classic game franchise from Nintendo’s early days would be a nice thing to see. Plus think about the relationship that Nintendo already has with Tecmo, the company that has the rights to the Ninja Gaiden franchise. A lot of Tecmo titles have already come out on the Switch, including a version of Ninja Gaiden on the NES online. All the pieces for Ryu Hayabusa to join the Smash Ultimate roster are there, it’s just up to Nintendo and Tecmo to pull the trigger.
Before Byleth was revealed as the last fighter for the original Fighter Pass, fans were speculating that we may be getting Dante from Devil May Cry. This was further speculated when the dates of Capcom talking about DMC 3 coming to Switch and the trailer for the last character in the Fighter Pass both being on January 16th. Sakuri posting a photo of him holding up three fingers added more fuel to the fire, for obvious reasons. Instead of getting Dante in Smash, we got the new Fire Emblem main character because we didn’t have enough Fire Emblem representation already. But I don’t think fans of the Devil May Cry series should lose hope just yet. I mentioned in the intro that Cloud shared his game coming to Nintendo consoles for the first time in 2019 with someone on this list, and that character is Dante. The first three Devil May Cry games came to Nintendo consoles for the first time in 2019 with DMC 1. I’ve also already talked about the relationship between Capcom and Nintendo in the Leon Kennedy entry, and with three fighters already in Smash Ultimate, there’s no real reason to think that they would be limited to just one new fighter in the second fighter pass. There is also the issue that he would fall into the same category as Ryu Hayabusa in being yet another sword fighter, but he does have other weapons like daggers and guns, and could loosely play like Joker having them be assigned to different neutral and smash attacks. I still think that there is a strong possibility that we can see Dante join the ranks of Capcom representatives in Smash Ultimate.
Finding indie games nowadays is rather easy thanks to things like the Steam Marketplace and the Nintendo Eshop. But to find a really good indie game? That is a whole nother challenge. Sometimes you have smash hits like Undertale, Five Nights at Freddy’s, Doki Doki Literature Club and Stardew Valley. Other times indie games follow the route of Infiniminer and Tower Miners that fail to get that diehard fanbase that love the game. To link this to another topic I consider myself knowledgeable on in pro wrestling, a game becoming an indie darling is a very long and hard process. Why am I telling you all this stuff about indie games and indie darlings? Because one of the best known indie darlings in gaming today is Shantae. The Half Genie Hero has been saving Scuttle Town since 2002 when she debuted on the Gameboy Color. In fact all of the Shantae games have found their way onto Nintendo systems, as WayForward and Nintendo have a rather strong working relationship. That can be seen in Smash already as both Shantae and Risky Boots are spirits in the game. Shantae being included would be a really different fighter as her main form of fighting isn’t a brawler, a sword fighter or anything in between. Shantae’s main weapon is her hair. With something as different for a main weapon, there are plenty of ideas for a move set revolving around it. Add in the secondary weapons of pike balls, fireballs, a scimitar and the transformations that Shantae has, the move set would be like something that we’ve never seen before. The only real issue with Shantae getting in is her popularity outside of the United States. In a poll done by Reddit user zelcf, they got responses from Smash fans as to who they wanted in the game as DLC. They would later break it down into three different regions, Japan, US and Europe. The only character to be on all three rankings was Sora from Kingdom Hearts. Characters like Dante, Crash, 2B from Nier: Automata, Steve from Minecraft and Doomslayer appeared on two of the rankings. Shantae only placed on the US rankings at #3. So if we are going to see Shantae as a fighter, then we might have to see a similar situation to when Hero and Banjo & Kazooie were introduced. Hero appeased to the Japanese audience while Banjo & Kazooie appeased the US audience. That being said, I think that Shantae would be a really unique and interesting addition to the roster.
Is this a pretty obvious #1 for this list? Absolutely. Do I care? Not at all. Ever since Snake and Sonic appeared in Brawl, fans have been clamoring for their favorite third party characters to get into the game. ‘But Geno was in Super Mario RPG, a game only on the Nintendo 64!’ I hear you shouting. But take a closer look at the screen when you start up the game. The Nintendo logo shows up when you start the game yes, but it slowly morphs into another logo that says Square. Square would later go on to become what we know today as Square Enix. While Geno is a party member in Super Mario RPG, and created by Shigeru Miyamoto, Square Enix owns the rights to the character since they developed the game itself, which means they own the rights to Geno. The Nintendo - Square Enix relationship is a weird one to say the least. After Nintendo lost Final Fantasy VII to Sony, Nintendo apparently told Square Enix to ‘never come back’. Eventually cooler heads prevailed and the two began to work together again. Who to blame is really unclear, but now the relationship seems to be as strong as ever. But why have fans wanted the sentient wooden puppet from one game in the 90’s to be in Smash? Well Geno has a lot of different moves that would be a lot of fun to see in the game. In Super Mario RPG, Geno uses a lot of gun type weapons like finger guns and hand cannons while also dabbling in magic. He would also be a unique character when you compare him to the rest of the roster as well. We have humans, dinosaurs, evil turtles, animals, crocodiles, gorillas, a hedgehog, a 2D character, and a few other interesting characters. There are no puppets in Smash, so Geno would be in his own category for character types. But the main reason I think that Geno will be in this second fighter pass is because of the aforementioned repaired relationship between Nintendo and Square Enix. Back in 2015, it was revealed that Cloud would be added into Smash 4, marking the first Square representative in Smash. He was later joined by Hero in 2019 in the first fighter pass for Smash Ultimate. If Square wants to add a third representative to Smash, and Nintendo wants to get a huge reaction out of fans, Geno would be the perfect answer.