This is to be the last post it the series. Promise. Though it's tempting to do a front page post later today titled "One hour to Smash Bros. Brawl: My favorite breeds of dog and how they should have been playable", I recognize that some here at Dtoid may take that as over kill.
For our final installment, we'll be taking a look at a few of the multiple directions that Smash Bros. may take after Brawl. Thought the series could go the Mario Party route, to continually churn out slightly tweaked version of the same game until we just burn out on it, there is also the potential for the Smash Bros. game to actually grow and evolve after Brawl. The home console games in the Metroid and Zelda series both took on drastic changes after their respective third entries, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Metroid 3: Super Metroid. The Smash Bros. franchise may do the same.
Genre One: Turn-Based Strategy
Games in this genre already published by Nintendo: Fire Emblem series, Advance Wars series
Why it might happen: Nintendo has been in the buisness of making turn based strategy games since the Famicom days, though only in recent years have they been more optimistic about their chances of success here in Western world. They have the experience and the staff, both through First and Second party resources, to make a Smash Bros. strategy-style game a reality. If it works for Halo, then why not for Smash?
One appealing trait Turn-Based Strategy games have over fighters is that anyone with an ounce of patience and ability to read can excel at genre. Although the existing Smash Bros. games don't utilize controls as complex as many other fighters, they are still too hard to pick up for many casual players (see- the Touch Generations). A touch screen controlled turn-based strategy game on the DS would likely sell buckets, uniting the Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, Smash Bros. and even the Pokemon fan bases into one united force of pure purchasing power.
Would Pokemon have drawn in it's fan-army of un-dexterous children if it actually required hand-eye cooridination to play? Not likely.
Why it might not happen: Nintendo is not into competing against themselves by making games that play like existing titles they already publish. How many people would buy a Fire Emblem or Advance Wars game over a Smash Bros. Turn-Based Strategy game?
Genre Two: Multi-million dollar budgeted Role Playing Game
Games in this genre already published by Nintendo: Pokemon series, Earthbound/Mother series, various Mario RPGs (though none reportedly had budgets in the multi-millions)
Why it might happen: The video above is of course not from an upcoming high budget Smash Bros. role-playing game, but it is representative of what such a game would probably look like.
The big-money RPG is the one game genre popular in Japan that Nintendo has not yet found a way to gain domination over. What better way to snatch the RPG crown from the genre's resident kings Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest by creating a RPG set in the Smash Bros. world? The Wii's library contains exclusive titles from almost every genre, from survival horror to surgery simulator. The one thing it's missing is a truly expensive looking, blockbuster RPG (Sorry Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World and Opoona).
PS3 owners on both sides of the pond determined to avoid buying a Wii would have to think twice about that decision if a truly well written, well crafted, and most of all beautiful Smash Bros. RPG hit the console. Multiply that sentiment by two is said game is released before the year 3000, when Final Fantasy XIII will finally be finished (crossed fingers).
Why it might not happen: Nintendo may be a bunch of cocky bastards, but even they seem to know that RPG crafting is not their strong suit. Unless their resident RPG scripting god, Shigesato Itoi, is willing to write the game, or they farm it out to Square as they did with their first effort in the genre, Nintendo probably wont be willing to touch the development of an high budget RPG with a ten foot pole. If Square-Enix did team up with Nintendo for a Smash RPG, maybe then the Geno fanboys would finally get their wish.
Or maybe Black Mesa?
Genre Three: The Sandbox game
Games in this genre already published by Nintendo: Animal Crossing series (sort of)
Why it might happen: Nintendo still has a lot to prove to the Western hardcore market, and Nintendo of America is motivated to reclaim old fans that have since moved on from Mario and Zelda to GTA. Though We will never see a Smash Bros. game like the one depicted in the video above, there is potential to make a rated T, open exploration, action intensive, focused on freedom and customization game with the Smash Bros. name attached.
The Sandbox genre is arguably the most popular type of game in the Western market today. If Nintendo is serious about winning back the West, they'll eventually have to dip their feet in this uncharted water (mixidemetaphors for the win!)
Why it might not happen: "Might" is probably too weak a term. This will not happen, although if done properly, a Sandbox-style Smash Bros. game, playing like a cross between Animal Crossing and GTA, could outsell even Brawl and Melee. Sadly, Nintendo has almost no experience in making games of this type, in either first or second party development. They would not be willing risk ruining the reputation of one of their most valuable franchises by making a fail packed, wanna-be Sandbox title, Smash Bros. or otherwise.
The again, no one thought Nintendo would ever make something like the Wii either. So I guess we should never say never.
Genre Four: Competitive shooter
Games in this genre already published by Nintendo: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Metroid Prime: Hunters, GoldenEye
Why it might happen: It's tempting to just cut and paste the write up above on why Nintendo might make a sandbox game and just replace the words "GTA" with "Halo" and "Sandbox" with "Competitive Shooter", but is actually a bit more complicated than that. Unlike the Sandbox genre, which Nintendo clearly has little interest in, the company has shown some desire to appease the ever growing masses of competitive shooter enthusiast who've grown cold to the company since the days of GoldenEye on the N64.
If we've learned one thing about the Wii thus far, it's that pointer controllers provide the perfect means of controlling a home console shooter. Both 1st person shooters (Metroid Prime 3, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles) and 3rd person shooters (Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition) have proven to be both more enjoyable and easier for unskilled gamers to get into when played with the Wii-Remote/Nunchuck control scheme.
If Nintendo wants to really make the most of their unique controller, their as of yet un-bloomed online service, and bordering-on-stale Smash Bros. IP, what better way than a online shooter, either 1st or 3rd person?
Why it might not happen: Nintendo will likely make a online competitive shooter, through either 2nd party resources at Retro Studios or Factor 5. However, they will not likely be bold enough to make that shooter a Smash Bros. game. For one, Sakurai would likely have nothing to do with it, as he has made it clear that he does not like highly competitive games. For seconds, Nintendo does need to use it's Smash Bros. IP to sell a online competitive shooter for the Wii. As long as the game controls well, looks good, and is fun to play, Nintendo could base the game off the Clu Clu Land universe and it would still be huge.
More probably candidates for a Wii game in online competitive shooter vein included Metroid Prime: Hunters and Kid Icarus. More so, such a game is likely to hit this year, as Nintendo needs another hardcore demographic pleasing hit for the holiday season of 2008. By this Christmas, Zelda, Mario, Mario Kart, and with Brawl, Smash Bros. will have already have had their time to shine in the Wii's library. It's time for Prime: Hunters or Kid Icarus to step up to the plate.
Genre Five: Smash Bros. 2D action/adventure platformer
Games in this genre already published by Nintendo: Brawl's Subspace Emissary mode
Why it might happen: Well, with the Subspace Emissary, it already has happened. Why it might happen again is the clearly increasing interest Nintendo has in taking Smash Bros. in this direction. 2D platforming is arguably what Nintendo does best. The most successful traditional Nintendo game in the last five years, New Super Mario Bros. was a 2D platformer. Nearly all of Nintendo's most popular games, save for the Zelda series, have some platforming element to them. Yet, Nintendo doesn't release games in this genre very often anymore. They tend to save them for when they really need them.
If and when Wii sales ever start to slump, or when Nintendo launches the DS2 or Wii2, expect to see a new Smash Bros. game with a much larger focus on co-op 2D platforming to hit for that console . The multi-player VS modes will always be there, but it's the 2d platformer aspects that will truly be evolving as the series moves forward.
Why it might not happen: Ok, I'm stumped on this one. Though I do question if there will even be a traditional Smash Bros. game at all after Brawl, if there is, it will most assuredly have an even more expanded adventure mode. The only thing unclear about that is how expanded that adventure mode will be. It would be some what risky for Nintendo to put all their Smash Bros. eggs in the 2D action/platformer basket. Recent attempts to create a general 2D action/platformer revival, such as the Viewtiful Joe games, have general been met with strong initial responses which quickly tapered off.
Already, any post-Brawl Smash Bros. game runs the risk of starting the decline of the series. Brawl will undoubtedly be a hard act to follow, and though the game hasn't even come out yet, people are saying they are sick of Smash Bros. . Nintendo will have to be very careful with what ever they do next with the series, to not over-expose the franchise, take it in new directions, and all while stay faithful to the series strengths.
Other posts in this series:
Two Days to Smash Bros. Brawl: The Smash Bros Fanboy Awards
Three Days to Smash Bros. Brawl: Interview with Nintendo's Eric Walter
Four Days to Smash Bros. Brawl: The Top Five Smash Bros Glitches
Five Days to Smash Bros. Brawl: Top Five unfulfilled Brawl pipe dreams
Six Days to Smash Bros. Brawl: Top Five Smash Bros alternatives
Seven Days to Smash Bros. Brawl: Hands on coverage of the WPI Brawl Tournament
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