Smash Bros. 4: Hopes, Fears, and Predictions - Destructoid

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Smash Bros. 4: Hopes, Fears, and Predictions photo
Smash Bros. 4: Hopes, Fears, and Predictions

12:00 PM on 07.20.2014

Dreams, nightmares and realities with Hancock and Holmes!

When it comes to writing about Smash Bros, I'm a control freak. If Destructoid goes more than a day without posting about the series, I get impatient. Smash Bros is actually a big reason why I got started here. Back in 2007, the great Adam Dork hosted a weekly Smash Bros Dojo contest where readers were invited to guess what the daily Smash Bros news would be for the day.

Those were simpler times. No responsibility, no accidentally enraging thousands of people by having opinions about game design, no accusations of only working for Dtoid for the fame and fortune, or of being a being hipster who only writes about videogames to impress women who wear wooden glasses and ride bicycles made of hemp. While I'm happy to be where I am today, there's definitely advantages to being "just a fan" and not a "a videogame editorialist" (whatever that means). 

Patrick Hancock and I decided to approach this article from strictly a fan's perspective. We love Smash Bros. We think about it everyday. Getting those thoughts out of our brains felt good, and we hope it feels good for you to read about them.

Hancock's hopes

Modes: The more the merrier. I'm not picky with modes, since I'm one of those guys who plays without items and on non-shit stages. I would love to see a replay saving and uploading system similar to Mario Kart TV thrown in there, except with a great ability to edit replays. Add some Miiverse integration in there? Mmmmmmmmmm that's good. I would probably spend hours looking at SM4SH highlight reels on Miiverse if I could.

System: I'm hoping more characters have innate and unique systems like Little Mac's KO punch or Lucario's Aura. That way characters will have even more distinct playstyles than they already have, and it can help separate any clone characters that pop up! I don't want this to be Melee; again or Brawl again. I genuinely want this game to have its own identity and feel.

Roster: Not taking into account the leaked list that is now questionable, I'd love to see a character like Seth from SSFIV or Double from Skullgirls. You know, a character that borrows moves from other characters yet still stands on their own. I'm not really sure why, but I tend to love those characters. I guess the perfect candidate would be the Pokémon Smeargle. And maybe he'd have to imitate only moves that exist in that match. How would it work? No idea, but I'd love it. I also tend to love characters that have a bit of random-ness to them, like Game & Watch's hammer attack (side-B), Luigi's missile (side-b), or Peach's turnip pull (down-B). If a character had a core mechanic based on that, it would be my jam. Maybe like Magikoopa or Count Bleck with the ability to shoot random projectiles or apply random effects to enemies? Of course this would come with the chance to backfire as well in order to balance things out. 

Other than that, any character from Paper Mario. Also Boshi from Super Mario RPG as a skin for Yoshi please.

Holmes' hopes

Modes:  One of the biggest questions left about Smash Bros for the Wii U is "what will the single player mode be like?" We know that we aren't getting a huge ensemble campaign mode like Brawl's Subspace Emissary, but we know that we're getting something. It's not like Sakurai to want to make a humbler, less grandiose Smash Bros game than the one that preceded, so I'm hoping that the single player mode of Smash Bros for on Wii U is just as big as Subspace Emissary, just with better pacing. 

The best way I can think to do that is to bend to convention a bit and give every character in the game their own unique story mode. That would go along with Sakurai's declaration that cut scenes would not be used as "rewards" in the game, but would still give us what we want- some sense of narrative and an excuse to have cut scenes in some form or another.

I'm imagining each character having a campaign themed around their game of origin. Mega Man's game starts with a eight boss select screen, but with Mario and Fox appearing under new names like "Mustached Man" and "Furry Man". The Animal Crossing villager would have to run through a 2D town, knocking on doors and doing favors while beating the crap out of strangers he meets and greets. Fire Emblem and Pokemon characters would travel in a top down 2D map, but every battle would play out in the traditional Smash Bros way. Little Mac will have to fight his way to the top of the WVBA, and so forth.  

From there, each character would cross over into one or more of the worlds of other characters, engaging in Amiibo-enhanced team-ups, and eventually taking on a character-specific last boss (Dr. Wily, Vehemoth Phosbat, etc.). Just no original bosses this time, please. Rayquaza and Ridley mean a lot to us, unlike things like Galleom and... what was that other one's name? Duon?

C'mon now Sakurai, what the heck is a Duon? More importantly, why should we care?

System: Smash Bros 4 appears to be a game that wants to make everyone happy. Sadly, that's not possible, but one way to come close would be to allow us to play Smash Bros 4 in the same styles as it appeared on every prior Nintendo  home console. The roster would be consistent regardless of what console you choose, but everything else would be changed to match the system of your choice.

Activating "Wii" mode would revert the game to Brawl's level of graphic fidelity and physics/combat engine, activating GameCube mode would activate Melee-style visuals and fighting system, and so on. Nintendo presumably still has the polygon models from those games, so they could do a little recycling, while creating some top notch SNES and NES sprites for each character wouldn't likely add too much to the game's budget. On the 3DS, we'd get the same treatment except for DS (would use N64's polygon models), GBA (would use the new SNES-style sprite art) Virtual Boy (that same SNES-style sprite art, but all in red) Game Boy Color (the NES-style Sprites again) and of course, the good old Game Boy.

OK, I guess they could skip the Game Boy Color, but while we're in fantasy land, I figured I'd go whole hog.

Roster: This may sound like a cop out, but more than anything, I hope that every character on the roster gets a cool alt. skin that will replace most of the game's traditional "clone" characters. We know that Lucina was originally planned to be alt. skin for Marth, which means Sakurai has been considering the idea of lumping individual characters with identical movelists into one spot on the roster for a while spot.  That's more or less what he's doing with the alternate versions of the Wii Fit Trainer, The Animal Crossing Villager, and Robin. 

Now that we have the ability to customize the properties of each character's moves, there is less reason to have clones. It would be great to see Lucas, Wolf, and Dr. Mario to comeback, and for Dr. Luigi, Green hair Samus, and Ms. Pac-Man to make their debuts, but not with their own spots on the roster. Make them alt. skins and everyone will be happy.

If they don't make that happen, I may cry and then die. Unless Sakurai and company make Mariel Cartwright's Fatal Frame character idea a real thing. With everyone in high heels. Do that, and all is forgiven forever.

Hancock's fears

Modes: From what we've already seen, I don't have many "Mode Fears." Like I said, I like the standard stuff and that's already in!

System: Since tripping is out, I worry that the game will feel too slow or floaty instead of striking the balance between Melee and Brawl. I want things to carry weight to them and I want it to be fast-paced enough to keep spectators' interest. I'm always scared of new mechanics, but I'm also excited for new mechanics. All current signs and omens for SM4SH have been good ones, and so most of my fears have been quelled.

Roster: My biggest fear isn't who makes or doesn't make it, but that the balance will be garbage. I don't want another "Metaknight tier." Actually, I don't want Metaknight to make it in at all. Even if he is rebalanced, he will rekindle some horrible memories. I don't even mind clones too much, since I understand and appreciate their intricacies. 

[Note from Holmes: After hearing that, I'm going to write like Metaknight doesn't exist for the rest of this post, because I love you.]

Holmes' fears

Modes: My fear is that Sakurai and the team were stretched thin between developing two versions of the same game for different consoles at the same time, That may have limited them from implementing as much content in Smash Bros for the Wii U and 3DS as in there was in Brawl. If we have to buy two games to get a package that's as complete as Brawl was (including unlockables, soundtrack, and multiple single player modes), that will be a bummer. Understandable, but still a bummer.

System: Having played Super Smash Bros. 4 on the 3DS and the Wii U, I'm pretty sure I'll be happy enough with the system. I don't think it's likely that the game will have the same allowance for constant high speed aggression as Melee, but if that's what I want, I can always go play Melee (or hopefully, the Melee-mode in Smash Bros. 4 as described above).

That's actually what worries me. What if Smash Bros 4 is abandoned by the majority of the competitive players like Brawl was? Does that mean that Melee will be the only game at Evo until the inevitable Smash Bros 5 arrives? I love Melee, guys. I really do, but it hasn't surrendered the spotlight in the competitive scene for the past 13 years. Would a little reduced speed and mobility in Smash Bros 4 allow Melee to monopolize that position for another 8? I hope not. 

Roster: I used to be worried that the Ice Climbers were going to get cut. Despite being about as unique as fighting game characters get, as wells being the occasional choice of tournament-level players, these two classic characters seemed like prime candidates for the chopping block. The portable version of the game was to blame. Reports state that it will be tough for Smash Bros on the 3DS to hold an process a lot of characters, items, and background elements at one time. Does that mean that "two-in-one" characters like the Ice Climbers will be more than the 3DS can handle? Concerned fans fear the worst. 

Having since played the game on the 3DS, I'm a little more optimistic that Nana and Popo will be back. The console seemed to be able to handle a lot of enemies at one time in Smash Run mode, and while I'm no expert on the science of RAM, it seemed like mirroring the polygon model and animations of one extra character wouldn't be be beyond its capabilities. On the other hand, I'm less confident in the return of Ganondorf, Meta Knight, or even Wario, and even less hopeful that we'll see all new villains like Ridley or King K. Rool. We haven't seen any "villainous" character besides Bowser and Dedede confirmed to be playable in Smash Bros. 4, and I'm not sure that we will.

I blame Amiibo. The new NFC figuring system is set to be a major part of how Smash Bros for the 3DS and the Wii U connect to each other. Scan a character like Mario or Pikachu in your game, and they'll exchange data and carry new traits between the 3DS and Wii U titles, as well as new unannounced games likely unrelated to the Smash Bros series. That leaves characters that you can only play as in Smash Bros at a disadvantage, and villains like Ganondorf are not likely to be playable in anything other than Smash . If that's the case, then their Amiibos may be functional with fewer games, making them less marketable. 

Nintendo is relying on Smash Bros more than ever to help not only with console sales, but to up the profile of all their various franchises and products. That might make it the first game in the series since the original to go without any playable bad guys. They may appear as tough-as-nails unplayable bosses, but that just wouldn't be the same.

Or maybe they're just saving them all for epic villains reveal trailer. I hope so!

Hancock's predictions

Mode: I predict a huge amount of customization options for modes, allowing a lot of mixing and matching, which is sure to please most people. I also predict I will never use any of it. Fox only, Final Destination.

System: I think it will be the best-feeling Smash yet. Probably on the floaty side, but with the new edge-guarding systems in place, I think that might actually work to the game's advantage. Fewer battles on the edges of the map and more focused on just regular fighting, which will make low-recovery characters like Little Mac not-useless! I also think that it will make the strategies in this game unlike any previous installment. I'm hoping with Namco's help the game will be well balanced, but only time will tell. I am especially hopeful for the potential of patches and DLC. We're clearly getting a huge amount of content on the disc, so any DLC will just be a cherry on top.

Roster: Jigglypuff is definitely in, hopefully with her Sunday bonnet costume and maybe even an Igglybuff/Wigglytuff skin. Wario BETTER be in, but hopefully with a moveset more akin to his Project M version. I hope Ganondorf makes his return only if he is completely reworked. However, I wouldn't be surprised if he is replaced with a different Zelda character in order to promote Hyrule Warriors. Revealing Midna or Zant as a playable character would make people lose their shit, myself included. I don't think Lucas makes it, unfortunately. I'd love to see Poo though!

Holmes' predictions

Modes: Sadly, I think that the single player modes in Smash Bros 4 will be greatly diminished compared to Brawl, but still more robust than Melee. There will be an adventure mode like Melee, and it will likely have some awesome boss fights, but there wont likely be anything as ambitious as Subspace Emissary. That's a double edged sword, as Subspace Emissary might have tried to bite off more than it could chew. I think Sakurai has probably learned from that, and will treat single player mode as less of a main attraction and more as a training ground for the player, while stat farming and grinding for your Amiibo sidekick. 

The one mode I'm sure will be bigger this time is the trophy hoard, for both combat-involved assist trophies and the regular motionless models. Amiibo is basically a Smash Bros trophy collection for real life collectors. Planting the idea that these little plastic statues have value, both in-game and in real life, is a financial necessity for Nintendo, which is why it will likely be a major part Smash Bros 4. While I recognize how ridiculous that is, I'm also pretty excited about it. Lets hope Kyle Hyde finally gets the trophy he deserves!

System: Smash Bros 4 doesn't seem to have wavedashing, and there's some concern from some of the best minds in the competitive scene that the landing lag may hurt the game's pacing a bit. That probably wont be enough to kill the game in the competitive scene, but it's not likely to convince Melee loyalists that it's time to let go, or win over new fans that never liked Smash Bros in the first place. Smash 4 will probably replace Melee at EVO for the next couple years, but after that? I'm not so sure. 

Like with the game's new modes, I'm guessing the bulk of Sakurai's effort to craft a new system will be their to sell us on Amiibo. Just as ROB and The Zapper were to the NES, the analog stick was to the N64, and motion controls were to the Wii, Amiibo is the non-gameplay related feature that Nintendo is hoping will get a skeptical and disaffected consumer base to consider picking up a Wii U. Smash Bros is Amiibo's centerpiece game, and I think we can expect Amiibo-centric features to be in every part of the game's system other than "For the Glory" mode. That's the one part of the game likely remain "pure". Sakurai knows that long-time Smash Bros fans aren't likely to take kindly to any focus diverted from one-on-one combat.

Roster: As of the time of this writing, 36 character have been announced for Smash Bros 4. I'm guessing that total will be 46, which leaves us 10 more to go. History has shown that no character that appeared in the first game in the series has ever been cut. Going by that, I'm giving Ness and Jigglypuff each a 90% chance of returning. I also have the feeling that characters who made the jump from Melee to Brawl have a better chance of making it, as they have been a part of the series for longer than many Smash Bros fans have even been alive. That puts Ice Climbers 80% (reduced slightly due to the technical issues they might cause), Lucas, Falco, and Wolf all 10% chances (hopefully they'll just be alt. skins). Wario gets 75% because he's a pretty good bet he's also a leading man as wells as a "bad guy" and Ganondorf gets 25% because he's always been treated like an afterthought in Smash, and isn't as Amiibo-friendly as most of the rest of the gang.

As for new entries, I'm giving Bayonetta a high 75% chance. She'd fit somewhere between a guest character and regular Nintendo all-star, as she was created by Platinum and Sega, but for the moment, is now being published exclusively by Nintendo. That gives Nintendo a vested interest in promoting her in any way they can. They've got a lot to lose if Bayonetta 2 isn't embraced by the Wii U's current install base, financially and otherwise. They may include her in Smash Bros 4 for that reason alone. Her Amiibo is also likely to sell pretty well, and could work to be compatible with whatever Bayonetta game may come next (here's to hoping for a fast paced 2D action game in the 3DS).

Shulk for Xenoblade is a safer bet at 90%. He's got a great move set, and decent sized fan base, and wields the titular blade that shares the name with a JRPG that Nintendo wants us all to buy in 2015. The same goes for some representative from the Rhythm Heaven series. They haven't become a household name outside of Japan (yet), but the games have been consistent million sellers in their home country. Karate Joe, the previously rumored Choir Boys, or even a group of monkeys are all possible. Combine them for a 90% chance of inclusion. 

That leaves 165% percent, which is a weird number. 99% of that has to go to Mr. Game and Watch, who was all but confirmed at the end of Pac-Man's E3 trailer. 33% goes to a character from Fatal Frame. Though there is very little crossover appeal between a colorful 4-player fighting game and ghost photogaphy horror game, but that never stopped Nintendo before.

The last 33%, goes to Disk-Kun, the old mascot for Nintendo's now largely forgotten Famicom Disk System. He could throw little floppy discs at enemies and confuse children. That seems like something that would inspire both nostalgia and light giggles from Sakurai, and if ROB and Mr. Game & Watch are any indicators, that's sometimes all it takes to get a spot on the Smash Bros roster.

But enough out of us. What are your Smash Bros 4 dreams, nightmares, and educated guesses? We only have to wait a little longer until all is revealed, so lets enjoy contemplating the possibilities while we still can!

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