What the Next Smash Could Be

What the Next Smash Could Be

Posted by Kris Randazzo on Apr 4th 2018

A few weeks ago, Nintendo announced the next installment in the Super Smash Bros. franchise, and the internet at large lost its collective mind. There are few franchises that garner the levels of hype that Smash does, and coupling a new entry with one of the most popular systems on the planet is a pretty surefire way to get folks excited. There’s been all manner of speculation floating around already as to whether or not this is a port of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U or if it’s an entirely new game, and I land on the side of it being the latter. I feel like the new logo, Link’s new look, and the fact that they didn’t just come out and say it’s a port all point to it being a new entry. Of course, I could be all manner of wrong, but for the purpose of this article, let’s assume I’m not and Smash Bros. for Switch is going to be an all-new game. The question is, what do I want from it? Where does Smash go now?

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a spectacular game. If Smash on Switch is just a port of that game with a handful of new features, I wouldn’t exactly be sad. But ask most people what they want out of a new Smash game, their answer will likely be something along the lines of “I want something that’s completely new but also just like the old stuff.” I’ve seen countless posts saying that it needs to play like Melee, have every stage and character from every previous game, and have a ton of new stuff added on top. That’s not evolution, that’s a greatest hits album. Don’t get me wrong, that would make for one heck of a fantastic game, but I want something more. Here are my wishes for the next Smash Bros.

1. Reinvent the old cast

This one I have a sneaking suspicion might at least partially come to fruition based on the fact that in the reveal trailer we saw Breath of the Wild Link instead of traditional Link. Unless that’s just a cosmetic thing, BOTW Link would have to play a bit different from the old version, which to me is excellent. The fighters from the original Smash and Melee have been more or less the same since their inception with balancing issues addressed, but not a whole lot of change in the moveset department. However, those characters have almost all seen some pretty wild new things over the years, and incorporating them into their Smash characters is the absolute right thing to do. BOTW Link doesn’t have a hookshot, but he does have Magnesis. His spin attack is still a thing, but Revali’s Gale would make for one heck of a recovery move. If they really going with the BOTW look, they have to change his moveset accordingly, and I would love to see that approach taken for just about everyone. Mario has Cappy now. Samus has Aeon abilities. Kirby rides the Friend Train. Donkey Kong hasn’t touched a pair of bongos in years. I don’t have a lot of love for Street Fighter V, but one thing I really appreciated was how they took some old characters and really gave them some new personality. Look at Ken, for example. He used to be a clone of Ryu more or less, and over the years they’ve tweaked his moves to make him different enough, but at the end of the day they had remarkably similar movesets. Which is fine in that instance because there’s absolutely value in having 2 characters with similar fighting styles going up against one another, but in SFV they really broke him out and made him his own character. You know, that kind of sets up my next point...

2. No more clones

The Ryu and Ken situation works in a Street Fighter setting, but I feel it does less so in Smash. And there are so many clone characters that are very deserving of their own unique movesets it’s ridiculous. Easily the most egregious is gannondorf. They’ve changed the way things look and their speed, but Gannondorf is still a Captain Falcon clone, and that’s absurd. This character has such a rich history, including his recent appearance in Hyrule Warriors, that would make for a fantastic original moveset. People have been asking for this for years and it’s way past time. Luigi is another example. Luigi started to branch off from being a straight Mario clone a lot in Melee, but even before then with the release of Luigi’s Mansion, Luigi has started to exhibit a pretty well-defined personality outside of Smash. Smash Bros has largely ignored that in favor of the bizarre, planking, dancing weirdo they invented. Give Luigi his personality and a fresh set of moves based on Luigi’s Mansion. Also, I’m always in favor of more Kid Icarus representation, but when you have characters like Viridi and Hades available to you and you go with a literal Pit clone in the form of Dark Pit instead, well, that’s just silly. And don’t get me started on Fire Emblem. Actually, yes. Let’s talk about Fire Emblem a bit..

3. Character diversity

If I have one complaint about Smash 4 it’s that the roster is pretty out of balance in the representation department, especially in regard to Fire Emblem. If you count Wario, the Super Mario series has 8 characters. The Legend of Zelda has 5 if we’re keeping Sheik and Zelda separate. Fire Emblem has 6. Fire Emblem is better represented than The Legend of Zelda. That’s bananas. I get that Fire Emblem is pretty popular these days, but a diverse roster makes for a better game, and with the pantheon of Nintendo characters as deep as it is, pulling so much from the same well is bonkers. Yes, load us up with some great Fire Emblem characters, but maybe reign it in a little. Keep it to 4 or 5 tops. Metroid has 2 flavors of Samus and that’s it. F-Zero has just Captain Falcon! EarthBound is full of colorful characters. Go crazy with the representation, and not just in the form of clones like Lucas. Speaking of clones, one more thing...

4. Alternate costumes as characters

This one I’m of two minds on, but I kind of like it when they handle clone characters as different costumes instead of full character slots. I get that they wanted Lucina to play slightly different from Marth, but they’re so similar that the average player probably never noticed. I never missed Wolf in Smash 4 because he was another Fox clone, with a freaking Landmaster no less! Fox and Falco are 2 clone characters that work pretty well, and I suppose an argument could be made for Marth and Roy, but in the interest of keeping the roster diverse and not so bloated, stuffing a few clones in the same character slot is a pretty good idea. Dr. Mario should be a costume change at best. Speaking of which..

5. Costumes instead of colors

Getting back to Street Fighter, one thing I’ve loved about fighting games since they’ve gone polygonal is that for the most part they avoid color swaps in favor of costume changes. The majority of characters in Smash have gone through so many iterations over the years that costume changes would make for such a cool way to alter characters appearance rather than simple palette swaps. Take Pit for example. He could look like his NES art, his Game Boy art, his trophy in Melee, his modern look, and Dark Pit. Samus, Link, everyone has some sort of different look to pull from, and if not, invent some crazy stuff! Heck, Super Mario Odyssey has a metric ton of Mario outfits already rendered! Those kinds of things on top of alternate character situations like the Koopa Kids and Olimar/Alph are great ways to keep the roster slots diverse while appeasing fans of franchises.

6. Multiple characters in stock

I’ve heard lots of people request this one and I couldn’t agree more. In stock matches, you should have the option to compose your stock of different characters if you want. Doing a 5 stock match? One person could do 5 Links and the other could do Mario, DK, Samus, Pit, and Sonic. I’m not suggesting they go full tag team or anything. But multiple characters in your stock would be super cool.

7. Splatoon-style DLC for characters and stages

A lot of thought has been put into the development time for this game relating to whether or not it’s a port. If they go the normal route, this would be a slightly short dev time for a proper new Smash game, especially if they’re implementing the kind fo radical changes I think the series needs. This is why I think they should treat the next Smash the way they do Splatoon. Start small and gradually make it huge via free DLC. This not only gives the devs more time to polish stuff after the game is released, but it also keeps the game feeling fresher longer. Nobody likes slogging through the game over and over to unlock characters. That system is archaic, but the spirit of adding to your roster as you go is a fun one. This solves that problem. Every week or two we get another new challenger, or a new stage, or assist trophy, or what have you. It keeps the conversation going way longer. It’s fun for players, it gives devs more time, and as long as they’re up front about the fact that they’ll be supporting the game with free DLC like they were with Splatoon, I really think it could work. Eventually there can be paid DLC with some fan favorite characters, but the initial roster I think can be filled out with free DLC to great effect. Start with 10-15 characters and just keep pumping them in week after week. It might also help keep those pesky character leaks at bay.

8. More detailed trophies

When trophies showed up in Melee, I died and went to heaven. They’re so flipping awesome! In Brawl and moreso in Smash 4, trophies became less special. More often than not, trophies were just literal assets from their games set on a stand for you to look at. That’s kind of cool, I guess, but the real amazing thing about trophies was seeing these characters done up in the same style as the playable roster in Smash. Seeing 3D renditions of characters like Bubbles from Clu Clu Land or Mach Rider was a real thrill. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was when they announced Little Mac as a playable character and all the Punch-Out!! trophies were just the (albeit freaking phenomenal) assets from Punch-Out!! for Wii. I don’t care if there are fewer trophies as a result, I want to see some real effort put into them.

9. Single player/story mode

Finally, we have more single payer stuff. Smash 4 did some great things, like bringing back mission mode, but we need Adventure mode back. It doesn’t necessarily have to be just like the neat-but-incredibly-flawed Subspace Emissary, but a little somethign story-like to run around in would be grand. You have a game with some of the most iconic characters in video game history teaming up. There’s so much potential surrounding that it’s nuts. Now that I think of it, a Smash RPG would be pretty cool…

10. Fewer (or no) returning music and stages. 

The soundtrack for Smash 4 is incredible. A considerable chunk of it is also the music from Brawl. The stage selection is nuts, but a ton of them are returning stages. Much like the movesets for the original characters, it's time for a fresh start. I love the old stages and music, and having them come back in the form of DLC later makes much more sense to me than loading up the select screen with Yoshi's Island from Melee again. Call me crazy, but I'd rather see fewer stages that are all new than tons of stages that we've already seen. 

And there you have it. Those are my 9 biggest hopes for the new Smash Bros. Did I miss anything? Am I crazy?