Oftentimes, with fighting games, developers tend to skimp a little on the roster. Particularly at launch. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, because certain already-completed fighters were cut from the game on release, so they can be sold back to our sorry asses separately later at a premium (got to make sure there’s enough content for that season pass, kids!).
Maybe that’s just my cynicism talking. After all, another factor in this is game balance. As the roster increases and increases, keeping everyone on an even footing becomes a logistical nightmare that even freaking Rain Man couldn’t handle. How do you solve issues like these?
In that regard, the creators of Smash Bros are the human equivalent of that dog meme, where the little guy’s house is on fire, and he’s convincing himself that everything’s fine. I know, Smash is more of a party game than a legitimate fighter, but let’s all just agree on one thing: the character roster is off the damn charts.
The latest installment, Smash 4, is just shy of 60 playable characters (66, if you count palette swaps). Very few titles can rival that. Between the four games, fighters from across Nintendo’s rich archives have come, gone and returned. Some have appeared only as assist trophies and other cameos, despite fans’ begging and bitching for them to be playable.
On that note, let’s take a look at some of the more obscure additions. Settle in for 15 Characters You Forgot Were In Super Smash Bros.
15 Wolf O’Donnell
Star Fox fans are sure to recognize this dude. He leads the Star Wolf team, rival to Fox’s band of nerdly do-gooders, and made his first appearance in Star Fox 64. Most important, he sports a super fancy high-tech eye patch, like a true space pirate. I’m sure his eyes are fine, it’s just for appearances. His mama told him it was cool.
Wolf is only playable in Super Smash Bros Brawl, not returning for 3DS/Wii U. This comes as a huge disappointment, since he’s one of the more interesting clones. While his move-set scarcely differs from Fox and Falco’s, he’s a heavier, harder hitter, and feels truly different to play as a result. One damn disgruntled ex-Wolf main here, crying into his coffee as Sakurai laughs.
Speaking of Star Fox villains, here comes the ultimate in dastardly bastardry: Andross. This mad scientist waged war on the Lylat System and doomed Fox’s father, making him the biggest bizarre-cubist-floating-head villain that gaming has ever seen.
Granted, Andross isn’t actually playable in Smash. I’ve no idea how that would work. He does make a couple of cameos, though, and they’re ones you’d hardly notice if you play with items and other ridiculousness disabled. He appears twice in trophies in Melee, and is promoted to Assist Trophy in Brawl.
On activation, Andross will materialize in the background and begin spitting those damn panels of his everywhere. Each hit will do a fair amount of damage to your foes, while leaving you unharmed. In short, he’s just an all-around a-hole, which is what he does best.
13 Young Link
Ah, Young Link. That takes me back. In my day, we didn’t have this fancy-ass new ‘Toon Link,’ whoever that is. We just had the same guy, the one who took the sword from the Temple of Time and aged seven years magically. We were grateful for it, too.
That’s right, friends. Like my beloved Wolf, Young Link is one of the few characters to be cut from a Smash game and not return later in the series. A sad loss indeed. The Wind Waker-inspired Toon Link, to be fair, is pretty much the same, sporting a smaller stature and increased movement speed. Whether he’s ‘better’ than the regular ol’ hero of time is up to the player’s preference. All I can tell you is that nobody drank Lon Lon Milk like Young Link did while taunting. Pure class.
12 Wii Fit Trainer
Of all the characters. Of all the raging, begging, pleading death-threat-sending fans’ requests. All the petitions and polls for new fighters to be added to Smash 4. Did anybody—anybody ever, even one of you— want Wii Fit Trainer to be added to Smash Bros? Come on, I want a show of hands here.
This is the ultimate example of the old Sakurai: *laughs* meme. I can only imagine that it was an especially trolly day in Smash HQ the day this decision was made. It’s… it’s the trainer from Wii Fit. The guy/gal who thrusts their androgynous Ken doll crotch at you on-screen while complimenting your Downwards Dog. Why was this ever a thing?
It was, though. I didn’t dream it. You may have repressed the memory, but go back and check the character select screen. You’ll see him/her there, grinning like a mothereffer at you.
Speaking of raging, begging, pleading death-threat-sending fans’ requests, how about this guy? The much-maligned Waluigi has been gaining a little more attention lately, appearing in quite a few recent spin-offs (Mario Kart, Mario Tennis, etc.) as a playable character.
Sadly, though, Smash seems to be beyond him. If Wario gets a spot in the roster, then Luigi’s dastardly counterpart deserves one too. He is to Luigi as Wazza is to Mario, after all. The thing about that, I guess, is that Wario is a bigger name in his own right, having a slew of his own platformers to his name.
Waluigi isn’t entirely ignored, though. He ‘appears’ as an alternate colour scheme for Weegie in Brawl, and is also a brilliantly irritating Assist Trophy which will try to stomp an enemy into the ground.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. "Olimar has been a fighter in Brawl and Smash Bros. 3DS/Wii U. He’s practically a veteran. How can we forget he’s in Smash?"
The issue is, so many players seem to. With an absurdly expansive roster like Smash 4’s, there are bound to be characters you rarely see, and Olimar is right up (down?) there. I very rarely came up against him in either game, and I think it’s because he’s a much more technical fighter than most. He has an entirely unique playstyle, favouring throwing an endless stream of Pikmin at you and having them pummel you in the plums while affixed to your shirt.
With Smash 4, the maximum Pikmin he could command at one time was reduced, so his effectiveness and popularity sank further.
Snake? Snake? SNAAAAAAAAAAAKE!
Let’s be honest here. Snake isn’t forgotten. On the contrary, this is more of a 9/3/08 (Smash Bros Brawl’s release), never forget sort of deal.
Again, Metal Gear’s legendary operative is one of very few Smashers who was never invited back to play. The first third-party Smasher to hit the series, Snake was added to the game at Kojima’s personal request, having a close friendship with series creator Sakurai. You can imagine the fan response to that surprise reveal trailer.
Snake stuck out like a sore, bearded, gravellier-than-a-box-of-gravel thumb in Nintendo’s cutesy world, but the idea proved to be a stroke of brilliance. Snake’s appearance and fighting style were totally faithful to Metal Gear, as were his special moves (grenades, nikita rockets, all of that fun stuff). He was almost too good, and one of the undisputed best characters in Brawl.
8 Meta Knight (Brawl Ver.)
On the subject of undisputed best characters, here comes the aptly-named Meta Knight. This little asspain (for Brawl pros) was in a tier all his own. Meta Knight has excellent kill potential, and since he can fly, he's able to recover from just about anywhere — this guy was a beast. When it came to tournaments (or more important, tournament results), you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a thousand Meta Knights.
With the advent of Smash 4, though, the little guy’s fortunes have drastically changed. He’s been nerfed just about everywhere, leaving him a pale husk of what he once was. It’s so upsetting. Fans could entirely forget what a powerhouse he used to be. He’s still got those amazing husky-voiced taunts though, don’t panic.
When the original Super Smash Bros. was conceived over at Nintendo HQ, there was no doubt that Pikachu would be an instant addition. The unofficial mascot of Pokémon is one of the company’s biggest stars, having appeared on everything from lunchboxes to —presumably— contraceptives (If any marketing guys want the slogan Pikachu condoms: Poké-one-on before you Poké-it-in, you can have it). Anyway, Pikachu has to be there for the battle royale.
Do you know who the world didn’t need, though? Pichu, that’s who. The baby ‘chu is a kind of joke character, like Gon in Tekken 3, making a playable appearance only in Melee. While super fast, it had precious little else going for it (even taking damage from its own special moves), ensuring it was quickly forgotten about. Did you ever use Pichu seriously? No, no you didn’t.
6 Classic Wario
Now, maybe it’s a generational thing, but when you think of Wario, what do you see? Not sagging flab and/or horrendous standards of personal hygiene, I’m talking about his costume. Do you see him in his WarioWare era biker gear? Or his more traditional Mario-style dungarees?
I first encountered Wario way back on the Game Boy’s Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins. This was the first game he ever appeared in and cemented the image of the ‘real’ Wario on my retinas for all eternity. He’s a kind of Mario palette swap, only with a chunkier ass and even worse mustache. As such, it was kind of sad to see his default Brawl costume as the WarioWare gear, which a lot of players may have never bothered changing. Still, the option was there.
When it comes to Fire Emblem, it can be hard to keep up with who’s who. While the franchise is enjoying some mainstream popularity, it isn’t the big name that some of Nintendo’s franchises are. Some gamers’ knowledge of the franchise’s characters ends with Marth, Roy, Ike, Lucina and Robin, and those only because they are playable fighters in Smash Bros.
You’d be forgiven, then, for wondering just who in the hell Chrom is. Lucina’s father and Robin’s close ally does make an appearance in Smash 4, but you may have blinked and missed him entirely. He features in Robin’s Final Smash, a brief ally in the style of an Assist Trophy. You can find him on one of Robin’s victory screens, too, standing beside his friend. Once a shoo-in as a playable character, Chrom was passed over for fear of including yet another redundant sword character.
4 Dark Pit
As you probably know, Pit has been playable in two Smash titles, Brawl, and Smash 4. He arrived from the slightly more obscure end of Nintendo history, the NES title Kid Icarus, a franchise which saw a new lease of life in recent years with Kid Icarus Uprising. In the latest Smash, he was joined by Palutena, the goddess he serves in the games, and the fairly tedious and forgettable Dark Pit.
Now, sure, Smash fans have long made their peace with the idea of clone characters. Fox/Falco, Captain Falcon/Ganondorf, it’s just a thing. Dark Pit, though, is a literal clone of Pit (from series lore, having been created by the Mirror of Truth which copies and corrupts all who look into it). He’s just trying too hard to be edgy and cool, though probably the perfect character for those fans of Link’s black-with-red-eyes outfit.
Nintendo may be lumbering through the gaming world like a huge, ignorant, what’s-this-fancy-new-online-play-thing-the-kids-keep-talking-about dinosaur, but they do make the occasional attempt to get with the times. Just lately, select titles have featured DLC, one of which being the latest Smash Bros.
With this system, characters that didn’t make the transition from Melee to Brawl, like Mewtwo and Roy, were reintroduced to Smash. This also allowed brand new challengers to be added after the fact. It took Nintendo a while to get this whole thing going, naturally, so you may have forgotten that it ever happened. The last two characters to be added into Smash 4 were Final Fantasy VII’s legendary mercenary Cloud Strife (yep, that happened) and scantily-clad gunboot sorceress Bayonetta. She’s an excellent character, Smash-wise, but you may have lost interest in the game long before she was introduced.
2 A Nintendog
I don’t know about you, friends, but I like my Smash Bros play to be relatively pure. While it’s never going to be a legitimate sensible fighter, because it’s batcrap crazy by nature, I’m not a fan of too much crazy going on right in my eyeballs at once. Sakurai seemed to try to cater for that sort of mentality with the likes of the new For Glory mode, for ‘competitive’ online 1-on-1 play, and the omega versions of each stage (removing all of the stage hazards).
We’ve mentioned Assist Trophies quite a bit, and they are quite funny in their own way. As I get used to each new Smash, I like to play with them on for a while to have a bit before getting more serious and disabling items. As such, I’d completely forgotten that there was an NPC Nintendog in Brawl until I saw it again.
1 Morton Koopa
As we’ve touched on, the Smash Bros likes a bit of clone action. Not in the palette swap way that fighters like Mortal Kombat were famous for back in the day, but in more of a Ryu/Ken sort of fashion.
That’s usually the case, at any rate. Sakurai has also been known to ‘include’ characters as simple costumes for another, as a sort of cheap way to represent. More than Luigi’s Waluigi outfit, one of Olimar’s alternate colours actually lets you play as Louie, his old partner from the Pikmin franchise. This idea was taken way, way too far with Bowser Jr and the Koopalings, though.
That’s right. Taking a look at Bowser Jr’s other ‘costumes’ in Smash 4, you can cycle through all seven of the Koopalings, if you’d rather play as a specific one. I’d totally forgotten that was an option.