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Filed under: Editorial, Industry People, Masahiro Sakurai, Super Bros. Smash For 3DS, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Super Smash Bros. Series

5 Reasons Cloud got into Smash


This is an opinion article. You are allowed to disagree.

Cloud Strife, one of the most iconic and popular characters from the Final Fantasy series storms into battle. Since Cloud’s announcement comes as a shock for us in the speculation community, I wanted to look at the several factors that led to Cloud’s inclusion, and in particular his inclusion over other Square-Enix characters.


This was the reason Cloud got into Smash. Make no mistake.

1.Third party characters DO NOT need to be associated with Nintendo.

This has been a common misconception in the speculation community. During Brawl’s development, Sakurai wrote a reader response in which he stated that it might be something like a courtesy to appear on a Nintendo hardware. Nowhere in other interviews, or in other responses did he ever say that it was a requirement. With Cloud’s representation mostly based on FFVII, I think it’s safe to say this fan rule is finally dead. Heihachi being considered for Smash arguably should have killed it, but people were/are still in denial. I feel like I’m going to be saying this for a long time as it’s so ingrained in the community. The whole logic that “Final Fantasy has its roots in Nintendo, so it’s okay that Cloud got in, the rule still stands!” is based on twisted logic. Look at the reveal trailer…nowhere did they ever reference the older Final Fantasy games. In fact they used the title card for Final Fantasy VII.

2. When people think of Square-Enix, they think of Final Fantasy and Cloud. He is popular.

Searching “Final Fantasy” on Google’s image search brings up a ton of pictures of Cloud and Lightning. In Guinness Book of World Records, 2010 editionCloud Strife was voted as the #5 most iconic character. Cloud was also the top 20 in my own Perception of Smash DLC in Japan, Redux. Black Mage has been elevated within the Smash community due to the false pretense of characters needed to having a strong relation to Nintendo. Sure, he was in Mario Sports Mix, but that doesn’t mean he’s super iconic. His entry in the Super Smash: Flash has solidified this among many but he actually has a lot of issues which may prevent his representation. Essentially, Black Mage has not been the face of the franchise, especially moving forward. This brings me into my next point.

cloud one610

The delivery on this line is perfect.

3. Cloud has personality.

Cloud Strife is NOT a generic avatar. He is a character with a backstory and emotions. His reveal trailer shows this with the incredible amount of references that were jam packed into it. Sakurai has stated a personality is important for consideration. Cloud Strife also follows the tradition of characters in Smash either being a main protagonist of a game, or a recurring enemy (with the sole exception of Sheik, who has been a part of Zelda’s moveset). This is why Black Mage probably wasn’t even on the table for consideration. Consider this: Cloud is not a “generic” character. Instead, he is what other games are trying to imitate with their own characters. He defined the genre, and has made a lasting impact on gaming. 

4.Cloud is favorable to development.

Chocobo’s have been requested since Melee, but they might be difficult to add as a fighter. Therefore, they got in as the second best thing — a Mii Costume. Chocobo’s might not have had a clear moveset, or other issues holding them back. For more information about being favorable to development, check out the 2008 GDC slide translation


5. Cloud has a bright future.

Cloud is relevant to gaming today. He will be the star of a remake (which I will remind the audience, is going to be on a rival console), and has a cameo in Final Fantasy Explorers. He will continue to serve as a gaming icon, and represent the best of what gaming has to offer. Truly “worthy” of representation in Smash Bros. For more information check out I Answer Some Questions.

What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below!

Also, if you have something that you would like the Source Gaming team and Ash Paulsen answer tomorrow on the upcoming SourceCast, please let us know in the comments before November 15th, 2015 (US Eastern).

  1. Final Fantasy is the best-selling franchise not currently represented in Smash Bros that would fit in Smash Bros. The ones above FF are GTA, Need for Speed, CoD, and the Sims. The only one of those that has someone suited for battle is GTA, and I don’t need to explain why a GTA character in Smash would never be in the realm of possibilities.

    Bala on November 14 |
  2. I agree with the article… Black Mage was my favored choice before, but those are some good points about BM being generic. At the end of the day, Cloud is one of the most iconic and relevant characters they could have selected as DLC, even if it did divide the fanbase a bit.

    He’s been in pretty much every FF game that have featured characters from past games… not just Explorers, but he was also in Record Keeper, Dissida, Theatrhythm (for that one, he’s even on the 3DS icon), Ehrgeiz, and probably more that I’m not aware of. There has been strong demand for a remake of FF7, and the strong demand also led to other games taking place in the same universe like Dirge of Cerberus.

    Cloud is to Final Fantasy as Pikachu is to Pokemon… even though there have been many other characters in the series, both are the most well-known among the general populace.

    To those fans upset by his inclusion: he’s DLC, you’re not required to buy him. Complaining about taking development time and resources from a Nintendo or more Nintendo-centric third-party character is not going to do anything at the end of the day. The DLC has to sell, Sakurai and the DLC team need to make DLC that is going to appeal to the most people, not just die-hard Nintendo fans.

    That said, as I’ve said many times before, Cloud is not my first choice for DLC, but then again, my first choices (besides Inkling) probably wouldn’t sell as well, so I’m holding onto hope that they’ll be in Smash 5.

    Winturwulf (@winturwulf) on November 14 |
  3. It came as a great surprise. While not exactly excited, it is nothing to be disappointed about either, and does make sense as this article writes out too. : )

    I feel the same about first choices not selling as well. xD But I like to appreciate what we got!

    xkan on November 14 |
  4. I agree with these points 100%. And I also feel oblidged to share that despite what some people have come to believe, I seriously doubt that Final Fantasy VII HD is coming to the Nintendo NX in the same way that Ryu’s inclusion didn’t indicate that Street Fighter V is coming to the Wii U.

    the101 on November 14 |
    • One thing to note is that Sony is helping produce Street Fighter V similar to how Nintendo helped produce Bayonetta 2 (with, I believe, the same stipulation about it being exclusive), so it coming to another console was never on the table. As far as I can tell, that isn’t the case with the remake. I don’t think it would be on NX anyway, but there is a difference.

      Wolfman_J on November 15 |
  5. Now, this is from an individual who has never played Final Fantasy VII, has never owned a Sony PlayStation, and has solely owned Nintendo consoles his entire life; I completely support Cloud Strife’s inclusion and am excited by it. He accurately represents Final Fantasy and Square Enix, and further contributes to Smash Bros. being ba celebration of gaming. Those who have never played a single Final Fantasy game will know his name, and his relevancy will not diminish with time. It will only grow stronger. I welcome Strife, as he deserves a place on the battlefield as much as Link, Mega Man, Ryu, and Mario.

    As far as DLC… the only inclusion I’m really wanting is Splatoon’s Inkling, but at the same time I won’t be upset if that doesn’t come to pass. Inkling is likely to appear in Smash 5 any how, so it is only in due time that I can use Inkling in Smash. I’m otherwise open to just about anyone as long as they are wanted and iconic – if it’s of a franchise I’m familiar with, I know I will love and appreciate the inclusion. If it’s of a game I have not played, such as Cloud Strife, I’m introduced to a new IP that I’m encouraged to explore. Afterall, if it wasn’t for Smash Bros., I wouldn’t have fallen in love with the Fire Emblem series as I have. (Anyone else absolutely estatic for Fates?)

    the101 on November 14 |
  6. Okay okay, I admit myself that only third party’s relationship with Nintendo idea was wrong. Although I still have my objections regarding to it, I think I should just keep that point in mind so I wouldn’t remind myself with the same misunderstandings again.

    So, indeed that not just only having relationship with Nintendo is the courtesy, but popularity, being iconic, full description with personality and backstory, successful marketing, and global release is the main requirements for Smash then. And if there’s gonna be another third party upcoming for the next and final DLC, then it should be someone with those points. I’m not hoping for any third parties at this moment due to Cloud’s inclusion, but maybe Sega’s Puyo Puyo may make sense since that game’s iconic too, as well being another main franchise of Sega alongside with Sonic (while next is Hatsune Miku but we know that won’t count), and sales are terrifically successful, but although released globally, Puyo Puyo’s hardly mentioned in the west, so maybe there won’t be possibility for Puyo Puyo be in Smash. But if that’s the case, and if we bring that point to other Nintendo characters, then I think K.Rool may not have a possibility either. Although he’s popular among fanbase as being the #1 requested character among the top 20 ranking, and being a main villain of the DK series, he’s not that iconic as that people can mistakenly relate him as Bowser for similar silhouette (plus the manga version of K.Rool has referred himself as an existence between Bowser and Wart, which is easily to be forgettable), thus he can end up becoming a Bowser clone for the bad result which nobody ever want another clone. That can also said to other characters like Wolf too as he’s not iconic, and Waddle Dee as people referring him as a common enemy than a playable character. But we won’t know unless we see what’s gonna show in the final Smash Direct.

    Also, as I discussed to a friend in Japan through chat about Cloud’s inclusion, and checking through comments from ssb4dojo, I think Cloud isn’t based upon ballot choice. It may depend on ballot timing, but although Sakurai did state that he responded to the difficult request, but he didn’t say that Cloud’s from the ballot choice. It is impossible to create a new character in just a month after the ballot ended, it’s not that simple than creating a clone. The evidence to that is Midgar stage; that stage is fully detailed with unbelievable design, with the inclusion of highly designed summon monsters. If you relate this to Orbital Gate stage, that stage took about a year, or closely to 4~5 months which possibly be since July or August. But before that, Sakurai need to have contract with Square Enix for permission and everything, which takes a long time to deal with it. So, just like Ryu back then, Cloud might have already been planned to join Smash before the ballot had ended. If he was the ballot choice, then it should’ve been decided from the first 2 months, or else it wouldn’t make any sense if he was decided after the ballot ended.

    Anyways, there may be possibilities that my predicted characters won’t have possibilities to be in this Smash ever since Cloud made his entry, which I won’t blame him for that. However, I remember when the ballot was still open, they stated that they’ll keep the unused characters as an idea for the next project. Although they didn’t say anything about Smash 5, there may be possibilities that they might make it in the future (probably for NX), so I’ll be holding up my hopes for that one from now on.

    zoniken on November 14 |
  7. Well done. This article needs to spread like Firaga-induced wildfire.

    Igiulaw on November 14 |
  8. To be truthful I’d wait to hear Sakurai’s commentary about it rather than make declarations here, well-researched as they are.

    I’m sure they’re very close to what you put down, though! He looks to be fun to play as, and that is what matters most of all.

    spd12 on November 14 |
    • That’s why I labeled this as an opinion article! If there is a Cloud Famitsu article you better believe that Source Gaming will post the full translation! Subscribe or follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss it.

      Source Gaming Team on November 14 |
      • That’s a fair point about the opinion article label. A bit gun-jumpy on my part, I apologize.

        spd12 on November 15 |
  9. While I agree with most of the points I’m not sure I agree with the first one. Does it imply that characters with absolutely zero relation to Nintendo can become playable such as Master Chief (Who is one of the biggest gaming icons not to be featured in a Smash Brothers game)?

    Cloud was in KH Chain of Memories for GBA, Re:coded for DS, and Theatrhythm for 3DS while Heihachi was in Pac-Man Fever for GC as well as Project X Zone 1 and 2 for 3DS. So both characters still have had association with Nintendo, no matter how miniscule it was unless cameo appearances do not count for some reason.

    Kikaru on November 15 |
    • I think if cameo appearances mattered at all, we would have seen references to them in the trailer. As far as I’m aware, it was all FF7 content which would imply that like Sakurai said, “it might be something like a courtesy to have the experience of appearing on a Nintendo platform”

      Source Gaming Team on November 15 |
  10. It’s worth mentioning that #1 might not even be there for much longer, as far as we know. There’s a chance Final Fantasy VII might just find its way into the eshop in the next few months, and/or the remake might be coming to the NX. That _would_ give Cloud a major role on a Nintendo system on top of his parent company being on good terms with them, making him no longer an anomaly.

    And naturally, Sakurai would’ve been made aware of this and therefore realized Cloud was actually on the table.

    If there’s nothing going on, it comes off as a questionable business move that’d probably put more money in the hands of Nintendo’s competition. But if Cloud really is about to storm onto Nintendo systems in a big way, he wouldn’t be the odd one out any more.

    Delzethin on November 15 |
    • It’s possible but if you are going to hold your breath for XII on a Nintendo system you need to hold your breath for Street Fighter IV (which is linked on the SmashBros site itself) and that’s not coming to a Nintendo system either.

      Source Gaming Team on November 15 |
      • st 4 was on the 3ds

        Bladeviper on November 15 |
        • Sorry, meant 5.

          PushDustIn on November 15 |
  11. Black Mage’s sprite is one of the most iconic sprites of all time. Just throwing that out there. I think he is quite iconic. On Cloud’s level? No. But when you say “Final Fantasy” BM is likely one of the first things to come to mind, especially among older fans.

    Some Dude on November 15 |
  12. Hm, I think the only strong points are 5 and 2. Coincidentally, Etika also released a video about 5 reasons for Cloud’s inclusion and the points he makes are stronger in my opinion.

    Ar on November 15 |
    • Etika greatly overestimates development time, and his points are on a completely different topic.
      (this video: right?)
      He is discussing why it’s important, where as I’m trying to explain why it happened. Very different.

      PushDustIn on November 15 |
  13. The fact is though, that Cloud is not as big as the other third parties. People are much more likely to know Mario, Sonic, Mega Man, Pac Man, and even Ryu, maybe even other first parties like Link and DK. He may be popular, but he isn’t the icon that the base third parties are. As more and more third parties are added, it becomes more of “Another third party” rather than the shock factor that Snake, Sonic, and Mega Man carried. It also carries the series further from its Nintendo roots, because, as much as some people may want it to be a celebration of gaming, it is first and foremost a Nintendo game for Nintendo systems. No, the remaining first and second party characters may not be as big, but the standard for third parties is clearly getting lowered. I’m not calling for the removal of all third parties, but over-saturation dilutes the Nintendo theme(Sonic, Mega Man, and Pac-Man all at least seem like they belong with Nintendo characters), especially when they have almost nothing to do with Nintendo.

    Arthur 97 on November 15 |
    • You overestimate Megaman’s popularity in today’s world. Sure, Megaman is popular to us gamers, but to the casual audience, Megaman is barely iconic. I’d say to the casual player, which makes up the majority of Smash’s playerbase mind you, Cloud is much more recognizable than Megaman.

      Shroob on November 16 |
      • Casual audiences are the ones less likely to know of Cloud though. I knew about him, but I know other people less dedicated to gaming that had no idea who Cloud was but knew about the other third parties. Being in only one main series entry hurts his popularity as well, while Mega Man has multiple titles and iterations to spread his awareness, not to mention the ports of his old games. Cloud is relatively niche. Final Fantasy is probably the biggest RPG brand, but it is still an RPG which don’t appeal to as broad of an audience as platformers might.

        Arthur 97 on November 16 |
  14. Having Cloud in Smash has left me with mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m super excited to see him. On the other, i’m disappointed because of my expectations that in the future, we would get one square character. But after following Sakurai’s rules of having characters in smash are as he says when he was asked why not have street fighter characters in Smash, ‘Because they know how to fight. Smash is a game with characters who have never fought before.’ Which makes a lot of sense to me but then Ryu steps in? Guess you gotta’ bend the rules a bit, eh? Besides, his first appearance may have been on the Turbografx-16 called ‘Fighting Street’ but his best game is Street Fighter II on the Super Nintendo. Also, Lil’ Mac is a fighter so, eh? How could it get any crazier? CLOUD FREAKIN’ APPEARS! What the hell? Does this mean anyone can get in? Fantastic! Doors have opened for many characters that deserve to be in. But of all Square characters, I shouldn’t be surprised that Cloud made it, right? RIGHT!? Forgive me if I may be out of line but I was really expecting Terra Branford. Why her? For one, Cloud has never been in a nintendo game. Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories on the Gameboy Advance doesn’t count… I don’t think. But that’s not the reason why I don’t feel Cloud to be that much valid to me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Final Fantasy VII is my first and favorite final fantasy game. I’m happy he’s in. But I’ve heard so many gamers, retro gamers especially talk about Final Fantasy 6 more, how much of a masterpiece it is. Comparing that to 7 would be like comparing a best story and best characters? I don’t know what people mean but I played the 6th game and I fell in love with it as much as I did with 7. But I felt more compelled to argue that Terra should’ve been the first choice. If you want to talk about something, compare Terra and her game vs. Cloud and his game. You think Cloud has personality? Backstory and emotions? Not as much as Terra. She murdered HUNDREDS of soldiers at the clutches of a very bad guy! An evil Jester that I’d say has more evil in him than Sephiroth does. Terra was enslaved, force to live with her life of horrible things she was forced to do. I wish I could go on but you should understand. If not, play the game and compare the two if you don’t know her. But I felt that Terra represents the gold age of Final Fantasy. It was the most popular game in the US when it was released and it scored a top rank of SNES games like next to Chrono Trigger. (Never played that game yet but will soon)

    I’m glad for Cloud regardless. But Terra should be in it too. Maybe in the 5th Smash Bros., I can convince him but only if votes from the USA back her up. If people care anyway.

    Jonathan Allen Scher on November 16 |
    • I had a same idea with you upon Terra’s prediction. As I was stuck on the courtesy of third party games with the relationship of Nintendo, the only FF series that I could’ve chose was from the first to VI, while VII and further on never released in Nintendo. I chose Terra since the sixth game was the “final” game for Nintendo, and it was popular than the previous series, before VII. Smash needed more female and magic using fighters, and I thought she’d be perfect for being a Square Enix fighter, while her Trans ability can be used as a Final Smash. However, I may be wrong on this, but as I heard from someone else or read from some information, unlike Dissidia, FFVI didn’t have the main protagonist in the game. Anybody could have been the main protagonist, including Terra too, but in the end, none of them were as everybody were main heroes. In other words, all characters had backstories and personality, but never focused only on one person as the story was focusing on everybody…I mean as in EVERY main characters. I maybe be mistaken as I haven’t played the game before since VII was my first FF game played, so please correct me if possible.

      zoniken on November 16 |
  15. The thing I just realized is that Cloud is representing is own game (the trailer was titled Super Smash Bros. x Final Fantasy VII) as opposed to the Final Fantasy series as a whole. So this completely baffles me given what the core of Smash is really about. It’s not just about the most popular video game characters coming together to duke it out, but the most popular NINTENDO characters coming together to duke it out. Sure we’ve had guest stars, but even they’ve had their impact on Nintendo history.

    I don’t think any amount of speculation will reap a satisfactory answer until Sakurai discusses it next month.

    Gurin on November 16 |
  16. Don’t get me wrong when I say that I’m 150% hyped for Cloud and I’m definitely gonna be practicing him as soon as I get him (sorry Shulk, I’ve found a new swordsman to be terrible with), but personally, I would have been more hyped for Squall. I do get that Cloud is far more relevant to Square Enix than Squall is (FF8 probably isn’t ever getting a remake and typing that makes me cry inside), it’s just a personal preference since FF8 was the first FF game I ever played. I like the article and I generally agree with the points you’ve made, I’m just not getting why some fans are saying that Cloud getting in means that anyone could. It’s a slippery slope argument that really shouldn’t be used. I don’t think Sakurai has heavily deviated from what he wanted Smash to be with the new characters he’s introduced, rather he’s just been able to do more with the series as it got bigger. If I recall correctly, Smash 64 only got made *because* of the Nintendo characters, but the series has been steadily evolving since then and can be more inclusive as a result.

    Besides, the game is still mostly Nintendo characters or characters that have close ties with Nintendo (I haven’t done the calculations, but I would assume that at least 90% of the characters in Smash 4 fit this description), a few guests isn’t gonna change what the game is as its core.

    Spiral on November 16 |
  17. There’s also the fact that Nintendo & Square-Enix are buddies now, something that has been the case for every single third party company that’s represented in the game.

    Neoxon on November 16 |
  18. If Nintendo and Square are best friends, what’s stopping them from releasing Geno from Super Mario RPG into smash? Or using him in the mario games ever? Find an article of Sakurai’s comments on people constantly asking for Geno in Smash. He keeps responding that he’ll delay the game another day if he gets another same request.

    Now, for all Square characters I want in Smash, it isn’t Terra or Geno mostly but they are up there beyond Cloud. But my number 1 Square, or rather, ENIX, character I would LOVE to see in Smash is Lenneth Valkyrie from Valkyrie Profile. If you don’t know the game, peep it on Playstation 1 or PSP! It’s based on Norse Mythology and it is amazing with sprites, music, animation, stories and characters. It is a complicated RPG game so you’ll need a guide to know what to do and how to play the game. But when you do play it, do share what you think of her and if she would be fit to be in smash. I got her movesets down and stage selected so I would be more than happy to talk about how she’ll work.

    Jonathan Allen Scher on November 20 |
  19. Okay get this. I learned from a friend that no one, I repeat, NO ONE ever voted for Cloud. So it wasn’t popular demand that Cloud got in. It was just to advertise the remake of FFVII the remake/remaster for the PS4. So this was solely Sakurai’s move. The ballot didn’t show Cloud in. I’m guessing it isn’t intended to break the rules then so not every video game character can get in.

    Jonathan Allen Scher on November 26 |
    • Look up Perception of Smash DLC in Japan Redux here on Source Gaming. Cloud was ranked top 20 in my research back in the summer. People voted for him, your friend is wrong.

      Source Gaming Team on November 27 |
  20. I thought Cloud got in because one of Final Fantasy 7’s writers (Kazushige Nojima) helped write the Subspace Emissary and this was Sakurai paying back the favor.

    GuineaPigDan on December 9 |
  21. This article claims that heiachi’s consideration should have killed the fan rule that only characters that appeared on Nintendo systems could be in smash but he was in 3 Nintendo games before smash 4 came out, tekken advance, tekken tag 2 and project X zone. Furthermore, this article claims that the trailer attempts to distance ff7 from other final fantasy games making its association with the Nintendo final fantasy games seem unnessesary for clouds appearance in smash, how ever clouds symbol in smash is “ff” not VII or that meteor, so it opens the possibility for other final fantasy characters. It’s not twisted logic. It was intentional.

    Jeremy g Pagano on September 2 |