Welcome friends, to a new segment here on Source Gaming – Veterans in Memoriam. Like any proper funeral, this series isn’t meant to focus on the negatives, but to celebrate the character’s time in Smash. Today we will look at the life and times of Wolf O’Donnel; we will examine the reasons he initially made the roster and determine what it was he brought to Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Most of all, we will look at the reasons he may have been excluded from Smash for Wii U & 3DS, and determine the likelihood of his return in future games… all while celebrating all that is Wolf.
Who is Wolf O’Donnel
Wolf O’Donnel was the third Star Fox character to become playable in the Smash Bros. series. The leader of the eponymous Star Wolf mercenary team, Wolf usually acts as an antagonistic force to Fox McCloud and crew. Wolf is a space pirate that has been wanted by the Cornerian army for years, but he is not exactly an evil force. He is more a gun for hire… it just so happens that the forces that tend to bankroll him are a bit on the malevolent side.
Wolf debuted in Star Fox 64, the best selling and highest rated entry in the Star Fox series. His demeanor was a bit aloof and he spoke with a British accent that fit the part. He, like many other Star Fox characters, had many lines that would live on as internet memes.
His character would see a bit of an overhaul in Star Fox: Assault. He was there shown as a muscular, gruff, and rough fighter. Gone was his British accent, instead replaced with a bit of a Southern drawl. This would be the interpretation that would make it’s way into Smash Bros.
Wolf in Smash Bros.
By Sakurai’s own admission, Wolf was a “lucky addition” to the Smash Bros. franchise. Fans during Brawl’s development were somewhat expecting a new Star Fox representative, and to many it came down to either Wolf or Krystal, a telepathic female vixen (in every sense of the word) who was introduced in Star Fox Adventures. Wolf won the battle largely due to the fact that he could be built from Fox, as it were. Fox’s model served as a base for Wolf, which allowed the character to take about 70% of the effort as a new character would.
As a result, Wolf shares quite a bit with Fox, including a few animations. While Wolf is not exactly a clone, he does share a Final Smash with Fox in the form of the Landmaster, and his specials are all variations on concepts established by Fox. Still, his ‘A’ moves are almost all unique and his physics and attributes make him stand out from both Fox and Falco. He is by far the heaviest of the Star Fox crew, and his moves are imbued with a feral strength not seen in the other space animals.
Wolf is the sort of character that “ticks off a lot of boxes” in regards to what people want in Smash. This is likely a reason he is so sorely missed by a large portion of the Smash fanbase. He is a villain, or at least he acts as a villain in many of the games he features in. He is a third character in a series that many feel needs more playable representation. A brutal character, Wolf is also one of the only Smashers to use claws as primary form of attack. He is also a veteran character who, while sharing some concepts with Fox, has some very unique properties and fills a niche that is not currently occupied. It is no wonder why he was as heavily expected as he was.
The Future for Wolf
All that being said, Wolf was cut. The reasoning why is anyone’s guess. Since Wolf was nearly cut due to time constraints in Brawl, it would be logical to assume the same thing happened in Smash for Wii U & 3DS. Sakurai has gone on record as saying he was worried about how DLC would be received. He did not want fans to think that content was withheld from the base game. This may have resulted in cut content, such as the Dr. Mario stage or a possible Rhythm Heaven character, not being reintroduced as DLC. If Wolf was worked on as part of the base game, he may also have fallen into this category. As of right now, though, this is pure speculation and should be treated as such.
The lesson fans should perhaps take from Wolf not making it into Smash 4 is that we, as a community, should not take anything for granted. During the vast Smash for Wii U/3DS speculation period, which ranged from the games debut at E3 in 2013, to the reveal of Bayonetta as the final DLC character in December of 2015, most fans thought Wolf was a shoo-in. “He’ll be a hidden character in the base game!” They said. “He’ll be the first Brawl DLC vet!” They said. “He’ll be a surprise reveal in the last Direct!” They finished off with. They were so sure of this that they continually moved the goal post. This surely cost Wolf in the Smash Ballot, and if fans were that adamant about his return they should have voted in larger number so that their voices were heard.
Still, this may not be the end for Wolf in Smash. As opposed to Lucas or Roy, Wolf is a recurring character in his series. It is because of this, as well as his veteran status, that he is always in contention for a spot on the roster. Remember though, the lessons of Smash for Wii U/3DS. Do not take it for granted that Wolf will return in the next Smash Bros. game. If you consider yourself a Wolf fan, please do not take the character for granted. Mention Wolf on online forums. If you’re artistically inclined, could post some art on Miiverse. More than anything, though, go out and buy Star Fox Zero so that Nintendo knows we still care. Keep the character and the franchise in the spotlight, so that Wolf might shine again.