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Filed under: Editorial, Featured Content, History/Lore, Industry People, Masahiro Sakurai, Satoru Iwata, Super Bros. Smash For 3DS, Super Smash Bros. (N64), Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. Series, Tatsumi Kimishima

The Case for Smash NX [Part One]

Warning: Some parts of this article are based on pure opinion/ speculation. Please do not confuse the factual information we’ve presented in this article, and our opinions.

Why is this article split up?
The article was split up because it got too long. It’s nine pages long (without pictures)…which is too way long for the average amount of time spent on this site. In order to make the article more accessible, we decided to release it in two parts. I’ve added a table of contents which previews the points that will be addressed in this part, and the next one. Patrons can read the full article, right now.

Table of Contents:
Part 1:
Sales and Attach Rates
Release Windows
NX Launch
Post-Iwata Smash

Part 2:
Smash Without Sakurai
A Remake?
Leveraging the Nintendo IP
Dr. Serkan Toto’s Rumor


Immediately following the announcement that Corrin and Bayonetta would be the final DLC for Smash for Wii U/ 3DS, fans began to ask, “what’s next?”. All eyes are pointed towards Nintendo’s upcoming ‘third-pillar’ console, codenamed “NX”. Today, we would like to briefly discuss the points for and against a possible Smash for NX. As with Spazzy’s other Case for articles, this will attempt to take the good and the bad and present a fair argument. Let us know in the comments if you think we missed a point. Special thanks to Soma as he contributed a great deal to this article and made me reconsider several points.

Sales and Attach Rates:

Smash is one of Nintendo’s flagship IPs. The game sells very well, and generates a lot of buzz during it’s development and release. In addition, the DLC for Smash for Wii U and 3DS are some of the best selling pieces of downloadable content for Nintendo, taking up multiple spots in their top ten. Smash is too profitable to disappear off the face of the earth. There will be a sequel at some point — it’s just a matter of when. Reggie also confirmed this when he stated that Smash is a once in a console’s lifespan type of game (like Mario Kart). I’ve included the sales and attach rate of each game to contextualize how each game sold relative to each other. Needless to say, every entry in the series has sold well.

Game: Smash 64 Melee: Brawl: 3DS: Wii U: 3DS + Wii U
Sold: 5 million* 7.09 million 12.93 million 7.92 million 4.61 million 11.40 million
Attach Rate: >15%* 32.6% 12.7% 13.9% 37.6% 26.6%

*PAL region sales not included. (US, Japan sales source)
Note: Data was last updated April 20th, 2016 [Japan Time]. Sales data may not be 100% accurate when you read this. 

(Console Sales)

Release Windows:

Smash has never been defined as an annual release, and it’s actually rare for a sequel to come out very quickly. Development for games, in general, take a considerable amount of time and effort. Development time is the time between the first presentation of the project plan and the earliest release date of the game. Wait is the amount of time it took between the last game’s release date and the creation of the next project plan. I used the dates from the Timeline of Masahiro Sakurai’s Life to compile this chart.

Game: Smash 64*** Melee Brawl Smash for Wii U/3DS
Development: ~13 months* 13 months** ~3 years 3+ years****
Wait: 5 months*** 3 years 8 months 2 years 6 months
Release Date JP: 1/21/1999

NA: 4/26/1999

PAL: 11/19/1999

JP: 11/21/2001

NA: 12/3/2001

PAL: 5/31/2002

JP: 1/31/2008

NA: 3/9/2008

EU: 6/27/2008


JP: 9/13/2014

NA/EU: 10/3/2014
Wii U:

JP: 12/6/2014

NA: 11/21/2014

EU: 11/28/2014

*Source: “…we had roughly one year and one month for development…”
**Source: “I worked on that game for 13 months straight, after all…”
***The international versions of Smash 64 were worked on and released during this timeframe. Therefore it’s unclear exactly how much time passed between the end of Smash 64’s development and Melee. However, five months or less seems like it’s a safe bet.
****The exact time frame is unknown, but my current guess is 3 years, 10 months. This amount of time is using April 2012 (when a project proposal was shown to Nintendo) as the start date, and February 2016 as the end.  

Smash 64 was released near the middle of the Nintendo 64’s life cycle, and Melee was released early in the Gamecube’s life cycle, within a half year of its release. The gap between these two releases is the shortest of the series, spanning 2 years and 10 months. The gap between Melee and Brawl was 6 years and 2 months, and the gap between Brawl and Smash for 3DS was 6 years and 6 months. Looking at the Wait times, we can see that the turnover between Smash 64 and Melee was extraordinarily quick, and isn’t something that will likely be repeated for a full-fledged AAA-scale game in this day and age.

smash2Specifically, Sakurai also said that for Smash 64 what was released was only “60% of the way there to the complete version of Smash I have in my head,” and clearly had a lot of things he wanted to fix, which probably led to the quick turnaround and development of its sequel.

We can also assume that for “Smash 5,” the development time will almost surely exceed 13 months, looking at the general trend of non-annualized AAA development in recent years as well as the relevant development times of Brawl and Smash for 3DS and Wii U. It is worth noting that Smash 64 and Smash for 3DS and Wii U will have ended up finishing development in roughly the same time in their respective console’s life cycle (that is to say, fairly late, past the midway point).

Therefore, it’s fair to assume that we have anywhere from four to five years until the next full-fledged Smash game is released, barring a very fast development cycle. The gap between Brawl and Smash 4 is a bit longer than four to five years, but the Wii U will probably end up having a slightly shorter console lifecycle than the Wii, which explains the slightly longer gap between Brawl and Smash 4.

NX Launch:

e3-2015-logoIn my opinion, the NX console will most likely be unveiled during E3 2016, and released the next season. Nintendo has probably been working on NX games for awhile now (As some of their major teams have unannounced projects). Having enough time to create this games has been a major concern for Nintendo.

“The Wii U’s lackluster launch sales can be blamed on one simple problem: it didn’t have the games to support it, said Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime”. – Source

Kimishima has also stated the NX will not be rushed out. Despite this, a holiday release does seem plausible and this is because of the release of dev kits.

For the PS4, certain devs supposedly got kits in early 2012, I’m assuming these are the devs that are in Sony’s inner circle. That would give us around 20 months, I would say, from the first dev kit until release. But according to IGN, the second iteration, which was more something that actually resembled a dev kit and not just a modified graphics card, was given out in November 2012, so from a full-fledged dev kit to release was around 12 months. The PS4 was released in late November 2013.

For for the Xbox One, a dev kit was illegally sold on August 2012, and the console was released on November 2013, so that’s a 15 month timetable. Of course, Durango discussions were happening in early 2012 and as said above, Orbis “dev kits” were handed out by March 2012.

Now, for the NX, all we know is that some type of dev kit was given out in October 2015. If these are more the full-fledged type dev kits, then using the PS4 timeline that would give us about 12 months, or enough time to hit holiday 2016. If it’s more of what the first Orbis dev kit was, that would put it at 20 months or so. Of course, a lot of this is conjecture based on very vague details.

If we’re looking at first public mentions, then the PS4 was officially announced on February 20th, 2013, and came out 10 months later, the Xbox One was officially announced on May 21, 2013, and came out 6 months later, although a ton of Xbox One details had already been accurately leaked at that time. Nintendo tends to confirm news a bit earlier– the successor to the Wii was announced March 2011, officially unveiled as the Wii U during E3 2011, announced a release date on January 26, 2012, and released on November 18, 2012, a 20 month gap between announcement and release.

The NX was revealed March 2015. The Gamecube, PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One have all been released in the November-January time frame excluding certain rare cases (Australia and such), so a holiday release seems likely. If there isn’t a holiday 2016 release, then a holiday 2017 release would put them at 32 months since they first mentioned the NX…which to us personally seems way too long and unlikely.

There is also the possibility of one version of the NX with the supplemental computing device (SCD) being released. For a full breakdown of that the SCD is, I’d suggest listening to this podcast. Essentially, the SCD could enhance the experience of both handheld and consoles by unifying the systems in a new unique way.  Whether or not this will be the goal of the NX is unclear as Nintendo hasn’t announced anything officially. Iwata did state:

“Since we are always thinking about how to create a new platform that will be accepted by as many people around the world as possible, we would like to offer to them ‘a dedicated video game platform with a brand new concept’ by taking into consideration various factors, including the playing environments that differ by country,…This is all that I can confirm today.”   

He did outright confirm in another interview that, ““In contrast, the number of form factors might increase” when discussing the NX. Recently, Kimishima has confirmed that NX is on track and that Nintendo will release an update about the platform sometime this year.

If the NX is released in 2017, then it’s likely we will see a Smash for NX in the middle of the console’s life. I honestly think Smash for 3DS/Wii U came out too late in the Wii U’s lifecycle for a brand new sequel to meet the NX launch window. Smash for NX will probably happen at some point. However, there is one more thing we need to discuss. The elephant in the room– a post-Iwata Smash.

Post-Iwata Smash:


Satoru Iwata was not only instrumental to the success of Smash Bros., but to its creation as well. The original prototype was programmed by Iwata. In Melee, he saved it from multiple bugs, and helped the game launch on time. In Brawl, he brought Sakurai back to lead the series once again. For Smash for Wii U, he once again oversaw the game as a producer. Sakurai was very close to Iwata, who served not only as a mentor to him, but also as a friend. Sakurai took the news very hard, and dedicated multiple columns to Iwata. After Iwata’s passing, Sakurai posted the following statements on Twitter:

“The president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata has passed away. He was my former employer, but even when my situation and location changed, he was always the most understanding [of me and my work]. A hard worker and a virtuous man, he always supplied me with quick, fair guidance. I believe that he was the greatest leader I could have imagined. May you rest in peace.” -Source

“Even though it’s an abnormal day, and I’m an in abnormal state of mind, I went to work as normal and am continuing development as normal. This would be what Mr. Iwata would have wanted, after all. I will do what I must.”-Source

One of the biggest questions that remains is, will Sakurai have the same freedom that he had under Iwata’s leadership if he comes back for the next Smash? It is an interesting question, and one that we cannot know the answer to, as we don’t work at Nintendo or Sora Ltd.

There is a strong draw that would pull Sakurai back to Smash, even without Iwata, primarily his desire to and enjoyment of working with various content creators. Additionally, he is unsure if the “the staff could do it by themselves,” and has strongly advocated that the ideas of the director are very important when making a game. From this statement, I think Sakurai has a hard time imagining a Smash game without his personal involvement. But let’s entertain the thought…tomorrow!

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Read part two.

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  1. It wouldn’t surprise me that a new Smash Bros for “Codename NX” is in the works. Nintendo has always wanted a Smash Bros. game for every console since the N64, & they always wanted it early on in the console’s life cycle. It’s been routine that it’s taken several years between each game up to this point, but that’s very likely to change because the Wii-U has been such a flop & Nintendo feels the need to present a new console to the market soon.

    Even if it’s just a “championship” or “ultimate” edition, there’s no real need to start over from scratch. The presentation of the game is up to snuff & I see no need to ditch all the content after 1 1/2 years. However, they still need to offer tons of new content so that people who already own Smash 4, have a reason to buy it.

    What I have in mind is several new characters, between 6 & 10.
    Unique special moves for every character besides the Miis & Palutena.
    Real costumes from past games for each character; with the ability to pick your own colors.
    Day & night versions of outdoor stages.
    Random terrain generation for custom stages right before battle, a la Worms.
    A rewards system for online mode that unlocks new content every time you level up.
    & an upgraded online world with new game modes like Grand Prix, Round Robin Tournaments, & a video hub that features players & highlights of specific matches.

    J. G. (@GeneralRayburn) on February 10 |
    • I highly doubt you’ll ever get the ability to pick your own colors, simply because Nintendo and third parties in particular want their characters to be presented in a certain way. Sega doesn’t want Sonic to be red, for example.

      I think there’s a good chance that Nintendo will start selling costume packs since all the other fighting games are doing it.

      Ian on February 11 |
      • You wouldn’t be able to edit the character entirely. Mario for example would have 4 or 5 color options (Hat & Shirt / Overalls / Shoes / Gloves / Hair) a character like Sonic would have less. Maybe gloves and shoes & that’s it.

        J. G. (@GeneralRayburn) on February 11 |
        • Even if it’s just picking your own colors for a few pieces of clothing or hair, I don’t think Nintendo will let you do it. I mean there are already over a hundred games with Mario in them and I don’t think you can edit Mario like you suggested in any of them, not even in Super Mario Maker. Miyamoto came up with Miis specifically to let people customize their own characters.

          Ian on February 12 |
          • What would be the point in changing Mario’s colors for a Mario platform game? There is at least a purpose for it in Smash Bros; as identity & if you want to take pictures.

            J. G. (@GeneralRayburn) on February 12 |
          • I used Super Mario Maker as an example of what Nintendo is willing to let you do because in that game you are the creator and it offers a level of customization that does not yet exist in Smash Bros, including 99 amiibo costumes. I feel you missed my point though, which was that considering the number and variety of games Mario has been in and the lack of option to edit his hair and clothing colors, suggests that Nintendo doesn’t want to give you that option. They want you to customize Miis instead, which was created for this purpose.

            Ian on February 12 |
          • First of all, with 115+ costume characters & zero multiplayer, why would you want to edit Mario’s colors?

            With more sociable games like Zelda: Triforce Heroes & Street Fighter V, customization is a key component when interacting with other players. Making your own touches say “Check out my character.” For color swapping, Street Fighter lets you do this, Soulcalibur lets you do this, & just recently Yoshi’s Woolly World can allow players to design their own yarn Yoshis. Why can’t this be done?

            J. G. (@GeneralRayburn) on February 12 |
          • Because it’s a create-your-own-Mario-game so it’s logical to give people as many options as possible. You can also share your content online, is that not a social aspect of the game?

            I also I didn’t say it can’t be done, I’m saying I don’t think Nintendo will do it. Zelda: Triforce Heroes doesn’t let you change the colors, only the outfits if I remember correctly. Yoshi is known for having a variety of colors so it’s no surprise that they allow you to change it in Wooly World. But what about Mario Kart 8? Mario Tennis Ultra Smash? Super Mario 3D World?

            Ian on February 13 |
          • Except it’s not a game where you have have more than one Mario on screen at the same time.

            J. G. (@GeneralRayburn) on February 13 |
          • Even if not having more than one of the same character on screen is a legitimate excuse not to add color editing (lol), that does not apply to Mario Kart 8 where you can have more than one Mario on screen. And again Nintendo chose not to let you edit Mario’s colors.

            Ian on February 14 |
          • Because you’re not just Mario, you’re the vehicle he’s driving in.

            J. G. (@GeneralRayburn) on February 15 |
          • What’s your point? Mario can drive a Mercedes Benz in the game.

            Ian on February 16 |
      • As far as extra skins go, they should be locked so that there are unlockables besides the ones we already have in Smash 4.

        J. G. (@GeneralRayburn) on February 11 |
      • Or the character I play as would more more like the character I want him to be. Sheik has needles, but maybe I don’t want her needles, as they aren’t useful to me. Instead of the needles, maybe I can use a move that I can take better advantage of. She can play the Prelude of Light on her harp to heal herself.

        J. G. (@GeneralRayburn) on February 11 |
    • I also don’t think every character will get unique special moves. If you look at the Mii Fighters and Palutena, a lot of their special moves are similar to existing special moves and are hardly “unique”. For example, Palutena’s Angelic Missile is similar to Luigi’s Green Missile, her Jump Glide is similar to Peach Parasol, her Rocket Jump is similar to Diddy’s Rocketbarrel Blast, her Warp is just another teleport, and she has Counter like a good number of the cast. If every character has other characters’ specials like the Mii Fighters and Palutena, there will be way more overlap in terms of special moves and it will make characters feel less unique.

      Ian on February 11 |
  2. It’s possible for Smash 4 to have an updated version on the NX but I don’t expect t see it as a launch title, but maybe in 2017 since I feel that it’s too soon.

    Chris.W on February 15 |
  3. I think it’ll be revealed at E3. It will take a while for Namco Bandai to remake the game but it doesn’t have to be made from scratch as all the data from Wii U game can be ported over…..Making it a short period of time for the game to be complete and have additional content.

    Ryan Hines-Kazama on April 26 |