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Filed under: Industry People, Masahiro Sakurai, Satoru Iwata, SG Choice, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Super Smash Bros. Series

End of the Ballot Reflections

End of the ballot reflections

This is another “SG: Roundtable” where we discuss a certain topic. Today, we would like to give our reactions to the Smash Ballot. How do you feel? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter!


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Speculation period during the ballot was incredibly fascinating to experience. It was a time where a lot of people felt that anyone could join the battle. Of course, we know that’s not the case now but it was still a lot of fun. It was interesting to see people band together behind characters, as if they have chose sides in a war and vigorously defend their character of choice.

If I have one major regret from this period is that I didn’t do more to highlight the fact that this wasn’t the first ballot. The Smash Ballot has existed before, just not in English. Melee and Brawl both had ballots which had some impact on their roster selection. Those ballots probably also had an impact on trophy selection, and stage selection and Assist Trophies. I think we as a community lost sight of the fact that the ballot could impact other aspects of the game besides straight character selection.

I think Nintendo could have handled it better. It might have been the case that they didn’t know how much content was being created, and after Iwata’s death the ballot was cut shorter, but a clearer limit of how many ballot characters were to be chosen would have made it less painful. I also wish they announced the winners soon. The DLC speculation period almost tore the community apart (because people were fighting a war) and clearer communication from Nintendo or Sakurai could have avoided that. Some of the fighting was due to straight up misinformation still existing within the Smash fanbase, while other fighting was based on pure stubbornness.

We’ll still see the impact of the ballot. After all, the Japanese version states it will impact future installments of the game, and with the current rumors we might have A Case for Smash NX. Maybe the October deadline was actually for that version? We’ll see.  


During the early days of the ballot, I posted an article which asserted that the ballot was a suggestion box and not a popularity contest, based on a quote from Iwata himself. But in the end, the character chosen, Bayonetta, was specifical chosen as the winner (among realizable choses). So what happened? On one hand, there could have been some misunderstanding between Nintendo and Sakurai, as Push noted.  Nevertheless, it can not be ignored that Iwata’s death had some impact on the development of the DLC. It was Iwata, not Sakurai, who made the comments about the ballot. Perhaps Nintendo wanted to produce more content given

Of course, the ballot was also to be used for future Super Smash Bros. games.


In somewhat typical Nintendo fashion, the ballot felt like another somewhat mishandled attempt by NCL to connect with their fanbase online. There were many ways I felt the ballot could have been handled better– they should have clarified the rules from the beginning, they should have been upfront with their intentions so as to keep expectations appropriate…in the end, I feel like the way they handled ended up introducing some rifts in the community, disappointed some, led people to misdirect their anger (in many directions), and probably hampered the validity of the data that was collected.

Then again, my fervor towards character inclusions in Smash is, well…nonexistent, so I have a cooler view of the ballot and the pre-release speculation period in general. It did draw a lot of attention to Smash and generated publicity, which wasn’t a bad thing. Still, I think I could do without one next time.

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All I’m gonna say are three things: it’s cool that something like that exists, even though it’s not nearly as purely influential as fans think. Similarly, it’s probably for the best that it isn’t as influential, though it (like everything else in this series) would always result in upset fans. And seriously, c’mon people; it’s just a game, and these are just characters. It’s cool to rally and support your favorite characters, but the sheer level of vitriol was ludicrous, and honestly unbecoming of this fanbase.

Oh, and one other thing. I think Bayonetta’s success – and the implied success of characters who couldn’t be added for legal or logistical reasons – suggests that what fans really want, at least when they’re given such power, are things that are unique, seemingly impossible, and exciting over some theoretical “relevance.” The list of unused game icons keeps thinning with each installment, and it’s clear that there’s an interest, not just from Sakurai but the players as well, in seeing new, surprising icons and ideas added to Smash. That’s what I’ve taken away from this, more than anything else: we can often be dramatically off the mark for what serious fans and general audiences want. And that’s alright.

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I’m not gonna say I saw the ballot winner coming because that would be a lie. Bayonetta came straight out of left-field and shocked everyone  and I am glad that has happened. Surprise is all I really wanted with my DLC characters and I basically got it every time. So I am glad we got Bayonetta in the ballot, she is fun to play as and against and hopefully this appearance will make people more interested in picking up Bayonetta 2 as that is one of the best games on Wii U.

I know some people are upset about how the ballot has been handled at its end but honestly nothing has happened that I didn’t expect. They were not going to give us all the results as the japanese ballot page specifically says they will use these results in future products. They are not going to reveal all these characters that could be made into a big surprise some point down the line whether it is in a future smash game or other popular Nintendo games/series. I am also not surprised that we only got one character from the ballot. I always expected just one as the ‘winner’ of the ballot and the rest would get consolation prizes as Mii Fighters or Trophies. While we don’t know for sure if there was consolation prizes handed out, the idea of their being multiple winners was only something people who knew their character could not win the ballot were praying on. The last point I can talk about is whether Bayonetta really won the ballot or not. I think she is the legitimate top winner for realizable characters but it would be nice to know what made a character realizable or not. If people had known before the ballot it may have made some people change their votes. After all they said any games character was viable back when the ballot first started and now that it has ended it turns out that not all of them were. Then again as this was very much a general popularity contest for games characters by Nintendo I kind of see why they did not give that restriction from the get-go.

In the end, I am ok with how the ballot turned out. I only voted to make Nintendo aware that the west knows about Takamaru. I never expected that he would make it into the game as a fighter as he was already an assist trophy. The character we did get is fun and enjoyable and I think that is the most important thing about Smash’s fighters, especially the DLC ones.

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While I’m not disappointed with the results of the ballot, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a bit sad now that it’s over. At the same time, though, I am a bit relieved that the extended speculation period is now behind us. Smash Bros. character speculation is a very draining thing to be a part of as character fan bases tend to be… heavily invested. Still, it was a very special thing to be a part of and part of me can’t wait for Smash NX to be revealed so that it can start all over again.

I do wish that we saw more returning veterans (free Wolf!), especially Snake. Snake would have come with some Konami Mii costumes, which would have paved the way for some sort of Bomberman representation. The most disappointing thing for me, honestly, is that we didn’t see any new modes or returning Melee stages. Neither of those things actually surprised me, though.

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By the time the ballot had started, I already wasn’t very invested in character speculation, so I didn’t have a lot of expectations regarding whatever character would be chosen from it, especially when two of my three most wanted characters for DLC had already been revealed by the time the ballot was announced. All I did was vote for Wolf, my only wanted character for DLC at that point.

The ballot relying on player feedback made it all too unpredictable and I always had in mind the fact that the character I had voted for had a chance of not being picked. In the online communities, a lot of people rallied for their favorite characters, voting like crazy, trying to get other people to vote… It almost felt like a political election, complete will polls and similar sorts of propaganda. Fun times, one may say.

As for the ballot was handled, I feel that the best word to describe is “vague”. All Nintendo literally told us was to submit a video game character suggestion through the form and they’d consider those for DLC distribution. They had no info on criteria nor how many characters would be added.

Bayonetta ended up being the sole character to be explicitly chosen from it, ranking 1st in Europe and within the top 5 in the US and, among negotiable and realizable characters, the #1 worldwide. “Vague” surely applies here as well: what makes a character “realizable”?

Perhaps, Sakurai had his own criteria in play for the ballot suggestions and popularity was only one of the factors. After all, they did say that we were suggesting characters and the team would ponder those choices.

Like PushDustIn and SmashChu stated, I can’t help but wonder how Satoru Iwata’s passing may have affected this whole process, given the ballot was his idea in the first place. On the other hand, the wording used to describe the ballot by Nintendo themselves was vague enough that I couldn’t help but think that literally anything could happen, so I remained open-minded about it. What character(s) would be chosen, how many of them, what criteria… It was literally a suggestion box, after all.

All this said, I do think that, for all the fuss done about it, it does feel a bit underwhelming that only a single character was explicitly chosen from it (though one could argue that Cloud may have also been chosen among Final Fantasy character suggestions), but it’s very much possible that all the data collected during its six-month running may influence choices in future Smash Bros. titles, as the Japanese site suggested. In the end, I feel it was a good idea, but one that could have been executed better and caused far too much vitriol in the community for its worth. Nevertheless, I don’t bear any very negative feelings towards it. It did end up impacting the game, after all, and certain fans got their desires granted. Every time there are ballots, such as for political elections, there are always votes that don’t end up having any significant impact, so it’s a natural consequence of this sort of events and one I fully expected to happen.


How do you feel? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter!


Source Gaming Team

Source Gaming Team

These posts are made by the SG Team, or are guest posts.
Source Gaming Team
  1. “It was interesting to see people ban together behind characters, as if they have chose sides in a war and vigorously defend their character of choice.”

    I certainly hope you meant ‘band,’ but I am sure some forum mods probably banned people with ‘poor’ taste in characters as well.

    DonkaFjord on February 25 |
    • For the record, I did see some mod threaten (maybe not seriously) to vote for their character or they will ban them.

      Logo on February 26 |
  2. If the rumor about an NX port is true, then I just hope that there is some form of new content. I will buy it regardless of it having new content or not, but I will still be a bit ticked off if all it is, is a “Hey guys buy this version it has all the DLC included!”

    The life of a gamer. Always wishing for more.

    Organ Seller on February 25 |
  3. I imagine the purpose of the ballot was to curb the selection bias inherent in researching what fans say online (which probably could’ve been accomplished in an afternoon without all the hoopla). Club Nintendo was being phased out at the time, but even using that would’ve been unrepresentative.

    Igiulaw on February 25 |
  4. The Smash Ballot gave us a purpose to try to make something about our favorite characters.

    In @Micaiah4Smash case… It was its whole creation. While we don’t get exactly the things that we want, I’m happy this Ballot mostly for the fact that could give it a second chance to some characters that doesn’t get the proper treatment in future games.

    Who knows what may happen. But We will wait for that moment’s arrival.

  5. @Spazzy_D Snake would be a cool return, but Konami is Konami, and Konami is a disgusting disease ridden company as of late. Snake got in thanks to Kojima, who has quit work at Konami, so sadly, Snake is highly unlikely.

    aguchamp33 on February 25 |
  6. Well, I’m glad Bayo’s in. What I really want the most out of any fighting game is a character that looks and feels different from anything else in the series.

    Honestly, I know that it’d be physically impossible for every single character that I want to be playable in any game, so it’s good to see a character that manages to capture their origins well. Like Dante and Vergil, they’re just as ridiculous as they are in their own games, with a plethora of moves and references. I wish Smash Bros. could be a bit more like that.

    Personally, I feel like the veterans themselves could use a few makeovers to make them feel less generic. Stuff like Mario’s up smash being the M&L Hammer counterattack, Link using attacks like the Mortal Draw and Back Slice, Kirby getting a slide, it’d just feel so much better to have all of these characters truly feel like the games they’re from.

    Diego Brando on February 27 |
  7. It was always to my understanding that characters with a significant following in the ballot, but not significant enough to warrant the effort of making an entirely new character, were made into Mii Fighter costumes. It would explain choices like Toad, Chrom, and MegaMan.EXE (as much as I would have loved even more representation of Battle Network, MegaMan.EXE would just be a taller Mega Man).

    Spiral on February 27 |
  8. I’d think the Smash Ballot really gave us great experiences and possibilities for Smash. Eventually it was my first time experiencing this event since I had no chance since Melee and Brawl, so it was quite exciting as it gave me hype for the future DLCs. Although I may be sad that none of my voted characters didn’t make it in DLC, I’m well happy to see Bayonetta being the “winner” of the Ballot, even I hardly use her because her controlling is too hard for me since I really suck at combo techniques. It’s strange…I really don’t know why I’m not so upset with this…probably because I wasn’t expecting anything at that time, which I might have knew none of my voted characters would be chosen in the end. But I do agree that the Ballot really lacked instructions and rules. Nobody knew how many characters would be chosen. Nobody knew if third parties were allowed. But even if they did added brief description to it, I wouldn’t think anybody would read it anyways because they’ll just add any non-video game characters like Goku and Shrek in there as they believe Smash is MUGEN, which is ultimately NOT of course.

    As PushDustIn, Smashchu, and Frostwraith said, I do agree that Iwata’s death might have affected the Ballot a lot, possibly changing the plans into a different direction. Maybe the ballot was planned to bring more than one character for the DLC, but changed to just only one instead. Possibly, maybe they were planning to have Iwata to choose which characters to be in Smash as the Ballot was meant to be a suggestion box and not a voting poll. But in the end, I think we’ll never know the truth behind the Ballot, as we have no idea how the Ballot really worked.

    It may be sad that the Ballot has ended as the hype is now over, but I don’t think everything on Smash is completely over. As I said before many times last year, the Ballot was meant to be a suggestion box, as it was officially written that “for the characters who weren’t chosen will be planned for the next project”. And from the Final Smash Direct, Bayonetta was known as first place, while they never explained the other characters who were place on second and further beyond. If the whole “Smash for NX” rumor is to be true as being a port or expansion, then they might use those characters from the Ballot for that game. It just make sense. Bayonetta’s inclusion may have been a main surprise for the final DLC, but they might be keeping the other Ballot nominees for the rumored NX game as another surprise. In other words, I think they’re telling us that we shouldn’t lose hope and keep predicting on the character we want to see, as there’s still more possibilities for the upcoming Smash, whether that’ll be a rumored expansion or port, or the 5th Smash that might be released several years later. Maybe there’s no such thing as “THE END” in Smash.

    In the end, Smash was full of unexpected surprises, and I do believe that’s what Smash is all about. The Ballot really gave us tons of hype and speculations on who’ll be joining Smash DLC, and honestly it was really fun to make so many predictions of many possibilities for those characters. Of course there were so many people who just gives misleading information and fake rumors of so many nonsense as they’re hyping irresponsibly, which those are something that we all shouldn’t be crediting on. But entirely, I really enjoyed this Ballot as it gave me great experiences, and I really thank Sakurai and Iwata for showing us many possibilities for Smash’s future.

    zoniken on February 27 |
  9. Because too many words:

    shane3x on February 28 |