Among fans who discuss and obsess over Super Smash Bros there are two distinct camps: the competitive players who focus on tournaments, and the speculators, who mull over what the next game will be like. It is the latter camp that myself and many other Source Gaming members fall into. Those who speculate thrive on information. Thanks to the diligent work of PushDustin, Soma, SutaMen, Nocturnal_YL and the other translators, we have more and better information. We have greater insight into the mind of Sakurai and what he considers for inclusion in Super Smash Brothers. Perhaps we are tooting our horn a bit much here, but allow me to explain how Source Gaming’s work has forever changed how we think about upcoming Super Smash Bros. games.
First I should make it clear that Super Smash Bros. and its community are unique. Surprisingly, cross-over titles are not very popular. Marvel vs Capcom, one of the biggest cross-over series (across franchises? Gaming?), has struggled to sell over 1 million units. Marvel vs Capcom 3 only sold 1.2 million despite fan demand for a new title and the fact that Capcom fighting games were in a bit of a golden age with the success of Street Fighter 4. Many other cross over titles, such as Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, have also failed to make a name for themselves and typically underperforming in the sales department. Despite having plethoras of iconic characters, these games just can’t reach the height of Super Smash Bros.
Super Smash Bros. has been a blow-out success since the original’s release on the Nintendo 64. The series has benefited from the unique and fun concept along with the popularity of Nintendo’s IPs. As a result, Super Smash Bros. has built up a huge community of fans who are eager to talk about every minute aspect of the game. Because Super Smash Bros. is based, namely, around Nintendo’s Intellectual Properties, Super Smash Bros. fans are familiar with the characters and have an idea of possible newcomers who could be in the game.
Since the release of Super Smash Bros. Melee, the internet has grown by leaps and bounds. Sites like SmashBoards and GameFAQs, giving fans outlets to discuss the series. With Super Smash Bros. Melee releasing soon after Super Smash Bros. and the internet still being relatively new, Super Smash Bros. Brawl was the first game where a plethora of speculation occurred. At that time, there were no preconceived rules. Any character could be in for virtually any reason. No one had any idea of who would be in, so speculating was more cheerleading than thought on who could logically be included. In many ways it was the wild west of Super Smash Bros. discussion. After Super Smash Bros. Brawl, fan-made rules began to develop on who could or couldn’t be in. The community tried its best to better guess which characters would be included, but in the end, fans were way off again.
Series creator Masahiro Sakurai seemed to change his stance on certain issues, such as including Villager in Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS while not including him in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. With the newest title, everyone thought they figured out Sakurai’s reasoning,
Then and Now
So why are we so often wrong about who gets into Super Smash Bros.? On one hand, there is a huge bias towards certain characters. This is unavoidable as discussing Super Smash Bros. is a hobby rather than a profession. Fans often circle around a character they like and prop up how important they are. They create reasons why their favorite is a shoo-in; however, not many fans look at the character’s chances objectively. They see the character how they want to see them. Sakurai, however, takes a different approach. While he, too, his reasons are far more complex and extend beyond “I like this character”. He makes it his goal is to create a roster that appeals to the general majority of gamers.
Consider characters like Ashley or Skull Kid. These characters have extremely passionate fans, and they have given plenty of reasons why their character would be a perfect fit in Super Smash Bros. But would these characters every be added to Super Smash Bros.? These characters tend to appeal to a smaller subset of dedicated fans, and the majority of players may not know who they are or really care for them. Of course, Sakurai recognizes this, and he often tries to include these characters in some form, like as assist trophies. Our biases cloud our judgement, so we may miss the mark on these niche characters.
Another issue is a lack information. Sakurai has spoken much about Super Smash Bros., however, fans in the western world don’t have easy access to what Sakurai has said as it’s in his natural language of Japanese. There have been some translations of Sakurai’s work but there have been numerous instances of mistranslations, leading to misunderstanding within the community. That said, most websites and communities have people who are proficient in Japanese.
This is where Source Gaming has helped. Because the site has a large staff of translators, and work is often double and triple checked, we provide more accurate information than the less through translations that was available before. As a result, the site has made a ton of revelations, such as Takamaru being considered for Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U and Geno being considered for the newest title and for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. But it’s not just specifics on characters. It’s also about how Sakurai choses characters. Often, Sakurai gives specific details, but there is a lot we have inferred. The translations have also provided snippets of what Sakurai is thinking when he choses characters. We have a better understanding of the process for how characters are chosen. Essentially, we are not starting off our speculation from nothing.
Of course, Source Gaming can not take all the credit. There have been other sites working on translations as well as other people who bring their skills and knowledge as well. Dataminers, for instance, have delved into the game’s code and have discovered different characters and content planned for the game, such as the possibility of a Rhythm Heaven character being planned for Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS. There have also been “profession speculators,” Youtube personalities that have tried to understand Sakurai’s reason, such as Relax Alax. Then, perhaps Source Gaming is but a piece of a larger phenomenon within the Super Smash Bros. community. Technology and communication have evolved greatly since Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Will We Be Right?
So I wonder, then, will we actually be right for once? And the answer to that is maybe. After two games, we have a better understanding of how Sakurai picks characters. We have a better understanding of his thoughts through translations and, of course, seeing who he picks and who he doesn’t. That said, Sakurai will always throw a curveball. When showing Wii Fit Trainer, he mentioned no one expected this character. Cloud was also a complete surprise. But there are plenty of characters in Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS, such as Rosalina and Villager, that we should have saw coming. So in that respect, I think those of us who speculate will do a bit better, but you never really know.
Only time will tell what really happens. Source Gaming will remain at the forefront of Super Smash Bros. speculation. By the time the next game is announced, we’ll have more translations and more information. So hopefully, we’ll be right for once, but you never know.