Up until now, all of the third party characters featured in the Super Smash Bros. series of games have been from Japanese developers. This makes sense, as Nintendo is a Japanese company whose closest ties in the industry are with other Japanese companies.That being said, the video game industry has steadily been advancing towards being a primarily Western driven market for many years now. I have already made cases for Western characters such as Lara Croft and Rayman, but I have thus far ignored some of the obvious giants in the video game world. One such company is Activision, and when combing through their IP stable for a possible Smash candidate, one stood out above all the rest: Spyro the Dragon. He’s not the purple dragon we all want, but maybe he’s the one we need.
Spyro might be small for a dragon, but don’t let his size fool you, for within that little body is a vast amount of power. Spyro is a headstrong but courageous young dragon with a myriad of magic abilities at his disposal that he uses in order to defend himself and all of dragon-kind. Originally from Artisan World, one of the five realms that form the Dragon Kingdom, Spryo’s adventures have taken him to the Skylands and beyond.
Spyro is the protagonist of the “Spyro the Dragon” franchise. This franchise consists of the Spyro the Dragon games, The Legend of Spyro, as well as various spinoffs. The series is also tangentially connected to the originators of the “toys to life” phenomenon, Skylanders. Spyro was originally used as the face of this series, and although his name was removed from the titles of subsequent games in the series, he still remains a prominent figure. When the upcoming Skylanders cartoon, Skylanders Academy, was revealed, Spyro (voiced by Mr. “I’m a Mac” himself Justin Long) was a showcase character. The purple dragon also plays a prominent role in IDW’s Skylanders comics. This is in part because of his being one of the figures with the highest numbers of variants.
The Spyro series has sold over 20 million units and consists of over a dozen games. This is not even taking into account the Skylanders series, which as of 2015 has sold over 175 million toys and earned over 3 billion in sales, making it a bigger money maker for Activision than Call of Duty.
Reasons for inclusion:
Spyro made his debut in 1998 in the appropriately titled Spyro the Dragon on the Playstation One. He quickly became one of the new faces of 3D platforming, and, along with Crash Bandicoot, served as Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s many platforming mascots. It is a widely believed misconceptions, however, that Spyro spent many years as a Sony exclusive. In 2001, just three years after the franchise debuted, Spyro made his first appearance on a Nintendo console with the Gameboy Advance exclusive Spyro: Seasons of Ice. Spyro has gone on to star in 10 different titles on Nintendo hardware, and this is without even considering Skylanders. He is the face of a very lucrative franchise (as, once again, the Spyro franchise sold over 20 million games), but it is the Skylanders franchise that keeps Spyro relevant in the eyes of younger gamers.
The original Skylanders game used Spyro as a bit of a trojan horse to lure gamers into a new gameplay world. The game was actually titled Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, and Spyro was featured heavily in the game’s marketing. While Spyro himself has been downplayed a bit in later installments of the series, he is still part of the game and is consistently included in various Skylanders merchandise such as cards and lunch boxes. This is in addition to the Spyro merchandise that exists from his own series.
Skylanders itself has very strong ties to Nintendo. While many third parties have shied away from Nintendo’s current platforms, Skylanders has consistently released on Wii U and 3DS. The 3DS versions of the games even have their own story that is separate from the console versions. More impressively, though, is that the franchise has actually crossed over with Nintendo IP in the past. Special edition Donkey Kong and Bowser Skylander figure/amiibo hybrids, known as Turbo Charge Donkey Kong and Hammer Slam Bowser respectively, were created and allow players to play as these Nintendo Icons in Skylanders: Super Chargers on the Wii U. These versions of the Nintendo heavyweights even appeared in the comic series that ties into the game.
Reasons for exclusion:
Spyro got his start on Sony hardware, and was even created by a studio that is somewhat synonymous with Sony in Insomniac. Many are quick to point out, in fact, that Spyro would likely feel more at home in a Sony All Star game than in Smash. That being said, Spyro did not stay a Sony-exclusive character long, and Cloud’s addition to Smash likely makes this a non-issue.
Another issue facing Spyro is the fact that he was created by a Western studio. As I have mentioned many times in my “Case For” articles, Diddy Kong is currently the only character on the roster to not have been created by Japanese developers. Nintendo does seem to currently have a good relationship with Activision, or with the branch of the company responsible for Skylanders at the very least. The Bowser and Donkey Kong figures are proof enough that Nintendo trusts the company with some of their most iconic characters, so it would make a certain amount of sense that Nintendo would be allowed to use one of theirs.
What is Smash Bros. without music? Here are a few tracks you can look forward to if Spyro makes it in.