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Filed under: Guest Article, 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, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

How Many Characters Could the Next Smash Have?

And with these numbers in mind, we will explore an interesting way to classify playable characters based on “Archetypes”. This can help to import characters from any game to Smash (or any fighting game for that matter) and it gives some tools to create movesets even for characters that don’t have movepools to choose from.

But again, as a disclaimer, this is pure speculation, based on informed opinions and naive hopes, and everything here is in the context of the exercise we started last time. Sometimes, I’ll ask you to follow my train of thought, despite some ideas may sound counterintuitive at points, but feel free to comment if you agree or disagree, I appreciate both interactions.

Fighting Archetypes

This concept is one of the pillars of the fighting game genre. It is because of this, every roster has different kind of characters to fit with everyone’s playstyle and facilitate balance. Without it, every character might feel and play similarly, archetypes also help to give personality to the characters, making them more distinct and appealing to the players.

Despite this, there is little literature about this topic (like the character analysis that you can find here, but it lack explanations). I’m not an expert on the topic, so if you know about the concrete theory behind this, I invite you to comment and expand our understanding and come up with better explanations.


Map of Archetypes, it’s a big map, so I’ll try to explain it in simple terms.

Basically, there are macro groups of characters, the basic division are those who are Offensive and those who are Defensive.

Offensive characters stand out by being oriented to dealing damage, for this we have 2 strategies based in different statistics, Speed and Strength:

Rush Down or Presure characters specialize in dealing damage quickly by focusing in attack constantly (Chokers), keeping their rival in the position they want to increase the damage (Sweetspotter), or pressuring the rival to maneuver to don’t get caught in their combos (Mix-up). This kind of characters tend to have poor defenses, so it’s important that their players keep the pace of the fight and never drop their guard.

Beat down characters, have more strength and are able to do large amounts of damage with less attacks, making them good for players that know how to capitalize in the error of their rivals. There are also “Charge” characters, that need to keep inputs pressed for more time in order to attack heavily, like the “Smash Attacks” with varying degrees of armor.

In other hand, Defensive characters, as their name says, stand out by having the ability to endure damage and last longer in the fight, for this we have 3 strategies, based in Range, Defenses, and Armor.

Zoner characters endure the fight by repelling their enemy, using high maneuverability to attack and retreat (Pokers), using long range projectiles to deal cheap damage (Snipers), setting up traps in the arena to keep their rival watching their steps, (Trappers) or using counterattacks and moves that grant them the chance to run away of their rivals attacks (Turtles)

Grappler characters have the ability to keep their enemies close and endure weak attacks to give them the chance to grab them for heavy damage (True Grapplers), or not literally grabbing them but keeping them in position to deliver punishment (Semi Grapplers)

The Slow Powerhouses have the highest amount of strength and defenses, giving them the edge over frail rivals when they miss their attacks, but they are the slowest, so they have to rely in their armored moves to deal heavy damage without flinching when they are being directly attacked.

Between the offensive and defensive characters we have the Balanced characters, who sometimes have a mixture of moves of other archetypes, making them good for newcomers and great for players that can play around the other archetypes weaknesses.

Lastly but not less important, we have Special characters, who have different abilities, like being able to stay and move easily in the air for more time, and being more effective in it (Aerials), others have the ability to control another character, it might be a duplicate of themselves or a simpler drone, granting them an advantage, but if they lost it, became weaker than a normal character. (Puppeteers), in other hand, there are characters that can buff some stats, normally they are weak balanced characters, but with their momentary buffs, can become stronger, faster or harder (Power Up Users), or have really good moves that can be used a certain number of times before they run out (Ammo Users), and finally, there are some that can transform their movesets or stats to become the character the player needs in the moment (Stance Changers).

In the end, there are three interesting points about this topic to keep in mind: first, in modern fighting games characters don’t completely belong into just one archetype, especially in the Super Smash Bros series because all the characters share their button commands, and need “kill moves”, so a character that can rack up a lot of cheap damage but can’t connect a deadly blow won’t work and will be unbalanced. Second, because it’s “preferred” that characters represent their canonical appearances and moves, it becomes hard for some of them because their large moveset options or the lack of them, so assign them a “representative archetype” could make easier to give them a moveset that work in their context. And third, having archetypes help a lot to balance the game, because some archetypes are effective against others while being weak to other ones.  

Over the next few articles, I’ll take the time to explain this distribution of characters and the possible composition of every single group! So buckle up, the ride will be long…over 10,000 words long!

Until next time.


Table of Characters


Table of Playable Characters in alphabetical order, grouped by “Family”. A: Pokémon Trainer is counted as Ivysaur, Squirtle and Charizard. B: the Miis are counted as one character. Bayonetta is included in the “New Wave” group due to her partial distribution ownership by Nintendo.

You can follow Voyager on Twitter! Stay tuned for the next part of this article!

  1. I don’t think Fire Emblem at 7 characters is unrealistic, just that other franchises will get more. Though maybe instead of a newcomer, they could just declone Lucina. FE has a lot more characters to pick from than other Nintendo franchises, and all of them are suited for Smash due to the nature of them being warriors of some sort. The problem isn’t that FE has too many, but that the other, equally as important franchises, like Metroid and Zelda didn’t get any new characters.

    BlitzMaster9000 on August 6 |
    • That’s correct, FE has at this point over 50 different lords and protagonists that could be in Smash. that’s why is important to examine them in order to choose the ones that represent well their franchise. I’ll explore that in the next chapters. and for just 5 instead of 7, it’s to focus in the essential ones, but yeah, in the future we might get even over 7 as this is one of the new Flagship Franchises.
      Thanks for commenting.

      • And almost all of them are not important anymore. They’re one-hit-wonders with a few exceptions.

        Arthur 97 on August 7 |
  2. I would like to thanks Push and the whole Source Gaming editorial team for helping me with this series of articles. Also to BluePikmin for the data that will be use in the next chapters. You guys are the real MVP of this article.

  3. Who knows? There might be 100 characters, or maybe even just 16.

    Bob on August 6 |
    • That’s why this is just an hypothesis. still, I believe that this is a viable option to predict the growth of some franchises, maybe not all of them will get new character (or get cuts for that matter). But for me, it’s a “safer” bet than say that we will get over 100 or get down to 30. In the end, I know that might be almost impossible to sustain this growth trend for the future installments, but I have a blast researching and writing it.

      • When you think about it, some of the series have earned the amount of representatives that people don’t comprehend. The Director would always consider on as to whether or not certain franchises deserve that amount of characters as playable fighters. Fans criticized Sakurai for “bias” towards the Fire Emblem series even though it was the rest of the development staff that picked Corrin for promotional reasons (And even Sakurai was concerned about this issue).

        Some franchises (such as F-Zero and Mother) have always had 1-2 characters due to low sales, falling in terms of popularity, or being obscure while popular franchises (such as Pokemon and Legend of Zelda) are likely to receive 5 or more characters. Some Franchises earned extra characters (Kid Icarus, Star Fox, Fire Emblem) due to either adding clone characters in their spare time or the franchise(s) is growing in popularity. Wolf, Jigglypuff, Roy and Ganondorf were characters that are likely to have never been added in the Smash games that they initially appeared in if the developers had no free time before the release. Even the Mario series was put on a limit, for Sakurai was afraid of overshadowing the game with Mario characters and making it feel like that it’s just another Mario Spin-off game (he even considers Donkey Kong as a Mario character).

        Franchises such as Metroid are likely to receive 1-2 characters probably because they don’t have as much unique characters as fans think the series does. The only characters that I see that have returned in Metroid were Ridley and Sylux, with the former being rejected several times while the latter appearing in only a few games with more obscurity than some of the one-shot characters in Other M. It could be possible that Sylux could make an entry if he has a growing popularity.

        Think about it this way, if Marvel decided to make a Super Smash Bros. style party game, who do you think they’re gonna add? If they think of “go with their most popular characters” idea instead of “try and promote the next upcoming comic/movie” they would have to pick characters from the most popular of the comic book series (Spider-Man, X-Men, etc.) down to the some-what obscure (Guardians of the Galaxy). Some characters that have branched off from the original series that they came from (Hawkeye and Black Widow from Iron Man, Punisher from Spider-Man, Deadpool from X-Men, etc.) will have to count for their original series (Like how Wario, Yoshi, and Donkey Kong counts as part of the Mario series in Sakurai’s eyes) to avoid making it feel like it would be another Spider-Man or X-Men game and would have to avoid adding characters that were intended to promote another product (Like Roy, Corrin and, to some people at a certain extent, 3rd Party characters).

        As stated in one of SG’s articles about Japan, the internet tends to magnify everything. We all assumed that King K. Rool would get in through the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot even though it never said that the highest voted character would get in (The same could also be said for Al Gore’s campaign. Highest voted, never promoted). Characters such as Toad, Daisy, and Waluigi were begged for by the fans to be put in despite the fact that it would’ve put too much representation towards the Mario series at the time.

        The best thing about trying to predict these things is figuring out how accurate you are. I was able to predict Robin’s entry just fine (since I’ve always considered him as the protagonist of Fire Emblem: Awakening rather then Chrom) along with Pac-Man and Mega Man but was never able to guess that Palutena would get in (due to my own self-made “No Gods” Rule because they seem too OP).

        Also you might want to consider the pre-DLC final roster before considering the DLC characters. They were just added for fan-service. We could possible end up with 59-75 characters in the next game’s final roster (pre-DLC, that is).

        Bob on August 7 |
        • Thanks for the great comment. When I decide to show my hypothesis I was expecting even some ill intentioned comments. But the possibility of a “peer review” is more important. The more opinions we could get, the better predictions we could make.

          There is a big shadow of uncertainty when one is predicting something, because there are a lot of factors that have to be considered: Growth trends, Game Popularity, Character viability, Marketing Opportunities, Possible Overrepresentation, Development Capabilities, and so on. So for this first part hypothesis I just factored the growth trend and “visible” popularity because they are the easiest to figure out.

          The final number, as 70, is considering possible DLC, because of the character distribution. for me 70 would be a great final number, but it easily could be shattered down to accommodate development time and resources, marketing meddling, and the hardships to work with 3rd parties.

          In the next chapters I will explore the characters themselves, and I’m sure that we might disagree in a lot of the things I will say. But as I said you before; For me, that’s the idea, to create the chance to talk about it and daydream about it, because in the end the only one who really knows it’s Sakurai himself.

        • “Fans criticized Sakurai for “bias” towards the Fire Emblem series even though it was the rest of the development staff that picked Corrin for promotional reasons (And even Sakurai was concerned about this issue).”

          And yet he went and did it anyway. Fire Emblem was already overrepped in Smash before Corrin anyway because of Roy.

          “Franchises such as Metroid are likely to receive 1-2 characters probably because they don’t have as much unique characters as fans think the series does.”

          While I’m against the idea of putting in one-off characters, Sakurai did exactly that with Kid Icarus and Fire Emblem, I don’t think it’s fair to pretend like Metroid doesn’t have potential.

          MagcargoMan on August 11 |
  4. It’s not about how many characters should get in, it’s about how many NEWCOMERS should get in.

    Meanwhile, ALL of the veterans should return! From SSB64 to SSB4. Even Dr. Mario (as part of a Mario set):

    Either that or an alternate costume.

    2071Johnny on August 7 |
    • Well… until now in every game past melee we have lost characters. So no everyone has its spot secured.
      In the next chapters I’ll explore the Dr.Mario situation, as well of almost every character that could get cut or get in.
      That Mario idea is really good, a little hard to implement for balancing issues, but it would be cool if we could get “custom normals-smashes”
      Thanks for commenting

  5. This article is absolutely fascinating. I understand that it’s just a math experiment, but I love math anyway, so this is right up my alley. There are quite a few ways to approach looking at this, and I really appreciate the depths you took in analyzing things. Were Smash to grow on a straight-line, the next roster would indeed overly favor the series which already have several fighters in it already, so the idea to break it down and re-adjust it by series was a good idea. I’m sincerely looking forward to the next few articles to see you break this down even further.

    Also, just to clear something up; when you say “New Wave”, you’re referring to characters from games that were more recently released and original characters such as Shulk and the Mii Fighters, correct?

    Spiral on August 8 |
    • Thanks! =)
      For the Retro and New wave characters I arbitrarily set 3D as the limit. before the N64= Retro, post N64= New Wave… it’s really arbitrarily but it seems to work to separate them.

  6. Interesting that the math predicts around seventy characters; my latest roster (wishlist, not prediction) has 65. To be honest though I think we’ve reached the point where Smash’s roster count won’t increase significantly. It takes a lot of time to make a lot of characters and I don’t think you could get 70 in one game without having a lot of clones or directly importing most characters directly from the previous game.

    To be honest I don’t think most of the series will get multiple newcomers. Zelda, Metroid and DK got completely ignored in Smash 4, so I’d find it hard to believe Zelda would jump from five to seven in one game or that DK would get two. I think it’s much more likely that both would only get a single newcomer.

    Given that Pokemon always has a high amount of reps in Smash compared to other series I think it’d have about six characters rather than five. I think Fire Emblem might dial it back to four after the backlash of having the second-most characters in Smash 4 (tied with Pokemon). And I don’t think we’ll get a Kirby newcomer unless Sakurai isn’t directing the game since he tends to ignore Kirby games he didn’t make. And maybe there might be a few less third-parties at launch (four or five, seven seems a bit much).

    Other than that,I agree with most of it. I can definitely see F-Zero getting a new rep, Mother staying the same size and Star Fox having three again. At first I thought that new-wave and retro were too big but I realise characters like Little Mac fall under retro and someone like Isaac would be new-wave.

    Just my opinions though. I can see you put a lot of work into this and the math behind it so it’s pretty impressive that you went and did this. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    MagcargoMan on August 11 |
  7. Thanks for commenting, I really put a lot of work in this, and in the end I even presented my own Roster, just alternatives.
    I made some moves to set up a open debate, like the low amount of Pokemon and Fire Emblem characters (without bad intentions)
    Yeah, in the next articles you will get more answers about groups and other ideas…
    I’m glad for the good reception, even with the people that disagree, it really easy to transform an opinion in a salt war, and everyone here get the idea that this is just for exploring ideas and not imposing them.

    • You’re welcome. You put a lot of effort in so you deserve feedback. When I made that comment I didn’t even notice this article had a second page! The work you’ve put into this is some amazing dedication.

      You made your own roster? Is it in one of the articles or is it posted elsewhere? I’d like to see it.

      Also just a heads-up, on this and the other article where I commented your post is a separate post rather than a direct reply by accident. Just thought you should know.

      MagcargoMan on August 12 |
  8. Thanks, the feedback that I received in this series is heartwarming, a lot of people commenting and giving their polite opinions, I believe that aside of some “baits”, everyone has been really cool.

    No, I haven’t shared my own roster, I misspelled my answer (I’m not a native English speaker, so sometimes I misspell, and translate my ideas can get hard… but I’m working on it…)

    I think I’ll share my own roster soon. I want to do other articles first, for example an “Errata” article in which I would like to explore some of the hits and misses of the article, also a more insightful view about the Archetypes

    Yeah, I noticed that about my replies… but there isn’t anything that I can do about it x.x, thanks for noticing.