Well, here we go again. Nintendo just had to go and announce a new Smash game… and that means we are in the midst of a brand new Smash Bros. Hype Cycle™. As always, this hype cycle feeds off of fan speculation in regards to which characters will duke it out in the newest edition of Nintendo’s All Star extravaganza. This tends to lead to fans frantically calling for characters from whatever series recently had games release on Nintendo hardware. Hey, I get it, us video game fans tend to have pretty short memories. With that in mind, many of these choices do have merit. Today I want to talk about a long-running and very successful video game franchise that has had no real history with Nintendo until recently: The Elder Scrolls. More specifically, I want to look at the character of the Dovahkiin from the best selling entry in the series, Skyrim.
The Dovahkiin, or “dragon born” in the tongue of dragons, is a mortal warrior born with the soul of a dragon. While most depictions of the Dovahkiin are of a male nord, the true shape of this intrepid adventurer is unknown, and he or she may be one of any of Tamriel’s many races. Brandishing a wide variety of magic abilities, weapons, and the immensely powerful dragon shout, the dragon born might be the only thing in all of existence that is capable of ending the threat of Alduin the world destroyer once and for all.
The Dovahkiin is the title given to the player’s avatar character in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The Elder Scrolls series, dating back to the 1994 MS-DOS title The Elder Scrolls: Arena, is one of the longest-running and most prolific Western RPGs on the market. While the series only consists of 5 main entries, most entries see multiple expansions and recent entries have been ported to a multitude of systems. Skyrim itself has appeared on multiple Xbox and Playstation hardware. More notable for Smash fans is the 2017 Switch port of the game, a version that was heavily focused on by Nintendo during the initial Switch reveal.
The series itself is still a focus for Bethesda. The Elder Scrolls Online is an MMO that is still receiving support, and the Switch version as well as a VR variant of Skyrim were released in 2017, ensuring that the game is fresh in the mind of gamers. On top of that, it was announced in E3 2016 that a new Elder Scrolls game was in development, although no further details for the title have been revealed as of the writing of this article.
Reasons for inclusion: Bethesda and Nintendo seem to have a very good relationship since the Switch launched. Skyrim was amongst the first major third-party games announced for the system, and the title even implemented Amiibo functionality that allows players to dress up their character using items from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This sort of exclusive content is somewhat noteworthy, as Nintendo does not allow every company to benefit from it. Let us remember that Shovel Knight never received a Nintendo exclusive boss, after all. In addition to Skyrim, Nintendo received ports of both Doom and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, two triple A current gen titles.
Sales are not the most important factor for a characters inclusion, but great sales are certainly a point in a characters favor. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has sold over 30 million units, making it a mega blockbuster. The Elder Scrolls series as a whole has sold over 52 million copies. This is an impressive number. To give this some context, out of the existing third parties in Smash, only Final Fantasy and Sonic the Hedgehog can be considered better selling franchises.
The Elder Scrolls series is also noteworthy for being one of the first noteworthy Western RPGs to find itself on home consoles. Prior to the series breaking through, the genre was largely seen as the domain of PC gaming. Every game in the series since The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind debuted on Xbox in 2002 has had a version on PlayStation and Xbox hardware (the online game notwithstanding). It is the success of these games that arguably laid the groundwork for games like the Witcher III to flourish.
Reasons for exclusion:
The Elder Scrolls is not associated with Nintendo hardware. This is not an issue for inclusion in itself, especially since the game and character HAVE appeared on Nintendo hardware, but it may affect the character’s popularity and is something to be considered. More important is the relationship between Nintendo and Bethesda. While the two are currently cozy partners, they do not have a particularly long or illustrious partnership. It seems more likely that Nintendo and Sakurai would reach out to long time partners for such a flagship title.
As always, it should be mentioned that Diddy Kong is currently the only character in the game developed by a Western company. As this is the case, Western third parties always fight an uphill battle. Still, this seems like a rule that will just be around until it is finally broken. The Dovahkiin must also compete for his spot with other Elder Scrolls or Bethesda reps. This seems like a minor problem since he is largely recognizable and doesn’t have the rating issues a Doom Marine would have. He does, however, suffer from “avatar” syndrome. Skyrim is a game that gives players so many choices that it would be hard to create a character in a fighting game that would feel similar enough to what your character might be like on any given playthrough.
What is Smash Bros. without music? Here are a few tracks you can look forward to if Dovahkiin makes it in.