*I got the Melee secret character order wrong. It’s by win unlock criteria, not by the order they were shown on the Melee website. Sorry about that!
In the recent E3 Nintendo Direct, Masahiro Sakurai showed off something really neat – character numbers. The characters are given numbers based on when they debut in Smash. Characters like Mario, Donkey Kong, Link and Samus are all before Ganondorf and Peach as the latter two appeared in Melee while the former four premiered with the first game. Peach and Bowser were both shown in the introduction to Melee but since Peach came before Bowser in the movie, her number is slightly lower.
Lastly, the clone characters – “echo characters” are always after the characters they were based on. In Japanese, the term is “dash characters” to refer to the literal dash that Sakurai has put after the numbers in Japanese (in English they use the greek epsilon symbol). Therefore, even though Dark Pit made his debut a game later than Pit, they are both 28.
An example of the numbering system shown in the direct.
To review here are the ‘rules’ of the character numbers:
- Characters are ordered by the game they premiered with.
- Characters are then ordered by their debut to the public (if they were in the same trailer or video it’s by the order they were shown in that trailer).
- Echo characters are always after the characters they are based on.
- Smash 64 and Melee have some unique rules.
So why is Sheik before Zelda? Because Sheik appeared in the opening sequence of Melee before Zelda.
Character numbers were unofficially part of the game for a long time. The victory chants for the fighters and the emblem data in the game were semi-grouped around this, and the stage selection in Smash for 3DS and Wii U was largely influenced by when series actual debuted in Smash.
Sakurai is very into history and small details like this. For example, at one point he just casually lists developers born in 1970 in an interview he had with Nomura.
The numbers don’t tell us much about the game’s development or how the characters were prioritized. For example, it’s reasonable to assume that Duck Hunt was finished before Bowser Jr. This is due to Bowser Jr. nearly getting cut in Smash for 3DS and Wii U .
The only relatively special order is numbers 1~12, the original fighters in the first game. 1~8 are the starting roster with the last four being the unlockable fighters. One would expect Jigglypuff to be #9 based on the rules [as she’s usually the first unlockable], but she’s actually #12! What gives? Also, how was the order of the original 8 decided? Well…it actually follows the original CSS, which followed the order in which their series debut. The secret characters follow the same order but in the box outside of the 8.
The E3 Demo CSS with the numbered character order.
…It’s a nice reminder for all of us for when the characters entered our hearts.
*The secret Melee characters follow their K.O. unlock order, not their announcement on the Japanese Melee website!
You can find an archived and translated version of the Melee Dojo right here.
The numbers are going to be a big focus of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as it is a good way of showing the history of Super Smash Bros. The CSS from the demo reflects this as characters are now listed in debut order rather than series order like in all prior games except the first. Hope you enjoy this article. Remember to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with news about Smash.
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