The Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct on August 8th gave gaming fans a healthy amount of previously unannounced information about the upcoming mascot-fighter. (By the way, what is up with Nintendo’s sky-high production on these character reveal videos? Who wouldn’t watch entire episodes of that?)
There’s a ton to sift through, and fans will be happy to sift. The biggest headlines, along with notable updates, are as follows:
- Castlevania’s Simon Belmont and echo fighter Richter Belmont announced, along with corresponding Castlevania stage
- Donkey Kong’s original 16-bit nemesis King K. Rool finally announced as a playable character
- Echo fighters Dark Samus and Chrom join the roster
- A new and classic single-player mode announced
- New play modes announced, including 3v3 and 5v5 “Squad Strike” Mode, new tournament mode with expanded options, character select screen changes, Final Smash bars, improved Stamina Mode, Training Mode updates, and so much more
- The showcasing of over 100 unique stages, as well as over 900 compositions of music
Plus, there were announcements regarding a litany of new assist trophy characters from across the gaming universe, new items, and lots of other odds and ends which were all discussed during Nintendo’s presentation. Even as a bulleted list, that synopsis is long!
So after all that, you may be asking yourself, “Okay, so what’s left?”
Good question. Nintendo said more info is coming. And while there are only a finite amount of announcements feasibly left, there’s actually plenty of stuff you can glean from what we know already, as well as from what’s been done in the series’ past.
(Fair warning: literally anything is possible with future Smash announcements. Highly educated guesses could be torn to pieces with an out-of-the-blue press release or something totally unprecedented. I am not claiming to have front-line access to Smash Bros. development. That said, this is the realistic landscape at present.)
What The Confirmed Stages Might Tell Us
There's an otherworldly amount of stages in Smash Bros. Ultimate. As stated above, there are 103 before you even factor in the gameplay variations.
If you’re keeping track at home, and I know a select few of you are, these are the only stages from all other Smash Bros. games that apparently won’t appear in Ultimate:
- Flat Zone
- Flat Zone 2
- Icicle Mountain
- Jungle Hijinxs
- Mushroom Kingdom Melee
- Mushroomy Kingdom 1-2
- Mute City Melee
- Orbital Gate Assault
- Planet Zebes
- Poke Floats
- Rainbow Road
- Rumble Falls
- Sector Z
- Woolly World
Here's what the stage menu looks like so far:
Besides endless variety, what can we take away from this? Mainly that from a UI perspective, the scope for more stages is arguably limited.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking right now: “But Alan! They could just make the screen even smaller! Or create a paginated menu!”
Well, yes, they could. Heck, the stage select could’ve just been a mockup made for display purposes. Nintendo could, in fact, announce even more stages (that would’ve required considerable more development time than the team probably had), bringing the total up a teensy bit higher.
All that to say, it’s simply more likely that those things aren’t true. Given the geometric rigidness of the stage menu as presented in the direct (and on the new website), plus the frank logic of development resources, there’s simply a better chance that this is it, for now.
And if that holds true, that also means that unless a brand new character doesn’t also bring with them a corresponding multiplayer stage (unprecedented in Smash history), that means that any already-developed new fighter has to come from the stages already present in the game.
So Which New Characters Are Still To Come?
Say a fictional or non-fictional entity out loud. Go ahead. Literally whatever you just said has already been suggested by somebody for Smash Bros. But there are far better ways to venture an educated guess.
For instance, before Dark Samus’ announcement in the most recent direct, sharp-eyed fans noticed that Samus’ “Dark Samus” costume was no longer selectable in the E3 demo. The Dark Samus assist trophy was also thus far absent from the demo. Given Samus’ nemesis Ridley was front in centre during the game’s blowout reveal at E3, combined with the concurrent in-development status of a major Metroid title (Metroid Prime 4), Dark Samus became a logical, educated guess. And then she was announced.
Yes, there are other examples like this one.
Here’s the most logical one: the “graduation” of recent Mii Fighter costumes. Originally conceived as a sort of “runner-up” consolation prize to several of the characters who (purportedly) finished behind Bayonetta in the Smash ballot survey, many people understandably feel most of the newest characters previously being costumes can’t be coincidental:
So who is left from the costume list (who aren’t also assist trophies, for reasons I’ll explain soon)?
- Akira (Virtua Fighter)
- Black Knight (Fire Emblem)
- Chocobo (Final Fantasy)
- Geno (Super Mario RPG)
- Gil (The Tower of Druaga)
- Heihachi (Tekken)
- Hunter (Monster Hunter)
- Jacky Bryant (Virtua Fighter)
- Lloyd Irving (Tales of Symphonia)
- Tails (Sonic the Hedgehog)
- Viridi (Kid Icarus)
Given the supplemental manner in which the Monster Hunter and fighting game characters from this list were used to regale other announcements at the time, the most reasonable names left are Lloyd Irving (Tales of Symphonia), Viridi (Kid Icarus), Geno (Super Mario RPG), and Tails (Sonic the Hedgehog 2).
Lloyd seems like a stretch and has no proper stage. Viridi? Uh, maybe? Geno is perpetually suggested but seems likely to have been announced by now if he was planned for Ultimate on release, as he technically does not have his own stage. (Though with his neverending rumoured status, who can know for sure?) That mostly leaves Tails.
Here’s some related trivia: Tails already exists in the background of the Sonic the Hedgehog stage. However, so did King Dedede in an original Kirby stage, and Toon Link is removed from The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks stage when you select him to fight, so anything is technically possible. Are you a Captain Toad fan? The above logic is about your only hope, seeing as Captain Toad appears in the background of the new New Donk City stage.
What other clues do we have? There are some assist trophies that might tell us something, as well as items. Let me unpack them.
Of previous Pokeball item characters and previous assist trophies, the only ones that have made the jump to being playable characters are Little Mac, Dark Samus and Charizard. Working backwards from there in order to show there’s a bit of a graduation precedent here, some characters (such as Knuckles and Zero) now have officially been “promoted” from Mii costume to assist trophy.
So which assist trophies from previous Smash games have not yet been shown?
- Barbara (Daigasso! Band Brothers)
- Isabelle (Animal Crossing)
- Shadow the Hedgehog (Sonic)
- Skull Kid (Zelda)
- Tingle (Zelda)
Perhaps not coincidentally, Skull Kid, Barbara and Isabelle were also Mii costumes. To line things up even more, all of these characters already have stages in their universes.
Now, this list in and of itself doesn’t prove anything. In the June Nintendo Direct, series director Sakurai promised 50 plus assist trophies and more Pokeball items than have yet been shown. It’s reasonable that some of the above characters could exist in the remainder. Or they might not.
Here’s one more thing. While it’s worth stressing that Nintendo Life would never, ever report an unsubstantiated rumour as fact, that isn’t going to stop me from doing it.
Back in May of this year, a user on the popular gaming forum GameFAQ made an unsubstantiated claim that they had advance knowledge of future Smash announcements.
Their totally baseless claims at the time? That Ridley and Simon Belmont were going to be announced in a staggered fashion, beginning at E3. They also then claimed that all characters from Smash Bros. 4 were going to be included on the roster, as well as the Ice Climbers. Later on, supposedly the very same poster stated that Snake would also return. What else was included among their strongly worded claims? This mystery person seemed absolutely certain Isabelle would be a playable character.
Verifying totally random posts online is a fool’s errand, and I’m not going to start now. But you’ve got to admit, even without these uncanny predictions, the case for Isabelle is strong, given the loose traces.
What About Single-Player?
Nintendo teased the above image, pixelation and all, regarding another mode yet to come. What’s going on here? Twitter user @noctulescent has probably the most convincing piece of evidence:
Read the thread to see how they did it, but the claim is that, at least for this image, the pixilated word that’s censored is “Spirits”. What the heck does “spirits” mean? Well, seeing that both Mario and Luigi have been strongly suggested to have flat out died in back-to-back Nintendo Directs, the most logical conclusion is that there could be some element of death (or playing from beyond the dead) in whatever the new Smash Bros. one-player mode is.
Also, why do I think the pixilated menu option has to do with single-player specifically? Well, every last single-player mode in Smash history has a green button. It’s that simple.
There is also the strong possibility that the single-player mode could be related to some sort of boss mode (similar to how players fought Ridley in recent Smash games), given how Monster Hunter dragon Rathalos was announced as both an assist trophy and a “boss”. Also, Castlevania antagonist Dracula also exuded some type of “boss-like” gameplay during the Castlevania stage reveal. There’s something here.
There’s still a decent amount left to know about Smash Bros. before it launches. (Hello? We still know next to nothing about how it’ll play online!) Plenty more items will be showcased (come to me, home-run bat…), though I don’t predict we will see any more stages.
If there really are no more stages, I predict this means the most logical multi-million selling Nintendo title to have zero representation in Smash Bros., ARMS, will be relegated to eventual DLC. If, in fact, Smash Bros. Ultimate began development relatively concurrently to the system’s first wave of games, this only strengthens the likelihood that they may have needed more time (Splatoon did).
If you were to absolutely press me for which logical character announcements are to come between now and December, based on everything I’ve said above and using additional logic from past series decisions, I would guess this:
- Dixie Kong
- A generation 7 Pokémon
Animal Crossing desperately needs more representation given how popular the series is (including the mobile title), and Isabelle is the most teased candidate. Tails and Dixie Kong would be the most logical echo fighters, especially Dixie Kong, considering the strong tell by announcing King K. Rool, not to mention the success of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze on Switch. In addition, not having a playable, new generation Pokémon representative would be unprecedented for the fighting series. And to reiterate, I don’t foresee any new third-party franchises represented before launch (though never say “never”). Tingle and Shadow I think are less likely than what I listed, but still totally possible as a new fighter and a shadow character, respectively.
What about Waluigi?!
Nintendo seemed completely caught off guard by the groundswell of Waluigi support during E3. You may forget this fact after all the online memes, but he was already shown in Ultimate as an assist trophy! It is completely possible Nintendo is acting dumb. But if they aren’t (and who knows, right?), taking into account the needed development time and presuming he wasn’t given top development priority, that does not bode well for Waluigi’s immediate inclusion into Smash, only a likely eventual one, ala Ridley. Therefore, I predict both Springman from ARMS and Waluigi to join the fight as DLC, in due time. It’s hard to imagine Arms won’t be represented in this game, whether it’s sooner or later.
Finally, when might we get some more official announcements? The game launches in early December, so I’d bet on only one (two at a push) more Directs between now and then. A drip campaign might be possible, but as we recently all experienced, Nintendo definitely loves their big, celebratory announcements.
What do you think? Is this all a bunch of horse hockey? Do you agree with Alan? Who and what do you want to see announced for Smash Bros.?
Special thanks to Smashboards contributor Kyle “Thinkaman’ Brockman for some key insights into writing this feature.