Smash Bros’ Character Additions and Why I Don’t Care

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Nintendo’s Venerable Fighter is Getting Updates Post-E3

 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of months, you undoubtedly heard about the E3 conference. Nintendo came out swinging at the start, announcing two new characters set to be added to the Wii U and 3DS versions of Super Smash Bros.

More fighters is always a good thing but, for some reason, I just can’t bring myself to care.

 

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Who They Are

So apart from Mewtwo and Lucas (who were announced previously), the next additions are set to include one character from a third-party franchise and a returning combatant.

Ryu, from another long-standing fighter series, Street Fighter, is going to make his Super Smash Bros debut. Although the two games are somewhat incompatible, Ryu’s special moves will, more than likely, make the transition to Smash Bros‘ open style of combat well. As someone who fell out of the Street Fighter camp at an early age, this announcement already didn’t wow me.

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Our second entrant, the returning fighter, is Roy. From the Fire Emblem series, Roy made his debut back in Melee before being hastily dropped in Brawl. As Nintendo pruned clone characters, either by deletion or differentiation, Roy simply didn’t make the cut.

Now that the series has landed on Wii U/3DS and decided cloned characters aren’t such a bad idea, Roy makes his return? I’m just not buying it.

 

Mewtwo

In fairness, I was excited to hear that Mewtwo was making his return to the Smash Bros franchise. He was one of my favourite characters in Melee and his exclusive from Brawl left a sour taste in my mouth. Naturally, upon his release, I dusted off my copy of Super Smash Bros for Wii U and jumped right into the eShop.

Super Smash Bros Mewtwo

Mewtwo is about the same as he was in Melee. Which is good, I suppose. We were clamouring for his Melee iteration. The issue I have is that is all we got. Movement, abilities, attacks. He’s nearly identical to his 2001 counterpart. No improvements or innovations.

In the end, Mewtwo feels much like a character who’s out-of-place. Because his design was made with Melee‘s physics and character balance in mind, Mewtwo just feels awkward and unusual to play.

Competition and Repeat Play

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Lastly, the partitioning out of content like this is something that creates peaks of interest every few months. I guess in the hope that the wave can be ridden between DLC releases. In contrast to a heap of DLC shortly after release to keep prolonged interest high.

Fortunately, in fighting games, new characters are often enough to get players back into the game – if they’re ones that owners care about. My question, however, is how long the resurgence of interest lasts. Smash Bros Wii U had much of the unlockables already unlocked and no adventure mode a la Subspace Emissary. Therefore, the single player options were limited.

To me, so much of a fighting game’s replayability is hinged on the ability to get better. Sure you can play with some friends but ultimately how long you spend on the game comes down to the potential for improvement and what that means. Esports and competitive titles cultivate this atmosphere and allow for perpetual playthrough. Take MOBAs, for instance. We play League to pit our skills against other people, learn how to improve, all to pit our skills against more people and win.

The accessibility of a game’s competitive scene plays a pivotal role in this. How prolific a game’s eSports scene is, can increase the allure of this. Mostly because, on some level, we’re attracted to the possibility that, should we improve enough, we could be a part of it. We know, obviously, that the likelihood is minimal but we can live vicariously while striving that for impossible dream.

 

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In lieu of a thriving eSports scene, a competitively social atmosphere would make a fine substitute. Again, something to let us flex our muscles and improve. Super Smash Bros, however, has neither. The online mode is too unstable to successfully mirror the offline mode.

Sure I can play to practice for the sake of getting better. But without anyone to beat, practice is irrelevant; and so I can’t find a reason I would pick up Super Smash Bros despite go-faster-stripes in the form of new characters.

I surely wouldn’t mind playing them if they were free; and I might even give them a try for five minutes. But, given five minutes is as long as I’d play them for, I can’t see myself forking out $15 for the three characters.

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