What Poisons the Smash Bros. Roster?
As you may know, Nintendo recently had a Nintendo Direct broadcast dedicated to the new Smash Brothers games for 3DS and Wii U. Like a lot of people, I was extremely excited by what I saw and can't wait for the release of the new games. But the new info was accompanied by the usual fan gripes about the character roster.
I'm not here to complain about the fact that Sakurai excluded Waluigi again, or failed to announce Captain Falcon or Metaknight (although I do wish they'd all be included); and I'm not even here to complain about the bizarre characters like Little Mac, the Animal Crossing villager, and the Wii Fit Trainers that were added to the roster. I'm not necessarily upset with the idea of having to fight oddballs like the new Pokemon, Greninja, on the Smash Brothers battlefield. However, I am upset at the mere fact that the developers continue to throw minor league characters into the mix.
I'm not bothered by the strange and/or silly characters like R.O.B. and Mr. Game and Watch being in the game--if I don't like them, I shouldn't play as them, right? There's more to it than that. What bothers me is that they're in the game among so many heavy hitters. The whole concept of Super Smash Brothers is that it features Nintendo heroes and all stars, battling together in one arena. But that concept gets tainted when lesser known and forgotten characters show up just for the sake of novelty and surprise.
I've thought this since the beginning, in Smash Brothers 64. The original roster was an awesome mix of Nintendo's brightest and best: Mario, Link, Samus, Fox, even Pikachu. But then the secret characters came in. Luigi? Fine, that makes sense. Captain Falcon? Okay, I guess. F-Zero is a moderately successful game. Ness? ... What? Earthbound was a minor hit that hasn't seen a new game in ages. Jigglypuff? Okay, now you're just screwing with us.
Yes, complaining about the original Smash Brothers is an ancient conversation of days past--but it still applies today. The developers add characters simply because it's a cute idea and the players weren't expecting it. But then the rosters are stuck forever featuring obscure characters that most people don't even like or recognize--forever battling as equals with the greatest video game mascots of all time. It damages the purity of the franchise by diluting the line-up with spontaneous cameos. They should be just that: cameos. But nope, they're on the character select screen every time, forever. A permanent reference.
Again, the final product will be great and I don't actually mind playing against or with these characters. It's the weakening of the franchise itself that I bemoan. I love Animal Crossing immensely and will probably play with the villager as often as I played R.O.B. and the Ice Climbers (too often); but that doesn't mean I want them there. Years down the road, we'll look at the Smash Brothers games and feel great nostalgia and pride, but with a little shame for the percentage of the game that exists only as a gimmick--a throwback--a nod to a select few fans.
What do you think? Do you like the obscure fighters being in the game? Or should the roster stay pure? And what about non-Nintendo exclusive characters like Sonic and Snake? Should they be forbidden from fighting? Or do you think the more the merrier?