The Top Ten Most Anticipated Characters in Smash Bros. 4
Without a doubt, the wait for each new Super Smash Bros. entry can be exhausting. The series, spearheaded by Masahiro Sakurai, features several all-star characters across Nintendo games (and a very select amount of third-party games) in each title, leaving fans speculating between games––and hoping beyond hope that this time, their favorite characters might be represented.
Although Sakurai is fairly notorious for his capriciousness, sometimes there is good reason to predict certain characters. And other times, you just have to throw caution to the wind and pray, fingers crossed, eyes shut tight, for Geno to finally be included. This list is an amalgam of both; it is a massive chunk of opinionated speculation, and should by no means be taken as a serious prediction list. So please don't send me death threats if I get your hopes up.
First appearance: Pac-Man (1980)
I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m not particularly excited about the prospect of Pac-Man in a Smash game. Sure, he’s a familiar face––practically a legend––from the days of arcade gaming, and he’s consistently been around for over three decades, but he just doesn’t seem... viable. Half the time, he’s missing arms and legs (lest ye forget the character design originated as an incomplete pizza), and the rest of the time I can’t begin to imagine what he needs those lanky arms for. Still, Pac-Man earns a spot as this list’s runner-up because he’s a shoe-in for third-party representation; although Sakurai explicitly announced that he wouldn’t be giving Namco Bandai any special treatment for their development partnership, it’s hard to imagine that the company’s most iconic character and franchise wouldn’t find his way into the game.
#10: Dixie Kong
First appearance: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (1995)
I know, I know. It’s no secret that a large portion of the fanbase believes that if any Donkey Kong character should be in Smash Bros. 4, it's King K. Rool. Regardless, the addition of Dixie Kong as a main character in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, one of Nintendo’s biggest demonstrations at E3, leads me to believe that if a new Donkey Kong character is revealed for the next Smash, it’ll be Diddy’s blond-haired girlfriend (monkeyfriend?). Dixie has been a long-time staple of both the Donkey Kong and the Mario spin-off series, having starred in two games before Princess Peach had even one. With her absurdly powerful ponytail-based skills, which include gliding and picking up barrels (the same barrels that require the full attention of Donkey Kong’s back muscles), I have no doubt that Dixie Kong will find a suitable spot in the next Smash Bros. roster.
#9: Little Mac
First appearance: Punch-Out!! (1984)
When Sakurai announced that he would be doing his best to revive old franchises, the 4’8” boxer was immediately revisited by many a sleuthing fan. Little Mac, star of the Punch-Out!! franchise, is not only a relic from an older gaming generation––the first entry was released in 1984––but he’s also a great example of a recently resurrected protagonist. Punch-Out!! was re-released on the Wii in 2009, the first entry published in the series in over a decade. In addition to Little Mac’s inclusion as an Assist Trophy in Brawl, it’s clear that the series is being pushed out of the grave by some sort of agenda of Nintendo’s devising. As for Little Mac himself: the last boss in Punch-Out!! was none other than Mike Tyson, and provided the player had some skill, Little Mac came out on top. I suspect he’ll fit in just fine in Smash.
First appearance: Fire Emblem: Awakening (2012)
No surprises here, really. I'm predicting that they keep Marth as the ambassador of the first Fire Emblem and Ike as the ambassador of the first modern Fire Emblem game on a home console, and add Chrom to the list as the latest and greatest ambassador. I will note that Chrom’s game, Fire Emblem: Awakening, was intended to be a last-ditch effort to revive the series, and it did so with flying colors; for that reason alone, I’m sure Intelligent Systems probably values this protagonist a little bit more than some of its other ones. In my opinion, Sakurai would get the best mileage out of Chrom if he ended up being as unlike his predecessors as much as possible, and––dare I say it––used a lance. Though all of the Fire Emblem Lords are typically capable of using more than one weapon, they have categorically been represented in Smash with swords. I know it’d be silly to ask for a Falchion-less Chrom, but I definitely wouldn’t mind him pulling out some auxiliary weapons with his special moves.
I’d also like to note that I wouldn’t at all mind Chrom’s daughter Lucina as a second ambassador from Awakening either, but I doubt the likelihood of a fourth Fire Emblem character. Instead, I’m hoping against all odds that she might receive a cameo as one of Marth’s skins.
First appearance: Kid Icarus (1986)
This one’s a little more up in the air (no pun intended). Palutena, whose name is a sort of portmanteau of the Greek goddess Pallas Athena, is in-game the Goddess of Light, ruler of Angel Land, and the patron deity of Pit. In Kid Icarus: Uprising, the first entry in the series in roughly two decades, she takes on a complicated role: two parts mentor, one part comic relief, and one part damsel-in-distress; as such, although she is absolutely instrumental to the game as a whole, we never really get a chance to see her in action. Nevertheless, like Punch-Out!!, Kid Icarus is another example of a recently revived classic series, and by none other than Masahiro Sakurai himself. It stands to reason that in addition to Pit's new and improved moveset, the franchise might use another representative from the game, and who better to come into the spotlight this time than Pit’s previous Final Smash? A case might be made for Magnus, a sort of deuteragonist of the game, but I think I’m more eager for the goddess to make her combat début; in any event, if Smash Bros. is lacking in one thing, it’s female characters––Brawl had four including Nana, excluding Jigglypuff––and the staff-wielding Palutena would be a great move in the right direction.
#6: Paper Mario
First appearance: Paper Mario (2000)
Paper Mario definitely ranks among the least likely characters on this list, but since another character addition from the Mario franchise is all but inevitable, I’m staying optimistic. No worries about the character being a clone, like Dr. Mario was––Paper Mario’s been around long enough as a separate franchise, with four games over the course of a decade, that he’s developed more than enough of his own moves. He’s been using the totally unrepresented hammer in his moveset for even longer than Paper Mario itself (since Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars in 1997), and he has dozens of completely usable partners to throw, including a Bob-omb and a Koopa. Even the overlap between fanbases is fairly different––despite the two less traditional latter entries, the series has become popular as an RPG saga, and Paper Mario appeals to many gamers that regular Mario simply doesn’t. It sounds silly, but Paper Mario isn’t just a gimmicky skin; he’s his own character, and he’d be perfect for the next Smash.
First appearance: Pokémon Red and Blue (1996)
Between Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl, four characters were cut, but the most devastating loss for the fanbase was arguably Mewtwo. Dr. Mario was inherently similar to Mario, Roy to Marth, and Pichu to Pikachu, but Mewtwo was undeniably his own character. Since his removal, fans have been clamoring for the Psychic-type legendary Pokémon, and Smash 4 is the perfect opportunity for the prodigal son’s return. The game comes riding on the coattails of Pokémon X & Y’s release later this year, which features a new form of Mewtwo (Mewthree? Newtwo?). The latest form also recently appeared to steal the show of the most recent Pokémon movie, appropriately titled ExtremeSpeed Genesect: Mewtwo Awakens, which is as good an indicator as any that he’s at least one of this generation’s flagship Pokémon. Even Sakurai announced, when pressed about the character, that he's thinking about it. The time for Mewtwo’s homecoming is right; like he did in Melee, he’ll fit right in on Smash 4’s roster, equipped with a new and improved moveset––perhaps including the ability to change forms.
First appearance: Golden Sun (2001)
Here comes another stretch, but I promise this one’s within reason. Golden Sun, one of Nintendo’s newer and fresher IPs, has seen three games released in the past decade to critical acclaim and fantastic sales. And all on Nintendo handhelds, to boot––if ever there was a serious contender for a handheld ambassador to cater to the 3DS version of Smash 4, Golden Sun’s Isaac would be it. The sword-wielding silent protagonist is an ideal match for the all-star battle royale: in fact, he and the battlefield have already met, when he was an Assist Trophy in Brawl, and his sorcery-like Psynergy rocked the stage. With a huge assortment of physical and mental attacks in his games, Isaac could easily be one of the most creative entries to the next Smash, and I’m sure plenty of fans would have no trouble draining both their wallets and their tear ducts at his announcement.
First appearance: Metroid (1986)
Let's face it: you knew Ridley was coming. The truth is, I can’t imagine a character prediction list for the next Smash game without the Metroid villain. First of all, and this is a strong first, he’s a dragon, an alien, a Space Pirate, and the reason behind Samus's Batman-like past. Seriously, what’s not to like? His moveset writes itself: general consensus dictates that if you have a fire-breathing pterodactyl monster with lethal talons and a spiked tail under your control, you’re off to a good start. Not to mention the plethora of options that come into existence once you throw Metroid Prime’s Meta Ridley into the mix. Both versions of Ridley, in fact, were featured in the Subspace Emissary of Brawl; and hacked data indicates that Ridley was planned to be in the game as an Assist Trophy. Finally, Samus has been alone as the sole Metroid representative since the very first Smash Bros., and while that fits into the soloistic nature of the franchise’s theme, it makes less sense given the all-star nature of the fighting game. If Kid Icarus is getting a second character, Samus deserves her archnemesis, and it's about time the alien dragon officially joined the fray.
First appearance: Xenoblade Chronicles (2010)
Cards on the table, this is the Holy Grail, the Hail Mary pass, the third-party character prediction for Smash Bros. 4. Shulk might not be as iconic as Pac-Man, but his eponymous sword was responsible for creating some legendary hype, complete with the creation of a massive localization effort called Operation Rainfall, dozens of awards, and successful sales internationally. Considering developer Monolith Soft’s storied partnership with Nintendo which includes, among other things, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and the fact that the Wii exclusive’s sequel, X, is slated to be a huge Wii U console-seller, I think this character might just have the potential to make it all the way to Smash. It goes without saying that I’d gladly welcome any non-Riki character from the brilliant cast of Xenoblade Chronicles (can anyone say it’s Reyn time?), but Shulk’s got a lot going in his favor beyond simple main character magic. In addition to regular short-range sword skills, Shulk can activate the Xenoblade, called the Monado in-game, to unleash more than half a dozen longer-range sword skills and buffs. There are a lot of reasonable candidates for the limited and highly-contested third-party character slots, but if only for the sake of having a badass half-sword, half-lightsaber in the game, my vote’s riding on Shulk.
It has been brought to my intention that contrary to my hasty research and long-held beliefs about life, Xenoblade Chronicles is in fact a first-party Nintendo game, much in the same vein as Pokémon and Paper Mario. I apologize for the error, which I am keeping intact as a testament to my hubris.
First appearance: Wii (2006)
…said no one ever.
The truth is, I can’t fathom why anybody would want the user caricatures in the mix as a battle competitor. We’ve already got the Animal Crossing Villager representing a user avatar, and the Wii Fit Trainer as a Wii ambassador––in both regards, the Mii is totally redundant. Sure, your Mii might be slightly more physically customizable, but how many unique animations will he get? And what moves can he even come out with that are cool? At the end of the day, that's what's missing: the Mii just doesn't seem as cool as the rest of the all-star roster. But Sakurai does what Sakurai wants, and in an interview with Kotaku, he may have hinted at the inclusion of a Mii: “You can have your own personalized character that you'll then be able to … play.” In addition, a “leak” that accurately predicted the Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, and Mega Man before their announcement at E3 also tipped off Gematsu with three other characters: Pac-Man, Little Mac, and your Mii. Speculation on the source’s legitimacy aside, it’s clear that the Mii is one of the more predicted characters for Smash 4’s roster, and personally, that gets me kind of down.
But that's not how I want to end this, so let’s try this again:
#1 (really): Ganon
First appearance: The Legend of Zelda (1986)
Ganondorf has been a constant member of the Smash Bros. franchise since his entrance in Melee over a decade ago. So why is a reprisal of one of the series mainstays my most desired new character for Smash 4? Simple: we need a better one. I know the character as we know it has fans that I’d hate to offend, but I think it’s time we all admit that Ganondorf as a slower, bulkier Captain Falcon clone just isn’t cutting it. Not only are clones basically the ultimate way to bog down a roster, but the character also hasn't been combat-ready––not everyone subscribes to tier lists, but the fact that Ganondorf has consistently been bottom-tier, typically dead last, in every single Brawl tier list that the Smash Boards community has compiled should indicate something. And remember, this isn’t any old trident-wielding, shapeshifting, pig-like embodiment of pure evil and hatred; he’s our trident-wielding, shapeshifting, pig-like embodiment of pure evil and hatred, having appeared in some form as the primary antagonist of no less than ten Zelda entries and ranked as one of the best villains in video game history several times by multiple publications. Honestly, the least that Sakurai could do to give Ganondorf the recognition he deserves is to provide him with a unique moveset, separate from the totally irrelevant Captain Falcon's. And who knows? Maybe this incarnation of Ganon might finally put that trident––and Triforce––to good use.
Disagree with anything in this list, or have a character to propose that I left out? Feel free to leave it in the comments!