In fighting games you often see characters that resemble each other to a large degree. Street Fighter has the best examples; Ryu, Ken, Gouki, Sakura and Gouken all remind each other but all have their own visual design, tactics and approach to the gameplay. Ken did begin as a clone character of Ryu, back when mirror matches did not exist. However, as time went on and game development evolved in itself, the need for clone characters became smaller. The want for clone characters became even smaller, as the customer expects each and every character to be a wholesome deal without bogging it down with duplicate characters with slightly different variations.
As mentioned, Ken began as a clone character and evolved to be the more flashy and multi-hitting uppercut user he is nowadays. He shares the same starting point with Ryu, but is an example how to branch the character into another direction. We’ll have to see what the hell CAPCOM has done to the characters in USFIV Omega Edition, but that’s another topic. You could say that Ken does Ryu’s don’ts in the philosophy of the moves and actions to certain degree.
The same applies with Mario and Luigi in Smash Bros. series. The two mirror Ryu and Ken very well in that they share certain traits, but have differences in their actions. With time, these differences have been emphasized further. Making characters like this is surprisingly time consuming as it involves developing new sprite/model to the characters and tweaking their gameplay so that it may resemble each other, but ultimately are different.
Then you have actual clone characters, which use the same damn model and movesets, just with slight variations to the properties to the moves. These lazy clones are there to effectively save working hours and resources. Even then, these hours could always be used to balance existing elements of the game, troubleshoot bugs and fix broken stuff. Often it is said that a clone character takes a slot from other, more fleshed out characters, but in actuality they’re characters that didn’t get enough development time or the staff needed to meet certain character count.
To make it short, lazy clone characters are the sign of rushed development.
With the release of Super Smash Bros. for console X, a name that still is stupid as all hell, the players soon found out that three characters being essentially clones of pre-existing characters. I would include Toon Link to the group, and to some extent, Ganondorf as well, but the latter has seen a large extension of Kenification. Falco, however, is still just a clone of Falco, and we all remember how much we loved to see yet another clone of Fox in Brawl. You could say, that all in all there’s about seven clone characters in Smash Bros. for console X, and that’s just awful. In addition, Robin has two models dedicated to him, one male and one female. Add one more if you regard Lucario a clone of Mewtwo, rather than a replacement.
However, any and all developers have never truly commented on clone characters in their games. Often these clones get fleshed out in further instalments in a series, as the developers get more time to work on the product, but seeing how this is the fourth damn game in the series, they had no excuses to make clones.
Surprisingly, Sakurai actually came out to confront the given criticism and called his customers as children.
We’ve seen before how little Sakurai cares for the customer, and this is just further showcase the condescending attitude Nintendo seems to have towards their customers. They’re all happy and smiling when they’re presenting their products, but ultimately scoff of any given criticism. Comparing the characters as a dessert is highly inaccurate as well. More apt comparison would be having a luxurious soup with the best ingredients there is, but then you find blocks of flour and flies in there.
Sakurai even asks to leave him the character selection, as it carries all the monetary issues with it. All the customers can say is No. If you have no time to finish proper characters, then concentrate on ironing out the bugs and make the game a more finalised product. The customer is the god you serve, the customer pays your salary. Make sure you please the customer. The users have voiced what characters they would like to see in the games, but Sakurai’s favouritism and bias takes better of him.
All this reeks of Sorry, didn’t have enough time to finish the game, please understand. There’s other things that hint at this. Melee was a complete and utter overhaul in every regards to the original, and Brawl was more or less saw similar overhauls in every regard. Smash Bros. for Console X looks like it’s a Brawl 1.2, as pretty much all of visual assets were just brought over and tweaked. Brawl’s menu system was quite bad and the designs didn’t really serve their purpose as well as Melee’s, and Smash Bros. for Console X continues using Braw’s assets in this regard. It’s just as lazy as using clones to fatten the roster.
Sakurai shows the worst traits a service provider can in his response to clones. He doesn’t give a damn about the customer, unless there are people who he himself finds interesting. He doesn’t give a damn about the opinion the paying customer has and selfishly calls them children.
I he was serving that luxurious meal and would have this same attitude, he would be thrown out from the restaurant at high speed while the customer would get what he wants for free. Looking down on the customers doesn’t fly in any service business, and it can only flourish in an industry where the service providers are worshipped and elevated on a status that is supposedly above criticism. This is, of course, false. Rather than treating Sakurai as some sort of genius, customers and press should treat him more like the waiter or the cook who is there to prepare the dish we pay for.