Accurate portrayals, in my Smash Bros? Ha, barely.

Far too often you’re faced with a service people who are simply far too headstrong in their own view and opinion, preventing the maximised customer satisfaction. This is a problem with the creative fields that will always be there, mostly because of the human nature. This leads to situations where the ends and means of the provider are set first and the customer and his needs wants are left as a secondary thoughts. You’ll see this happening a lot with people who have a some sort of high status in their field, like James Cameron or Miyamoto.

Sometimes the customer does fight back and often the service provider will argue against them. This is inherently normal and endorsing discussion to open further possibilities the customer had no thought beforehand is something that doesn’t happen too often. However, when the service provider throws a hissy fit, a temper tantrum and proclaims his vision as the only solution and how it cannot be modified, adapted or changed to meet the ends better, the image of the provider will be tarnished and further co-operations may become uncertain. Attacking your customers with your own bias and views is almost suicidal, especially if you work for someone else and are representing your employer.

Incidentally, this is sort of thing gamers have been facing from the gaming press for the three last months. It’s almost universal.

In game design, there are multiple points where the customer wants can be met, like inclusion of certain characters or character archetypes. Forcing the developers’ own decisions over the wanted content is something that should always be carefully thought out, as this means the game has content the consumer may not want at all. For example, there are few RPGs out there that essentially force a level of romance on the player character, despite some of the players not giving a damn about this sort of dating simulator stuff. Sometimes content may be cut for many reasons, but seeing how many games see a complete shift in tone, structure and even in genre, we can blame incoherent origins of the project. Well made plan is half the victory, after all. It saves both money, time and resources. Still, in reality there are variables that may kick in and can bust even the most well thought plan.

Super Smash Bros. For Console X has been in the news with its release, and Sakurai has come out as a selfish man his interviews as of late, calling the customers as children and how they do not understand whatever they are criticising him about. As much as he creates negative promotion for the game and the company he represents, blind fandom has not stopped Smash Bros. selling like hotcakes. Then again, reading the more objective experiences with the software has convinced me enough that the series has become stale on its own rights. It’s also laughable that Sakurai in past criticised other Nintendo employees for reusing resources from past titles in their new productions, but Super Smash Bros. For Console X does just that.

It’s better to disregard what Sakurai says and concentrate what he does or doesn’t do.

Smash Bros. fandom has a set of people who have been wanting to see Ridley from Metroid as a playable character for some time now. Consumers been discussing how he could be implemented into the series to a large extent, even to the point of some making mock-ups. Actually, Ridley has been successfully modded into Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Sakurai’s reasoning for not including Ridley as a boss character are as follows; Ridley is too large in silhouette size and changing that would mean he would not be an accurate portrayal of the character, and Ridley could break the game balance. These are, of course, bullshit reasons to no end. Let’s see how accurately some of the Smash Bros. contestants have been portrayed.

What Sakurai could mean with accurate portrayal is how they are portrayed in their modern iconic look. Almost all the characters in Smash Bros. have seen changes in their looks throughout the years, and the handful of characters that still retain their original design have been amped up and pumped up. If the characters were portrayed accurately, Mario and Luigi would have no denim texture on their overalls. Both would also smile more in the game, like in the original Smash Bros., and the fire they use would look far more cartoony. Their Final Smashes are also completely out of the blue, having no consistency with past portrayals of the characters.

With the Zelda entries, the characters have more or less followed the latest iteration of the series and thus their redesigns have reflected that. That’s all good and dandy, but then you have to remember that Zelda has not been Shiek in any other main game but Ocarina of Time. If the portrayal would be accurate, the design this Zelda would have should reflect the Ocarina version of herself, which it doesn’t.

Then you have Ganondorf, who has been a clone of Captain Falcon since the beginning, thus having an incorrect portrayal how he fights. In the original Zelda, Ganon warps around and has magic shot at Link. In A Link to the Past, he warps around, shoots magical fire with the help of his trident, jumps to collapse parts of the battle field, uses magical firebirds and other tricks. None of these are seen in Smash Bros. In Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf initially just floats around and shoots magic, soon to be transformed into Ganon and wields two swords. Wind Waker’s edition of old man Ganondorf similarly uses two swords, but this time has sort emphasized dual wielding style with them. Twilight Princess Ganondorf has a roaming boar form, which later can be seen as his Final Smash, and yet the final battle is a sword fight. Hell, initial Ganondorf entry in Melee was more modelled after the Space World 2000 demo where we see Ganondorf with his then-iconic sword fighting Link. There is ample of stuff Sakurai and his team could do with Ganondorf to make him far more interesting, unique and accurate portrayal. Ganondorf is one of the most inaccurate portrayal in the whole series.

I’ve spoken before how Mega Man’s portrayal is absolutely inaccurate, so I won’t go into that any further. However, I will add that if Sakurai wanted to make an iconic Mega Man, he would most likely have used how CAPCOM has been portraying him since 1995 with high influence from Hayato Kaji’s Mega Man 8 designs a year later. However, Mega Man 9 and 10 were throwbacks to late NES Mega Man design style, so it would have been more applicable to portray him in that fashion. The best middle ground of these two design would have been Ryuji Higurashi depictions in Rockman Complete Works 1,3 and 6. Incidentally, he was also the illustrator in 9, but as mentioned, due to the throwback nature of the games his own visual flavour is far more toned down. Higurashi clearly has professional blood coursing through his veins. Thus, one can argue that Mega Man has no one iconic portrayal and is recognisable with any redesign as long as it follows the silhouette. However, this would not be accurate and Smash Mega Man is halluva far from being an accurate portrayal of any version of Classic Mega Man. I won’t go into attacks, as that would make this post unnaturally long.

With almost every entry we could rip their portrayals open, less so with characters that are from newer games. Saying Smash Bros. characters have been developed with the aim of character accuracy is on the same level as feverish babble. I have no wishes to start looking any more deeply into these characters, as its not worth spending my time on it.

As we’ve seen, Sakurai’s statement how they want to stay true to the character portrayal is all kinds of craps. It can’t be even sad that they want to portray the characters from the latest games, there are slew of characters that simply don’t do that. It is apparent that Sakurai wants to portray the characters as he sees them in his own mind. The size excuse is weak as we all know sizes in Smash Bros. mean nothing. Comparatively, none of the characters are correct sizes with each other outside few human characters, and even the you have the likes of Mario and Luigi screwing up things. It’s more applicable to say that all these characters have similar height function as Evangelions, where they change their size according to the needs of the scene.

Originally, Ridley was about a head higher than Samus in Metroid. From there on, his size has been varied wildly from game to game. Hell, Ridley and Mecha Ridley in Zero Mission are different sizes and that’s within one game. If the explanation for that size difference is because of his rebuilding, then what keeps Ridley from being smaller? One could even give a proper reasoning for this in-universe by saying how the Space Pirates have managed to miniaturise their power sources while adding more power. Or just follow the NES line; make him slightly larger than Samus and limited flight while keeping his modern design. Voilá, problem solved and Ridley keeps his portrayal intact. You can even stick with the NES and Zero Mission portrayal of his attacks to limit his flight, rather than use Other M or Prime series attacks.

Then again, Sakamoto would most likely pull the plug if they’d begin to handle Ridley in a proper manner.

7 thoughts on “Accurate portrayals, in my Smash Bros? Ha, barely.

  1. All these characters are the heroes in their own games or important characters for a reason. Portraying them as they were in universe for smash would end up in a broken game beyond anything the world has ever seen. Sakurai just likes to lie and deceive his fans, kinda bugs me. I don;’t get surprised when I see it I just think he is terrible at marketing.

    1. Smash games have always been unbalanced, sometimes to an unhealthy extent where tournaments see one stage with one character only, and furthermore power levels fluctuate with each of the characters from game to game to some extent. Certain constants apply, thou even these can change, e.g. Luigi’s jumping power and speed. As these characters only have an iconic representation, power levels matter very little. One could go to the extent to say that power levels don’t matter, because its video games. Look at the CAPCOM’s VS. games, where power level depictions are all over the place, but characters still end up being rather well represented. Except the likes of Phoenix Wright, but MvC games never went for “character accuracy” but for fun.
      Sakurai’s PR skills are extremely low, but he gets away from this simply because he is treated like a rock superstar and that’s just awful. He should have been stopped from shoving Dark Pitt into the game to boot.

      1. My only qualm with chucking characters in as the slight tweak clones they are is this is a smash bros game with the possibility of DLC. The advent of DLC and patches means no game is ever finished when it gets out the door, there isn’t a last rush to make some quick roster fillers, they could have been fully fledged characters of their own, his attitude is at time deplorable.

        1. Clones are not inherently bad as long as they are treated properly. For example, Mario and Luigi are clone characters, but can stand on their own due to their differences. Same applies to larger extent Ryu and Ken, where they began as palette swaps of each other, until they were developed further and ultimately became different characters using the same starting point. However, the likes of Ganondorf, Lucario, Pichu, Young/Toon Link and Dark Pitt are not well handled as they are merely statistical changes to pre-existing moves. Dark Pitt even less so, seeing how Sakurai does favour his franchises over others, and could have been a reskin with said statistic changes. There is zero reasons for him to be a separate, unique entry. To use Mewtwo as the initial DLC character is not well thought out, as he is one of the originals in Melee. Rather, he should have been included into a ‘Veterans Return!’ set or similar. I have slight bias for Mewtwo, as he was my main in Melee. Nevertheless, just replacing him with more popular character just shows how little Sakurai’s team actually cared to developed a fully fledged original movelist for Lucario.

          No product is ever ready, this is how things just are. It’s sad to see how modern games are released with more game breaking bugs and save corrupting errors than in the past because deadlines are tight and the developers simply think they can fix these issues later. It would be good for them to realize that once the news of these unfinished elements begin to circulate the Internet, nobody will purchase the software before the patch has been issued. They might have as well delayed the product and properly finish for better reputation and customer satisfaction. Fighting game DLC is highly problematic, especially after how CAPCOM handled their SFxT DLC. It would be safe to say that these characters were not simply finished all the way, and that the gaming press made the whole deal far more negative that it really was. Then again, most companies do deliver Day 1 DLC on disc, which is just as, if not even more, deplorable as Sakurai’s attitude towards the customers.

          1. Well Mario & Luigi started as palette swap brothers and grew apart as the games went by, Smash bros sort of reflected that which was kinda nice. As far as I am concerned, veterans in the main release are the priority over new characters, Mewtwo before Lucina or Dark Pit.

            Fighting game DLC is admittedly hard to please people with as there will always be people who dislike it, yet I still believe making your approach open and considerate is a good approach. I am fine with a character as DLC because they’d have no time to make it within the release date and it would be delayed, I DO have issue with mad pricing for a character though.

            1. I agree that certain, iconic veterans should always get precedence over newcomers. However, we can always ask whether or not certain characters apply to this. For example, we expect to see Kyo Kusanagi in every KOF game, but we don’t often expect certain newcomers to return unless they have gained a high popularity. Sometimes longtime veterans are omitted in favour of new faces, like with Goro Daimon in KOF 99 – KOF2000, thou he does make a cameo as a Striker. Whether or not Mewtwo had high enough popularity in Smash over Lucina and FE: Awakening’s ‘new game’ status can be questioned, but I agree that I would have rather seen him in over Dark Pitt or Lucario.
              It’s not unheard of a fighting game to do a complete roster rehaul, par few exceptions. Mark of the Wolves has Terry Bogard as the only returning veteran, while some of the characters shared similar movesets to past characters. Street Fighter III was originally supposed to have no old characters, but fans pressured Ryu and Ken in, after which few selected veterans were added later on. However, SFIII characters themselves have no achieved a level of cult status themselves. Whether or not roster rehaul is a good idea is up to debate, but it can’t be denied that adding new playable characters are always welcome to a series, as long as they are not clones or similar.

      2. I don’t give an damn how old this is. This is purely DISGUSTING. Ridley can easily be put into Smash if his giant size issue wasn’t an problem.

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