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.

Sakurai, please don’t be this stupid

According to Polygon and their Famitsu team, Sakurai made Mega Man to be 8-bit Mega Man in Smash Bros. in order to present the character. What he fails to realize that he didn’t make a presentation of the character, but the game mechanics that work on NES Mega Man games. See, he sees that expressionless Mega Man that is rigid and of ‘unrealistic proportions’ as he puts it present Mega Man as a character best. So, he is making a character that we’re used to see making expressions in official artwork (and in later games as soon as the graphics department allowed) expressionless and just takes the gameplay and calls that character?

I call humongous amounts of bullshit on this.

We’re going to get back to that, but now I to talk about why he doesn’t know Marvel Vs CAPCOM. He keeps saying that he doesn’t want his Mega Man to punch and kick and then still gives him the Uppercut. See, MvC is what some people would classify as a tournament fighter as opposed to Smash Bros. party fighter. Party fighters can have completely free range of rules as long as people would be enjoying themselves. Tournament fighters usually stick to a very rigid set of rules that is needed to follow and characters are build and balanced around that. As such, of course Mega Man would punch and kick in a game where every-single-other character punches and kicks. Then we check his Special Moves and hello what we have here! He has his sliding from Mega Man 3, Mega Buster is given to a normal attack button, he can call Eddy for Special Weapons like Tornado Hold, he can summon Rush and turn him into a Drill Tank, he can call Beat to help in plane form and can become Hyper Mega Man, a Mazinger Z/ Mega Man hybrid. So no, Mega Man does not just punch and kick. The use of Special Weapons, especially Tornado Hold, is vital. I wonder if Sakurai just forgets that CAPCOM fighting games have more than basic moves. He might as well say that Godzilla only breathes fire when it’s actually nuclear blasts, and Godzilla does bite, claw, body slams, tail whips and flies as well.

So, let’s get back to original bit, the presentation.

“It’s all in an effort to present the character.”

Don’t bullshit me, Sakurai. I want you, the reader, to realize how stupid this is and I’m going to repeat myself here again; presenting character does equal presenting the game play of the game character appears in. If he sees that the Variable Weapon System is the most defining character of Mega Man, then why haven’t we seen that? Does he think that powers define characters like twelve year old Naruto fans think? If so, then make the player able to defeat the other players, and with every defeated foe Mega Man would gain this character’s power to the end of the match. But that’s just silly and unbalanced, so we could make it so that as player defeats other characters, he could choose what four Special Weapons he uses from hem. But that’s funny, that would take effort and would make Mega Man completely unique character that player would need to work more on. It’s not like they could just add customization option to all characters with unique properties to balance things out, right?

How does Final Fantasy VII’s gameplay represent Cloud Strife? None, that’s how. Otherwise all FFVII characters would have the exact same presentation.

If Sakurai wanted to present Mega Man rather NES games, he would have approached Mega Man almost completely different. I agree that the best way to use his Special Weapons is to give him pre-set weapons from across the series. After all, he should be able to use Robot Master weapons only. However, Mega Man expressing character even in the NES games. Look at Rockman’s title screen and you see him smiling. Mega Man 2 ending shows him melancholic after Wily’s defeat, and leaves his helmet on a field. Rockman 3 sees him determined in the title screen, and in the ending he looks up to the sky, puzzled by Proto Man. Mega Man 4 starts with introduction where we see Rock’s transformation from household robot to a super fighting robot and his through this his sense for justice. Mega Man 5 gives a worried Mega Man as Dr. Light is kidnapped. Mega Man 6 doesn’t have anything outside the norm because the game’s not that good anyway, but Mega Man 7 gives more angry Mega Man, and 8 just blows the damn lid off and gives us every range of emotion the comics, guides and manuals have been telling us for the last ten years at that time. Are you saying that what presents Mega Man as a character best is how he PLAYS in the NES games? If you are, then please in the name all that is holy stop working and go to local Super Tamade! and as for a job there.
Powered Up!mega-man[1]mega-man-clasico[1]mega_man_classic_character_sheet_mega_man[1]282459-megaman_large[1]347554[1]Classic_Mega_Man[1]Sakurai, do you see that strange thing on their face that we call an expression? Mega Man has loads of it. It’s in the eyes and subtle changes how he smiles of frowns. He isn’t realistic in any of these, he is cartoony like the Mighty Atom/ Astro Boy. He has changed through the years in appearance and yet he has the character. What you are presenting in Smash Bros. is not character of Mega Man, but how technical game play of NES Mega Man functions in Smash Bros. setting. If you’re saying that game play is his character, then his character is that of the player and how he chooses to play him. This doesn’t just apply to Mega Man then, it applies to every game ever, where the player is directly controlling the character. The player decides that the playable avatar’s character is now timid and careful and doesn’t want to move as he plays the game like that by using the game play, or he could go guns blazing and killing the ever living shit of everything ever everywhere.

When we speak about game play, Mega Man’s most unique trait, as a game, is still the freedom you have in choosing the stages. Boss Weapons are secondary. Neither of these are traits of Mega Man but the games he is in. The most unique trait in Mega Man is that he was designed to be an ordinary household robot, but decided to abandon his safe life and transform himself into a literal war machine. He made a decision that changed his life to that of constant danger in order to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves, to defeat those like him who are a threat to the world. He won’t give up and he won’t lose because he has something to protect. He has changed his body for that purpose, and even defeated a solar god when he had no chances of doing so.

I know I say that for a game only game play matters and I stick to that. However, that does not mean I ignore everything around the game play. The game play is always most important, and everything else should further elevate the game play experience. Manuals used to be part of the game play, especially on PCs, and broadened on aspects what games themselves couldn’t. Even in those NES manuals we learned a lot of Mega Man, and original Mega Man’s ending sums his character rather well; Mega Man, quite literally, fights for everlasting peace.

How is that presented in Smash Bros.?