Iím back, and I brought my 3rd party choices with me! Choosing 3rd party characters that I would like to see in Smash Brothers has been both very exciting and nearly impossible. Exciting, because there are so many awesome 3rd party characters on Nintendo platforms to choose from. Impossible, for the very same reason. Although my list is essentially just a list of Andrew favorites, I think that I managed to capture some broader appeal as well.
A quick note, my ďlikelihoodĒ scores are going to be a bit more relative this time around, because there seems to me to be little likelihood of any given 3rd party character actually showing up in the next Smash Brothers, especially when there are so many to choose from and itís still unclear whether Nintendo is even interested in expanding its 3rd party Smash Brothers roster much more beyond Sonic and Snake. So if I put down a 5/10 likelihood, for instance, this doesnít mean that I actually think this character has 50 / 50 odds of showing up, itís just a number Iím using to compare the odds against my other choices. Make sense?
No More Heroes gained notoriety for being one of the most few standout ďmatureĒ games on the Nintendo Wii. There is no question that it was unpolished in part, yet at its core was a pretty awesome combat system which, combined with some off the wall characters and story elements, crafted an experience that for many gamers (myself included) helped it transcend its flaws and become something great.
The star of the series is Travis Touchdown, a punk rock nerd of sorts (I can relate) who wins a lightsaber in an Internet auction and becomes an assassin (I canít quite relate there.) It shouldnít be too tough to translate his fighting style, which involves a heavy focus on both swordplay and wrestling moves, into a 2D fighting game, especially as it has already been done in certain 2D sections of the No More Heroes games.
Gosh. To be honest, most of the stages in the No More Heroes games are relatively incidental, they just kind of exist to be hallways, rooms, etc. for Travis to fight in. On the other hand, there were some weird, alternative stages, including, as mentioned above a few that put you into 2D. Iíd almost rather create a stage based off of one of his side jobs though... a Smash Brothers stage based on lawn mowing or catching stray cats? That could work.
LIKELIHOOD:2/10. I really donít think that Nintendo would want to connect Smash Brothers with a franchise full of sex (well, Travis is always trying to get sex, anyway) and violence. Then again, Snake did make it in, and the Metal Gear Solid series has a lot of ďmatureĒ content, so I guess you never know.
Leon Kennedy (Resident Evil series)
Resident Evil 4 is easily one of the biggest 3rd party games for Nintendo fans in recent years, even if it did lose its Nintendo exclusivity before it actually launched. Often considered one of the best video games ever made period, it managed to redefine both Resident Evil and action games at the same time (though many did lament the minimizing of the survival horror elements.)
If youíre a fan of the Resident Evil series as a whole, there are a variety of characters that could easily top your list. However, for Nintendo fans, Leon Kennedy is probably the most well known and beloved of the characters, if for no other reason than his starring role in Resident Evil 4. Leon would be a great character for long range attacks using a variety of guns (and the rocket launcher, of course, although Snake already has that attack), but his quick knife swipes in close range combat would be worth paying attention to as well.
I imagine a stage set in the village of Resident Evil 4 where all is calm and youíre just fighting your opponents, and then a swarm of Ganados (quick zombie-like villagers, for those unfamiliar with the game) rush in and attack. You could either fight them off, or try to run and hide and hope your opponents take care of them, but much like in Resident Evil 4, they would be unrelenting in their approach and impossible to avoid forever.
LIKELIHOOD:7/10. As far as high profile Nintendo platform games, Resident Evil 4 is a big one, and the 3DS has already been hit with two Resident Evil games. The Resident Evil series is still big enough that scoring a character for Smash Brothers would have an impact. But there may be another Capcom character with a higher likelihood of appearing...
Henry Hatsworth (Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure)
Iím never going to apologize for my love of Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure, and I shouldnít have to. Itís a great little platformer / puzzle hybrid game on the DS and, in addition to some excellent and challenging gameplay, it has a cast of characters that is just plain fun.
The eponymous star of the game has both sword and long range attacks, so that could be fun. But letís be honest for a moment, the real draw of fighting as Sir Henry (I donít recall if he is actually a ďSirĒ, but it sounds right) would be related to a power known as ďTea TimeĒ in his game, in which he jumps into a large mech and starts beating down his foes. Whether this would be something he could build himself up to during normal play, or something reserved for a Final Smash attack, it doesnít matter to me. Either way would be quite a good show, indeed!
One of the main elements in the game were the ďevilĒ puzzle pieces that would drop from the sky. This could be fun in a Smash Brothers stage. However, it might be cool to take things a step further and actually go into a puzzle mode for a short period of time where the players would have to successfully match puzzle pieces to obtain power-ups or face negative consequences for failing.
LIKELIHOOD:1/10. I donít know what kind of parallel world would need to exist where a quirky little one-off game published four years ago would have a snowballís chance of hell in showing up in Smash Brothers. I just know that I want to live in that world.
Crono (Chrono Trigger)
Chrono Trigger is one of the best RPGs ever made and one of the best 3rd party games to appear on a Nintendo platform. If you disagree with either of those, leave now, and never come back. And if you havenít played this game yet, leave now, play it, and then come back. You can find it on the Super Nintendo, the PlayStation, the DS, etc. You have no excuses.
Chrono Trigger has a pretty amazing cast, and to be totally honest, Crono is not my favorite of the bunch. That would probably be Robo. Or Frog. Or Magus. Maybe even Lucca. Geez, there are at least five or six characters from this game that I would fully support seeing in Smash Brothers. But letís stick with Crono, because he is pretty cool too, and being the main character of the game, he is the obvious choice. Crono has plenty of katana attacks he could use, lightning and light magic, and as a final smash, why not pull in some friends for a triple tech attack?
I suppose that I donít really have the best idea for a stage off the top of my head. Iíd probably set something in the floating land of Zeal. Not only is it a visually awesome environment, but the music there is stunning as well.
LIKELIHOOD:5/10. Chrono Trigger is widely accepted as one of the biggest 3rd party games on a Nintendo platform. However, the series itself hasnít had a new game since the PlayStation 1, and outside of a DS port of the original game, it hasnít gotten much attention on Nintendo platforms since the original. Itís probably just a bit too distant to get much serious consideration at this point.
Okami is essentially a Zelda clone, but itís a darn good Zelda clone. Although it first appeared on the PS2, I have always thought of it more as a Nintendo franchise, in no small part because of the similarities to Zelda. Furthermore the sequel, Okamiden, was a DS-exclusive, which means that Nintendo platforms are the only place to find all of the unique games in the series (Iím not counting the HD ports.)
Amaterasu, the main character, is a pretty badass wolf, and just the motions of moving around as a four-legged creature could add variety to a franchise that is mostly about two-legged fighters. She is also a goddess, and has a whole variety of powers, including slash attacks, bombs, and waterspouts. The Smash Brothers team would just have to work a bit to make her stand out from Link.
Okami is all about rejuvenating the lands around you, and that would be pretty neat to work into a Smash Brothers stage. Perhaps each of the fighters could work at rejuvenation in the midst of the battle, and bringing life to an area of the stage could heal your character a bit.
LIKELIHOOD:3/10. Okami was never the most popular game, and although it did spawn a sequel, the sequel didnít really take off either. Itís very possible that the series is done for, and this would definitely hurt its chances of appearing in Smash Brothers.
Simon Belmont (Castlevania series)
Five down, five to go; now weíre getting into the meat of things. And who better to start off the top five than a character who has been with Nintendo since the original NES? Castlevania is a series with countless games spanning countless platforms, including games on almost every Nintendo platform. I canít think of many other 3rd party franchises that are as synonymous with Nintendo as Castlevania.
The Castlevania series has a wide variety of lead characters across the various games, but I have to go with the original hero, Simon Belmont. And Simon Belmont is nothing without his whip, so of course that would be the focus of his fighting style. Of all of the various weapons that fighters have used in the Smash Brothers games, I do not believe that we have seen anyone with a whip yet. Itís time to smack that whip!
For a stage, I think we all know what has to happen here. There is no avoiding it. We need a clock tower stage! The Castlevania clock towers are areas that generally involve climbing to the top of a tower on the various moving gears of clocks, and are infamous for a variety of reasons, including the sheer difficulty and frustration involved. That might not sound like a lot of fun, but I can see a Smash Brothers clock tower stage being a blast to fight on. Throw in a couple of flying Medusa heads and you have one of the most annoy... I mean um, awesome Smash Brothers stages yet.
LIKELIHOOD:8/10. The Castlevania series has been kicking strong on Nintendo platforms for awhile, and doesnít seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Iím not sure if it would necessarily be Simon Belmont or one of the many other stars of these games, but if any 3rd party series is due to appear in Smash Brothers, this is definitely a strong contender.
Professor Hershel Layton (Professor Layton series)
The Professor Layton series is a Nintendo handheld exclusive (other than an iOS spin-off title) set of games that star the dapper Professor Hershel Layton and his young assistant Luke, following them as they are off on adventures and solving puzzles. Anyone with a DS or 3DS knows what I am talking about here. This is one of the biggest 3rd party franchises on the handhelds, with five (going on six) games released in the West, as well as a not announced for the West (yet) crossover game that we are all crossing our fingers for.
Hershel Layton is probably one of the most beloved video game protagonists ever, due in part to his unique combination of genuine concern for those around him and quick wits that help him manage whatever task is at hand. I think any fighting game with the Professor involved should rely on his sheer ingenuity, building off of events in the games, such as the time he built a machine gun out of the pieces of a slot machine.
Iím trying not to keep ripping off of existing stages, but I can imagine a Professor Layton stage that works a bit like the WarioWare stage in Super Smash Brothers Brawl, where a quick puzzle pops up that you have to solve in the midst of a battle, and those who solve it correctly will gain some extra powers. It could be neat.
LIKELIHOOD:8/10. Nintendo has a very close relationship with Level-5 regarding the Professor Layton games, generally acting as the publisher when they come to the West. Itís a popular series with a popular protagonist, so I think it would have a pretty good shot of making it into a Smash Brothers game.
CommanderVideo (BIT.TRIP series)
Itís no secret that we love the BIT.TRIP games here at Negative World, and itís probably also no secret that I especially love the BIT.TRIP games myself. I even stepped outside of my usual music work and remade the RUNNER theme (which you can hear, in part, as the intro to our podcast.)
CommanderVideo is the main protagonist of the series, although he is only playable in a handful of the games. Essentially he is just a big black pixelated (in the original games) box with arms and legs. But man does he have some moves. Kicks, slides, blocks, you name it, and everything he does, he does with style. CommanderVideo would be a pretty slick character to play as.
Iím imagining a stage that alternates between non-scrolling sections (to allow the fighters some time to, you know... actually fight each other) and scrolling sections pulled straight from the BIT.TRIP RUNNER games. In those games the screen scrolls at a steady pace and your job is simply to avoid or destroy all of the obstacles that come your way. This could translate very well to a scrolling-type Smash Brothers stage.
LIKELIHOOD:4/10. I suspect that Gaijin Games (the makers of the BIT.TRIP series) would be all over this, but would Nintendo bite? The BIT.TRIP series is one of the biggest indie series that appears on Nintendo platforms, but whether Nintendo would is serious enough about indie games to give them Smash Brothers representation is a whole other question entirely.
Phoenix Wright (Ace Attorney series)
Capcomís Ace Attorney series is one of those rare series that transcends its own popularity. Not that it hasnít been a popular series, but it became something far more than its sales numbers would lead you to believe, becoming a bit of a pop culture phenomena... at least as far as the Internet is concerned. But itís also a great series of games that everyone should play.
We have already seen Phoenix Wright in one fighting game (Marvel vs. Capcom 3), so we know that it can work. In the Ace Attorney series he is a defense lawyer, and lawyers usually fight with words, which might be a bit too abstract for a fighting ga... OBJECTION! Why not use words? Word bubble attacks would be a pretty novel thing in the world of Smash Brothers. Throw in a couple of finger pointing attacks and I think we have something here.
An Ace Attorney stage would have to be set in the courtroom, of course. With the goofy judge in the background looking dumbfounded and flagrantly violating all standards of court proceedings. Thatís the only way to get the authentic Ace Attorney experience.
LIKELIHOOD:7/10. The Ace Attorney series blew up overnight, but I think the popularity is waning a bit in recent years. However, with both a Layton crossover and Ace Attorney 5 on the way, it might be primed for a comeback?
Mega Man (Mega Man series)
Alright, it has come to this. My number one choice. Predictable? Sure. Of course it is. And for very good reason. Mega Man, as a series, has been with Nintendo since the beginning, and there are approximately ten trillion Mega Man games spanning almost every gaming platform imaginable. Mega Man, as a character, is totally awesome. What choice did I have, really?
I think it goes without saying that this would be 8-bit Mega Man. As a fighting character Iíd love to see Mega Man focus more on his ranged attacks. I donít know how realistic this idea is, but how wicked would it be to give him every single power-up from a specific Mega Man game? Mega Man 2, perhaps? Definitely Mega Man 2. Wood shield, crash bombs, metal blades, tornado blasts... man. Iím sold.
Honestly, the Smash Brothers team could put in pretty much anything from Mega Man 2 as a stage and Iíd be down with it, as long as it had Mega Man 2 music connected to it. However, I feel like it wouldnít be nostalgic Mega Man without complicated, semi-frustrating ďappearing blockĒ patterns mixed in there somewhere.
LIKELIHOOD:9/10. Out of all of my choices, this one probably has the best shot. I hesitate to give it a full 10, but if any new 3rd party characters are going to be added to Smash Brothers, Mega Man is probably one that is getting the most consideration.
And thatís my list. I know there are a billion awesome 3rd party characters that didnít make it, but thatís just the nature of the beast. I list some of my ďnot quitesĒ below. What about you? What would your top 10 list look like? Are there any of mine that you agree with? Disagree?
PS. Here are some characters that almost made my list: Ball of Goo (World of Goo), Bill "Mad Dog" Rizer / Lance "Scorpion" Bean (Contra), Boy (A Boy and His Blob), Derek Stiles (Trauma Center series), Captain Viridian (VVVVVV), Junpei (999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors), Master Higgins (Adventure Island series), Neku Sakuraba (The World Ends With You), Pretty Much Anyone (Final Fantasy VI), Viewtiful Joe (Viewtiful Joe series), Vyse (Skies of Arcadia Legends)