The most important part of any Smash Bros game is the roster. Stages are nice, items are fun, online modes are cool. But at the end of the day, we need to know who we’re going to play. Currently, there are 29 on the roster. On the site, there are 7 empty boxes in the list view (on smashbros.com, if you go to a character and scroll to the bottom you’ll see the boxes), so at the very least, there will be 7 characters announced between now and summer. My guesses, rationale for picking them, and reasons that other characters may not be making a return are listed below. It seems that Sakurai is making a conscious effort to eliminate clones, so that’s reflected in my predictions.
- Captain Falcon: It’s freaking Captain Falcon. There is no Smash Bros. without the Falcon Punch. Also, he was in Nintendo Land, so Wii U audiences have some semblance of who he is despite the fact that it’s been 11 years since the last F-Zero game. (Sidebar: Make a new F-Zero game, Nintendo). Also: the Knee.
- Ness: He’s one of the original 12, and he has a unique move set. There’s no need to leave him out. Plus, with Earthbound recently released on Virtual Console, many more in the States have had an opportunity to see him in his natural setting. I’d consider him a lock
- Ganondorf or Ghirahim: `Dorf’s been in since Melee. However, he’s a Falcon Clone, so that’s a big knock against him. The only clone-like characters in the game now are Link and Toon Link, but the Legend of Zelda brand is popular enough to justify this. Ghirahim would be a much better choice. He’s the excellent villain of the hit Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on Wii, and the moves he uses in the game would translate very well to Smash. Choosing Ghirahim over ‘Dorf also reduces the clone count (though I will miss the Boot).
- Jigglypuff: One of the original 12. Pink. Wears a hat (or a ribbon). Adorable. Also: Rest and Rollout, the most troll-tastic moves in the game. Besides, who wouldn’t want to face the infamous wall of ‘Puff?
- Wario: One of the newcomers to Brawl, he has a unique move set so he wouldn’t be cut simply due to his status as a clone. Additionally, Ashley (of WarioWare, Inc.) is an assist trophy and there are other references to Wario Ware already in the game. With “Game and Wario” that was released just a few months ago, I can’t see them leaving him off.
- Chrom or Lucina: These two are from the recent 3DS hit Fire Emblem: Awakening. Everyone who played the game fell in love (including me), and any way to increase the publicity of the game would be great for everyone involved. The series has had a rotating Fire Emblem spot since Melee [Roy] and again in Brawl [Ike], populated by the protagonist of the most recent Fire Emblem game, so one of these two should fit. Though Chrom is the protagonist of Awakening, I choose Lucina over Chrom for a couple of reasons: 1. to add more gender diversity to the cast—there are no females who aren’t princesses in either a dress or a skin-tight suit. (Yes, I know that Lucina is still a princess). 2) Chrom looks too similar to Marth as it is. 3. Smash has never had a female swordsman, which would lend itself to a slightly different-looking move set.
- As for this slot, I really have no idea. Surprise us, Sakurai. With only 6 new characters out of a most-likely 36-person roster, I think that this slot goes to a new character, especially if Ganondorf is chosen over Ghirahim. I think seeing Anthony Higgs from Metroid: Other M would sufficiently throw everyone off, but I have no real hopes that he’ll be in the game. He could serve as a spiritual successor to Snake though. Will it go to Pac-Man? Possibly, but I don’t think he’s that cool. Palutena? That would be interesting, and inspire me to get Kid Icarus for the 3DS. Ridley? Too big, and we already have a flying dragon-like creature in the game and two characters who breathe fire. And no, crazy people: it won’t go to a 3rd party character or associate of Sonic or MegaMan. Don’t even try it.
- Meta Knight: Way overpowered in Brawl, he was a fan favorite (probably for the aforementioned reason). Kirby titles generally sell well, and many know him, especially given that Kirby had a TV-show in the mid-2000 that featured him—it’s how I was introduced to Kirby, King Dedede, and Dreamland. He’s a good pick to return, but I’d like to see a couple more newcomers.
- ROB: Armed with a unique move set and origin, he’s a pretty interesting/fun-ish character. I would not be surprised either way.
- Falco: Everyone knows Falco. Everyone loves Falco. As a Samus player, I hate Falco, but I cannot deny his popularity. Many Melee players would be betrayed if he was left out, but he was a really big clone of Fox, and I don’t know if his popularity can overcome his similarities to an already-confirmed character, especially since there hasn’t been a new Star Fox game since Star Fox Command on the DS in 2006 (though Star Fox 64 was re-released on the 3DS a couple of years ago).
Who misses the cut this time around?
- Ice Climbers: A curious inclusion in Melee and a returnee in Brawl. From what I’ve seen in tournaments, only their broken/amazing grab combos are generally utilized at high levels of play. I don’t know any serous IC players, nor do I know anyone who’s played an Ice Climber game. Also, there’s only one, and it was for the NES. Yeah, no love lost for them, not to mention that Rosalina and Luma took their tag-team spot with more recognizable characters.
- Mr. Game & Watch: Also a curious inclusion in Melee and a returnee in Brawl, I know only a couple of Game & Watch players. On top of his low popularity, the Game & Watch device from which the Mister originated preceded even the NES. Yeah, he can go too.
- Ike: As the most recent inhabitant of the rotating Fire Emblem slot (initially held by our boy Roy), I see little need for him to return. He was a semi-unique fighter, but Lucina would be a much better choice.
- Squirtle and Ivysaur: once bound to Charizard as the other two of three parts of the Pokémon Trainer, this game’s removal of rotating/midgame character transformations meant that two-thirds of the Pokémon Trainer needed to go. Sakurai made the right choice in leaving these two on the cutting room floor, as the game already has enough Pokémon in the game (especially when/if Jigglypuff returns)
- Lucas: A little-known Ness clone. Few outside of Japan have even played Earthbound 2 (where Lucas originates), so outside of his mains, not too many would be disappointed if he didn’t make his return.
- Wolf: A clone of a clone. I’m not even sure why he was in Brawl. I don’t expect his return. If he does return, it will be at the expense of Falco.
- Snake: The biggest surprise of Brawl’s roster, Snake was a fan favorite. I just don’t think the rights are there to have him back. With Sheik’s Side-B move now a grenade toss in the spirit of Snake’s Neutral-B from Brawl, I think we can retire ol’ Snake to the hospice.
Definitely not coming back ever:
- Mewtwo. Get over yourselves. Especially with Greninja joining the roster in addition to Lucario instead of replacing him, there’s no more room for Pokémon between the 4 playable ones [Pikachu and Charizard] and maybe Jigglypuff. On the 0% chance that he would return, you could kiss Jiggs goodbye.