by Katherine Simon Disclaimer: This article was written prior to Nintendo’s E3 2019 Direct, therefore some of the predictions made might be a little outdated. There will be an addendum at the end of the feature reflecting on my thoughts towards DLC and how it affects my future predictions. Arguably the biggest crossover event in all of gaming, many people are excited to see which of their favorite video game characters will make their way into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. While there are some people who get way too heated over which characters make it in or not, there’s something incredibly fun about trying to guess which beloved gaming icons will make the cut while also seeing what kind of unexpected fighters Sakurai and his team will throw at us next. With the first two DLC fighters of Smash Ultimate being candidates that nobody would’ve expected, Piranha Plant and Persona 5’s Joker, it seems like just about anything goes when it comes to who could be potential candidates. With the possibilities being almost limitless, I thought it might be fun to throw my hat into the ring and share my predictions for the remaining four Smash DLC fighters before E3 comes along and horribly dates my predictions (Spoilers, it didn’t). I mean I was one of the few people rooting for Joker to get into Smash, so maybe luck will be on my side this time. Probably not, but hey this is just for fun and I’ll be happy with whatever we get as long as it’s not Fortnite guy.
ErdrickSeries of Origin: Dragon Quest Okay, let’s get this one out of the way first since everyone and their mother is predicting this guy. For those who are completely in the dark about the current state of Smash speculation and are wondering who this Gohan-looking dork is, let me give you a quick rundown on why everyone is betting their first-born child on this character literally nobody was talking about until half a year ago. When Smash Ultimate was first released and data miners were looking through the files, there were three ambiguously named character files that represent three DLC fighters. The first one was named “Packu” in reference to Piranha Plant’s Japanese name, and the second was named “Jack” in reference to Joker being a “jack of all trades” in Persona 5. The last of these is a currently unannounced fighter codenamed “Brave,” and this is where things get interesting. In Japan, the hero class in Dragon Quest is classified as “yuusha,” which translates to“brave.” While “brave” is a pretty broad descriptor that could apply to just about any video game protagonist, a Dragon Quest character is probably the best bet because that series is insanely popular over in Japan. So much so that the games are only released on Saturdays because so many people would skip school or work to play them. Even though the series only has a cult following in the west, it’s a cultural icon on par with the likes of Pokemon in Japan and it helped shape the JRPG genre as a whole. Much like a lot of big JRPG franchises, each game focuses on a different protagonist and setting, but arguably the most recognizable of them is Erdrick, the main hero/heroine (depending on which gender the player chooses) of the third game. Though they’re only playable in that game, they’re still a very important character in the previous two games, since you play as their descendants and hear of his legend throughout your quest. They also play a very prominent role in Dragon Quest XI, as that game is heavily connected to the original trilogy. They’re more or less the poster child of Dragon Quest in the same way Cloud Strife is for Final Fantasy or Joker currently is for Persona, making them the prime candidate for a potential Smash inclusion. Though I’m honestly more partial to Sora when it comes to potential Square Enix candidates, a good majority of the signs are pointing towards Erdrick. That being said, I would gladly accept them if they end up making it in because of how important their series was to the development of my favorite video game genre. Without Dragon Quest, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t have Cloud, Joker, or any of the Pokemon in Smash Bros., and I think that makes them worthy of a spot alone.
FriskSeries of Origin: Undertale
What can be said about Undertale that hasn’t already been said? The game is one of the biggest indie success stories of all time, not only being one of the rare examples of a Kickstarter-project-gone-right, but also becoming a huge online phenomenon almost overnight. The game has spawned one of the most dedicated fandoms of any video game ever, producing a seemingly endless amount of fan content ranging from pretty cool to… let’s just say incredibly bizarre. This isn’t just in North America either, the game also has a massive Japanese following. The game outsold Dragon Quest XI during its first week on the Japanese PlayStation store and the game’s creator even worked on a Japanese wrestling promo in the game’s style. Given the game’s massive success across the globe, it should go without saying that if any indie game were to be represented in Super Smash Bros., it’d most likely be Undertale. Most people would be quick to point towards Sans and the main Smash candidate due to his overwhelming popularity, and while I will admit that the idea of a Smash trailer starting with “Megalovania” is hilarious, Frisk is still the game’s main protagonist and has a better chance of making it in as a result. The only potential problem here is that Frisk isn’t much of a fighter due to Undertale’s main mechanic being focused on sparing your enemies instead of fighting them. The game literally goes out of its way to make you feel like an awful person for killing someone, especially if you end up doing a Genocide run. It might seem a tad bit contradictory to put a pacifist in a fighting game, but if Sakurai can make Isabelle work as a fighter, he could probably find a way to make Frisk work. I think the best way to go about it would be to make most of their moves based on the various ACTs they can perform throughout the game to pacify their enemies, making their whole gimmick centered around killing their opponents with kindness. It’s far from a conventional moveset, but Smash is far from a conventional fighting game, so that kind of fighting style would fit in perfectly. Regardless of what they end up doing for an Undertale character, at least we can all agree that getting Undertale music in the game would be pretty awesome. If Smash Ultimate ends up being the first game to feature “Mass Destruction” and “Death By Glamour” in the same soundtrack, it’d be pretty safe to call it the best game soundtrack ever made.
Frisk should look like this in Smash! pic.twitter.com/9gddrswWGQ— cereal @ Persona 4 & DQ3 (@Dry_Froot_Loops) June 21, 2019
Leon KennedySeries of Origin: Resident Evil Capcom has a lot of representation in Smash, from having playable fighters like Mega Man and Ryu as well as featuring Monster Hunter’s Rathalos as a boss fight. Needless to say, the company’s properties are being treated very well in Smash, which makes it very likely that they’re going to try and sneak in at least one more character. The most likely candidate being Leon Kennedy from the Resident Evil series. It’s no secret that Resident Evil is among Capcom’s biggest franchises, and with the recent release of the hugely successful Resident Evil 2 remake, it seems like that’s going to remain true for a long time. As it currently stands, Resident Evil is the biggest Capcom franchise that doesn’t have a Smash character yet, and while the series might not fit with the E10+ nature of Smash Ultimate, that didn’t stop Snake or Bayonetta from making it in. Plus, if they’re able to get away with Joker having a knife and gun no problem, they could definitely get away with using Leon’s toolkit. The only question remains is why Nintendo would choose Leon over someone like Jill Valentine, who’s just as prominent of a protagonist and is already a regular in the Marvel vs Capcom games. The answer to that is that Leon currently has more star power than Jill. Aside from the Resident Evil 2 remake being a huge success, Leon is also the star of Resident Evil 4, a game that’s still heralded by many as the best game in the series and one of the best games ever made. It also helps that Resident Evil 4 gives Skyrim a run for its money with how many systems its been ported to, including a Latin American bootleg console called the Zeebo. No, I’m not making that one up. With the game running on just about anything with an electrical current, it’s safe to assume that most people are familiar with Leon from that game, making him the most recognizable protagonist in the series.
Banjo & KazooieSeries of Origin: Banjo-Kazooie Ending this list off is a character Smash fans have been clamoring for since the beginning of the series. In an era where developers were jumping ship to Sony’s hot new PlayStation, Rareware was the main output for some of the Nintendo 64’s best content, making such memorable games such as Goldeneye 007, Donkey Kong 64, and, of course, Banjo-Kazooie. The bear and bird became somewhat of a secondary mascot for the system alongside Mario, and the first two games are still hailed as some of the greatest games on that system. Unfortunately, right as the Gamecube era was starting up, Microsoft bought Rare and made them an exclusive developer for the Xbox, putting an end to the Nintendo-Rare synergy of the N64 era and making it impossible for any of their characters to be in Smash. For the longest time, it seemed impossible that Banjo and Kazooie would ever make their return to Nintendo for as long as Microsoft was forcing Rare to make mediocre Kinect games, but times have changed since then and things are starting to look up for Banjo supporters. With Microsoft now having a pretty close relationship with Nintendo and allowing games such as Cuphead and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice on the Switch, it seems like the two former rivals are more than willing to collaborate on other projects, including Smash. Despite Banjo not having a new game in over a decade, the fan demand has been way too vocal to ignore, and what better way for Nintendo and Microsoft to show off their close relationship than to add in one of Smash’s most requested characters? It’d arguably be the biggest Smash announcement to date, finally delivering on 20 years worth of fan requests and doing what many thought was impossible. Though the Ridley and King K. Rool reveals might’ve been big deals, Banjo has the potential to blow both of those out of the water in terms of scale.
AddendumSo E3 came and went, and with it came the reveals of two of the newest DLC characters: The Hero from Dragon Quest and Banjo & Kazooie. I’m surprised that two of my big predictions ended up being right, though there were some things I was wrong about. I assumed Erdrick would be the only Dragon Quest protagonist since they’ve been the face of Smash speculation for months, but that ended up not being true. Instead we ended up getting the Luminary from Dragon Quest XI, with Erdrick and the protagonists from IV and VIII making up the alternate costumes. In hindsight, it makes much more sense for Luminary to be the main hero instead of Erdrick, since Nintendo has really been pushing the Switch port of Dragon Quest XI. Banjo being revealed at E3 was another huge surprise, because I expected them to be the last big bombshell to cap off the Fighters Pass. Either way, both Hero and Banjo look really fun and I can’t wait to try out both of them when they release. Now that we know about Hero and Banjo being the next two fighters, where does that leave my predictions for Frisk and Leon? At this moment, nothing has happened that would drastically affect either’s chances, so a lot of the stuff I said still stands. In fact, now that we better understand the direction Nintendo is taking with the Fighters Pass, I feel more confident saying that these two would fit perfectly with their vision. What I mean by that is that every character on the Fighters Pass so far has the potential to draw in new demographics into Smash. Joker appeals to JRPG fans and PlayStation owners, Banjo appeals to Xbox fans and adults who might not have owned a Nintendo console since the N64, and Hero appeals to a majority of the Japanese population. Keeping all that in mind, it would be safe to assume that the rest of the DLC will continue this pattern and end up appealing to whatever demographics Nintendo hasn’t covered yet. If Joker was added to appeal to PlayStation owners and Banjo was added to appeal to Xbox owners, then Frisk would definitely be the character that would appeal to PC gamers. While Undertale has since been ported to numerous consoles, the game got its start on Steam and did a lot of fourth-wall breaking stuff that could only be accomplished on PC. The game is also notorious for the online culture surrounding it, being one of the best examples of a game becoming popular primarily through word of mouth. Very few games have as large of an online presence as Undertale does, and with development on Deltarune finishing sometime in the next few years, that presence isn’t dying down anytime soon. I expect the next DLC character will aim towards a more casual/younger demographic, and given the wide audience Undertale has managed to reach, Frisk would be the perfect candidate to draw in that huge fandom. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Leon would cater to the broad group of gamers who primarily consume triple-A, M-rated titles. While it could be argued that something like a Call of Duty guy would cater to that same demographic, Resident Evil has the benefit of being one of the most influential horror franchises of all time. Aside from helping shape the survival horror genre into what it is today, the series is often credited for the zombie horror revival of the late 1990s and 2000s. Acclaimed screenwriters such as Alex Garland of 28 Days Later fame have cited Resident Evil as one of their primary influences, and it’s very likely that without the series, the infamous zombie craze would’ve never happened. Not a lot of video game franchises can say they’ve had that huge of an impact on the pop culture landscape, and if Smash is looking to represent the biggest video game icons of all time, then a Resident Evil character is a must. Another thing helping both Frisk and Leon is how much Nintendo has been pushing both of their franchises lately. Both Undertale and Resident Evil are frequently highlighted on the Switch’s eShop and advertising. The console port of Deltarune’s first chapter was revealed during a Nintendo Direct and they even set aside some time during E3 to showcase a commercial for Resident Evil 5 and 6 ports. I don’t know about you, but something has to be going on if Nintendo is encouraging teenagers to trespass on private property to promote the game where Chris Redfield punches a boulder. It also helps that getting the rights to Frisk and Leon should be relatively easy, since Sakurai’s already worked with Capcom for Mega Man and Street Fighter content, and Undertale being independently developed means that Toby Fox is the only person that needs talking to for rights. I know every supposed “leaker” and their uncle who works at Nintendo claims to know who the next Smash character is, and while I won’t claim that my predictions are 100% correct, I feel like there’s enough evidence to make a claim towards Frisk and Leon coming to Smash. If Nintendo is truly looking to expand the game’s scope and bring in new players, then these two only make the most sense. That said, even if my predictions end up being completely false, I still look forward to seeing what the next characters have in store.
Sources: IGN, Dual Shockers, Polygon, YouTube, Huffington Post, Images: Dot Esports, Polygon, Nintendo Life, Featured Image: Katherine Simon