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Super Smash Bros. Needs To Utilize Its Crossovers Better

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Wario trying to use Bulbasaur as a mount? Sonic begrudging Mario's success? The possibilities are endless!

By Aku

July 28, 2022

The Super Smash Bros. series is a huge one in just about every way. One of those aspects is the range of its playable characters. With 89 fighters at the end of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the franchise has come a long way from the original game’s 12. A character reveal for Smash has become a huge spectacle. The series has earned its accolades over the years, but one area in which it’s fallen short is how it portrays its characters within its shared universe.

The characters are portrayed masterfully on their own. With the exception of a handful of them, such as Sonic, Ganondorf and some of the Echo Fighters, fighters feel like they’re pulled straight from their original series. Their move sets and personalities perfectly demonstrate the type of character they are, as well as the series they’re from. Take Steve (of Minecraft fame), for example. His unique mechanics of mining materials, upgrading his tools with said materials, and placing blocks brings a little of that Minecraft magic into Smash. There’s also Bayonetta, with attacks and taunts that encapsulate her original title’s combo-heavy gameplay and stylish character.

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However, most of these great characters don’t interact within this strange Smash world they find themselves in. They feel like they’re pulled straight from their original series and put into Smash… and that’s it. The unfortunate thing is that this wasn’t always the case.

While the third entry in the series, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, didn’t do as much as it could’ve with character interactions, it at least made huge efforts. Just look at Subspace Emissary, the beloved story mode of the game. This story had all the antagonists of the series, like Dedede, Bowser, and Wario facing off against the protagonists, like Mario, Kirby and Pit, as the former were turning them into trophies. Even with the lack of voice lines, the story continues to be regarded as one of the best things to ever come out of the series.

Subspace Emissary gave different characters the opportunity to interact with each other. The simplistic premise of good against evil within the roster, as well as the range of characters, allowed the development team to be very creative with the characters and the roles they would play. That creativity gave way to some amazing cutscenes and story beats. Diddy Kong was dragging Fox and Falco around when they tried to walk away from him, Meta Knight scaling a mountain along with Popo and Nana, the partnership between Samus and Pikachu as they helped each other escape the facility – all great crossover moments.

Seeing great icons stand side-by-side is always a treat, whether in games, cartoons, or convoluted cinematic superhero universes. What’s important in those crossovers, as Subspace Emissary demonstrated, is seeing how the characters’ personalities interact and clash with each other. While the Smash series has highlighted this very well recently with their character reveal trailers, that’s where it stops. They haven’t done anything at Subspace’s level, and that needs to change.

The Smash Bros. series, especially Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, is regarded as the biggest crossover in gaming history. That makes it even more of an issue that the potential of all these different characters coming together isn’t fully realized. In an interview with The Verge, Smash creator Masahiro Sakurai stated “…if I were to have the opportunity to work on another Super Smash Bros. game, that means we would have to shrink the roster…” This statement sets the expectation that the scope of the next game’s content will be smaller than that of the previous title, which lowers both expectations and excitement. But this could be turned into a positive too, as a smaller roster would allow the devs to focus on creating more interplay and narrative between the characters.

Characters could get special interactions with others, for example. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate already has some in the form of Final Smash quotes and victory quotes, but they’re quite limited. All of the interactions are between characters from the same series, and they’re still few and far between, only applying to certain pairings of fighters from Star Fox, Fire Emblem, and Kid Icarus. It’d be nice to see them branch out into interacting between characters from different series, similarly to Street Fighter x Tekken. That game had pairs of characters from each series interacting with each other in many colorful ways, such as Chun-Li and Cammy intercepting Asuka and Lilly at the “off-limits area,” or Abel wanting to pet Heihachi’s bear partner Kuma.

Another thing they could do is give characters special quotes during introductions, taunts and being KO’d. This was done for the characters in Warner Bros’ platform fighter Multiversus, and it was amazing. It was a treat hearing Bugs Bunny insult Arya Stark with puns (“Arya sorry you messed wit me, Doc?”), or Steven Universe questioning Batman about the residents of Gotham. There are so many worlds and characters mingling here that the opportunities for cross-series interaction are endless.

Team victory animations would be wonderful as well. Robin has this with Chrom, but that’s really because of Chrom being in Robin’s Final Smash. Characters from the Super Mario and Donkey Kong series could really benefit from this. Of course, characters from across different series sharing a special team victory animation would be great too. A natural choice is a team victory animation for Mario and Sonic, perhaps with Pac-Man too as a reference from Pac-Man’s reveal trailer at E3 2014.

They should make a story mode in the next Smash game too. Fans have been calling for a story mode for a long time now, and if Sakurai and his team tried to make one, they could shatter expectations, especially if it was fleshed out with voice-acting. We already got a taste of that in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s adventure mode, World of Light, and it sounded fantastic.

For many fans, Super Smash Bros. has transcended far beyond just a fun Nintendo party game. While there are quite a few ways the series can improve in future iterations, like updating some characters’ move sets or improving the quality of their online component, the way it utilizes the characters is quite possibly the most important one.

Originals
Aku

Aku is a Features and Guides Writer from South Carolina. He has previously worked extensively at The Games Cabin. He specializes in Nintendo-related topics and is highly skilled at a variety of games, especially fighting games. His favorite game is Monster Hunter Rise and he loves eating candy.

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