This is the second and (maybe?) last entry in the series about some not-so-obvious recommendations for the Switch’s Smash Bros. If you would like to see the first entry, it can be found here.
5. Bring back Corneria.
Technically, this stage wasn’t excluded from Smash 4, but it was exclusively on the 3DS version, not the Wii U version. In some way, that decision seems like a disservice to the legacy of this stage. What was originally known as Sector Z in Smash 64 was really the first pseudo-Final-Destination stage we had. It wasn’t completely flat, but it was as close as we could get to it, and it had relatively little interference. When it returned in Melee as Corneria it remained one of the most picked stages by me and my friends, and the same goes for Brawl (and I suspect this popularity was not just relative to my own experience with the series; the stage even received some attention through Smosh Games’ Honest-Trailer on Smash). Along with Battlefield and Final Destination, Corneria is one of the most quintessential stages of perhaps the most popular party fighting-game of the last 20 years. Putting it on the 3DS, which is a system much more suitable for single-player games, and not the Wii U was a decision that didn’t honor what Corneria means for most longtime Smash players: an old haunt where many of us not only developed our skills but our relationships with other players.
Being that the next Smash isn’t going to be split two ways across multiple systems, it seems likely to return, so the suggestion is probably not needed. Regardless, most of us are going to rejoice when we pick that stage and hear the classic Corneria theme.
6. Tweak a few things for the local vs mode.
This, admittedly, is some real nitpicky stuff, but it should be mentioned. Most everyone I know plays stock: it’s a game mode that builds really well to the final battle of those who managed to survive the previous 4-6 minutes, and it requires both offense (scoring KOs) and defense (not dying) to win. It is rare that I meet someone who plays timed matches, and yet, with every iteration of Smash, at the beginning of the game I have to go to a separate menu and let the game know, “No, I do not automatically want to play a timed game.”
This is so small and stupid, but it does originate from an interface that could use some improvements. I must also change the stage selection option each time I turn on the game (and it must be “Turns” lest we want to screw around with people nudging people’s stage selections at the last moment). The same goes for the handicap and a few other things. Some changes in this area would improve the day-to-day functionality of the game.
And what the hell is this badge nonsense to represent your total KOs at the bottom of the screen? After playing Smash 4 for 3+ years, I still don’t know what all of them mean, especially the ones associated with higher KOs. You can’t win every match, but you can sure gloat or taunt/mock your friends in-between matches as the KOs pile on throughout the night, which is an essential part to the Smash experience. Let’s just stick with good old numbers, alright?
Stats have actually grown in importance for me and my friends over the years. At the night’s end we usually go in and see how our lifetime numbers have developed. The stats system in Smash 4 is quite robust, but, like the vs mode interface, it could also use improvements.
Comparing amongst the characters that you use is nice, but I’d really like to see how the stats compare amongst all the names ever entered into my version of Smash 4; that’s where a lot of friendly chest-beating could start. And there’s still a lot more cross–tabulation for certain stats they could add: names compared among a single character, names compared among stages, names compared among group size, etc. They could add KO/fall ratios, damage given/taken ratios, number of item-related KOs, and more stats that I haven’t even thought of. Point is, this aspect hasn’t been perfected yet.
All of this in the section above, again, is very minor, but it adds up, and I don’t think anyone working on this game would settle if they knew they could improve it in small ways.
7. Tweak the Final Smashes.
This is probably not something everyone is clamoring for, but it deserves to be addressed. Much like items, there are all sorts of strategies that arise with the appearance of the Smash Ball, and then even more arising once someone breaks it. One thing is for certain: all Final Smashes have kill potential. But this potential varies a bit too greatly depending on the Final Smash.
Let’s take two extremes and compare them: Pit’s Final Smash and Lucario’s.
Pit’s Final Smash has to be one of the best in the game; not only does it have two phases, but input from the player, regardless of their current location in the stage, is not required. The worst thing a user can do is face the wrong direction when they activate it, which means that the arrows Pit shoots in the first phase will not be able to track down any other players. But these arrows don’t even have KO potential; they’re just a damage contributor to set up for the second phase where great bars of light randomly appear across the entire stage (regardless of size) and zap players either off the stage or into other bars of light which will eventually zap players off the stage. So, in summary: his Final Smash requires little to no skill of the player and it will probably land at least one KO.
Lucario’s Final Smash is wholly different. Lucario transforms into mega-Lucario which boosts his aura level to its maximum. This sounds nice, as landing a strong hit is likely to KO someone, but you will probably not get the chance. Unlike other transformation Final Smashes, Lucario’s speed is not boosted at all, and he happens to be one of the slower characters on the roster. So anyone with decent speed or dodging capabilities will laugh as they dance around you and watch your timer dwindle down. And that would be bad enough by itself but this Final Smash has an additional factor making it even worse: any hit you take makes the duration shorter. Now, most people are not dumb enough to run up to an invincible over-powered character and take them on, but an assist trophy doesn’t mind this, nor Pokemon, nor projectiles, nor any other item-related damager. So it’s likely that mega-Lucario is going to take some hits during his already pathetic Final Smash and return to his regular form even sooner. It’s also worth mentioning that he has relatively small hitboxes that are difficult to land, further contributing to his impotence. So, again, in summary: his Final Smash requires high skill and good timing, will probably be cut short from damage, and will also probably not land a single KO against even moderately skilled players.
Most of the Final Smashes are OK, but the ones mentioned above are good examples of extremes that do not contribute to the strategic quality of games that involve items. Other examples of Final Smashes that are too strong might include but are not limited to: Sonic’s, Samus’, and Palutena’s. Other Final Smashes that are too weak might include but are not limited to: DK’s, Jigglypuff’s, and Mario’s.
There probably isn’t a perfect set of Final Smashes across the entire roster (some will always be better than others), but I think we all agree the gap of quality could be narrowed a bit more.
8. If another Fire Emblem character is to be added to roster, does it have to be a sword-wielder?
One of the biggest complaints with the Smash games is the overrepresentation of certain series’ characters, and the biggest culprit of this might be Fire Emblem. This series is at the middle of the pack in terms of popularity, and yet it currently has the second largest presence in the Smash 4 roster (the Super Mario series having the first, whether you choose to count Yoshi and Wario or not). And some people also note that three of these characters from Fire Emblem (Roy, Marth, and Lucina) are all clones or pseudo-clones of each other, which vexes some groups because they think those spots on the roster could be taken up by unique characters from underrepresented series. Although it’s been said that the development requirements are much lower for clone-type characters (therefore, they’re not taking away from any other series), there’s still a feeling of lost potential with the Fire Emblem roster, and that has everything to do with the characters that have been selected.
Fire Emblem games are known for their extremely diverse battle units. The rock-paper-scissors arrangement of swords, axes, and lances is a long-standing staple. Despite this, all we’ve ever seen in Smash are characters that employ swords. Even the Fire Emblem characters who deviate from what we’re used to, Robin (with his/her magic projectiles) and Corrin (with his/her projectiles and disjoint lance-ish attacks [of which there are like 2.5 of]), all have the weapons and moves that everyone else from Fire Emblem seems to have. If you’re good at aerial attacks with one of them, then you’re probably good with all of them, and the ground play-styles aren’t that different between them either.
This stale format has an easy fix. I’ll make a suggestion: Hector. He was in the first Fire Emblem released in both North America and Europe, and while he wasn’t exactly the “main” character in it, he was the second most important one (or maybe the most important to some people). So he has the credentials to be added to the Smash roster, but more importantly he would contribute something no other Fire Emblem character has: a weapon with a significantly different feel. Maybe the axe is a bit more sluggish but hits harder. Maybe he uses it bluntly for strange launch trajectories. Maybe he uses the hilt. Maybe he kicks or punches alongside using the axe. Maybe he can use it as a hand-axe to throw.
You get the point.
But, really, it doesn’t even need to be Hector! I would like him, but Fire Emblem is so deep with characters that have unique weapons with distinct hitboxes. Bows and arrows, lances, daggers, black magic, shurikens, etc. Then take into account the different fighting styles of some units like myrmidons and you have so many options to change the landscape of Smash. Really, for the Fire Emblem series (and Pokemon too) you even have enough potential for a Smash spin-off game (and if that ever happens, Nintendo, where’s my million dollars for that billion dollar idea?!).
The developers of Smash (Sakurai-san in particular) have made it clear that they’re always looking to add characters that will contribute a unique twist to the games, so it’s a bit perplexing why they haven’t exploited the Fire Emblem series more despite its notable presence. Better late than never? Let’s hope so.
Anyway, those are the not-so-obvious recommendations of a quasi-casual Smasher. Smash for the Switch has great potential. My guess is it will be a new game altogether rather than a port. It doesn’t need to be perfect at launch, and chances are Nintendo will utilize a Splatoon-type DLC plan where the game develops a lot in the year following since this has proven to be an effective way to keep people engaged with the game. So the development cycle doesn’t need to be as complete as we’ve expected of Smash in the past, and it could be a game that grows with the Switch.
Either way, we’re probably due for a great fighting-game experience later this year (barring a delay). Good luck to everyone like me strugglin’ not the chew their nails down to the nub in nervous anticipation of any Smash-related news.