Smash Bros. creates potential problem with new DLC characters

Illustration by Erin Joo

Jonah Schuhart, Contributing Writer

Super Smash Bros. is currently at an important crossroads following the series’ recent downloadable content (or DLC) announcements. On Sept. 4, Nintendo released the newest DLC character for the current entry in the series, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. 

While the new content was well-received by fans, it only adds mystery to the ultimate question surrounding the series: as Nintendo continues the Smash Bros. franchise, and adds more characters to the roster, how could that affect the game?

Nintendo paired the release with the announcement of Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury as the upcoming DLC character immediately before releasing Sans from Undertale as a costume for Mii Gunner. 

Smash Ultimate already boasts more than 70 characters, with more on the way. It’s easy to think that adding more content to the game can make it a much better experience, but even the basics of economics tell us overinflation is not a good thing. This could hurt the franchise in a few different ways. 

First, as characters get added to Smash’s roster, they often carry over to newer games with very rare exception. This could be a huge problem for the developers when they design the next game.

Even if Nintendo insisted on making a more casual fighting game, the task of properly balancing the 70+ characters they already have is huge. If they continue to add characters, the chances that they will no longer be able to make a game with balanced character strengths and weaknesses will decrease greatly. Unbalanced games can be a lot of fun, but unless Nintendo gets lucky, it likely will mean they’ve made an unenjoyable game.

Smash Ultimate already boasts more than 70 characters, with more on the way. It’s easy to think that adding more content to the game can make it a much better experience, but even the basics of economics tell us overinflation is not a good thing. This could hurt the franchise in a few different ways. 

Another side effect of adding more characters to the bloated Smash roster is the ever-decreasing nostalgia factor each new character will have. Much of Smash’s appeal comes from the personal attachment players have to the older characters. The whole selling point for the series is having these long-lasting, iconic characters duking it out. As the potential list of new Smash characters gets smaller, how Nintendo might not be able to maintain the strength of that concept. Sans may be a bonafide meme and a good character, but he doesn’t really have the same kind of reputation associated with characters like Mario, Sonic and Solid Snake. 

This is the downside to how Nintendo decided which characters to add over the years. Smash was originally supposed to be a series for Nintendo characters. Then, it was a series of iconic characters with games on Nintendo consoles. Finally, after characters like Cloud from Final Fantasy VII and Joker from Persona 5 were added, Smash became a series for well-known video game characters in general. 

That kind of approach to adding characters could be good since Nintendo can pull characters from many more sources, but it also opens the door for a diluted sense of nostalgia. Why should the player care about the newest Smash game when they don’t like half the characters they see, and they already bought a version of the game with the characters they do like a decade ago?

It’s a question that Nintendo must answer as they proceed with the series. They could simply leave certain characters behind when they make a new entry, or they could be brave and increase the size of their massive roster. How they answer this question should affect a fan’s decision whether or not to purchase the next game. Loyalty to a series is never an excuse to support bad content. 

1 Comment

  1. While it’s possible that Nintendo might be overdoing it a bit regarding who they pick for DLC, they (especially Sakurai) are seasoned veterans in the Gaming Industry. Not only that, but the Smash Bro’s community is so large, that the diversity of people who play the game almost requires such a grand roster. Another fun factor to include is that Sans, while considered his own fighter, is really Mii Gunner in disguise. Knowing who is running the show at Nintendo, they will keep Smash Ultimate going for a long time, possible even for the lifespan of the Switch. They could also learn from the success of Sans, and add more costumes that give a little more detail and even some music from games that fans would like to see represented, but aren’t as well established. The risks are certainly there, but Nintendo has been doing a fine job so far making games that people love to play, and I think it’s safe to say, that Smash Bros, is no exception!

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