Lock a crowd of Super Smash Bros. fans in a room and make them agree on what they want in the series’ next game and it’s likely that, when you open the door again, there will be blood.
People ask a lot of Nintendo’s 20-year-old fighting game franchise. With the game’s fifth iteration on the horizon, the air is filled with fans’ hopes for the new game—especially since that iteration is landing on Nintendo’s hugely successful Switch. Nostalgic fans with an emotional attachment to their childhood fave want different things than pros with an interest in Smash 5’s esports potential. Cries of “Ban Bayonetta!” resound alongside casual players’ requests for more hilarious, chaotic stages.
As a self-professed rabid Super Smash Bros. fan, I have my own Christmas list for Smash 5. A few of my hopes and dreams below:
Showcase the Switch’s success stories
I would do horrible things for a Breath of the Wild Zelda or a Snipperclips stage in Super Smash Bros. It would be a sin if Nintendo didn’t include Super Mario Odyssey’s Mario, complete with Cappy, too.
The Switch has had one stellar release after another, and Nintendo’s big franchise-mashing fighting game’s roster and stages are a great place to show that off. Updating past versions of Smash’s Nintendo heroes, like Waker HD’s Toon Link or Super Mario Sunshine’s Mario (so 2002), would be a great look.
We also know that Smash 5 will have Splatoon 2’s Inkling characters—their debut in the franchise—so it’s not out of the question that we’d see Arms’ Twintelle, too.
Add a story mode
I’m a Brawlpologist and think Super Smash Bros.’ 2008 Wii iteration isn’t as bad as people like to say it is. Part of the reason why is because of Brawl’s psychedelic single-player campaign, Subspace Emissary. In one tense, improbable scene, Metal Gear’s Snake literally rescued Peach and Zelda. That’s wild.
Subspace Emissary’s gameplay was a fun, experimental combination of side-scrolling platforming levels, Smash-style fighting and cutscenes. Its plot lacked rhyme or reason, yet in the end, it was really special to watch Diddy Kong dragging Fox into the jungle by the scruff of his neck.
Sadly, story mode didn’t return for Smash 4. A story mode for Smash 5 that gave players an alternate venue for unlocking characters would add some great variety to the game.
On that note….
Cut down on superfluous modes
Although a story mode in Smash 5 would rule, Smash is for smashing. Yes, modes like “Break the Targets” and “Home-Run Contest” are classics. But we just don’t need “Trophy Rush.” We don’t need “Smash Tour,” Smash 4’s totally weird, totally stupid board game mode. These modes are for when your friends come over and want to troll. And they’re not even that great for trolling.
Make GameCube Pro controllers
Blessed be. Nintendo released GameCube controller support for the Switch last October. That’s great if you have the Wii U GameCube controller adapter. However, I would shell out money for a wireless GameCube pro controller for Smash 5. Don’t get me wrong—the Switch’s pro controllers are nice, but lots of Smash players live and breathe by our beloved but flawed GameCube controllers. A lot of us just want well-made official ones that aren’t a pain to carry around or connect to our consoles.
Rethink online play
Right now, Smash 4 has two modes for online play: “For Fun” and “For Glory.” “For Fun” is a four-player free-for-all match in which all items and stages are fair game. “For Glory” is a more serious and streamlined mode for one-on-one, two-on-two or four-player free-for-all matches with minimally-distracting stages and no items. Players in “For Glory” are ranked by their Global Smash Power, which rises and falls as they win and lose online matches.
Essentially, players have a choice between hyper-casual and hyper-competitive play with nothing in between. Smash 5 should change that.
I hope Smash 5 gets an online play mode between “For Fun” and “For Glory” that accommodates players who want skill-focused (read: no items, sane stages) matches but without the constant reminder that they’re being graded on their performance. It can be called “For Glun” or “For Flory” for all I care. Nintendo doesn’t have a great track record of catering to Smash’s casual and competitive crowds at the same time, and an in-between online mode would do the trick.
Also, to cut down on unnecessary stress, Nintendo might want to remind Switch owners that they can get a LAN adapter for wired internet. A fact: Competitive online games are more competitive when you’ve got good, stable internet.
Official support for the competitive scene
Super Smash Bros. has an enormous, hype competitive scene that exists with almost no support from daddy Nintendo. On the one hand, that’s great, since competitive events happen all the time without Nintendo’s blessing. On the other, pro players don’t make a lot of money. It’s hard to be a pro Smash player—they’ve even talked about unionizing—because, to stay afloat, they attend tournaments around the country almost every weekend to earn winnings. That can be exhausting.
Lots of other competitive games’ publishers toss some money the pros’ way because they effectively advertise the game to huge audiences whenever they play publicly. It might be a good idea for Nintendo to host a few more tournaments for Smash 5 in the U.S. in the coming years. In June, Nintendo will debut Smash 5 at E3 like they did with Smash 4 some years ago—but hopefully, they won’t leave its community hanging afterwards.
Cull down the fighter roster
Cameos from Duck Hunt, Wii Fit Trainer and Little Mac are what made Smash 4 the kind of game worth keeping my crappy Wii U for. That said, in my opinion, Smash 4 just has too many fighters. Fifty-eight characters is just a lot. It really is. I don’t know anyone who plays even a majority of them on a regular basis.
The huge roster is great for all kinds of players to feel like their favorite games are represented in their favorite mascot fighter, but Smash 5 should focus on balance instead of breadth.
For example, I like Fire Emblem. Marth is a classic Smash fighter by this point. And, I’ll admit, the magic-wielding Robin was a fun surprise in Smash 4. But Smash games simply do not need six Fire Emblem characters, especially when a few of them have similar movesets. Worse, seven of Smash 4’s fighters are only available as $5 downloadable content. A few of them have sparked controversy for appearing over-powered. Players at higher tiers of play often ignore lower-tier, mainstay fighters like Zelda and Jigglypuff in favor of the DLC fighters like Bayonetta and Cloud who don’t even come with the game. To me, that says something’s wrong in Smashville.
Smash 5 should just focus on 30 or so fighters. Why? Well, some of the newer additions, like Sonic or Bayonetta, to me, aren’t fun to play against with traditional Smash fighters. Their fringe movesets can feel out of place.
It’s great when Nintendo innovates in Smash, because that’s why we have Little Mac and Wii Fit Trainer, but with an abundance of repeat movesets and over-ambitious fighter designs, it might be good for Smash 5 to reel it back.
Innovate on Smash 4’s success with stages
Smash 4’s “omega” stages blew me away. For each stage Nintendo designed, Nintendo also designed a more competitive-friendly version of that stage, too, which they called “omega.” Another great thing Nintendo did with Smash 4’s stages: design Wii U-specific stages that 3DS players didn’t have to suffer through on their tiny screens. (Remember, the game was on a home console and a portable machine.)
The Switch seems like a tricky console to design a Smash game for. In handheld mode, playing Smash on it will resemble the 3DS’s casual, on-the-go play style while. When it’s docked, it might convey the Wii U’s more polished vibe. Imagine undocking your Switch and losing access to a large swath of Smash stages. No way! Hopefully, Nintendo will take into account what made Smash 4’s simpler 3DS stages so successful while, at the same time, avoid some of the too-complicated or weird stages offered on the Wii U, like Pac-Land and Palutena’s Temple. Perhaps, in addition to toggling stages onto the “omega” setting, players could toggle them between “handheld” and “docked” settings for the Switch.