Friday, January 25, 2013

Return of the Smashing Six!

With the next instalment of the Super Smash Bros. series approaching fruition there's a lot of talk and rumours floating about. One that happened to catch my eye was about the characters which had been cut between Melee and Brawl. For those who don't know these characters are: Roy, Dr. Mario, Young Link, Mewtwo, Pichu, and Ditto (hang on, I'll explain this.) For the most part the only two anybody cares about are Mewtwo and Roy, but I was actually disappointed that any of the previous characters had been cut, even if I rarely used them. They added something to cast, gave it color. Maybe they were clones, maybe they were poorly programmed, maybe they had no practical application because they damaged themselves everytime you pushed a button, but I loved them anyway.

I am royally fucking excited to have even the slightest bit of hope that they'll return.
Of course, maybe a couple of adjustments need to be made. After all, Young Link was essentially reincarnated as Toon Link and Mario took on the characters of his M.D.-certified counterpart. So what changes would I make to these returning superstars? Well, let's take a look!

Let's start off with Roy. I know almost nothing about him, but let's start with him! Lord and prince of Fire Emblem 6, Roy has so far starred only in Japanese-exclusive titles. Or title, I think. However, we did get to play as his dad, King/Prince Eliwood, in Fire Emblem for the GBA shortly after Melee aroused international interest in the franchise (which is exactly what it was supposed to do.) Additionally, Roy is set to appear as DLC in Fire Emblem: Awakening which is headed stateside very soon.
In Melee Roy was little more than a move clone of Marth. Same animations, same Japanese voice gimmick, same franchise. Pretty similar characters. However, they did play totally differently. Marth was fast and focused on light jabs and damage-building while Roy was slower, shorter, and packed one  hell of a punch. While both he and Marth could charge their attacks, only Roy could create a Din-rivaling inferno with his.

Generally Roy was replaced by Ike when Brawl came around. There are a lot of similarities between the two, but there's no denying greater differences. While Roy was strong in Melee and had explosive sword strokes his physical abilities pale in comparison to the young Greil. Being a middle-ground between Marth and Ike gives him a nice bit of wiggle room to squeeze in on the action. Also, he was supposed to show up in Brawl but was cut due to time constraints (I blame Sonic.)

How would I change Roy if he were to show up in the next game? As much as I hate to admit it, his costume would be changed to that ridiculously stupid one from FE:A. Roy has always been nothing but a commercial, and Nintendo likes to use the most recent iteration of a character in Smash Bros. as evidenced by the changes in Link. This would, however, give him the advantage of a double-sword playstyle, something we haven't seen in the series yet.

I'd want his core gameplay to remain the same. Average speed, average jumping, moderate-to-strong attacks. That's all good. However, I'd like to see his attacks themselves changed a bit. Probably not too much, but maybe they could Ganondorf him a bit. Just make the attacks look different or something.

For sure I wouldn't change his Up B or Neutral B attacks. I'd make them animate to take advantage of dual swords, but as far as how the attacks are executed nothing should change. Some argue that leaving them unchanged would cement his clone status, but this isn't really true. Marth's Neutral B attack changed from an arc-swing to a stabbing move from Melee to Brawl which would make Roy's Neutral B wholly unique to himself. Changing his Up B to animate with dual swords should make it at least look different enough to prevent it from being too cloney.

Side B and Down B can be changed, definitely. For one, both Ike and Marth use Counter as their Down B, and outside of Fire Emblem Lucario does the same. It would be nice to have a little more variety in move pools. I think it would be neat to show off the other aspects of the Fire Emblem franchise with this attack, such as equipable items. It would be cool to have Roy equip something like an Energy Ring to temporarily increase his strength, either for a limited time, until he takes so much damage, or until he is KOed. His Side B could probably remain the same, as it would show off his dual swords pretty well. Alternatively it could be interesting to show off the "Rescue" mechanic of the Fire Emblem series by having Roy drop-off an ally who could perform a move before leaving the stage.

To be honest, I wouldn't change very much about Dr. Mario. I mean, I probably would have if this question was asked prior to the release of Brawl, but with that came a change in the main man Mario's moveset. I mean, it was a little change, but it was change enough. However, I'm sure this threw some people off a little bit, so what I'd like to do is keep Dr. Mario largely how he was before as a throwback to the way Mario used to play. Kind of like how Falco was originally a recast of Fox from the first Super Smash Bros. when Fox was changed up for Melee.

A lot of people have mentioned wanting Dr. Mario to be an alternate costume for the true Mario, and that would be cool. Not my first choice, but still cool. However, this post is my fantasy, so we're going with my first choice! Ha! (Also, from this point on I'll mention potential alternates. Of course Roy already has two costumes mentioned, so that's sweet.) Instead of Dr. Mario being an alternate costume for true Mario I'd choose something probably along the lines of a power-up, like the Tanooki Suit or one of those radular costumes from Mario Party 2. Cowboy Mario would be incredible.

As for Dr. Mario's alternate costume? Well, this would be a cool opportunity to show off Mario's other career-based game: Wrecking Crew. The theme wouldn't exactly match up with the pills and whatnot, but the Doctor and Wrecker persona actually have a lot in common as far as their roles in the franchise are concerned (both are side-game careers, both are non-hero careers, both are Mario...)

I've thought about how to reincorporate Young Link a lot, bouncing between making him alternate between mask forms from Majora's Mask to being the Link featured in A Link to the Past complete with pink hair. Ultimately I've decided on simply bringing over this pure Kokiri Link, complete with Deku Shield and tiny little sword. However, his moveset would be changed quite heavily to differentiate him from Toon Link, who I would leave unchanged.

This Young Link would be all Ocarina of Time. Though he shared this game with his adult self and starred 100% in his own game later on, this Link is clearly straight from Hyrule as he utilized the Hero's Shield in Majora's Mask. In Melee Young Link is seen using both bombs and arrows, neither of which he can equip in Ocarina of Time. While he can use these in Majora's Mask, that's not what we're drawing from.

One item which Young Link can make use of is the Deku Nut, which makes a satisfying replacement to his Side B. I know that Young Link can use boomerangs in Ocarina, but I want to differentiate him from Toon Link and Link as much as possible. The Deku Nut would act exactly like it does as an item, stunning enemies for a brief time (perhaps long enough for Young Link to properly execute a Smash Attack?)

His Neutral B could be similar to the arrow by utilizing the slingshot instead. However, one thing that could make the move a little more different in execution would be the ability to aim the slingshot's trajectory either higher or lower, similar to a game of Angry Birds. This could help to protect Young Link from enemies who wish to jump at him while he is charging his attack.

The most iconic item from Ocarina of Time just so happens to be... the Ocarina of Time. And a fine Down B this would make. For the unversed, tapping Down and B would pull out the Ocarina, and another tap of B would cause Young Link to play a random song effectively being the Scarecrow's Song. Pierre bursts from the ground, damaging nearby enemies. Occasionally he'll bring healing items such as food, which he tosses upon his emergence.

However, the ocarina is much more than the Scarecrow's Song. To those who are familiar with the tunes of Ocarina of Time, holding B after pressing Down B will let them tap the control stick in any direction to play the ocarina. Up, down, left, and right as well as a few other corresponding buttons can be used to play a variety of songs from Ocarina of Time. These are typically only used for aesthetic cameo purposes, such as changing the stage from day to night or making it rain for a short while (which only has further affects in the Distant Planet stage.)

Young Link's Up B will be largely unchanged, although one additional alteration will be made which will separate it from the attack used by his other forms. Once Young Link reaches the crest of his ascent he will take advantage of a Cucco which can help guide him back to the stage as well as slow his descent. After releasing the B button Young Link will let go of the Cucco and drop at an average pace. The Cucco will then either fall into the abyss or, if it lands on the stage, wander for a bit. It will run off and dive away if attacked.

But that's not all that happens to Cucco's when attacked. While Toon Link and Link share a Final Smash, I thought Young Link could do something different. That Cucco he has is part of a rather large flock. A flock that doesn't like when its kind are harmed. By slashing at it, Young Link could unleash a flurry of furied fowl upon his foes.

Young Link doesn't have much in the ways of apparel in either of his starring roles which makes it a bit difficult to outfit him with an alternate costume. However, OoT does offer us this one thing. Normally I hate making alternate characters as costumes (Daisy, for instance) I can make an exception here. The Dark Link featured in Ocarina of Time is noticeably different from the Dark Links seen as costumes for Toon Link and Link. This one is a true shadow, and was even battled in Melee... the same game from which Young Link was last seen! So it would be cool to have Young Dark Link as an alternate costume, utilizing shadow versions of YL's arsenal.

Mewtwo is one of my Melee mains and I was absolutely heartbroken when he was cut from Brawl. It was a decision that didn't make a whole lot of sense. Mewtwo, as a character, is really popular, and really cool. He's just one of those mysterious characters that draws people into him, like Wolverine and Batman. His motivations and goals aren't always clear. He's the villain learning to be good who, more often than not, teases thoughts of returning back to villainy. Because he prefers it.

The sting was lessened some when it was discovered that he was set to return but, like Roy, was pushed off due to time constraints (again, blaming Sonic.) The largest complaint with Mewtwo was that  his floaty programming made him very light and it didn't work well in conjunction with his slow attack style. Now this isn't an issue in most games, but it does shoot him right to the bottom of competitive play. I think with the tighter grasp of programming we have these days this could be fixed with ease and Mewtwo's physics could easily find a nice balance.

As for his moveset, well, nothing really needs any changing. Mewtwo has a solid combat style the emphasizes who he is, and while some of it was adopted by Lucario in Brawl the adapted moves are all very different. People like to claim Lucario is Mewtwo, but the resemblance isn't even superficial. Especially when it comes to the regular moves list. So there isn't a thing I would change about this guy's style. He's got a good one.

The Pokemon video games don't really give the monsters very much in the way of costumes. Fortunately, Super Smash Bros. seems to draw a lot of inspiration from the anime and that opens up a very obvious door for Mewtwo's alternate costume. In his first anime appearance, Mewtwo Strikes Back, Mewtwo is outfitted with armor that focuses his psychic abilities and has become nearly as iconic as the character himself. Menacing and sinister-looking, this armor would make the perfect alternate costume for the Mental Master of Monsters.

Ah, Pichu. Probably the most hated member of the Melee roster. Unsurprisingly, one I miss more than almost all of the rest. When I first unlocked Pichu there was this euphoric feeling that overwhelmed me. I used the character for years before deciding to focus on a more competitive style. It was cute, it was bouncy, and it was fun. It added a little extra challenge and a whole lot of charm to a game that was already full of heart-warming fuzzies.

I'm not sure if I would change Pichu's move pool very much, if at all. I mean, the whole idea behind the character is that it's Pikachu on hard mode. While normally I hate clones, Pichu takes the clone concept and works with it to accomplish a greater goal. While most clones attempt to be "I'm not a clone because--" Pichu says: "Yeah, I'm a clone. But I'm a damn good one."

What I would change about Pichu is the way it looks. Now don't get me wrong, its generic species look would make a beyond adequate alternate costume, but for its primary costume I have something else in mind. The Spikey-Eared Pichu is a specific character who, other than her namesake ear, is identical to any other Pichu. This is the perfect opportunity to squeeze in an obscure character without really tossing the balance of the game whatsoever while making more than a few Pokefans pretty darn happy.

Don't think Ditto was in Super Smash Bros. Melee? Well, you're almost right. However there is an option in Tournament Mode where you can set your character to generate randomly during each round. The icon they use to represent this option? Ditto. Implying that the random character is actually Ditto transforming into the character.

Now, I don't necessarily want Ditto to be the random slot character at all. I'm partial to my own fantasies of the Fighting Polygon Team taking that slot. However, it could be cool if Ditto could transform into any of his opponents. Now of course Ditto doesn't have any attacks of his own in the Pokemon games, but this wouldn't be the first time Smash Bros. invented its own things. So while Ditto wouldn't have any Special Moves, including recoveries, I'd allow him to have his own set of A and Smash attacks, as well as grapples.

All of his B moves, however, would be "Transform." Depending on the number of players currently available, Ditto's Special Attacks transform him into a different player character.

Up B - Player 3
B - Player 2
Down B - Player 4
Side B - Enemy 5 (in Multi-Man events)

Ditto's taunt, similarly to Kirby's, would revert him back into his true self so that he may transform into another player if desired. I think the addition of Ditto to the roster would be one of those surprise twists the Smash franchise has been used for. Plus, all of his transformations could have his derpy little face on them and it would be awesome. His alternate colors could correspond with the alternate colors of the transformed character (blue Ditto would become Fusion Suit Samus, for example.) Unfortunately, other than alternate colors, Ditto has never worn an outfit of any kind, so we're going to have to stretch a bit for his alternate costume. I would probably just have him wear a t-shirt. Maybe Duplica's t-shirt.

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