Friday, March 14, 2008

Super Smash Bros. Brawl Characters

Well, as I continue to play and write about Super Smash Bros. Brawl, one thing that I have to comment on is the list of characters. There are even more characters in this game than in Super Smash Bros. Melee, which is obviously a good thing considering that the series is based around the idea of showcasing the good characters from throughout Nintendo's library of games. However, the details of the character list is something that I am not completely satisfied with. I guess I will break this down by series, just to keep things manageable.

Mario Bros.: I've got no complaints with the full cast of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, Yoshi, and Wario. Other than minor characters and characters who only appear in a single game, it is a very complete list. Adding any more would probably have been excessive.

Donkey Kong: Adding Diddy Kong to the game was a nice touch, though I still would have preferred if Dixie Kong also was in the game, simply because she was just as important to the great Donkey Kong Country games as Diddy (and even more important than Donkey, oddly enough). No really justifiable complaints here, though. I am actually rather glad they kept K. Rool out of the Smash Bros. series so far, because he is such a blatant and shallow derivation of Bowser that his presence would not add very much.

Metroid: I am glad that they (essentially) just stuck with Samus as a character to represent the Metroid series. It is a series that is entirely held together by only that one character, so I think trying to make any other characters iconic would just hurt the series. Of course, Zero Suit Samus is still Samus, so her addition is not a big problem.

Legend of Zelda: Here is where my real complaining starts. Link is good (though a Wolf form would have been nice, considering the Twilight Princess focus of this game), Zelda is good (though I feel that Sheik, a character who only appeared in one game and is unlikely to return any time soon, is probably unneeded), but Ganondorf is still a clone. They differentiated him from Captain Falcon a little more, but the Brawl version is still so far from any version of Ganondorf or Ganon in the Legend of Zelda series that he just doesn't seem to fit in at all. I think that making him more into a sorcerer like he was in Ocarina of Time, or a Swordsman like in he was in Windwaker, would have worked better. Finally, I like the concept of and addition of Toon Link, but his name is terrible.

Star Fox: Unfortunately, the Star Fox character list is far from perfect. Fox is still good and is an obvious choice, but it was a poor decision to have him be accompanied by both Falco and Wolf. Both of those characters are a bit too similar, since both are aggressive and confident rivals to Fox, and neither of them can easily be made distinct from Fox easily. In this case, I think Falco is probably the one who needs to go, since his moveset is far less original and interesting than Wolf's, and I approve of more villain characters getting a spotlight. It probably would have been better for Krystal to be the third Star Fox character, using the staff from Star Fox Adventures and a different moveset entirely. Certainly, the Smash Bros. series could use more good female characters.

Pokemon: The addition of Pokemon Trainer is such a good idea that I almost wonder why there are Pokemon separate from trainers at all. Pikachu and Jigglypuff could easily be integrated into being part of a trainer's line-up. I think there should be three trainers: the Male Trainer, a Female Trainer, and a Rival Trainer (a set-up which is proven to be central to the franchise in the main Pokemon manga), each with three different Pokemon (maybe each having one of the starters?). Beyond that wish, I have few problems with the current set of Pokemon characters.

Mother/Earthbound: I really think they should have picked either Lucas or Ness, and just stuck with one. Both are interesting, but there are just too similar. If they wanted to have more than one Earthbound character, it probably would have been better to add character who is different from Ness or Lucas, like Poo, or perhaps add a villain character.

Kirby: I think this set is pretty good. In fact, we probably should have gotten either Meta-Knight or King Dedede back in Melee. Those three characters are the three most important and memorable recurring characters in the Kirby franchise, so they really do all deserve to be there and they work well as Smash Bros. characters.

Fire Emblem: This is one group of characters that I am the least satisfied with. Anyone who reads the archives would know that I am a big fan of the Fire Emblem series, so I suppose I might be a bit biased, but just having Ike and Marth seems to be far too little for a series that has such a huge cast of interesting and varied characters. Ike and Marth are differentiated very well in Brawl, much better than Marth and Roy were, but they are both sword-using Lord characters in the Fire Emblem games, and there are many other major types of characters in fire Emblem who deserve a spot in a Smash Bros. game. Even ignoring the many characters who ride horses and wyverns, non-combatant healers, wimpy thieves, and swordsmen who would act like Lord clones, there are still many character archetypes in Fire Emblem that have recurring importance, such as Wind Mages (like Soren, Maric, and the Holsety users), female Light Mages (like Micaiah, Linda, and Julia), villainous Dark Mages (like Garnef, Manfroy, Nergal, and Izuka), Manakete who can take on a draconic form (Chiki and Myrhh), and the newer Laguz from the recent games, as well as various other interesting villains like Ike's nemesis the Black Knight or Marth's final foe (twice), Medius the Dark Dragon. Any one of these would add some variety to the Smash Bros. series. At the very least, there could have been more of these characters as assist trophies or as Subspace Emissary bosses.

Retro Characters: I have no complaints here. ROB, Mr. Game and Watch, the Ice Climbers, and Pit are all good characters. I wouldn't like having too many more retro characters, because I don't think it is a good idea to have a lot of forgotten characters squeeze out characters with long-standing popularity, but having a few around to celebrate Nintendo's long history is fine.

Others: Captian Falcon and Olimar are both good characters, so I have no complaints here, either. Well, I would have liked to see a Custom Robo character, but that is a minor complaint.

Third Party: There just should have been more third party characters in Brawl. Ever since Snake was announced, people have been desperately hoping for more third-party characters to be announced, but they ended up with only two, even fewer than the number Mr. Sakurai stated that he intended to put in the game. Certainly, characters who have been as iconic to the Nintendo console gaming experience as any first-party character, like Megaman or Simon Belmont, deserve to be in the Smash Bros. series. That said, I am just glad that there are any Third Party characters at all.

Overall, I really think the Smash Bros. series could use a bit more focus on character variety. The Subspace Emissary mode highlights the lack of female characters, especially heroic female characters, pretty dramatically (two of the three female characters are perpetual Damsels in Distress), and it suffers from the lack of villains (only Wario, Ganondorf, and Bowser, really, especially since Meta-Knight and King Dedede are not strictly villainous). More variety would make characters more interesting and add flexibility to possible future story modes, and it would also help avoid the perpetual Smash Bros. problem of too many characters having overly similar mechanics and movesets.

No comments: