But any disappointment likely turned to curiosity with the surprise announcement of six more characters being developed for release through December 2021. Sakurai said the upcoming roster is already picked, and acknowledged that while he reads many of the suggestions on Twitter, it’s now too late to make changes.
“I’m afraid it would be very hard to consider them, but I still hope you look forward to it,” Sakurai said.
So many of the characters in Smash don’t belong to Nintendo, and the first fighter pass introduced four characters to the game from outside Nintendo’s stable. Business negotiations to implement the fighters likely take up time throughout the year. And Sakurai has stressed that the most important factor of a fighter’s inclusion is simply how fun they are to play.
That said, Sakurai can’t and won’t stop fan speculation over who might be next — speculation we intend to indulge in. Smash fighter announcements have become an impromptu gathering place, and now, we are guaranteed two more years of this cycle. As one Redditor said, “I can’t wait for another six years of ‘Smash has too much Fire Emblem’ comments.”
Here’s our analysis of a few of the most-clamored-for fighters in the series — and their odds of getting the fateful invite to join Smash.
Dante (Devil May Cry)
This was the big one. The name Dante began trending across the U.S. on Twitter, and no, it wasn’t a sign that we were finally approaching the first circle of the Inferno. As the hero of the Devil May Cry series, Dante wields untold amounts of weapons, far more than the four Byleth wields. He wields swords, pistols, shotguns, rocket launchers, nunchuks, and even Pandora’s suitcase.
The Devil May Cry series is the grandfather of character action games like God of War and Bayonetta. Originally planned as a Resident Evil game, it expanded to introduce tight, Street Fighter-esque attacks into a traditional action-adventure game, all told with Resident Evil’s fixed camera angles and flair for campy storytelling. As the son of a human and a demon, Dante is virtually unkillable, and is easily one of the most powerful characters in gaming.
He’s also no stranger to guest appearances. He’s been a regular patron of many of Capcom’s games, including the Marvel vs. Capcom fighting game series, Viewtiful Joe, Puzzle Fighter and Monster Hunter World. He’s also appeared in Sony’s own attempt at a PlayStation-native Smash-like game, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, albeit the widely-hated Westernized version designed by Ninja Theory.
Many had hoped Dante would be part of Thursday’s announcement, especially since Capcom is about to announce new features to its Switch port of Devil May Cry 3. After all, his move set is perfect for Smash’s direction-based control system. Alas, Thursday wasn’t the jackpot many hoped for. But Dante’s entry would make sense, and he’d join fellow Capcom stablemates Mega Man and Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter.
Master Chief (Halo)
Just in case you’ve spent the past two decades in hibernation, Master Chief is the hero of the Halo series, the game franchise that almost singlehandedly turned Microsoft into a major player in the gaming industry.
Microsoft and Nintendo, two of the “Big Three” console producers, have been playing a lot friendlier in recent years. The two companies immediately agreed to feature cross-play on the Xbox and Switch consoles for the two biggest games of the century, Minecraft and Fortnite. This means players could share accounts across both competing systems — something Sony has been reluctant to allow. Microsoft and Nintendo have also made cute on social media.
The idea of the Xbox super soldier finishing the fight in Smash doesn’t seem all that far fetched. Adding Master Chief would be an opportunity for Microsoft to promote the Halo franchise, particularly in advance of Halo Infinite, which is scheduled for release on existing and upcoming Xbox consoles by the end of the year.
Still, Nintendo isn’t exactly the fastest when it comes to tying content with other releases. The company added Persona 5′s Joker character to Smash in 2018, despite the fact that Persona 5 was released in 2016. But if Nintendo and Microsoft pull off the timing, it would be a big win for Nintendo, and yet another sign that walls across the industry are breaking down.
Phoenix Wright (Ace Attorney series)
The 19-year-old legal eagle meets a lot of the criteria that have made for sure bets in the past: He’s appeared primarily on Nintendo consoles, and he’s one of the wackier requested characters, like Banjo Kazooie.
The Ace Attorney series debuted on Nintendo’s handhelds in 2001 (Japan) and 2005 (U.S.). For years they were synonymous with Nintendo’s DS systems. They tell the story of a young new defense attorney, taking up clients who are wrongly accused. The games were often viewed as a criticism of Japan’s overzealous prosecutorial system.
Like Dante, he’s another stablemate from Capcom, also featured in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where his moves include taking notes, or sending his psychic paralegal to pummel his opponents. His movesets will likely be closer to Game and Watch, another unconventional character that uses its various animations as attacks. Wright is right there for the taking.
Sora (Kingdom Hearts series)
Kingdom Hearts brand manager Shiniji Hashimoto has already ruled out an appearance by the big-shoed, spiky-haired, anime boy hero of the Disney-partnered role playing series. He wasn’t coy about it either. Sora is simply “not planned” for Smash.
But this was about 10 months ago, and Smash fans still kept up hope. Hashimoto is also the brand manager for Final Fantasy, which is already represented in Smash with Final Fantasy 7′s Cloud.
Given the backlash to “yet another sword guy” (and that Nintendo seems to be aware of it, given Sakurai’s comments in Thursday’s announcement), I’d be surprised if they added Sora anyway. Yes, he’s technically wielding a key, but it’s literally just a sword that’s a key. His basic move set is too similar to what players already have in the various Fire Emblem characters. Considering Sakurai’s commitment to different characters (and Byleth at least wields four different weapons), we’re putting Sora in the unlikely category.
Doom Guy (Doom series)
I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but the Jewish-Polish slayer of Hell’s titans might be a bit of a stretch.
The Doomslayer (or Doom Guy or Doom Marine as he’s been called throughout the decades) has seen a recent surge in popularity thanks to Bethesda’s successful 2016 Doom reboot, which updated the thrash-metal-paced ’90s game by retaining and updating its speed, gore, and explorable map spaces. The gore and his known move sets, however, don’t leave a lot to the imagination. Doom Guy can do one of two things: Blow the brains out of demons, or rip them apart with his bare hands. As experimental Nintendo has been about its characters, I’m not sure they (or we for that matter) are ready to see Doom Guy rip Yoshi’s arms off.
The upcoming Doom Eternal, however, gives him a sword (which both expands his move set and also makes him a worse fit for Smash, given the complaints about “too many sword guys in Smash). I’d say this is more wishful thinking than anything.
Geno (Super Mario RPG)
Of everyone on this list, no other character has been more in demand (with the possible exception of Waluigi). He’s also likely the most obscure of the list.
Geno is essentially “What if God possessed Pinocchio, and also Pinocchio’s fingers were guns instead?” He was the spirit guide of 1996′s Super Mario RPG, a beloved game that was also one of Nintendo’s first flirtations with third-party developers. Made by SquareSoft (later renamed Square Enix, after a merger with the developer Enix), Super Mario RPG was like a simpler, more action-based version of Final Fantasy. It also had a heartwarming story, and Geno played a big role in it.
Sakurai has addressed this in the past. Not only does he know about the requests, he’s made the request himself, he confirmed in a 2016 interview. Square Enix owns the rights to Geno, and as previously mentioned, the company already plays nice with Nintendo.
Sadly, given how long this request has been cooking, Geno’s time may have come and gone. The puppet is already represented as Mii costumes and “spirits” for the game’s single-player campaign.
Goku (Dragon Ball)
I don’t think Goku, Japan’s Superman and protagonist of the Dragon Ball series, will ever make the cut. He is, simply put, not a video game character — at least as much as that distinction applies to previous Smash characters.
Yes, he’s the star of countless video games, including the hotly anticipated action RPG Dragon Ball Kakarot, releasing Friday. But if you see the entire roster, every single character has their roots in gaming. From Terry Bogard to Shulk, they are all native to gaming.
Moreover, Goku would be a repetitive choice. His Kamehameha moveset is already represented with Street Fighter’s Ryu and Ken. Most importantly, Goku is an obvious choice — something Sakurai has been trying to avoid for years.