Opinion: Who Should the Wii U Smash Bros. Be Made For?
The new Wii U Super Smash Bros is all over the news these days. It was recently announced that a brand new trailer for the game would be shown at Nintendo’s pre-E3 event, and that has gotten the Smash crowd in a frenzy. But who is the Smash crowd? This is a debate that has been raging ever since the original Smash Bros gave you the option to turn off items. Are we talking about the hardcore gamers who reduce the variance of the game as much as possible in order to have a true battle of skill between two fighters? Or are we talking about the casual crowd that swears by this game as a fun and frantic, easy to control brawler that you simply can’t take seriously? More importantly, who should Nintendo and Namco Bandai focus on when developing the newest Smash title?
Well, the series’ creator, Masahiro Sakura, has already shared his opinion with us. He always thought that Smash was more of a casual game. He’s gone on record saying that people who turn off items are doing it wrong and has gone out of his way to take out “pro” techniques such as wave-dashing and short hop fast falling. He even added in random tripping to Brawl so that, even if you turn off all the items and play on a stage with no hazards, there is still an element of randomness to the game that can just screw you for no reason.
On the other hand, the pro smash community is one of the most dedicated pro gaming communities out there. In fact, they are so dedicated that they have made no fewer than five different hacks of Smash Bros. Brawl to take out all the random junk that Sakurai and HAL Laboratories inserted into the game. They rebalanced the cast, tweaked the stages, and overall made the game more competitive. As a result, people actually went out and bought copies of Smash just so that they can play these new Brawl mods.
Namco Bandai is helping out with the development this time around, and they have been known to aid both sides. Games like Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Soul Calibur V are extremely competitive and well respected in the professional fighting game community. Meanwhile, games like the Naruto Shippuden series of anime fighters are incredibly unbalanced featuring systems that can completely invalidate an entire combo simply by pressing a button. Namco Bandai has developed both types of games very recently, though their most recent fighting game, the upcoming JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle, has already been confirmed to be a more casual title.
Then there’s the question of, “Who will help boost Nintendo’s sales?” The Wii U is already suffering from poor sales, so having a killer app for the console is definitely in Nintendo’s best interest. On one hand, casual gamers always make up a greater portion of a title’s sales than hardcore gamers. This is true for just about every title ever released in the history of gaming. On the other hand, hardcore gamers are far more likely to go out and drop 300 dollars on a new console just to be able to play one game competitively. Furthermore, hardcore gamers are the gamers that have kept Super Smash Bros. Melee alive over 10 years after its original release. Hence, they would be the most likely to bring new players into the game, which equals more sales for Nintendo.
The final question is perhaps the hardest to answer: what feels more like Smash Bros? Is Smash Bros. inherently a party game that lives and dies by its own randomness? Or is it an accidental hardcore fighter that can only be made better by refining the mechanics that made Melee great in the first place? What do you think? Who do you want the next Smash Bros. to be made for?