Blockbuster fighting game series Super Smash Bros. is expanding its ranks with the addition of three new characters to its upcoming installment.
The fourth title in the series will continue the tradition of pitting characters from a string of Nintendo franchises against each other in battle arenas.
The latest to join the cast for the Wii U and 3DS game are Lucina and Robin from Fire Emblem: Awakening and Captain Falcon of F-Zero fame.
Fire Emblem: Awakening is a role-playing tactical game for the 3DS. Robin is the main playable character created at the start of the game, but players can choose a different name. They can opt to control Robin as either a male or female character. It’s the first time the Fire Emblem: Awakening duo has appeared in a Super Smash Bros. game.
Captain Falcon, meanwhile, is the lead protagonist in the F-Zero racing series. He has appeared in all three previous Super Smash Bros. games.
“The addition of these three characters to Super Smash Bros. is significant, because it keeps the game fresh for core gamers and offers something new for those playing for the first time,” Susan Schreiner, an analyst at C4 Trends, told TechNewsWorld.
“In a way, it’s bringing together the best of several game series to Super Smash Bros. and the hardcore are looking for those fireworks. At E3, one only had to look at the faces of the hardcore attendees to see the pure elation and engagement as they played the new Super Smash Bros.,” Schreiner said. “They were clamoring for information about it and experiencing the thrill of its gameplay with new characters to battle.”
Drive to Move Hardware
“Nintendo desperately needs to move Wii U hardware, and while first-party IP is making its way slowly to the market, they have found a way to grab the attention of fans by including as many characters possible in the new iteration of Super Smash Bros.,” said Eric Smith, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.
“This steady drip-drip-drip of character additions will likely continue until the game’s 3DS release in October. I think Nintendo is trying to reach as many Fire Emblem and F-Zero fans as possible, in addition to all of the other franchises they’ve already incorporated, in order to drive sales this holiday season,” he told TechNewsWorld.
The latest additions bring the number of playable characters in Super Smash Bros. to 36. Among them are stalwarts such as Mario, Bowser, Link, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Among those also making their debut in the latest title is Pac-Man of the eponymous classic arcade game. Mega Man also is making an appearance for the first time, along with the Wii Fit Trainer and the Villager from Animal Crossing.
Another iconic video game character, Rayman, is making an appearance, albeit in the form of a trophy rather than a playable fighter.
Since 1999, the three games in the series to date have sold more than 23 million copies, underlining the importance of Super Smash Bros. to Nintendo.
It’s possible that the re-emergence of Super Smash Bros. could boost flagging sales of the flagship Wii U console. The system is lagging behind the juggernaut of Sony’s PlayStation 4 in the current hardware generation, though it reportedly has sold more units than Microsoft’s Xbox One.
The Wii U has sold approximately 6.6 million units, compared with the PS4’s 8.4 million and the Xbox One’s 4.8 million. However, sales of the handheld 3DS system far outsrip others, with sales of 43.9 million. The latest Super Smash Bros. will be the first in the series to be playable on that system.
“Over the years, this has been a very successful property for Nintendo, and it has a wide installed base across Nintendo platforms, Wii, 3DS, even going back to 1999 for the N64,” C4 Trends’ Schreiner noted.
“With the new title launch, Nintendo is betting that this Super Smash Bros. will appeal to its installed base while also expanding the marketplace by creating demand by a new generation. It is also betting that this title will also positively impact sales of the Wii U, which has been selling more slowly than projected,” she said.
“The success of Super Smash Bros. since its introduction in 1999 is a testament to Nintendo that even though it’s always been different than other game experiences, it has always offered some challenge, character or story line that has appealed even to hardcore gamers,” Schreiner added.
“Super Smash Bros. has been such a hit because it’s a great party game that can easily be picked up and put down, and the franchise characters provide a touchstone for anybody to enjoy playing, even if they aren’t particularly good at fighters,” Strategy Analytics’ Smith said.
“Nintendo has a lot riding on Super Smash Bros. as it is the next big release of first-party IP after Mario Kart 8. Both of these party games, plus Mario Party 10, will be some of the first to feature amibo functionality. A large installed base of popular games will be key to testing out Nintendo’s foray into toys-to-life.”