A Switch Smash? Why we’re still waiting for the Nintendo brawler
Jack Matthams looks at whether we need Super Smash Bros. on the Switch.
The last Super Smash Bros. game came out in 2014 and was received with critical acclaim on both 3DS and the Wii U, so it begs the question… where’s the Smashing on the Switch?
Nintendo have a habit of producing some real gemstone franchises, but when they all come together as one big happy family it produces something special, something no other video games platform has ever been able to successfully recreate. And how could they? Going back to 1998, the Super Smash Bros. series has consistently received wonderful reviews, with 2001’s Melee, 2008’s Brawl and 2014’s Wii U/3DS versions all receiving spectacular critical acclaim. No other platform holder has such lovable characters as Mario, Link, Kirby, Samus, the full roster of Pokémon and all the rest. With Super Smash Bros. everyone could play as their favourite, with nobody left out, and it offered fantastic multiplayer entertainment that seemed assured to keep going well into the future.
Except… it hasn’t. Sure, we’re only three years since the last release, but the Nintendo Switch has been going incredibly strong since its unveiling, and it seems to have the perfect setup for a new and improved, all-star roster filled Smash Bros. Many were feverishly excited at the almost guaranteed prospect of an announcement at E3, but when this came and passed without a trace, all were left disappointed, unable to see why one of the most popular Nintendo franchises to date had been neglected. So why has it been so elusive? I think there are a few big reasons.Firstly, the Switch has only been going since March, which is not really long enough for Nintendo to fully gauge its long-term success. Sure, the same could be said for the Wii U, which eventually fell a bit flat, but that console was tied to the success of the Wii and had very different expectations in mind. As Nintendo made clear, the Switch is a completely new console, a platform that takes inspirations from all previous formats to create a new generation; the opening several months were always going to be cautious, so announcing a new Smash Bros. game for a console that could have flopped would have been a dangerous business. It’s much smarter to hold off and wait to see if the console is successful, thus paving the way for larger, more investing projects.
Secondly, and in relation to the first point, the Switch hasn’t seen a huge amount of games in which Smash Bros can capitalise on. And by this I mean we have yet to see many of the major roster of characters, the main appeal of the game’s concept. It makes sense for Nintendo to wait until some of their bigger names have their own Switch titles before releasing a Smash Bros., as by doing this they ensure loyalty from the fans of these characters and titles, whilst also potentially drumming up late buyers for already released games. So far, we’ve had Mario Kart 8 and Breath of the Wild as major releases, with a few smaller titles such as Super Bomberman R and Ultra Street Fighter II accompanying them. Yet in the future, we have Mario Odyssey, Metroid Prime 4, an untitled Fire Emblem project, Mario and Rabbids, a Rayman Remaster, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Yoshi and an untitled Pokémon RPG project coming our way. And that’s just what has been announced so far this year! With the release of these, and probably a few other major titles we have yet to hear from, a large number of the popular roster characters will have been established on the Switch and will draw more sales for Smash Bro. fans of these titles. And let’s not forget any deals involving third party games too. It makes logical sense to wait.
Finally, there were rumours of discontentment from Masahiro Sakurai, the director of all five previous games, who was quoted as being uncertain how a sequel to Smash Bros. Wii U would work, mainly due to the DLC additions the game made. He said that Smash Bros. was in a “very difficult place”, and whilst this spells particularly bad news, it is by no means the end of all, as there have been rumours going as far back as 2014 of Bandai Namco taking the reigns.
Nothing concrete has been announced, but if Sakurai is still on board, Smash Bros. for the Switch is definitely coming, and even if he isn’t, it is still quite likely.
Smash Bros. remains one of the most beloved series that Nintendo has made, so while the lack of news may rest uncomfortably in the stomach’s of its fans, there’s very little need to panic just yet. We will have to wait and see what the future holds, and remember: Nintendo is very good at listening to its fans.
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