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We here at Smogon love us some competitive Pokémon, but it's pretty safe to say that for most of us, that's not where our enjoyment of Nintendo franchises stops. On Smogon, we have a massive number of Super Smash Brothers fans eager for the next installment. Today, I'll be shoving these two things together and making educated guesses as to what Pokémon representatives are likely to star in Super Smash Brothers for Wii U / 3DS .
Masahiru Sakurai (for those unfamiliar with him, the Smash Brothers' series director) has recently shared with us that the character selection process can be broken down into four main questions:
However, for Pokémon, he's explained that there are some additional / alternative character requirements. Pokémon have to be viewed as popular, whether that be through marketing research or appearences in the anime / movies. This severely reduces the massive 649 and soon to be growing blob of character choices Pokémon has to offer to a more manageable assortment of TV stars, movie characters, and game mascots. Indeed, all the Pokémon seen in Smash Brothers were either the outright face of the franchise (Pikachu), reoccuring anime Pokémon (Jigglypuff, Charizard, Squirtle, Ivysaur thanks to Bulbasaur) or the star of a movie / short film (Mewtwo, Lucario, Pichu). Don't expect any major deviation from this established formula for the newest installment.
Pokémon is among the biggest Nintendo franchise, letting it command the most characters on the roster along with the Mario and Zelda franchise. However, Sakurai has stated that for this next installment of the franchises, there would be less emphasis placed on new characters and more on balance. As such, I wouldn't expect the roster to increase by much, maybe to around 50 characters max, giving enough room for most franchises to expand a little and for a few new characters to round out the cast. For Pokémon, I would only expect one or two new representatives, bringing the total to five or possibly even six. With this in mind, new representatives are going to find it hard to squeeze in among a likely returning cast of four or more, likely causing only one new representative, if any.
Keep in mind that when I speak of possible new representatives, all are unlikely to show up at all. There's little room to expand from the Brawl roster and one particular veteran is pining to make his return with the newest installment. Big surprises like Pichu in Melee for Pokémon aren't likely to show up this time around.
The Pokémon franchise's mascot and a character recognized worldwide... who would ever think Pikachu would be cut? Pikachu's been confirmed by the reveal trailer as is; there's really nothing to talk about here. Moving on...
The Pokémon Trainer is one of the most brilliant character concepts to be introduced in Brawl. Not only does it give the game's main character the recognitions he's deserved for so long, but it gives the most iconic set of starters from the most remembered generation a character slot. It's the perfect embodiment of so much of the franchise. I really think the Pokémon Trainer is something the developers ought to be proud of, and I doubt he'll see many changes beyond buffs at all.
Others have suggested changing the Pokémon Trainer to implement more modern starters, but I doubt that change will happen. The Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander families are the most recognizable starter families in Pokémon. Any new Pokémon would likely be added to a new trainer character entirely, not to replace what we already have.
Every single Smash game, people have predicted that Jigglypuff would be cut from the roster to make room for some more deserving Pokémon. Every single time, people are wrong. Jigglypuff is one of the original twelve fighters and a staple to the smash series. There's virtually no chance of her being cut.
Mewtwo was the lone character with a non-cloned / Luigified moveset to be cut in the transition from Melee to Brawl. I believe this can mostly be attributed to the lack of media featuring Mewtwo at the time, and that Mewtwo himself was an unpopular character in Melee thanks to frankly being bad. Being huge, lightweight, and slow with no killing moves does not a good character make. Additionally, at this time, a newer, very similar character had become one of the most recognizable characters for the current Pokémon generation: Lucario. Given that Lucario was high in popularity, had his own movie, and could advertise the newly released Diamond and Pearl, it made sense to prioritize his inclusion over Mewtwo, which ultimately led to Mewtwo getting cut from the roster entirely.
This time around though, the tables have been flipped. With Mewtwo's new movie and new forme, he's back in the public eye. Mewtwo and his new forme are as close to a sixth generation poster child as we have at the moment and Lucario has fallen in popularity. There's little doubt in my mind that Mewtwo will return, buffed and ready to roll.
Considering it's a large factor in the next movie, I would be surprised if his character didn't incorporate the new forme of Mewtwo in some way. A Zelda / Sheik style transformation seems reasonable as does a Samus / Zero Suit Samus final smash transformation. A final smash exclusive transformation ala Giga Bowser and Wario Man is another possibility. At any rate, I doubt that either forme will appear on their own.
Brawl had a very good choice of characters on its roster, and I don't see any character in overwhelming danger of being cut . However, Lucario is among the more likely of that solid roster of characters to be worried. Lucario gave Pokémon its fourth generation and semi-sentient, more serious representative, very similar to the role Mewtwo fulfilled on the roster in Melee. With Mewtwo's very likely return, Lucario is in mild danger of being cut. Still though, Lucario does have a lot in the way of supporting his case to stay in. His popularity is still high, even today, and he does a solid job of representing his generation. In fact, with the recent unveiling of Mega Evolutions and with Lucario starring as among the first revealed, he's popped right back into the public eye.
Additionally, between the transition from Melee to Brawl, the series switched over to the Havok physics engine. I can't say I know much about these things, but if there was difficulty importing old assets like characters from Melee to the point where they needed to be made from scratch; that could have been a big reason behind the five character cuts in Melee. At a glance from the game play we've seen so far, the engine seems to be relatively the same. If this is the case and switching to the new engine was a factor for character cuts, I'd expect few to no character cuts. It's a very good omen for Lucario fans.
There's also still a guy dressed up in a Lucario suit during Pokémon Smash if that means anything towards Lucario being relevant.
Now with the most likely possibilities out of the way, I'd like to focus on the more unlikely possibilities. I mentioned earlier that a newcomer to the series seems very unlikely, to the point where you'll see any likely new comer listed here. With so many possibilities and with unlikely inclusion for all, the article will switch focus from this point onward, focusing more on entertaining ideas of new Pokémon with just tiny bits of evidence to back them up.
Of course, Mewtwo's not the only star of the new movie! Genesect is the new movie's central antagonist, a coveted event Pokémon, the upcoming star of a TCG set based around him, and the closest thing we have to a 5th gen poster child. Though his tiny arms and legs may seem like a big obstacle to overcome for designing attacks, I'd imagine his cannon and giant head could make up for lost ground similar to how R.O.B. made up for the lack of feet and an easily flexible head. This doesn't even touch on Genesect's drives, which could easily fuel an array of special or other attacks. I would say beyond some sixth generation poster child we have yet to see, he seems like the most likely newcomer Pokémon has to offer.
Zoroark was originally thought of as a fifth generation poster boy since his reveal, on par with Lucario. It was a common train of thought during Smash's announcement to think, given that the next Smash installment would come out some time in BW's span thought to be 4 years, that a character with many striking similarities to Lucario would make the roster. However, two things have doomed this previously widely accepted prediction. The first is that the fifth generation's life has been cut fairly short compared to the third and fourth generations is and a 6th generation poster child is far more likely to be included in Smash (with the previously mentioned Mewtwo being the forerunner in that category). The second would be that Zoroark hasn't built up as much of a fanbase as Lucario. Most roster predictions with him on it aren't so much requests as they are guesses subscribing to the previously debunked assumptions. Arguably, Zoroark has fallen in popularity since his debut and other fifth generation representatives like Genesect have overtaken. Zoroark is far more well known than most typical Pokémon and deserving of at least a mention for someone in the roster, but still unlikely.
Pichu is right there with Melee Kirby for the worst character the franchise has ever seen. It's chances of coming back are very slim, but it has the advantage of being an easier to build luigified Pikachu clone. Should it come back, I can imagine some massive balance overhauls with him. Retooling him as the ultimate glass cannon, with self inflicted damage and the lightest frame in the game, but ultra highly damaging and high knockback attack with electric disjointed hitboxes, sounds like a possibility.
These two seem like a weird choice, but there's some evidence they may have been planned for Brawl at some point. Some folks have dissected the game and discovered data for unimplemented fighters in SSBB. These fighters include Mewtwo, Roy, Dr.Mario, Dixie Kong, Toon Zelda, Toon Sheik (assumed to be Tetra), and a character labeled Pra_Mai. It's thought that Pra_Mai are Plusle and Minun paired together Ice Climbers style as the name syncs up with the Japanese pronunciation of Plusle and Minun. It's unknown why any of these fighters were cut (beyond Dixie Kong, who was intended to be used in a DKC2 style tag team with Diddy Kong), but if Plusle and Minun were cut simply for time constraints, there's a small chance we could see them in the next installment if the developers were fond of the character idea.
Actually, they're going to have to be really fond of the character idea for these two to get in. In a recent article, the developers stated that they were having difficulty implementing fighters that used multiple characters due to the 3DS's limitations. If implementing the very likely returning Ice Climbers gives the developers a good template to develop Plusle and Minun, we may very well see them. If the difficulties implementing them can't easily be resolved, Plusle and Minun are doomed.
Meowth has become famous thanks to his role in the anime, but his demand as a fighter is very small. Meowth has made cameos as trophies and Poké Ball Pokémon throughout the series, but rumors (albeit sourceless and flimsy) have said he could be a playable character in the original Super Smash Bros. Meowth is definitely more in the spotlight than other Pokémon to the point where I wouldn't put an appearance past him, but with little demand for him as a fighter, don't get hyped for his inclusion.
Even more unlikely, yet still a stand out Pokémon, is Deoxys. Deoxys got himself his own TCG set and a movie at the height of his popularity, amounting to one of the most destructive Poké Balls in Brawl. The only reason I'm mentioning him is that he makes a good third generation representative, has the semi-sentient movie star Pokémon thing going for him, and that there's a lot of inspiration to draw for attacks with his different formes. There's not much reminding people that Deoxys is a Pokémon nowadays (save the newly released Deoxys-EX card which will be annoying TCG players for a while), so don't get your hopes up.
Okay, this is really nothing more than a pipe dream inclusion, but the character concept for Ditto just seems so perfect not to share. Ditto could make a very interesting fighter taking a page from Double of Skullgirls, transforming into other Pokémon or other Fighters for all of its attacks. Ditto transforming into different Pokémon for each of its attacks would not only give a Pokémon with fantastic fighting prowess but meager popularity a quick glimpse to shine, but would also be a fantastic way to represent the Pokémon series as a whole. If Ditto were to transform into other fighters on the roster instead, he'd be the perfect dumping ground for old attacks that have been replaced, such as Mario's Melee Back Air or Peach's Melee Up Tilt. This second method of representing Ditto, albeit a bit less exciting, seems much more likely, giving the developers a method to recycle scrapped attacks.
Plus, this would all likely come with each Pokémon / Fighter sporting goofy Ditto smiles. That alone almost makes it worth the time to make the character.
As I mentioned before, the Pokémon Trainer was a brilliant concept that allowed both the humans of the series and Pokémon usually seen in sets to participate in the madness. The Pokémon series is filled with other iconic trainers, so thinking about alternative Pokémon Trainers as new characters is hard to resist. Be warned that everything here is probably the most overwhelmingly unlikely additions on the list given that 3 characters (going by the previous Pokémon Trainer's example) essentially are created with every Trainer.
More specifically, the classic Generation 1 Gary Oak-based rival. The Gen 1 rival is without a doubt the most well-known rival with his infamous attitude. He has a pretty solid pool of Pokémon to choose from between his Pokémon throughout the first games, his rebattle Pokémon in Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green, and his anime exclusive Pokémon like Umbreon and Electivire.
The Smash series is overdue for a few more women and the Pokémon series has a lot of girls and a multitude of starters left that would make for an interesting character slot. Starter families like Torchic's, Totodile's, Treecko's, and Chimchar's have a number of members that could easily transition into a fighting game. As for which female Trainer would get the role, the female Trainers form Diamond and Pearl and Ruby and Sapphire seem most likely, given that their anime counterparts were in a huge number of episodes.
N is a major character in every 5th gen game, making him a good representative of the fifth generation as well as one of the most likely non-rival or main character Pokémon Trainers. N has a large pool of possible Pokémon between his many in-game encounters and constantly changing team. One cute idea might be to base N's team off of his Spring, Summer, and Fall battles in Black 2 and White 2 pairing Politoed, Ninetales, and Tyranitar together, doubling as representative of N's teams and of 5th generation battling in general. Additionally, N's ties to Reshiram and Zekrom are easy material to channel into a Final Smash.
A champion character rounds out the last likely trainer class we could expect as a Trainer character. Lance and Cynthia stand out for appearing across different generations as does Iris for having a large role in the 5th gen anime. Each comes with their own signature Pokémon (Dragonite / Garchomp / Axew) with a variety of Pokémon to pick on the side. None of them seem to be extremely likely choices, but the content for a character is there.
Speculation discussion makes for a fun way to pass time waiting on the game, so I'd encourage you to join in on the conversation. If you'd like to discuss more speculation, feel free to head over to our Super Smash Brothers thread in A Forum or our IRC channel, #ssb.
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