Just two months ago, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate saw Sephiroth join the fight during a shocking reveal at The Game Awards. Now, Smash fans are in for another treat – but how is Masahiro Sakurai going to top the man who uses a full bottle of both shampoo and conditioner every day absolutely skewering Mario?
Smash Ultimate roster additions are usually spaced roughly three to four months apart. Although no official confirmation has been given, a Smash announcement was the only clue Nintendo offered fans for its February 17 Direct, which is due to air later today. With no new game modes expected since Home Run Contest made its return, a mystery character reveal is in order – but who could it be?
There are obviously lots of video game icons still vying for a Smash invite, although some are far likelier to receive one than others. It’s worth remembering that Smash fans have been convinced that a Pokemon from Gen 8 will arrive in the game ever since the launch of Sword & Shield back in 2018. With only three slots left in Smash Ultimate’s second fighter pass and Pokemon’s 25th anniversary just around the corner, it would seem that now is a better time than ever for that fated Gen 8 ‘mon to finally be revealed.
The question would then be which Pokemon deserves a spot on the Smash Ultimate roster. Remember, this is a game that’s already packing a whopping eight playable fighters representing the series, which is increased to ten if you include Pokemon Trainer’s three ‘mons. On top of that, a whole bunch of other Pokemon regularly spring out of Poke Ball items.
So, which Pokemon from Sword & Shield could hypothetically make the cut? Aside from the starters, Nintendo could make a decent case for Urshifu, or the ever popular Toxtricity. If the company does opt for a starter, however, Rillaboom and Cinderace are probably far likelier than the less-favored Inteleon.
With Smash Ultimate already featuring fully-evolved fire and water starters in Charizard, Incineroar and Greninja, the game currently lacks a strong grass Pokemon fighter, making Rillaboom the safest bet. However, Sakurai and Nintendo don’t necessarily like to play it safe when it comes to new Smash characters, as seen with the inclusion of Arms’ Min Min, King of Fighters’ Terry, and Persona 5’s Joker.
Keeping that in mind, a more creative approach from Sakurai could see the addition of a new Pokemon Trainer 2, or even a Pokemon Master. The three-in-one fighter is one of the most popular characters in Smash Ultimate thanks to its clever moveset that perfectly integrates Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard’s qualities for an all-around Pokemon team designed to take on anyone and anything. A similar creative splurge would be a fascinating prospect for the game.
So, who would be on a new Pokemon Trainer’s team? A selection of Sword and Shield’s native Pokemon could introduce several of the eighth generation’s most popular ‘mons. However, it’s worth remembering the rumored Diamond and Pearl remakes that could launch later this year, which open up the possibility for Nintendo to look back at ‘mons from previous generations who were neglected between Smash games.
When accounting for the fact that the original Pokemon Trainer was developed on the much more limited hardware of the Wii, there’s no ruling out that a new Pokemon representative could duke it out against other Smash characters with a full team of six ‘mons. Ambitious, sure, but the mechanics for the character could follow a similar scheme to Shulk’s monado arts system. Also, Sakurai’s development team has already shown how much love they can put into DLC characters – Minecraft’s Steve required a full rework of every single stage in the game.
Although we reckon that Nintendo is going to reveal a Pokemon later today, the studio isn’t necessarily in a rush to get its Gen 8 representative in. Given the massively ubiquitous success of the Nintendo Switch, we’ll probably see the studio continue to add Smash Ultimate content for quite some time – it’s still one of the console’s best-selling titles.
With the Switch set to stay relevant for at least another couple of years, Smash could even follow the same path taken by other fighting games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat by extending the game’s life cycle well into 2022. This means we shouldn’t rule out a third purchasable fighter pass.
It’s worth noting that regardless of who gets revealed for Smash today, it’s unlikely they’ll become playable too soon given that Sephiroth hasn’t even been out for two months yet. Also, new characters tend to coincide with new amiibos being released. Lastly, in case Pokemon doesn’t get a Smash birthday gift, there’s a small chance that The Legend of Zelda could get a present from Sakurai for its 35th anniversary next week. Either way Nintendo fans are looking at a solid win.
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