BANJO MADE IT! HE FUCKING MADE IT! HE'S IN! YES! YES! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!
and the Dragon Quest protagonists to a lesser extent, that's neat.
Mike's Smash Calculator Version 3.0!
A CHARACTER WILL FACE IMMEDIATE DISQUALIFICATION IF:
-Character does not originate from a video game
-Character was created by and is owned by Nintendo (This is a 3rd party only race now)
-Character is an Assist trophy in SSBU
-Character is represented with a Mii costume in SSBU
-Character is a Spirit in SSBU
-Character comes from an already represented game/franchise
-Character appeared in a Platform exclusive crossover fighting game (e.g. PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale, multi-platform crossover fights like Marvel vs Capcom are exempt)
-Character comes from a publisher/developer who currently has a representative in the fighters pass (E.g; The Hero makes Sora impossible, Banjo-Kazooie makes Master Chief impossible, etc.)
And now, the final revised version of the Smash Calculator scoring system:
Being a third party developed character that hasn't appeared on a Nintendo console (1 points)
Being a third party developed character that has appeared on a Nintendo console (2 points)
Being a third party developed character that has appeared in a Nintendo Switch game (3 points)
Character comes from a European developer (1 point)
Character comes from an American developer (2 points)
Character comes from a Japanese developer (3 points)
Character is a cult icon in the general gaming world (1 point)
Character is a mascot for their series (2 Points)
Character is a mascot and is also closely associated with a Nintendo game (3 points)
Bonus point: Character promotes a new or upcoming Nintendo Switch game, feature or peripheral
Character is a 'Sakurai-esque' choice for a suitable surprise reveal (1 point)
Character represents an iconic gaming franchise (2 points)
Character supports a partnership between Nintendo and a developer (3 points)
Character represents a game genre not currently represented in Smash (1 points)
Character is iconic and recognisable in the gaming fandom (2 point)
Character is heavily requested or speculated by the Smash fandom (3 Points)
Character has a feasible offensive moveset that can be used in Smash (1 points)
Character's game/Series of origin has memorable/iconic music (2 points)
Character's game/Series of origin has a world/art style that would make a good stage (3 points)
With all said and done, let's get down to my 10 picks for who could pick up those final 2 Smash Bros invite letters...
How? - Doom as a franchise has made a resurgence in the last couple of years, with 2016's reboot of the series capturing the love for the over-the-top face paced FPS all over again. And with Doom Eternal due to take us back to Hell in Autumn this year, there has never been a better time to include the iconic Slayer/Marine/Guy in a Smash roster. He may seem a little too bloody for some, but similarly to how Bayonetta was toned down for general audiences, Sakurai and his team could choose to focus on the laugh-inducing attitude of the Doomslayer and play it up to 11. Every move over-exaggerated, every grab intense, every shot with ridiculous recoil. There's great potential in an caricature of this very serious character. He would also serve as the first character to come directly from an FPS, so there's a fantastic opportunity to finally represent one of the largest genres in the gaming world. He would also hail from Bethesda, which gives credence to their close relationship with Nintendo. His moveset would comprise mostly of gunfire and grapples, but the occasional embellishment of the movepool wouldn't go amiss; for example, a double footed boot to the head would suit the Slayer, as would a headbutt. His character quirk could either be Glory attacks, similar to his glory kills, or a focus on ammunition. His final smash would obviously be a use of the BFG, used to wipe out anyone standing in a large horizontal section of the map. It really does seem like he would be a great choice and would give greater variety to the Fighters Pass as a whole.
Score - 23, Almost Certain
How? - We've talked gunners, but the Fighters Pass still hasn't seen an out-and-out brawler, and with Street Fighter upping their reps count to two, it is high time that someone from Tekken made it into gaming greatest skirmish. Whilst Heihachi already features as an Easter Egg in Pac-Mans animation and Kazuya would too heavily resemble Ryu, it became clear that the only other silhouette that stood out was Jin. His incredibly 90's Dragon Ball Z haircut and trademark gauntlets and fire trousers would really make him stand out among the roster. He comes from Namco-Bandai, a publisher with great relationships with Nintendo, so that wouldn't be an issue. And whilst Tekken hasn't gotten any Switch love yet (To an almost embarrassing sentiment from Namco-Bandai), he was last seen on the console's predecessor, so there is definitely history with him and Nintendo. His moves would be ripped straight from the source games, like Wind God Fist, Heel Drop and his enhanced Omen attacks. His fighter quirk would be the Devil Jin form, attainable after filling up a Rage meter, which would grant the player enhanced movement, attack power, flight and laser attacks. His final smash would again use the Devil Jin form to use an enhanced version of the Third Eye Laser, which would sweep across the battleground floor, launching anyone who can't avoid it.
Score - 17, Unlikley
How? - This icon needs no introduction and is only one of two fighters from my Smash predictions list to make a reappearance. That's because the stage is well and truly set for him to make a grand appearance. Now that Banjo and Kazooie have made the roster with partnership from Microsoft, it would be incredible to see this 90's star make his way in to represent Sony and the PlayStation platforms. A game where you could have Mario, Sonic and Crash all duke it out would be a dream come true. And currently, it would only be down to Activision to give the go-ahead on a Smash inclusion, and they have no problem bringing new games to the Switch, up to and including the very imminent Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled. Moves wise, Crash would implement the moves used in the games like spins, flops and slides, coupled with extras like crates and the missile launcher for his specials. His gimmick would be the ability to collect and stack Wumpa fruit from his crates to then use to recover his health. His final smash would be the use of the Golden Aku Aku mask, which would give him invincibility and power to launch enemies by simply walking into them.
Score - 22, Very Likley
How? - The indie space has had a number of likely Smash fighters unceremoniously denied a spot on the roster, although a number of requested characters like Shovel Knight and Shantae have found themselves included as Assist Trophies or Spirits. Whilst many people would point to Sans from Undertale or Steve from Minecraft as their Indie rep, the newly released Cadence of Hyrule has shot it's titular star up the ranks of likelihood. Cadence hails from Crypt of the Necrodancer, an indie game developed in Canada in 2015 and released for Switch in 2018, but it's this summer's Cadence of Hyrule that changes everything, with Nintendo officially lending it's characters and therefore it's seal of approval to Brace Yourself Games. Not only that, but Cadence would represents the rhythm and rougue-like genres all by herself! Her moves would consist of the basics you'd expect from her home series, with the use of her shovel, daggers and bombs, but the tasty bit of her design could come from her character quirk; rhythm. As Cadence, if players pulled off moves in time to the beat of the music, they would hit for greater damage and that damage multiplier would stack. If the player continues to rack up on-beat moves, they would be playing with severe advantage over their foes. However, this multiplier is quite easily lost, either by being off beat or being hit for damage. Her final smash would be using the Golden Lute to stun her enemies before pummeling them with damage from the Crypt below.
Score - 21, Very Likley
How? - As the Fighter's Pass continues to hoover up gaming icons, it would be remiss of Nintendo to forget who popularised the hack and slash action genre. They may already have Bayonetta, but they can't forget the O.G.; Dante. Despite having never appeared on a Nintendo console, he is scheduled to make his grand appearance in a Switch port of his very first game, which will be arriving in the coming weeks, which obviously could raise the profile of Devil May Cry 5 which was released back in March. His appearance would be on Capcom's say so, a company who already has great working relationships with Nintendo, so no worries there. And whilst as a sword and gun wielder he wouldn't bring anything new that Joker doesn't already do, which Dante represents is the nostalgia factor that got Banjo and Kazooie in. His standard moves would focus on the sword and gun play that we're all used to by now, with his specials reserved for his expansive arsenal of different weapons such as Sparda and Force Edge. His gimmick would be his combo ranking meter. For each consecutive hit that Dante lands, he can amplify his damage output. If an enemy is successfully launched and knocked out whilst achieving a high enough combo rank, Dante will recover health with green orbs. His final smash would be his Sin Devil Trigger ability, during which his sword would also transform into Devil Sword Dante. The monstrous form would unleash a fast paced dashing attack across the battle field, culminating in a large blast of devil energy.
Score - 23, Almost Certain
Leon S. Kennedy
How? - Resident Evil has been on something of a resurgence the past couple of years and a big part of that has been increasing the presence of the series on the Switch. By the end of the year, Resident Evil 1 through 6 will be on Switch (With 7 available in Japan only), alongside both Revelations 1 & 2. You'd think, then, that a push this big would warrant an appearance from the series most beloved character, Leon S. Kennedy. Whilst Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine could also fill this role, Leon is the one who is the star of the groundbreaking Resident Evil 4 and the recently remade Resident Evil 2 (Which is heavily rumored to be coming to Switch), which puts him on the top of the pile for mascot status. Leon would be able to use his many guns and hunting knife as a part of his base moveset. His fighter gimmick could rely on ammo counting for his several other weapons, including his shotgun, RPG and hand cannon. His final smash would be the ability to assemble to S.T.A.R.S. crew to launch an 'all guns' assault on any enemy caught in the triggering shot.
Score - 24, Almost Certain
Geralt of Rivia
How? - "Another sword and magic user!" I hear you cry, "A Robin clone!" I hear you wail. I know that after The Hero was revealed with multiple spells and anime swordplay, Geralt would not feel much different from that save for his more European design, but Geralt is more than that. Geralt hails from The Witcher and it's sequels and is a critically loved character throughout. With The Witcher 3 finally coming to Switch, the time seems right to put the White Wolf into battle on the biggest stage in the industry. His basic moves would be sword swings, with his specials reserved for spells, but his gimmick would take into account his secondary silver sword and his oils. Accessing a menu similar to Shulk's Monado wheel, Geralt can equip a different oil that would effect different classes; namely brawlers, gunners, swordfighters and monsters. The first three you can guess who that effects, but the monster class would cover the bases left untouched by the previous three classifications, allowing you to damage monster-like enemies such as Bowser, Ridley and the Pokemon fighters. This would effectively give Geralt a damage boost over every other fighter in the game, with the caveat that only one oil can be equipped at once. His final smash would gather other characters in the series such as Triss, Yennefer, Ciri, Vesimir, Dandelion, Eskel and Lambert together for a joint assault cutscene against any opponents caught in Geralt's initial overhead slash.
Score - 18, Unlikely
How? - I'll admit, I was ready to rule Travis out of the running, despite the fact I thought that his best chances lay with the base roster. No More Heroes has been a predominantly Nintendo franchise, but the existence of the PS3 exclusive Heroes Paradise and the lacklustre reception of the Switch E-Shop's Travis Strikes Again earlier this year really torpedoed his chances. But that big No More Heroes 3 announcement has brought the O.G. Mature Nintendo icon back into the fray with his best chances ever. Travis would be representing the more adult genre alongside Bayonetta and could easily stand next to her with no gulf between them in terms of importance. He would also be representing the Wii generation with the Wii Fit Trainer and Rosalina, as well as Grasshopper Manufacture and Marvelous! who have supported Nintendo throughout the year. If it wasn't obvious, Travis would be another sword user, with a varied amount of swords at his disposal. He could also employ the use of various professional wrestling moves, grapples and submissions into his base moveset. His fighter gimmick could revolve around the power being used by the Beam Katana, which could amplify damage output at the expense of spending energy in a bar on his portrait. When depleted, Travis would have to recharge the beam using the suspicious looking waggle controls from the Wii games. His final smash could take directly from that new game and employ the flying robot suit we saw Travis use to zip around the stage and slash wildly at his opponents.
Score - 24, Almost Certain
How? - This spot was originally here for Professor Layton, but I cannot overlook how high Phoenix's chances are now, as he is the only fighter to get a perfect score in the Smash Calculator. Phoenix would be representing the visual novel genre, Capcom as a publisher and the GBA and DS as Nintendo platforms. He'd also bring a more eclectic style to the fight as he is not what you'd call a traditional warrior. He has a great history with Nintendo, being exclusive to their hardware since 2001, having only recently branched out to other consoles. Phoenix has definitely been highly requested, often appearing high up in unofficial Smash ballots, and certainly has been delivering more games in the past few years than Layton, as well as reinvigorating his own franchise on the Switch with the Phoenix Wright Collection having recently launched on the E-Shop. He base moves would employ the use of his famous gestures such as his dramatic points and throws. His specials would focus on the iconic text bubble of 'Objection' and 'Hold it!'. His final smash would take players caught in his sights to sentencing in the courtroom, where evidence would stack on them and deal increasing amounts of damage until they are deemed 'guilty' and launched off the stage.
Score - 25, 100% In!
How? - An icon of the NES days, Hayabusa would be Koei Tecmo's first and only representative, but given how much access to Nintendo's properties they have received over the past few years, it would be a long time coming. Following Hyrule Warriors and Fire Emblem Warriors, as well as a bevy of Switch supported titles, it's easy to see how Koei Tecmo could end up with a rep. Ryu himself is closely associated with NES port of the arcade classic Ninja Gaiden, although his appearances haven't been strictly limited to the big N's platforms. He's been especially absent on the Switch, but there's always time for that to change. Regardless, his icon status is undeniable and he's mostly closely associated with his original Nintendo games. His basic moves would revolve around sword play and quick movement, whilst his specials would pull from his reboot series arsenal, including the Lunar Staff, Dragon Sword, Falcon Talons and Tonfas. He wouldn't necessarily need a gimmick mechanic, however the ability to render invisible and move stealthily across the map should he go un-hit for a specific period of time would vary his playstyle, although it may be tricky to realise in local competitive play. His final smash would use his Art of the True Inferno ability to transform him into a giant dragon made of fire, which would lock on to enemies and 'eat' them to inflict massive damage and launch them.
Score - 22, Very Likely
So that's the potential candidates scored, but now it's time to put my credibility on the line and make some predictions.
My Best Guess (Head Pick)
Phoenix speaks for himself, as the only possible character to achieve the coveted 25/25 score with the Smash Calculator, my logical judgement says that he is an absolute shoe in for Smash, and honestly I can't fault the logic. A character that would please both the western and eastern audiences alike, a true puzzle game character and a Nintendo icon through and through, Phoenix not only earned the right to be in the pass, he fully deserves it.
And Doom Slayer is the choice of the 'Almost Certain' category I went with, as I genuienly believe the environment in the gaming sphere is best it's going to be for his inclusion. Above everything I have said and even characters who have scored higher than him, Doom Slayer would offer a true mature gunner pick that would really feel like a testament to gaming itself. Given that Doom is one of the most tested games in history, going so far as to be playable on Kodak cameras, ATM machines and fridges, it really would be remiss of Nintendo to overlook Doom running on Smash.
That's who I think is making it into Ultimate, but that's not necessarily who I most want to play as...
My Most Wanted (Heart Pick)
Travis is admittedly another swordfighter, but one I think Nintnedo can't overlook for much longer. Travis represents the mature side of Nintendo and does so with style, grace and character. The original No More Heroes was one of my reasons to own a Wii, alongside Twilight Princess and Mario Galaxy. In my head, Travis is as much of a Nintendo icon as Simon Belmont and even more so than Bayonetta.
And then we have Crash. I've been with Crash since day dot. I've played the vast majority of his games (Even I can't stomach the Titans games) and I will fight anyone to the death that says that Mario Kart is better than Crash Team Racing. Crash is not just the PlayStation gaming icon to me, because to me he is THE gaming icon. And with a spot staying open, I just know that I wouldn't be alone in welcoming the 90's coolest marsupial into the fray.
And there we have it, and hopefully this is the last time we will have to discuss who's making it into Smash Bros, unless Sakurai announces another Fighters Pass, in which case I will scream. Either way, if any of the ten above characters make it in, you may as well refer to me as The Oracle and believe everything I say. Disagree with my picks? Come shout abuse at me on Twitter and let me know why Goku is definitely making it despite the obvious signs that it will never happen and nobody cares!