You may have noticed by now that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch is poised to be a runaway success. We’ll learn about its sales numbers and attach rates in the weeks to come, but in the meantime it’s already managed to win over critics with a Metascore of 94, a full six points higher than the original Wii U version. I’m not aware of any other recent gaming redux accomplishing the same, and it’s clear that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s added battle mode and comprehensive DLC inclusion are largely to thank for the positive response.
In finding an acceptable balance between a recycled core game, reasonable value with included DLC, and highly sought-after content that is brand new, one can’t help but wonder if Nintendo is considering a similar approach with other IP in its stable. Or, perhaps all of it’s IP. You guessed it - I’m talking about trying the same thing with Super Smash Bros.
The obvious candidate is Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, affectionately known as Smash 4 or Sm4sh and thankfully also developed for 3DS (so-as to not be trapped within Wii U’s comparatively unimpressive install base). Mario Kart 8’s escape was the Switch, which will easily outsell Wii U in relatively short order, and though Smash already exists on 3DS, Nintendo has now been made aware that the Deluxe treatment is both a popular and lucrative move.
As such, I’d like to make the case that instead of a brand new Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Switch, there should instead be a redux of Smash 4. All DLC fighters and stages included. Some new modes. And maybe even a new round the Smash Ballot, leading to even more new stages and characters.
It may sound odd to deliberately request Nintendo not create a brand new game, but with Smash Bros. I feel it really does make sense, perhaps even more so than with Mario Kart 8. Smash Bros. titles have always been absolutely packed with content; you can lookup any review of Smash 4, Brawl, and even Melee, or pore over their endless menus, challenges, and modes yourself for proof. There’s simply an enormous trove of things to do. Notable is that oftentimes, players spend the majority of their time with the game completely ignoring these offerings, instead just playing multiplayer. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does raise questions about development efficiency.
Unlike with Mario Kart where most players will likely dabble in at least everything, I have to wonder if Nintendo has internal data on the percentage of time players spend exploring each portion of Super Smash Bros. content. Speaking for myself, I’ve probably completed about 40% of what’s available in Smash 4, despite adoring the game, spending hundreds of hours with it, and awarding it a 10/10.
In other words, Smash Bros. for Wii U was my game of the year in 2014, and unlike Brawl (which I also loved despite its quirks), there’s absolutely nothing about it that I want to be replaced or rendered obsolete. In fact, I’ll go a step further; I’m too lazy to learn a new Smash just yet, or to re-devote the hours required to become competitive (not professionally, but “good enough”). I’m also not excited to again analyze which characters have been nerfed, which ones have been boosted, which ones are “OP,” and tweak my favorites accordingly.
I can understand the appeal of such things, and have enjoyed them myself. But it’s simply too soon to be doing it all again, and with the level of maturity the series has reached since its inception, “too soon” may not end until the Switch’s eventual successor arrives. I really, truly, don’t desire a new Smash Bros. game in any way, as I’m simply not ready for that kind of full-on event mere years after it only just occurred. For what it’s worth, I’d say the same about a new home-console Zelda arriving too soon, or certain other franchises as well. Something about their sacred and rare appearance makes me explicitly not desire them any more than very sparingly, and extremely indulgently when they do in fact arrive.
What I do want, though, is to keep playing Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and now that my Switch dock has stolen away my Wii U’s former favorite HDMI port on my TV, I’m unlikely to actually do so. Hence the need for a Switch edition. Smash was already 1080p on Wii U, so a resolution boost ala Mario Kart 8 won’t exactly be enough, but the added power could go a long way in making all sorts of fun tweaks, impressive visual enhancements, outrageous stages, or perhaps even a 12-player mode (up from 8 last time around).
I don’t want to get too crazy here, but removing the arduous suffering no-doubt endured by Masahiro Sakurai and his squad would surely have its benefits. Balancing each and every character from scratch for each new Smash Bros., building the fighting engine from nothing, re-creating the graphics, the modes, everything. At this point I’d rather see what Smash Bros. developers can come up with using all of that as a starting point.
With this in mind, Nintendo ought to repackage Smash 4 with all of its DLC and content included on Switch, polish the graphics even further, and deliver a new style of play or compelling, creative new game mode. Ideally, it’d be something that can rival standard two-to-four-way multiplayer bouts as something players will continue to use beyond the first few weeks of owning the game. That would be truly interesting, and I’m sure Nintendo has more ideas than I could ever hint at here. It’s just a matter of unleashing them.
Beyond fantasizing there’s the business element, and as noted earlier and soon to be proven by Mario Kart, this approach is capable of being a sound sales decision. As long as the balance of value (include DLC), enhancements (better graphics and other tweaks), and new content (to be determined) is there, there’s little reason players won’t want to revisit truly stellar games, in particular those that didn’t fully thrive for as long as they should have thanks to Wii U’s dinky lifespan.
I won’t complain if Nintendo announces a brand new Smash Bros. at E3, and eventually I’ll accept it, perhaps review it, buy it, and play the hell out of it like any other entry in the series. But there’s little doubt in my mind my reaction would also include “oh great, another new Smash? Better block off some time to ingest dozens of wiki pages and understand all of its changes.” It’s true that this mentality defies the pickup-and-play nature of the series, but with the way the internet is, such obsessive compulsion can’t really be avoided. Instead, let’s enjoy an already great game in its best form, on Switch, on the go, and then maybe think about a new entry later.