I expected a port of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U in 2018. Smash development cycles are too long, and we would never get new entries this close together… those were my thoughts entering into the March 8th Nintendo Direct.
I was wrong; it’s a brand new game.
There are still skeptics, or fans who are simply being cautious not to jump to conclusions. But Nintendo laid it out plainly for us:
- The game has a working title (not simply “Super Smash Bros. for Switch” in the Smash 4 branding.)
- Nintendo chose to forgo the transition used at the beginning of every Smash 4 trailer
- SmashBros.com has been completely started over from scratch
- The trailer shows only vague outlines of a cast with fewer than 20 characters, not the entire Smash 4 ensemble waiting to welcome the Inklings
It’s really happening. It’s a new console generation, a new Smash Bros. website, a new series of character reveals (who’s staying, who’s leaving, and who’s arriving?)—friends, it’s a new Super Smash Bros. game.
And the cherry on top? 2018.
It seems impossible. How would Nintendo have time to develop a new title from the ground up? The Wii U and 3DS entries only came out during the tail end of 2014.
The answer: The developers probably didn’t start from scratch. For one thing, this new game could very well use the Smash 4 engine. They finally struck the perfect balanced formula that resonated with casual players and eSports alike (not easy), so Sakurai and his team won’t be quick to abandon the engine.
Smash 5 likely won’t launch with a beefy lineup of 50 characters, either. I think the group of brawlers shown in the trailer was deliberately small.
Super Smash Bros. could easily be sold to us as a service. Think of all the popular games these days that add content gradually—the “Splatoon approach,” if you will.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Smash launch alongside Nintendo’s paid online service in September to help promote the program. I also would not be surprised if Smash, in September, feels like a half a game.
Sakurai could keep the hype train of character reveals steaming along the tracks for—well—years!
P.S. Why didn’t Nintendo save this bombshell announcement for E3? Because it’s going to be the central theme of their booth, and booth decorations are literally impossible to prevent from leaking. We knew about Breath of the Wild and Odyssey before Nintendo decked out their corner of E3 in previous years, and the same will go for Smash this time. The lid is going to be absolutely blown off this game at E3 2018, only months ahead of launch!