A Clone by Any Other Name: The History Behind Echo Fighters

echofighters.jpg


“Clone.” No other word is as sure to elicit strong reactions from Smash fans (well, except maybe tripping). In Smash parlance, “clones” or “clone characters” are fighters who share all or most of their basic moveset and animations with another character.

Six clone characters—Pichu, Young Link, Dr. Mario, Falco, Ganondorf, and Roy—were infamously added to the roster of Super Smash Bros. Melee in order to increase the number of fighters. Melee had an unusually short development cycle, and adding clones was the only way Sakurai could implement the number of newcomers he thought would satisfy players.

The aforementioned characters are all true clones. However, many of them have heavily-tweaked physics attributes, hitboxes and other properties. These changes mean that, while they share a moveset on paper, they generally play in a way that is drastically different from their counterparts.

PichuClassicMode.jpg


While Melee clones like Falco are beloved by some community members, the overall reaction to these characters’ inclusion was mixed. Some fans erroneously perceived that they were “stealing” slots on the character-select screen from newcomers with unique movesets. Others felt characters like Ganondorf were shortchanged by being forced to adopt the moveset of a pre-existing fighter. By the time Super Smash Bros. Brawl was released, all of these characters were either partially “de-cloned” (Ganondorf, Falco) or cut from the roster entirely (Dr. Mario, Pichu, Young Link, Roy). Characters like Ganondorf and Falco, who still share some clone DNA, were dubbed “semi-clones” by fans. True clone characters seemed to be a thing of the past, at least for the time being.

Enter Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. In the development of these titles, Sakurai once again toyed with the idea of clones. In order to represent more characters in the game, he developed alternate costumes for several fighters that depicted different but similar characters from their series. Some of these remained costumes, like Alph and the Koopalings, but three—Dark Pit, Lucina, and Dr. Mario—were given small gameplay tweaks and were deemed independent characters.

These “Smash 4 clones” were implemented pretty differently than the ones in Melee. They began life as alternate costumes, which means they have far fewer differences from their source characters. In fact, Dark Pit and Lucina have identical physics to Pit and Marth, respectively, with only minor alterations to their moves. Unsurprisingly, fans’ opinions were once again split by these clones’ inclusion. Many felt that such minor tweaks did not warrant a separate slot on the character-select screen.

For Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Sakurai and his team have decided to take a different approach. The Melee clones have returned as “semi-clones” of their original counterparts, all containing varying degrees of clone DNA. Lucina and Dark Pit have returned as well, joining newcomer Daisy in an entirely new category of officially-recognized clones, who are dubbed “echo fighters” by Sakurai and his team. While somewhat speculative, it is reasonable to assume that these three characters aren’t the only echo fighters we’ll see in the game.

echofighters2.jpg


It’s important to understand that “clone character,” a title which was coined by fans, and “echo fighter” are not entirely interchangeable. This is made obvious by the fact that Dr. Mario, who the community generally considers to be a clone, has not joined the echo fighter club. Why?

When the folks over at GameXplain asked Nintendo Treehouse’s Nate Bihldorff this exact question, he explained, “Essentially an echo character shares the main attributes: walk and run speed, jump height, basic attack animations, general knockback… somebody like Dr. Mario is heavier, has much stronger knockback, has different moves… that’s sort of the line.” Thus, each echo fighter will share not only the same moveset with another character, but the same physical attributes as well, just like Lucina and Dark Pit do with Marth and Pit. Using this criteria, the Melee clones would not have qualified as echo fighters, even in their original game.

If we were to speculate a bit, we could infer the echo fighters are designed so they can be developed quickly and more easily balanced against the rest of the cast. These characters won’t need to be tested as rigorously because their matchups will likely be similar to the character they’re based on. The fact that Pit and Dark Pit share a spot on the current Smash 4 tier list is a testament to this.

Sakurai told us not to expect as much new content in Ultimate as we got in previous games given that returning content was prioritized. It’s likely the echo fighters serve a similar purpose to Melee’s clones; they’re a less resource-intensive way to increase the newcomer count. Anecdotally, the reaction to echo fighters seems positive so far, with many fans treating their announcement as a new avenue for speculation. The Smash community seems to be abuzz over which characters would best fit as “echoes” of existing characters. The negative stigma attached to “clones” seems far less prevalent, if not gone completely.

Clones? No, not clones. Echo fighters.
It’s amazing how much of a difference a name can make.

What are your thoughts on echo fighters? Are there any that you really hope will make an appearance? Sound off in the comments below!
 
Last edited:
Keith “Octorox” Bress

Comments

#4
The term echo fighter at first kinda felt like a cop out. I don't think anyone will ever be fully happy with how Ganon's moveset was made in Melee but it is still preferred over his exclusion from the game. The positive to this is by acknowledging they are just going to reskin some characters and make minor tweaks it opens up the door for characters that aren't popular/currently relevant enough to be their own character. I didn't expect Daisy to make it in ever. But with echo fighters I think characters like Dark Samus, Dixie Kong, Krystal, Bandana Dee, Ken, Blood Falcon/Black Shadow etc. all seem like they could be more likely to make an appearance. If we knew upfront they were just going to be clones there's less disappointment or frustration for the character not being unique. I still feel many such characters would be fairly unlikely, however I think we're more likely to at least get a couple of them.
 
#5
I think there is more to it then just the name change from Clone to Echo.
I think they are also being treated in very different ways. they don't get their own number and instead share theirs with their original. Daisy was even referenced as "Peach's Echo fighter"
And Daisy didn't get a big trailer reveal like Ridley and Inkling did.
where in the past Lucina got a major reveal alongside Robin. even being shown first before him when she was only a clone!
 
#6
So this is the true power of name branding!
to be honest I feel like the name re-branding isn't what made people accept clones/echoes now. I would attribute the more positive reception being caused by having all veterans return, clones were nearly always the first place a disgruntled fans of a cut character would take their anger out on.
 
#7
Clones i was fine with as a "bonus"(as sakurai once phrased them as before. They didn't "steal" slots from any original movesets) but these "echo fighters" who should have just stayed as alts i am not down with. Like.. at least make SOME distinguishing differences in movement speed and such other than "exactly the same character but like one slightly different move" or "marth but without the thing that makes marth good" or just don't bother IMO. Melee clones aren't ideal but atleast add something to the game gameplay wise other than artificially boosting the size of the character select screen, whilst characters like lucina and dark pit literally have no reason to exist as seperate characters by offering nothing compelling to the gameplay and just end up disatisfying both fans of those characters and people who don't give a damn about said characters equally. I mean, it really doesn't take much more effort to atleast just change up the speed and knockback between these new clones at least(probably takes less time and effort than making unique taunt animations and such)

This news also now makes me concerned about young link essentially just being toon link with fire arrows now as them not being classed as an echo lead me to hope for them to be more distinguished from the other links with like, some majora's mask stuff mixed in or something.
 
Last edited:
#9
I do think the team is working to make Young Link unique with those sword combos. It’s the reason I might be maining him as opposed to Toon Link.

As for echoes, if they do it right i think it could be a good way to pad out the roster. I grew to appreciate Dark Pit and Lucina for the little differences they brought into smash 4 and I’m looking forward to playing all 3 echoes we currently know about. The echo I’m hoping for the most is Impa as an echo for Sheik. Just that and I’ll be pretty satisfied.

Also, a history of clones with no mention of Luigi (or Luigification)???
 
#10
Daisy is the only character I wanted in Smash, but I'm still not very onboard with Clones/Echoes, most specifically the mentality of "Hey, this character purposely just isn't unique outside of taunts and victory animations." I mean, I'm glad I get to play as Daisy, but it's just always gonna stick in my mind that I'm playing a moveset made for Peach, and the only personality I'm gonna get is her voice and the aforementioned animations.

All in all, the concept of an character being based on another one isn't upsetting to me, it's just how minimal they're being with it. Instead of "This character is a bit faster, but deals less damage to compensate, or the overall playstyle is a bit different to spice up play a bit," it's more "One or two moves have different damage/angles, but they're otherwise identical and play identically," which just comes across as a bit lazy and not at all fun. Still, I understand why they did it, so I can't really fault them for that. The point of Echoes is to have less work for more characters. My biggest gripe is that there's even less care and consideration than in Melee, where a quarter of the cast were clones made with little time (And even Dr. Mario, the cloniest clone, played pretty differently, with vastly different strengths and weaknesses. Both Echoes in Smash 4, by comparison, play identically).

But, considering everything, eh. We got what we got, and it's upsetting, but that's just how it is.
 
Last edited:
#11
I don't mind "clones". Clones have a chance to feel different enough from their base-character. Clones, like Ganondorf, have moved away from his base over the games, at least enough to feel like his own character (even if his moveset still isn't really a Ganondorf set). Semi-Clones have been my preference, Luigi being the Godfather of the term, and then there's Lucas and Wolf.

I don't like Echo Fighters. Dark Pit and Lucina really have nothing substantial enough to warrant them being their own characters. The fact that Alph is an alternate, while Dark Pit and Lucina get their own representation feels wrong. I also don't understand how Daisy fans are so cool with how she was put into the game. Her fans finally get Daisy playable, and she's just an alt Peach with her own spot on the roster.

I won't lose sleep, though.
 
#13
to be honest I feel like the name re-branding isn't what made people accept clones/echoes now. I would attribute the more positive reception being caused by having all veterans return, clones were nearly always the first place a disgruntled fans of a cut character would take their anger out on.
Oh I guarantee you someone out there, once SSBU is finished, will still say how Daisy or New Echo Fighter 2 and 3 could have been dropped if just one more actual new character could have been added.

If people want King K. Rool or Isaac or whoever the flavor of this game is, and not one of them makes it in, even knowing what we all know there will still be people who would have wanted Sakurai to spend the time on just one of them over the Echoes we get.
 
#14
:ultganondorf: he should of been unique. Or at least maybe make him a clone of two characters, like have keep his normals falcon’s but make his specials mew-two’s, or just save him for the third game and make him unique
 
#15
Honestly I think this makes perfect sense, it's just that the community refuses to change the name that they use for characters like Fox or Ganondorf. I think Clone before this point made sense, but now it's time to think up of a new term for them. Something that gives us the point that these fighters aren't exactly echo fighters, but aren't wholly unique. I'm gonna use the term "semi-clone"/ "semi-echo" since it's a term that's also used to describe characters who share similar movesets but have wholly different attributes.
 
#17
I gotta admit. The title "Echo Fighters" is kinda clever way of labeling clones. Although, I still ain't used to calling the clone characters that title, considering we've been calling them clones, period, for a long while.
 
#21
I always enjoyed clones (probably obvious) and I never understood the hatred of them, minus the criticism that the character can no longer be made unique, i.e. Daisy, or Ganondorf... and Dark Pit to an extent.
Otherwise, I always enjoyed the inclusion of clones, as sometimes a little alteration can make a big difference. Dark Pit is the only clone I wish was a bit more different, as the few differences don't seem like enough to warrant choosing one over the other, but I was never against his inclusion. I also don't know how different enough Daisy is (obviously) but I still would've liked her to be more unique, like a semi-clone.
 
#22
I really don't care if we get more echo fighters or semi clones. I just enjoy smash and if a character I like makes it in as an echo fighter; such as shadow, then I'll be happy. If he doesn't; well then I'll always have sonic still. The real question is if we can now consider Ganondorf a unique fighter now rather than a semi clone since literally all of his moves except for his specials are different than captain falcons. Cuz tbh I feel like that's enough to call a character unique. Wolf is the same way, all of his moves are unique except for his specials (and final smash I guess).
 
#23
Q) What are your thoughts on echo fighters?

A) I am not a fan of Echo Fighters for many reasons. I feel it to be a disservice to the character (all characters have unique move-set potential), annoying to see with their own roster spots as someone who likes having some semblance of balance with series representation, and feel the changes are so minor that they might as well stick to just being skins.

Ultimately, it was the fact that Alph was a skin whereas Lucina and Dark Pit were not that annoyed me the most; one or the other I say, Echoes or Skins. Out of those, with Pikmin having only one rep, Alph warranted a Echo Fighter role more so than Lucina or Dark Pit, and if Sakurai is okay with making other characters into skins, then I feel he should save him the trouble of the tiny Echo Fighter changes and just have Lucina and Dark Pit as Skins for Marth and Pit respectively.

I feel the speculation on Echo Fighters is less of a case of people liking them, but more akin to acceptance. It is more than likely, now that they have their own branding, that Sakurai will add more Echo Fighters so we might as well speculate and discuss about them whether we like them or not.

Q) Are there any that you really hope will make an appearance?

A) I don't like the inclusion of Echo Fighters or Clones, so not particularly.

That said, as I feel they are inevitable, there is an avenue that I'd be kind of okay with. I don't like the idea of Echo Fighters, but I also don't like the idea of 3rd party series getting 2nd reps (or further 3rd party playable characters in general). A way to satisfy fans of the latter though in a way that wouldn't take away from development focus on Nintendo inclusions would be to add Echo Fighters of 3rd party characters. Shadow as a Sonic Echo, Roll as a Mega Man Echo; those Echo inclusions would allow 3rd party series to gain a 2nd rep without taking time away from Nintendo character inclusions.
 
#24
Text: "The negative stigma attached to “clones” seems far less prevalent, if not gone completely."
Comments: Everyone dislikes echoes.

Personally, I tend to like derived fighters more then their original counterparts. Echoes were simply a result of trying to satisfy fans while working with 50+ original fighters. I'll always prefer getting the characters I like as their own fighters over not getting them because they won't have "enough" differences.

Sakurai was pretty upfront about echo fighters don't exist to give fans a new fighting style and I don't have a problem with that.
 
#25
All squares are rectangles. Not all rectangles are squares.


All echo fighters are clones. Not all clones are echo fighters.


Echo is just a stricter cloning of a character.


I’m for any additional visual variety we can have. I don’t see them as wasted slots but I’m annoyed if they’re deserving of their own kit, like Ganon. In general I see them as additional palettes/skins and wish we had way more ways to mix things up without the need for hacking our systems and modding.
 
Last edited:
#26
This is my interpretation of the stance with Echo Fighters

what we have here is a classic Situation of "Quality VS Quantity" . An example of this being the question, would you rather have, say, 15 echo fighters OR 4 Unique Characters? 15 Characters that bring only vanity changes to existing characters or 4 New Characters that bring something new to the table?

In my own personal opinion, Echo Fighters seem like a "cool" idea, but when you get right down to it, they are just filler.
 
#27
This is my interpretation of the stance with Echo Fighters

what we have here is a classic Situation of "Quality VS Quantity" . An example of this being the question, would you rather have, say, 15 echo fighters OR 4 Unique Characters? 15 Characters that bring only vanity changes to existing characters or 4 New Characters that bring something new to the table?

In my own personal opinion, Echo Fighters seem like a "cool" idea, but when you get right down to it, they are just filler.
This example is so exaggarated that it doesn't really prove anything. By this point, it should be obvious that clones don't have priority compared to unique newcomers.

If project plan for Ultimate says 4 unique fighters, we'll get them. Of course anything after that is filler.
 
#28
This is my interpretation of the stance with Echo Fighters

what we have here is a classic Situation of "Quality VS Quantity" . An example of this being the question, would you rather have, say, 15 echo fighters OR 4 Unique Characters? 15 Characters that bring only vanity changes to existing characters or 4 New Characters that bring something new to the table?

In my own personal opinion, Echo Fighters seem like a "cool" idea, but when you get right down to it, they are just filler.

Apples and oranges.

I want both.
 
#29
I used to care about clones until I realized that they don't actually take any time away from content that's already in the plans. My only issue with 4 was who ended up getting the clones. And it invariably was franchises I didn't care one iota about.
 
#31
This example is so exaggarated that it doesn't really prove anything. By this point, it should be obvious that clones don't have priority compared to unique newcomers.

If project plan for Ultimate says 4 unique fighters, we'll get them. Of course anything after that is filler.
This for sure. I feel like echo fighters are probably not something that ends up in the original project plan for the most part and are probably just an after thought after all of the main cast is said and done.

As for people frustrated about Alph; this is pure speculation but I feel like Alph was likely added as a costume earlier in development and the clones (dark pit, lucina, doc) were probably added much later with that also being around the time Sakurai decided those characters should be a bit different rather than just skins. There's really nothing about Alph that would actually distinguish him from Olimar in his own game. But with the others, there definitely is, hence why Alph stayed as a costume.
 
#32
This for sure. I feel like echo fighters are probably not something that ends up in the original project plan for the most part and are probably just an after thought after all of the main cast is said and done.

As for people frustrated about Alph; this is pure speculation but I feel like Alph was likely added as a costume earlier in development and the clones (dark pit, lucina, doc) were probably added much later with that also being around the time Sakurai decided those characters should be a bit different rather than just skins. There's really nothing about Alph that would actually distinguish him from Olimar in his own game. But with the others, there definitely is, hence why Alph stayed as a costume.
I never thought like that but it sounds likely. Also, Olimar is mechanically very unusual so making an echo of him might increase the balancing work, instead of making it easier.
 
#33
Sakurai is paying attention to why people hate clones but there's a reason he kept them. The purpose of a clone is to play an already existing character, but don't want to deal with a mechanic they feel is not suited for them. Say you want to play Marth but dont want to be over reliant on tippers, but other swords like cloud and link aren't suited. With Lucina in the roster, you can still play marth but without the need of tippers and now you dont have to play a completely different character.

There is a difference between clone and allt. Lucina and Marth are different identities despite several similarities. They have different personalities and behaviors despite gameplay being similar or almost the same, and the same would go for Pit and Dark Pit. Sure making an alt would be easy but the clone just wouldn't truly fir the behavior of the og character. An alt exists as a seperate character but everything they do is pretty much a copy and paste with no noticeable differences, such as the alph/ olimar concept. Two characters with so little differences that you can overlap them and nobody would care.
 
#34
just gonna comment on this bit real quick:
It’s important to understand that “clone character,” a title which was coined by fans, and “echo fighter” are not entirelyinterchangeable. This is made obvious by the fact that Dr. Mario, who the community generally considers to be a clone, has not joined the echo fighter club. Why?
I think that they are 100% interchangeable.

Doc not being listed as an echo fighter doesn't mean that the two terms are not completely interchangeable, I think that it means that Doc has been erroneously classified in the past by us. When you think about it, he's a lot more in line with semi-clones than true clones.
 
#35
I used to care about clones until I realized that they don't actually take any time away from content that's already in the plans. My only issue with 4 was who ended up getting the clones. And it invariably was franchises I didn't care one iota about.
i think smash 4 has a problem as a whole is that the only series that got supporting characters added were Mario, Fire Emblem, Pokemon, and Kid Icarus. Yes they all got more than one character (okay not necessarily Pokemon) but they really focused in on just those franchises. Even as a fan of those franchises, it was a bit too focused for me.

edit: at least the melee roster added characters to star fox, pokemon, two for fire emblem to start it, mario, and zelda, and the Brawl roster gave new characters for Mario, Pokemon, Kirby, Metroid, Mother, Pokemono, Star Fox, and (arguably) Zelda.
 
Last edited:
#36
It would e awesome if we got a newcomer and then an echo fighter to come with him/her. I can't come up with any ideas but I am sure somebody does.
 
#37
I will never understand why people care if a character was given a slot instead of a costume.
The way I see it, Echo Fighters like Lucina, Dark Pit, Daisy, and, in Smash 4, Dr. Mario only added more content. 4 more costumes for both them and their originals each, 3 more trophies for each clone, 1 more victory video each, 2 more victory image each, 1 new amiibo figure each, etc.
They literally added more without taking anything away. Those against them have always struck me as actively campaigning for less content.

Lucina is one of my favorite Fire Emblem characters, had she just been a costume I might not have been able to get an amiibo figure of her. She may play like Marth, but I don't care, I like Marth's moveset and I can play as Lucina, it's a win win. Though I do think she should have gotten Ike's up special since it's a similar attack as the one she used in Awakening during her fight with Chrom.
 
#38
In my opinion Echo Fighters waste the CSS, they should be Alt. costumes like they did for Bowser Jr. or the magician dude that could be a girl too (forgot their names). It's not that they take place of a potential "new character" but just that I don't like having too much slots on the screen.
 
#39
In my opinion Echo Fighters waste the CSS, they should be Alt. costumes like they did for Bowser Jr. or the magician dude that could be a girl too (forgot their names). It's not that they take place of a potential "new character" but just that I don't like having too much slots on the screen.
Then don't unlock more characters than you want.
 
Top