An Exhaustive History of Legend of Zelda Representation

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For the previous article on Pokémon representation, click here.


Back in March of 2017, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild took the gaming world by storm, heralding the era of Nintendo Switch. Now, the Switch is set to get its biggest game yet in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

The Legend of Zelda is one of the few enduring franchises that’s been on every Nintendo platform short of the Virtual Boy, and as you might expect, it’s been an important part of the Super Smash Bros. series since the beginning. Let’s take a look at how the Zelda series has been represented in Smash, from the N64 era to the modern day.

Super Smash Bros. (1999)
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- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time released in 1998
- One playable character: Link
- One Stage: Hyrule Castle
- One Item: Heart Container

The Legend of Zelda’s representation in the original Super Smash Bros. is primarily derived from the N64’s Ocarina of Time, and in fact, both games were developed simultaneously. Much of Link’s actual moveset came from a more unlikely place, however— Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. While oft-regarded as the series’ black sheep, Adventure of Link is one of the only Zelda titles to contain side-scrolling gameplay, making it an ideal source for a platform-fighter like Smash to draw from.

Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001)
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- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask released in 2000
- One returning character: Link
- Four newcomers: Zelda, Sheik, Young Link, Gandondorf
- Two Stages: Temple and Great Bay
- Two Items: Heart Container and Bunny Hood

The Zelda series got a major boost in Melee, with four new playable characters. That’s more newcomers than any other series represented in the game! While Zelda and Sheik featured totally original movesets, Young Link and Ganondorf were clones of Link and Captain Falcon respectively (the latter proved to be an unpopular decision amongst some fans). In addition to Ocarina of Time’s continued representation, Majora’s Mask received some love with the new stage Great Bay. Sakurai’s unusual affection for Zelda II also continued, with the Temple stage taking cues from that game’s design and music.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)
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- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess released in 2006, Phantom Hourglass in 2007
- Four returning characters: Link, Zelda, Sheik, Ganondorf
- One newcomer: Toon Link
- Three Stages: Bridge of Eldin, Temple, Pirate Ship
- Three Items: Bunny Hood, Heart Container, Deku Nut
- One Assist Trophy: Tingle

Brawl took away one Zelda character and swapped him in for another—Toon Link from The Wind Waker replaced Young Link as a lighter, smaller, and faster incarnation of Link. The other Zelda characters had their Ocarina of Time duds swapped out for new Twilight Princess-inspired threads. Both of the Gamecube-era Zeldas are also represented with new locales: Pirate Ship and Bridge of Eldin.

While it was disappointing for some Zelda fans that the game didn’t feature a true newcomer, it’s totally understandable considering that Sakurai and his team added so many in the previous game. Surely the next game would be the one to satisfy those fans…

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U (2014)
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- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword released in 2011, A Link Between Worlds in 2013
- Five returning characters: Link, Zelda, Sheik, Ganondorf, Toon Link
- No newcomers
- Seven Stages: Gerudo Valley, Spirit Train, Skyloft, Bridge of Eldin, Temple, Pirate Ship (DLC), Hyrule Castle (DLC),
- Eight Items: Beetle, Bombchu, Cucco, Fairy Bottle, Gust Bellows, Bunny Hood, Heart Container, Deku Nut
- Four Assist Trophies: Ghirahim, Midna, Skull Kid, Tingle

When it comes to Zelda series representation, Smash 3DS and Wii U gave us lots more of everything… except playable characters. In fact, the returning characters from Brawl were largely the same, with Link and Zelda keeping their Twilight Princess appearance despite the more recent Skyward Sword sporting new designs for them.

Despite this, it’s impossible to argue that Sakurai didn’t show the series any love when all the work put into new stages, items, and assist trophies shows otherwise. In the 3DS version, Spirit Tracks and Ocarina of Time 3D got new stages, while the Wii U version represented Skyward Sword with the Skyloft stage. Assist trophies ran the gamut, giving nods to games as recent as Skyward Sword as well as venerable classics like Majora’s Mask.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018)
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- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released in 2017
- Six returning characters: Link, Zelda, Sheik, Ganondorf, Toon Link, Young Link
- No confirmed newcomers (yet!)
- Nine confirmed Stages: Hyrule Castle, Great Bay, Temple, Bridge of Eldin, Pirate Ship, Gerudo Valley, Spirit Train, Skyloft, Great Plateau
- Six confirmed Items: Beetle, Bombchu, Cucco, Fairy Bottle, Bunny Hood, Heart Container
- Three confirmed Assist Trophies: Moon, Midna, Ghirahim

Breath of the Wild is undoubtedly the new hotness, and to no one’s surprise, it’s receiving plenty of love in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with a new stage (The Great Plateau) and a brand new design for Link. What is more surprising is that Sakurai and his team seem unafraid to pull out elements from the series’ past as well. For the first time, the core Zelda characters represent different games in the series, with Zelda herself repping A Link Between Worlds and Ganondorf sporting his Ocarina of Time design once again. Ultimate has also pulled Young Link out of retirement, allowing all three incarnations of Link to clash swords on the battlefield for the first time.

While these are all exciting things, one piece of news that tempered Zelda fans’ collective expectations is the fact that Ultimate is set to include fewer newcomers than any previous Smash Bros. title. If you’re counting, we haven’t seen a Zelda series newcomer with a completely original moveset since Melee, a full 17 years ago. Now, after not being deemed a priority in Brawl or Smash 3DS and Wii U, Zelda newcomers are fighting for an even smaller number of spots.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. With the inclusion of characters like Ridley and King K. Rool, Ultimate seems to be prioritizing old fan favorites over up-and-comers. This is good news for characters like Skull Kid, a popular fan choice who nevertheless hasn’t had a prominent role in a new Zelda title for almost two decades. The introduction of Echo Fighters also gives a glimmer of hope to characters like Impa and Hilda, who share similar designs (and potential movesets) to existing fighters.

Will our Zelda newcomer be a present-day champion, a link to the past, or nothing at all? Only time will tell, so someone hurry up and play the song of double-time! The wait is getting unbearable.

Author’s Note: Do you think we’ll get a Zelda series newcomer in Smash Ultimate, and if so, who will it be? Personally, I’m leaning toward Skull Kid. Sound off in the comments below!
 
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Keith “Octorox” Bress

Comments

#5
BoTW, aLTTP, and Hyrule Warriors are the only LoZ games I've beaten. My aLTTP memory is fuzzy. That being said, I'm hoping for Impa.
 
#7
Someone explain why Skull Kid should be playable. At best he is a minor character in the franchise.

Now, Pig Ganon from Link to the Past I would like to see. Not sure if he would work as an echo fighter or not.
He and the Mask are among the most iconic Characters in the Zelda series with the popularity to go with it. Skull Kid and the mask will often appear as bonuses in other games because of it, even non-Zelda games such as Animal Crossing and Monster Hunter. Add in the timing of the Majora's Mask remake and Hyrule Warriors Legends and it's easy to see why Skull Kid would be on Sakurai radar
 
#8
Really hoping Skullkid makes it this time around!

He and the Mask are among the most iconic Characters in the Zelda series with the popularity to go with it. Skull Kid and the mask will often appear as bonuses in other games because of it, even non-Zelda games such as Animal Crossing and Monster Hunter. Add in the timing of the Majora's Mask remake and Hyrule Warriors Legends and it's easy to see why Skull Kid would be on Sakurai radar
This^
Also want to add that the very same Skullkid has been in 3 mainline Zelda games.
At the end of MM, Skullkid says "you have the same smell as the fairy kid who taught me that song in the woods.". This implies he is the same Skullkid from Ocarina of Time.
In Twilight Princess. The Skullkid knows Saria's Song. Also TP comes directly after Majora's Mask in their timeline branch off which is no coincidence.
Also the Majora's Mask icon has a lot of merchandise that is made and sells very well.
 
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#10
Skull Kid won't happen. He wasn't in too many games and all those games are old. Plus he was an assist trophy so the newness is waned.
Impa, on the other hand... this seems like a strong possibility.
 
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#11
Someone explain why Skull Kid should be playable. At best he is a minor character in the franchise.

Now, Pig Ganon from Link to the Past I would like to see. Not sure if he would work as an echo fighter or not.
Majora's Mask is really really iconic, you could show anyone just slightly familiar with video games and they'd know it's from Zelda just based on that Mask
 
#12
Overall, I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of how the Legend of Zelda series has been represented, mainly on it's playable character side of things. It all started out well enough with Link, but then we had clone additions of a 2nd version of Link along with the baffling inclusion of Ganondorf as a clone. I feel that Ganondorf's inability to escape his clone origins despite his potential for a unique move-set is why I dislike clone inclusions... and I say this as someone who mains Ganondorf. I'd be willing to sacrifice one of my mains, my main-main in SSB4, if it would allow him to be represented properly.

My problem with The Legend of Zelda series representations extends past Ganondorf, summed up quite well in SSBU having 3 Links and 2 Zeldas... even if the latter two play completely differently. Sheik is a standalone LoZ character who doesn't feel significant enough to have her spot but has found her way in through mechanical changes (which I still dislike, and find it odd that it still persists having them separate given that Pokémon Trainer has returned with no issue). Meanwhile Young Link was removed only to have his spot filled in by Toon Link, whom whilst aesthetically different, still doesn't fix the clone/semi-clone problem. I was also disappointed by the lack of Skyward Sword character representation in SSB4, mainly because Skyward Sword Zelda is best Zelda and darn it; I never got that!

On the positive side of things, I've always enjoyed the Legend of Zelda stages in SSB and I loved seeing how much more item representation it got in SSB4, given how key items are to the Legend of Zelda series.

Q) Do you think we’ll get a Zelda series newcomer in Smash Ultimate, and if so, who will it be?

A) I do not think we will get a Zelda series newcomer in SSB, at least a non-Echo Fighter. I feel folks are pulling at straws with the Skull Kid inclusion (I mean, c'mon... chairs?) and if we do see such a character included, it is more so as either a returning Assist Trophy or as a potential boss character/element for this supposed 'Spirits' mode.

Then again, maybe some of that scepticism is bias on my part. If I had to include a Zelda series newcomer, I'd add Tingle, although Tingle could always represent his own series much like Yoshi does.
 
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#13
Overall, I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of how the Legend of Zelda series has been represented, mainly on it's playable character side of things. It all started out well enough with Link, but then we had clone additions of a 2nd version of Link along with the baffling inclusion of Ganondorf as a clone. I feel that Ganondorf's inability to escape his clone origins despite his potential for a unique move-set is why I dislike clone inclusions... and I say this as someone who mains Ganondorf. I'd be willing to sacrifice one of my mains, my main-main in SSB4, if it would allow him to be represented properly.

My problem with The Legend of Zelda series representations extends past Ganondorf, summed up quite well in SSBU having 3 Links and 2 Zeldas... even if the latter two play completely differently. Sheik is a standalone LoZ character who doesn't feel significant enough to have her spot but has found her way in through mechanical changes (which I still dislike, and find it odd that it still persists having them separate given that Pokémon Trainer has returned with no issue). Meanwhile Young Link was removed only to have his spot filled in by Toon Link, whom whilst aesthetically different, still doesn't fix the clone/semi-clone problem. I was also disappointed by the lack of Skyward Sword character representation in SSB4, mainly because Skyward Sword Zelda is best Zelda and darn it; I never got that!

On the positive side of things, I've always enjoyed the Legend of Zelda stages in SSB and I loved seeing how much more item representation it got in SSB4, given how key items are to the Legend of Zelda series.

Q) Do you think we’ll get a Zelda series newcomer in Smash Ultimate, and if so, who will it be?

A) I do not think we will get a Zelda series newcomer in SSB, at least a non-Echo Fighter. I feel folks are pulling at straws with the Skull Kid inclusion (I mean, c'mon... chairs?) and if we do see such a character included, it is more so as either a returning Assist Trophy or as a potential boss character/element for this supposed 'Spirits' mode.

Then again, maybe some of that scepticism is bias on my part. If I had to include a Zelda series newcomer, I'd add Tingle, although Tingle could always represent his own series much like Yoshi does.
I don't place stock in the chairs but you have to consider that the set was chosen deliberately.

I'll just share this post that was made on Gamefaqs:

"The chairs match Tatl and Tael perfectly. The couch cushion has all of Skull Kid's colors. The furniture stands out and is unique, and seems to be a clue.

But wait: Also in the last presentation for E3, Sakurai had a BARREL AND A ROPE LADDER behind him instead. And just who was revealed during the recent direct but King K. Rool? I mean you can't even tell me that there would be any reason to have a BARREL AND A ROPE LADDER in that room like those are normal things by any stretch of the imagination.

Now consider that Skull Kid was an assist trophy in the last game, but here instead we have the moon. In the last game when Skull Kid was revealed as an assist trophy, Sakurai felt the need to specify, "remember, he's not playable, he's an assist trophy." (Paraphrased.) Of the 8 newcomers seen in Ultimate so far, half of them had Mii Fighter costume parts in the last game, and one of them was an assist trophy in it. Skull Kid fits BOTH categories.

To top it all off, he's popular. He and his mask cameo everywhere, and fan love of Majora's Mask was big enough for us to see the 3DS remake of it along with a golden 3DS adorned with Majora's Mask on it. This came out in 2015, the same year Sakurai was planning ultimate, so it's safe to say the hype behind that game could have influenced his inclusion. Additionally there's merch of him and his mask made all the time. Plus Zelda is a big series. Of the 4 new stages in Ultimate, one is a Zelda stage. Since we *seem* to have every stage in the game revealed, it would mean that the most likely newcomers are ones who are from series already present here. Skull Kid fits on Great Bay just fine, and needs no new stage added.

Also for everyone saying, "but the moon would be his final smash!" we've had someone else remind them that Majora's Wrath would also be perfect, and match up well as a counterpart against Young Link using Fierce Deity--and Young Link is the only character here who we've never seen a final smash for yet in any game.

Basically there are just a LOT of things pointing to Skull Kid making it in, and I can't imagine it not happening. The clues all line up way too much to be circumstantial. There isn't any way it's all coincidence. There is no single more likely character at this time. The next biggest guarantee we have is that either Shadow or Tails will be in as a Sonic echo. If we get Skull Kid, it would also balance the Zelda series better with all of the reps for Pokémon and Mario and Fire Emblem, especially if Mario gets two new reps again this time in Daisy and Geno. We've already got 8 Mario characters (not even counting the Koopalings, Yoshi, Wario, and DK characters), 7 Fire Emblem characters, and 9 Pokémon characters (counting Pokémon Trainer's Pokémon as 3 but not counting Red or Leaf.) 6 Zelda characters next to them could stand to have another face among their ranks, especially when 3 of the 6 are Link and 2 of the remaining 3 are Zelda. Skull Kid really wouldn't be a bad choice, especially in a game where a lot of the characters being added are all fan -favorites.

Oh and there's some nonsense about a leak too, but whether or not you believe that, there's still a sizeable amount of evidence to weigh here and form an opinion with"
 
#14
The clues all line up way too much to be circumstantial. There isn't any way it's all coincidence. There is no single more likely character at this time. The next biggest guarantee we have is that either Shadow or Tails will be in as a Sonic echo. If we get Skull Kid, it would also balance the Zelda series better with all of the reps for Pokémon and Mario and Fire Emblem, especially if Mario gets two new reps again this time in Daisy and Geno
First of all, Shadow is easily more likely than skull kid. Of course he’s in, it’s another easy echo which could just be slightly slower and more floaty sonic. And if Tails got in, he wouldn’t be an echo. Also since when has Sakurai cared about balance? If he did, DK would have six reps by now, and at least as many ATs as Zelda. Also Mario, FE, and Pokémon have more to pull from for fighters (granted they aren’t always picking interesting ones).
 
#15
It's probable the Zelda franchise will get at least one newcomer in, be it a Echo or not. It's a much needed addition since Brawl was the last time we got a proper newcomer, and Zelda as a franchise is huge. Especially now that Breath of the Wild is doing so great, and pulls in a lot of new fans. Seems like a good idea to expand on the excistant characters now. Skull Kid is a great choice, and has been a great choice ever since Melee actually. In retrospect, having him instead of Sheik would've been a good idea. As Sheik only appears in 1 game, Skull Kid has at least 3 appearances and room for more.

However, Sheik being in now is great, cause Impa makes a great Echo for her. And in that way, we have all the major main characters of Zelda playable. Impa is appearing more than even Ganondorf as of late, who hasn't appeared since Twilight Princess and is lucky to have featured in the remakes of Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess to be considered "relevant", but ironically, they are his only appearances outside of Hyrule Warriors, which even features Sheik yet again.

With that said I don't think it's bad to have Impa as the only newcomer, Skyward Sword is the only major release yet not represented with a playable character at this point. Even ALBW has it's version of Zelda in, Majora's Mask has Young Link even if his equipment suggests he's from Ocarina of Time instead, Sheik and Ganondorf are probably the most iconic characters of Ocarina of Time, and Wind Waker has Toon Link and of course Link himself is from Breath of the Wild. Seeing on how much Breath of the Wild builds up from what was established in Skyward Sword, it has definitely established itself as a core title meant to signify the "beginning of the legend".

Besides all this, Sheik has the best possible moveset to Echo from all the Zelda fighters. Her moveset is easily the most popular, and also uses the least canon-source material. So that makes her a ideal prospect for getting a Echo, especially over the other choices, who are either Link who has 2 smaller versions of him running around already, Zelda who already sits double on the roster for having Sheik around, and Ganondorf, who's still a particial clone of C.Falcon. All Zelda potential Echoes are either herself, as Toon Zelda, Twili Midna who already has her more famous imp-version as a Assist Trophy, or Hilda, a one-off who's basically just Zelda with purple hair.
 
#17
I really feel that the Zelda series has been forgotten over the years. It seems absurd that Zelda is the only franchise bound by the “Character X is a one-off so isn’t eligible for Smash” rule.

Zelda has more assists than any other franchise simply because these other characters are one-offs, and this are not offered playable slots. As it stands, the Zelda series has only three unique movesets among six characters, which is not indicative of its importance to Nintendo. I’d gladly sacrifice some other representation (items, stages) to get more playable characters.

Not to mention my biggest complaint: that Ganondorf still shares the heroic win theme, while every other villain since 4 has gotten something unique.

Midna is one of my most wanted. I loved Twilight Princess, and she’s very important in that game. She’s basically the deuteragonist, while Zelda is more of a side character, and she’s actually the titular Twilight Princess. Not to mention being featured in Hyrule Warriors, then a TP remake, and two other HW remakes. I’m disappointed her imp form is already confirmed as an assist, but I wouldn’t mind seeing her human form as a Zelda echo, especially now that TP is unrepresented in the main cast.

I’ve gotten used to Ganondorf, but Hyrule Warriors’ is the version we never had. Plus he looks fantastic. I’d love alternate costumes from HW (and other games).

It feels wrong to support one champion over the other three, so I doubt they’d get anything more than an assist (even though if Urbosa made it over the others, I wouldn’t be mad). That leaves a low number of potential unique representatives for the Zelda series - but Skull Kid stands out. Hopefully this is the game we get something for the series.
 
#18
Overall, I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of how the Legend of Zelda series has been represented, mainly on it's playable character side of things. It all started out well enough with Link, but then we had clone additions of a 2nd version of Link along with the baffling inclusion of Ganondorf as a clone. I feel that Ganondorf's inability to escape his clone origins despite his potential for a unique move-set is why I dislike clone inclusions... and I say this as someone who mains Ganondorf. I'd be willing to sacrifice one of my mains, my main-main in SSB4, if it would allow him to be represented properly.
Tbh it wouldn't even be an issue if Sakurai wasn't so stubborn when it comes to these things.

First of all, Shadow is easily more likely than skull kid.
Skull Kid has every bit just as much as Shadow going for him right now.
 
#19
Really holding out for Impa! Great job on this. :)
Just wondering, not trying to start an argument, but if Impa joined the roster, what would her moveset be? Perhaps an echo of Sheik? If i recall, Sheik was taught by Impa, so it would be another Simon/Richter where they're both echoes of each other...
 
#20
Just wondering, not trying to start an argument, but if Impa joined the roster, what would her moveset be? Perhaps an echo of Sheik? If i recall, Sheik was taught by Impa, so it would be another Simon/Richter where they're both echoes of each other...
All I really have to say is this:


Outside of that, they can make her an Echo if they want to. Impa is one of my favorite Nintendo characters. I want her in because I like her, not because she can be unique.
 
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#21
Just wondering, not trying to start an argument, but if Impa joined the roster, what would her moveset be? Perhaps an echo of Sheik? If i recall, Sheik was taught by Impa, so it would be another Simon/Richter where they're both echoes of each other...
Undoubtedly 100% guaranteed an echo of Sheik.
 
#22
Undoubtedly 100% guaranteed an echo of Sheik.
Impa is a co-lead character in Hyrule Warriors, a game heavily relevant and popular when the infamous ballot came out. And since then, it's had ports to the 3DS, and now even Switch. The game is huge, made a lot of money, and it's general theme is about fighting; just like Smash. Sure, I also do think a Impa Echo is more likely, but the merrits of having a unique Impa are still there. She's easily the most important Zelda character who's not yet included. I bet she did good on the ballot as well, especially if even the likes of Dark Samus and Daisy seem to make it in.
 
#23
Impa is a co-lead character in Hyrule Warriors, a game heavily relevant and popular when the infamous ballot came out. And since then, it's had ports to the 3DS, and now even Switch. The game is huge, made a lot of money, and it's general theme is about fighting; just like Smash. Sure, I also do think a Impa Echo is more likely, but the merrits of having a unique Impa are still there. She's easily the most important Zelda character who's not yet included. I bet she did good on the ballot as well, especially if even the likes of Dark Samus and Daisy seem to make it in.
I agree Impa and Skull Kid are literally the best options for new Zelda inclusions.
 
#25


Pig Ganon from ALttP would go well with Zelda in this game.

I'd also like to see Champions from BotW.
 
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#28
I'm fine with LoZ representation overall even if there's no newcomer in Ultimate.
But...
it is disappointing that YL is his OoT self and not his MM self, it would mean so much if he just had the Mirror Shield, Razor Sword and MM Hookshot!
 
#29
I'm fine with LoZ representation overall even if there's no newcomer in Ultimate.
But...
it is disappointing that YL is his OoT self and not his MM self, it would mean so much if he just had the Mirror Shield, Razor Sword and MM Hookshot!
We still haven’t seen all the colors for him. Maybe when they are revealed, half will be based on his majoras mask appearance, and his final smash could easily be fierce deity link. In fact, outside of all the characters that have been in the demo, we have less than half of the palettes so far for every other character, so that wouldn’t be impossible.
 
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#31
Meanwhile I'm one of five people who have even heard of Ravio, much less want him included... :(
I want Ravio. He’s been in the back of my mind though, but here’s hoping Sakurai starts giving us the less popular characters so we can’t guess every remaining choice. It would be fun to see people’s reactions when Ravio is the unique Zelda newcomers as opposed to skull kid. He’s definitely more interesting, and could use some of the many weapons and tools he gives Link during his quest, such as the boomerang or sand rod.
 
#32
We still haven’t seen all the colors for him. Maybe when they are revealed, half will be based on his majoras mask appearance, and his final smash could easily be fierce deity link. In fact, outside of all the characters that have been in the demo, we have less than half of the palettes so far for every other character, so that wouldn’t be impossible.
I heavily doubt we'd get that tbh. This would be him keeping his green tunic but only changing equipment, usually pallete swaps actually change the colors of their main outfit.
As for his FS, it could also as easily be the Triforce Slash.
 
#33
I heavily doubt we'd get that tbh. This would be him keeping his green tunic but only changing equipment, usually pallete swaps actually change the colors of their main outfit.
As for his FS, it could also as easily be the Triforce Slash.
I mean, ya never know with Sakurai. He’s the same guy that put Duck Hunt in smash 4
 
#35
I think it would be cool if we got a newcomer from BotW. Maybe... Urbosa or Daruk. It’s pretty unlikely, though although they might be better as assist trophies.
 
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