- Jun 7, 2013
- US (Mountain Time, -7 Hours)
- 3DS FC
Welcome to the Historical Character Discussion Thread
What is a Historical Character?
The previous three (four counting SSB3DS as a separate title) Super Smash Bros. games have included characters that personify a part of Nintendo's long-running history.
Mr. Game & Watch was inspired by the characters found in Nintendo's Game & Watch games, a series of dedicated handheld electronic games which became Nintendo's first major financial success (selling 43.4 million units) and first handheld, cementing their place in the video game industry. The Game and Watch was also used as inspiration for the Gameboy, Nintendo's first handheld video game console.
R.O.B. was an accessory for the NES which was used to market the console as a novel toy to retailers and consumers in a market which had reservations about home video game consoles following the North American Video Game Crash of 1983. The inclusion of R.O.B. with the system convinced major retailers to sell the console, ultimately leading to the revival of the entire Western video game industry following the NES' success. (Source)
Duck Hunt is a character which is a little less obvious about its historical ties. However, the character represents not only the extremely well-selling Duck Hunt video game, but also the light gun as a whole. (SSB4 includes several references to the Light Gun Series, including in the trophy for Duck Hunt's final smash.) This included much earlier points in Nintendo's history, including the Beam Gun, Laser Clay Shooting System, Wild Gunman, and Duck Hunt products released in the 1970s. (The 1976 Duck Hunt is even referenced by name in a tip in SSB4.) These products, while technically not "video games" are an early example of electro-mechanical games, which greatly contributed to the rise of the early arcade industry.
Nintendo was also the predominant producer of light guns for the home in Japan at this time, and they had obtained a contract with Magnavox to produce the light gun peripheral for the first home video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey. Nintendo's involvement in the project gave them direct insight into the North American video game market, which likely influenced them to bundle a Light Gun (alongside R.O.B.) with the NES in North America. If it were not for the Light Gun, Nintendo may have not entered the home video game market at all.
It's reasonable enough to conclude that we might be in for another surprise in this vein if this pattern continues. This thread exists to discuss this possibility.
What's the difference between this and a retro?
Well, a retro character is included primarily included as a throwback to a game or series that has since declined in popularity. To quote Sakurai on the inclusion of the Ice Climbers:
"we wanted a single representative from the characters that originated from the Famicom! After that was decided, we made our pick by process of elimination."
The retro characters we've had up until now have been Ice Climbers, Pit, and (debatably) Little Mac. We know for sure that Ice Climbers were added as an intentional throwback, and Pit was included because Sakurai wanted to revive the Kid Icarus series. Sakurai was less specific about why he included Little Mac, saying this on the matter:
"[Punch Out!!'s] copyright originates from 1983, the same year the Famicon was born. I was very shocked when I found this out. Little Mac was drawn as wire-frame boxer, and [the game features] exaggerated enemy characters as if they were from cartoons from abroad. This was on a multi-screen device that resembled the Nintendo DS. Finally, it could produce synthesized speech. It’s not like other boxing games where you can recklessly punch away either, the player needs to think about the sequence of their punches logically. The Famicon version of the game is more famous. I understand that. It is also a masterpiece. I never would have imagined that I personally would be able to work with the main character from such a game…Of course, I felt the same way with Mario, Pit, and Megaman. As a video game designer, I have probably have worked with the largest amount of popular video game characters in the world."
Sakurai places more significance on Little Mac's arcade origins than on his NES game, but he still notes the popularity of the NES title and Little Mac himself. Notably, Little Mac also takes parts of his design from the Wii Punch Out!! game. It seems that it was a combination of factors that convinced Sakurai to include Little Mac: the series had a long history, the NES game is extremely well-known, Little Mac as a character is popular, and the series had a recent release. I'll let you decide on your own whether Little Mac counts as a retro character based on that information.
Conversely, Sakurai specifically stated that Duck Hunt was chosen as the game's "surprise" character like R.O.B. and Mr. Game and Watch, representing multiple games from the Light Gun series. Unlike a retro, Duck Hunt represented several games tied together by a single peripheral (similar to Mr. Game and Watch.)
Potentially of note, while Ice Climbers, Pit, and Little Mac have all been starter characters in every game they've appeared in thus far; Mr. Game and Watch, R.O.B., and Duck Hunt have been unlockable instead.
Who's in the running?
Well, a number of suggestions have been made.
Daitōryō Support Thread
Tengu Support Thread
Joker Support Thread
Coaster Rabbit Support Thread
Mini Kangaroo Support Thread
Donkey Kong Jr. Support Thread*
Stanley the Bugman Support Thread*
Diskun Support Thread
Parabo and Satebo Support Thread
9-Volt (Warioware) Support Thread
*Could be considered retro or historical, depending on how their inclusion is theoretically handled.
(I am also planning on making a thread for the Joker from Nintendo's playing cards in the near future.)
Feel free to discuss the odds of a historical character's inclusion, and let me know if you would like another thread added to the OP.