Everyone loves Super Smash Bros. Whether in tournaments or at a friend’s house, the game’s always a fun time, and as the premiere crossover event in gaming, it proudly features characters of all colors: red, green, even yellow. At first glance, it would seem as though fans of all hues have something to enjoy in Smash. However, on closer inspection, one very important color remains in short supply: purple.
The color purple, in case you forgot.
While it may not be the first color you think of, purple is actually very important to the history of gaming. Several of the most iconic characters in the industry have been designed around this color such as Big the Cat, Waluigi, Spyro, and the Purple Guy from Five Nights at Freddy’s. Rumor has it that the iconic NES was originally purple, but Nintendo made it gray after running out of purple paint when they were designing it [editor's note: please find a source for this before publishing]. Needless to say, largely ignoring purple’s legacy and influence throughout gaming history seems rather odd on Sakurai’s part. Even in the most recent Smash game, the ratio of purple to everything else is staggeringly low. Under 1% of the game’s characters have the color anywhere on their bodies; how can one color be so absent in a game with 89 characters? Being the motivated intellectual I am, I took a dive down the rabbit hole to answer this exact question and came to a disquieting conclusion: Masahiro Sakurai, for some reason or another, has been purposefully excluding purple characters from Super Smash Bros. since the beginning.
Only a few of gaming's most iconic purple characters, none of which are playable in Smash.
Now, this topic may come off as foolish, frivolous, maybe even unimportant to some. “Sakurai clearly doesn’t choose characters based on what color they are, and besides, there just aren’t a lot of purple video game characters anyway!” And, fair enough. I, too, once believed that Sakurai chose characters based on factors like popularity, recognizability, and how many cool swords they have. But based on my research, dear reader, I believe Smash’s exclusion of the color purple is not only deliberate, but has disastrous implications for the entire future of the franchise.
Let’s look at the previous games, for instance. In the original Super Smash Bros., there were 12 characters, with a surprisingly healthy level of color diversity between them: Mario represents red and blue, Pikachu represents yellow, Yoshi represents green, etc. But even in the franchise’s beginnings, one color remains suspiciously absent: purple. While certain alt costumes such as Mario’s Wario-inspired outfit do contain the color purple, most of them do not and almost none of the characters chosen for Smash 64 have even a trace of purple anywhere on their designs. The skeptical reader from before may once again chime in with a “so what? Of course Smash 64 didn’t have any purple characters, lots of games with twice as many characters don’t have any purple characters either!” And to that I say, first of all, rude. Don’t interrupt me. Second, it may be true that purple is a criminally underrepresented color in the world of multiplayer gaming. But is it really a coincidence that Ness and Captain Falcon, the only characters in 64 with purple anywhere on their in-game models, have been thoroughly bluewashed in later installments?
Is this, too, part of Sakurai’s anti-purple crusade?
This trend continued into Super Smash Bros. Melee, when against Sakurai’s clear bias, a partially purple character did finally join the battle: Mewtwo. While the legendary Pokémon is mostly gray, Mewtwo does at least carry some purple on its eyes and tail, giving purple fans something to hold onto at last. This minor victory was quickly undone, however, as Mewtwo was mysteriously absent from the next game, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, replaced by Lucario, yet another rep for the incredibly privileged blue fandom. The roster was brought back to near-64 levels of purple destitution, with the shadowy effects of Ganondorf’s specials being the most that purple fans had to look forward to.
This decision always baffled me as a big Mewtwo fan; cutting the clones like Dr. Mario and Young Link was understandable as they ultimately had little to offer gameplay-wise. But why cut such a unique newcomer from Melee? At the time, many assumed this was because Mewtwo was unpopular in Melee, being a sluggish low-tier, but based on my extensive research, I can confidently say that Mewtwo was cut from Brawl for his long, purple tail. Resenting his decision to include an even slightly purple character in his series, Sakurai immediately rectified his mistake by cutting Mewtwo from the next installment for no apparent reason. It is my firm belief that if it were not for this man’s wanton hatred of anything purple, Mewtwo would have never been cut from Brawl and the world would be a much more peaceful place as a result.
The first victim of Sakurai’s reign of terror, pre- and post-depurplization.
Mewtwo did eventually make his return to the series as the first DLC character of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U. Although, his tail was noticeably less purple than before, now verging on magenta or even pink. What’s more, despite the many years since his departure, Mewtwo remained the sole dedicated purple rep in a roster of 58 characters—only a lucky few others such as Zelda and Meta Knight got away with any amount of purple in their designs at all. Wolf, whose Brawl design merely had purple highlights, was suspiciously missing like Mewtwo before him (although his outfit ironically got more purple with his return in Smash Ultimate). Not content with depriving purple fans of any joy they may have had, Sakurai continued to neglect the purple side of gaming, denying characters like Ridley and Waluigi time and time again for apparently frivolous reasons such as the former being too big and the latter being Waluigi. However, it is my belief that these justifications were mere coverups for the real reason behind these characters’ exclusions. What, you thought he was serious with the whole “Ridley is too big” bit? No, in reality, Ridley was never too big; rather, Ridley was too purple all along.
Could Ridley’s purple color scheme be what kept him out of Smash for so long?
Thus it was of no shock to me that when Sakurai finally did add Ridley in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, he was noticeably desaturated compared to his past appearances in and out of Smash. Even his stock icon () is barely purple at all, being closer to a deep indigo. It was almost as if Sakurai was afraid to admit that a truly purple character was playable in his fighting game, adjusting the saturation slider until Ridley was a suitable level of non-purpleness.
This is hardly the only example of Sakurai’s anti-purple bigotry on display in Ultimate; Cloud’s weird jumpsuit thing, which could vaguely be described as dark purple in Smash 4, has been dulled into a drab gray. Meta Knight’s cape, having seemingly escaped Sakurai’s gaze in Brawl and Smash 4, has been similarly indigoized. Zelda’s design was completely overhauled, conveniently erasing any bit of purple from her Twilight Princess design. In many ways, it seems as though Ultimate was Sakurai’s last act of protest, a defiant assertion that despite the fans’ wishes, Smash would remain as non-purple as it ever was.
And he thought we wouldn’t notice!
This flagrant anti-purplism is far from limited to the content we see in-game. It is also apparent in the characters and concepts that have been cut from the Smash series. For instance, Mewtwo was originally planned to make his series debut in Smash 64, but didn’t make the cut. Granted, one could argue this was simply due to time constraints since Bowser and Dedede, two distinctly non-purple characters, were in the same boat. It is much more suspicious, however, that Sakurai planned to cut Ness in Melee and replace him with Lucas, presumably on account of the former’s purple stylings in 64. However, his nefarious plans fell through when MOTHER 3 was delayed, so he settled for simply removing all purple elements from Ness’s design going forward. This isn’t limited to playable characters, either; Ditto, who is extremely purple, was planned to appear as a Poké Ball summon in Super Smash Bros. Melee, but was cut late in development for unspecified reasons. Sakurai even held off on adding Wario, who was considered for Super Smash Bros. Melee, until he was given a conveniently less purple design in the WarioWare games. To the chagrin of many, this would serve as the character’s default appearance in all future Smash titles rather than his more iconic “plumber” look.
And no, Wario’s biker pants are not purple, they are magenta. I am prepared to die on this hill.
Now that we’ve proven beyond reasonable doubt that Sakurai does, in fact, have an embargo against the color purple, that leaves one crucial question: why? What does Masahiro Sakurai have against putting purple content in his games? Is it fear? Pride? Bigotry? Prejudice? None of the above? All of the above? Regrettably, this is where my research turned up empty. I actually reached out to Sakurai himself for clarification on this, and he just sent me this image:
So unfortunately, all we can do is speculate on the motive behind Sakurai’s blatant porphyrophobia—that’s “fear of the color purple,” for those who don’t have a dictionary or search engine handy. Perhaps a purple dog and/or object assaulted Sakurai in his early childhood, leaving him traumatized and forever fearful of the color purple. Maybe the color purple insulted his mother once, forming the basis for a long-standing personal vendetta. Or maybe he just really hates grape soda or something. Whatever the reason may be, one thing is for certain: like some sort of bizarro Eric Andre, Masahiro Sakurai remains dedicated to keeping his games as purple-free as possible, and it’s likely going to stay that way for generations to come. But I refuse to stand for this discrimination, and on behalf of fans of purple characters everywhere, I now bring this uncomfortable truth to light. Write me off as a baseless conspiracy theorist if you like—but if this article mysteriously disappears in the next couple days, you’ll know what happened.
Writing: Ze Diglett
Graphics: Janx_uwu , @Zerp
Social Media: @Zerp
Note: While this article may be satire, that does not mean it is incorrect.