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Smash Underdogs #7: Carl "CJ" Johnson (Grand Theft Auto)

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Welcome to the seventh episode of the Smash Underdog series! In these articles, I’ll be taking a look at some of the lesser talked about characters in Smash speculation. These characters aren’t as popular as big names like Sora or Dante but would be just as great additions with the content they could bring. The purpose of these articles is to get viewers hooked on these characters and the idea of them appearing in Smash one day.

As some of you may remember in my last article, my hint for the next character I would be covering was: “wait… you’re not a Sonic character?” Originally I was going to cover Klonoa next, however I was growing more fond of a certain character from a certain series getting into Smash and before I knew it I had written the entire article on them. I guess for consistency sake you could say that this character stole Klonoa’s spot which would make a ton of sense considering their origins. From rags to riches but always a straight busta, it’s Carl “CJ” Johnson from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas!

Who is Carl Johnson?


First Appearance: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)​

Carl Johnson (better known by his nickname “CJ”) is the main character of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Five years prior to the game’s story, CJ was a member of the Grove Street Families gang along with his brother, Sean “Sweet” Johnson, as well as two of their best friends, Lance “Ryder” Wilson and Melvin “Big Smoke” Harris. Grove Street Family members competed with other gangs to control the streets of Los Santos, the most notable of them being the purple-wearing Ballas gang. Following an unexplained incident where his other brother named Brian was killed, CJ left Los Santos in guilt and would live the next 5 years of his life in Liberty City (the setting of GTA III).


Cut to the start of the game in the year 1992, CJ flies back to Los Santos to attend the funeral of his mother who had just been killed in a drive-by shooting. As soon as CJ returns home, he is stopped by Frank Tenpenny, a corrupt C.R.A.S.H. unit police officer and old enemy (who also happens to be voiced by big name actor Samuel L. Jackson). Tenpenny forces CJ to do various tasks for him throughout the game or he will be framed for the murder of a police officer who Tenpenny actually killed. After CJ reunites with his old friends and restores the Grove Street Family to its former glory, a shocking turn of events lands Sweet in prison and CJ in the countryside. In order to free his brother, CJ performs various missions from people from all across the fictional state of San Andreas - from the countryside plains, to the blistering desert, to the casinos of Las Venturas.


With tons of customization and things to do, one must ask: what doesn’t San Andreas have?

Along with other GTA characters such as Niko Bellic and Trevor Phillips, CJ is among one of the most popular and recognizable characters in the series. San Andreas is widely regarded as the greatest game in the series and holds the record as the all-time best-selling game on the Playstation 2. The game laid many foundations for the series and would serve as one of the main inspirations for GTA V which would become the second best-selling video game in history (only behind Minecraft).


“I’m interested in Grand Theft Auto! How can I get into it?”

The GTA series is available on pretty much any system that isn’t Nintendo, whether it be in the Steam store or on PSN/Xbox Live. Although each game usually has some connection to at least one other, they can generally be played independently. Each mainline game is good in their own right so it is hard to choose the right starting point.


The most ideal starting point would probably be GTA III followed by Vice City and then San Andreas as that was the order they were originally released. If you are really eager to jump into the world of San Andreas then you could always start there as it has a ton of things to do and would serve as the basis for most later games in the series. The PC version also has a nearly endless amount of mods to download which is an extra bonus. If you are interested in the more recent games then you can’t go wrong with GTA V either.

Something I should address as I will mention it a few times in this article is that there are 3 “universes” of the GTA series: the 2D universe (the first two GTA games), the 3D universe (the games released during the PS2 era), and the HD universe (GTA IV and onward). Both CJ and San Andreas are set in the 3D universe and thus are connected to the other PS2 era games like GTA III and Vice City. The HD universe games like GTA IV and V don’t have 3D universe characters like CJ in them, however there are similarities between the two, like GTA V also taking place in San Andreas.

CJ’s Chances for Smash

I won’t lie: of all the characters I’ve covered so far (and probably will ever cover), CJ is easily the least likeliest of them all.

Obviously the biggest issue with adding a Grand Theft Auto character would be with how controversial the series is. GTA is notorious for making headline news when it comes to violent video games and not being viewed in a good light by parents. Examples of specific controversies that were really big include the torture mission in GTA V as well as the scrapped sex minigame found in the files of San Andreas (aka the “Hot Coffee” incident). The Hot Coffee incident attracted the attention of US Senators and even resulted in San Andreas being temporarily pulled off of the shelves. While I do think that a GTA character can be represented in Smash without being overly censored, the general nature of the series may mean that Nintendo won’t want it near Smash at least for now.


Another potential issue comes with series competition. If Rockstar had to agree on a GTA character then they most likely would go with someone from GTA V (probably Trevor) since it is still their big moneymaker even after all these years. It also does not help that Young Maylay - the voice actor of CJ - trash-talked Rockstar Games earlier this year and said he wants nothing to do with them. Of course if they wanted CJ in Smash they could either reuse his voice clips or get a new VA, but Maylay’s comments may mean that they won’t want anything to do with CJ in general.

Now, how would Smash benefit from this addition? Grand Theft Auto is such a massive series with worldwide popularity that Nintendo could always see it as a way to bring even more people into Smash. Although Rockstar's relationship with Nintendo isn't the greatest, they have shown Nintendo some interest in the past such as with GTA: Chinatown Wars which was originally a Nintendo DS exclusive and recently the port of L.A. Noire to Switch. As for CJ himself, in regards to Smash speculation he has gained a small bit of traction recently and is usually considered to be the best choice to represent GTA. So while things aren’t all too good for CJ just yet, with enough effort he can easily be a highly requested underdog.

Why Should CJ be in Smash?

Since the last three paragraphs were dedicated to why CJ isn’t likely, let’s look at why CJ should be in Smash. I have these sections for all of my Underdog articles but I’ll be putting in the most effort for this one.

Grand Theft Auto is one of the biggest gaming franchises of all-time; the games have always done well while GTA V is the second best-selling game in history. The consistent amount of high quality and beloved games in the series shows that GTA is more than just a fad: it’s a solidified piece of gaming history worthy of starring in the biggest gaming crossover ever.

Now as for who should represent GTA, there are a multitude of options. Claude, Niko, and Trevor are viable candidates based on their significance/popularity. Another somewhat talked about idea is making a single GTA character that has characters as alts similar to Hero. While these are all perfectly viable options, I personally think CJ alone would be the best character to represent the series. San Andreas contains most of the series trademark features that can be perfectly represented through CJ, plus certain characters like Niko would feel weird using moves like a jetpack.

One elephant in the room that should be addressed in regards to CJ in Smash: is he just a meme pick? San Andreas does indeed have a fair amount of popular memes coming off of it, so some may argue that CJ's inclusion in Smash would just be for laughs.


You can hear this image

While CJ’s inclusion would be a bit humorous, I can assure you that CJ is more than just a joke. San Andreas is a game widely beloved by both fans of the series and gamers in general. In addition to having an insane amount of content, San Andreas has many memorable characters as well as a great story involving both police corruption and the meaning of sticking together as a family. Things like writing down cheat codes on scraps of paper and trying to find the rumored Big Foot are many classic memories that can be attributed to San Andreas. Even today, people still talk about and enjoy San Andreas as much as they did more than 15 years ago. There is a reason why it is the best-selling PS2 game of all time: it is a true gaming classic.


Moveset

CJ would be about the same height as Link while his weight would be on the lighter side and be about 82 (the same as Falco and Rosalina). So although CJ has a ton of gimmicks which will be explained below, he is fairly easy to launch when his skill levels are low (“east coast got you all thinned out holmes!” as Big Smoke says at the start of the game).

Wait a second… “skill levels?” What do you mean by that?

One of the main features of San Andreas is the introduction of RPG elements to the GTA series. By training yourself at various locations like shooting ranges and gyms or simply by doing things a lot in general, you can increase your skills. Increasing stats results in beneficial perks like longer running durability, better aim, dual-wielding pistols, etc. This is a big part of San Andreas and would later be used again in GTA V.


For Smash, all of CJ’s attacks would be split into three categories: melee, weapon, and respect. By using attacks of the specific category, your skill meter for that category will go up and will eventually level up (you start at level 1 and the max level is 3). With each level, you’ll get a variety of buffs for that attack type.

  • Melee
    • Attacks that involve CJ’s own fists or melee weapons like knives.
    • Melee bar increases by hitting opponents with melee category attacks. Results in buffs to CJ’s melee category attacks.
  • Weapon
    • Attacks that involve weapons like guns, explosives, etc.
    • Weapon bar increases by hitting opponents with weapon category attacks. Results in buffs to CJ’s weapon attacks.
  • Respect
    • This meter is only for CJ’s neutral and side specials.
    • Respect bar increases by getting KO’s, utilizing CJ’s spray can neutral special, and by stealing vehicles (more on those last two in the special moves section). Results in buffs to CJ’s neutral and side special as well as increased defense.
If you die then all your stats and upgrades will go back to level 1. In addition to this being for balancing purposes, this may also serve as a tongue-in-cheek reference to how dying in San Andreas means you lose all of your weapons.

This all might seem scary to think about but really it can be summed up like this: hit enemies to get stronger and don’t die.

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As a first for these Underdog articles, I took the liberty of creating CJ's entire moveset instead of just listing what I think his special moves would be. I might do this for future articles but don't count on it for all of them. Click the spoiler tag to read the moves regarding the specific section.

Normals

All normals are in the melee category.




Jab: CJ will punch up to three times, ending the attack with a right hook (left gif).
  • At melee level 2, an extra punch is added into the mix and the combo instead ends with a left hook (middle gif).
  • At melee level 3, this will become a six punch attack based on the combo move that CJ can learn at the boxing gym (right gif).

Dash Attack: Hits the opponent with a right hand punch.
  • At melee level 3, this instead becomes a jump kick that CJ learns from the Kung-Fu dojo in San Fierro. The damage and launching power is greatly increased.

Forward Tilt: CJ does a quick swing with his knife.
  • At melee level 3, this move instead becomes a katana swing which has increased range.

Up Tilt: A quick uppercut with the brass knuckles. Similar to Terry’s up-tilt.
  • At melee level 2, CJ will quickly swing a police baton, giving his up-tilt a bit more range.

Down Tilt: Bends down and stabs the ground with his knife. Similar to Marth’s down-tilt except it has less range.
  • At melee level 2, this move is much faster and has a similar speed to Meta Knight’s down-tilt.

Grabs/Throws

All grabs/throws are in the melee category.


Grab/Pummel: CJ puts the opponent in a front headlock. Pummeling is done by CJ striking the opponent with his right knee. Based on the combo move that CJ can learn at the kick-boxing gym.

Forward Throw: CJ punches the opponent in the face (as seen in the above gif) which launches them.

Back Throw: CJ punches the opponent in the face and then throws them on the ground behind him using both of his arms. Based on the carjacking animation. This throw is very unique since although the opponent won’t be launched too far, CJ will take whatever item the opponent is currently holding. Stealing is a major part of the GTA series so I wanted to give CJ a unique stealing move.


The distance the opponent is launched will increase with your melee level. Even at level 3, it isn’t exactly the best killing throw but the greater distance between you and the opponent means that you’ll have more time to plan how you’ll use the stolen item.

Up Throw: CJ uppercuts the opponent and launches them upwards.

Down Throw: CJ throws the opponent on the ground, quickly stomps on them three times, and then kicks them forward.

Smash Attacks

All smash attacks are in the weapon category.

Forward Smash: AK-47 / Carbine Rifle
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CJ aims an AK-47 in the air and fires 5 shots. The shots deal a decent amount of damage. The bullets from the level 1 variant scatter towards the end of their travel and thus aren’t too accurate unless you are up close. Like other forward smash attacks such as Mario’s, this attack can be angled to aim either upwards or downwards.
  • At weapon level 2, the shots become more accurate and fire in a straight line as intended.
  • At weapon level 3, the AK-47 becomes a Carbine Rifle which retains the accuracy from the level 2 upgrade, travels a greater distance, and is even more powerful.

Up Smash: RPG
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CJ pulls out a rocket launcher and shoots it, causing a powerful explosion with great launching power. This is a very unique up-smash in that it is actually a diagonal projectile. It is similar to Snake’s up-smash except the grenade doesn’t fall down and will explode in midair. The longer you charge, the greater the speed and distance. Although it might seem tricky to properly set up, a fully charged smash attack can kill pretty much anyone that is recovering from a high area off-stage.
  • At weapon level 3, the rocket launcher becomes the heat-seeking rocket launcher. At the end of the distance it travels, the missile will target enemies that are very close to it. This upgrade is perfect for getting those opponents that are just out of reach.

Down Smash: Pump Shotgun / Combat Shotgun
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CJ aims to the ground and fires a powerful shotgun shot. The level 1 variant has a ton of endlag but is very powerful.
  • At weapon level 2, the Pump Shotgun becomes the Combat Shotgun which has less endlag.
  • At weapon level 3, CJ will quickly fire one shot in front of him and another shot behind him in roughly the same amount of time as the level 2 variant.

Aerials

Forward and back air are in the weapon category. The rest are in the melee category.

Neutral Air: Knife / Chainsaw
CJ swings a knife in front and then in back of him similar to Toon Link’s neutral air. Has little landing lag.
  • At melee level 3, the knife is replaced with a chainsaw which allows for multi-hits.

Forward Air: Tec-9
CJ fires shots from his Tec-9 submachine gun.
  • At weapon level 3, CJ will wield two Tec-9s at once which means the attack will deal double the damage.

Back Air: Micro SMG
CJ looks backwards and fires his Micro SMG. Partly based on shooting backwards while driving a car that would be seen in later games in the series. Has an average amount of landing lag.
  • At weapon level 3, CJ will wield two Micro SMGs at once which means the attack will deal double the damage.

Up Air: Katana
An upward slash using the katana. In San Andreas, CJ prominently used a katana in the mission “The Da Nang Thang” to fight the leader of the Da Nang Boys gang onboard a freighter.
  • At weapon level 2, CJ will quickly swing this in a wide 180 degree arc meaning the range has been increased.

Down Air: Baseball bat
  • At weapon level 2, the wooden bat becomes a metal bat. The damage is greater and CJ can now spike with it if it hits at the end of the bat.

Special Moves

Neutral Special: Spray can


CJ will pull out a green spray can and spray whatever is in front of him. Whoever gets hit by the paint will take a very small amount of damage and will be covered in green paint. While covered in paint, the enemy will take more damage from all attacks and CJ’s skill meters will level up much faster whenever they hit the painted opponent. So for example if I hit a painted opponent with CJ’s forward smash, the weapon skill meter will go up by x1.5 greater than if I forward smashed them while they were unpainted.

In addition to helping level up the melee and weapon meters, the spray can is also used to level up the respect meter. Hitting painted opponents will slowly level up the respect meter but not as greatly as it would with the other two skill meters.

The spray can is one of two weapons that are affected by the respect meter. The perks for the spray can are as follows:
  • At respect level 2, the range of the paint that shoots out of the can will be doubled.
  • At respect level 3, the paint will now cause opponents to flinch and will also decrease both their move speed and airspeed. It will also deal a great amount of damage to shields leading to some easy shield breaks.

Side Special: Grand Theft Auto


One of the biggest features of GTA is the ability to steal and ride vehicles. I wanted to give CJ a move that represents this mechanic so I made his side special a move that spawns a vehicle for CJ to ride.

Press side-B and CJ will hop onto a vehicle. The vehicle that CJ rides depends on whatever his respect level is.
  • At respect level 1, CJ will ride a bike.
    • This is the weakest of all the vehicles and can be destroyed by basically any attack. Respawn time is 4 seconds.
  • At respect level 2, CJ will ride a motorcycle.
    • This is pretty much the same as Wario’s bike side special. It is the fastest of all of CJ’s vehicles. Respawn time is 6 seconds.
  • At respect level 3, CJ will ride a lowrider.
    • The strongest of all of CJ’s vehicles but also the slowest. Ramming someone at full speed (which takes about 3 seconds of driving) makes this a very good killing move. Respawn time is 8 seconds.
    • Press the taunt buttons while riding the lowrider and it will bounce in that direction. This has no real gameplay effect but is meant to be a nod to the lowrider dancing minigame from San Andreas.
Jumping off of your vehicle will cause it to move for a bit (which can crash into opponents) and then stop on the ground. Press side B next to a vehicle on the ground to ride it. Other CJ players can ride each others abandoned vehicles regardless of what their respect level currently is. Riding a stolen vehicle for the first time will fill your respect meter by about 1/8th of the max meter (steal four vehicles to get to level 2, steal eight to get to level 3).

CJ’s side special would also have another very unique feature, and that is the ability to ride on Wario’s bike if it is on the ground. Press side-B next to an abandoned Wario bike and CJ will ride it like his level 2 bike. You will also gain respect by riding it.

Up Special: Jetpack


CJ equips the jetpack that he stole from Area 69 during the mission “Black Project.” With it equipped, he can fly around for a bit similar to R.O.B.’s up-B. A good recovery move but CJ is vulnerable from both above and below.
  • At weapon level 2, press A and CJ will shoot forward with his micro SMG while flying.
  • At weapon level 3, CJ will shoot with two micro SMGs while flying and pressing A.

Down Special: Grenade / Molotov / Satchel

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CJ throws a grenade in a similar manner to Snake’s down-B. Automatically detonates after a few seconds. One difference from Snake's down-B is that CJ can't hold the grenade in his hand so that he blows. Instead, CJ will perform a throwing animation once you press down B which you can use to determine how far your item will go. Not pressing anything after pressing down B means that the object will travel its max distance. If you are hit while holding an explosive then you will drop it and it will detonate.
  • At weapon level 2, the grenade instead becomes a molotov. Throwing it causes the ground to catch on fire for a bit and all caught opponents to take burn damage.
  • At weapon level 3, the molotov becomes a remote satchel charge. Throw the satchel and it will stick to either the ground or onto another player. Press down-B to activate the charge and blow them up.
Unlike the other weapon moves, these three are considerably balanced with each level so the three weapons are good in their own way

Final Smash: 6 Star Rating


This final smash references the wanted system in GTA, where more law enforcement agencies try to kill you as you commit more crimes which in turn raises your star rating. The highest star rating you can get in San Andreas (as well as every GTA game aside from GTA V) is 6 stars which prompts the attention of police, FBI, and even the military.

When CJ uses the Final Smash, a cop car will drive in front of him while CJ just barely misses it (the activation is similar to Captain Falcon’s final smash). To any opponents that are hit, a cinematic will play out of them in the middle of a street while getting hit by a bunch of cop cars. CJ will then drive a motorcycle through all the chaos while an explosion happens behind him like in the mission “Just Business.”


Costumes

San Andreas has a ton of customization options so it was hard for me to decide on CJ’s costumes. In the end, I went for some uniquely colored ones while also avoiding the color purple like the plague.

  1. Default outfit.
  2. Cornrow haircut with Green Hoody + Dogtags + Blue Jeans + Black Low-Tops clothing combo. All of these clothes are obtained from the Binco clothing store.
  3. Caesar and beard haircut with Black Skully + Red Tint Shades + Rockstar Hood + Silver Cuban Chain + Red Jeans + Strap Sneakers clothing combo. All of these clothes are obtained from the SubUrban clothing store.
  4. Black Rag + Aviators + Gray Chonglers + Black Mid-Tops clothing combo along with some tattoos.
  5. FlatTop haircut along with the Saint’s Shirt + Ball Shorts + Mid-Top Sneakers clothing combo. All of these clothes are obtained from the ProLaps clothing store.
  6. Pink mohawk haircut along with Aviators + Black Tank + Urban Camo + Black Mid-Tops clothing combo.
  7. Blue Jacket + Blue Pants + Black Shoes clothing combo from the Didier Sachs clothing store.
  8. Croupier outfit that CJ wears during the mission “Breaking the Bank at Caligula’s.”

Stage: San Andreas


San Andreas has so many memorable locations which is why CJ’s stage features more than just one. This stage would be similar to Garreg Mach Monastery in that you fight on one of four places for a short while before being taken to the next location. The four locations for CJ’s stage would be as follows:
  • Grove Street
    • CJ’s home and the most well-known location of San Andreas which acts as a sort of hub area for the first part of the game. You can jump on the houses on the left side while there is a walkoff area on the right.
    • Stage Cameos: Sweet, Ryder, Big Smoke, Kendl.
  • Mount Chiliad
    • This area takes place near the base of the tallest location in the game. The mountain is visible in the background while you fight in a forest area with some hills.
    • Stage Cameos: The Truth (anti-government conspiracy theorist), Catalina (CJ’s ex-girlfriend who would later become the main villain of GTA III), and Claude (Catalina’s new boyfriend who would later become the main protagonist of GTA III).
    • There is a 1/100 chance of a car appearing in the background and rolling down a hill. This has no effect on gameplay but serves as a reference to the famous ghost car myth of San Andreas, where parked cars would spawn on hills and roll down them which lead many players to believe they were being driven by ghosts.
  • Bone County
    • The desert area of San Andreas. This section takes place on top of the big cliffs and is the only section of this stage with hazardous deaths as you’ll die if you fall off.
    • No stage cameos though Verdant Meadow Fields (the airstrip that CJ buys in the game) is visible in the background.
  • Las Venturas Strip
    • The middle of the busiest road in the city of Las Venturas (which is based on the real world Las Vegas). This section is just a walkoff map, however after a while, a platform will appear in the middle for players to jump on and avoid the onslaught of speeding cars similar to Port Town Aero Dive.
    • Stage Cameos: Salvatore Leone, Wu Zi Mu, Ken Rosenberg.
The Omega/Battlefield variants of this stage will always take place on Grove Street.


Spirit Battles

For the spirit battles, I went with a combination of characters from both San Andreas as well as other games in the series.

  • Sweet (:starman:)
    • Purple Inkling + Purple Diddy Kong + Mr. Saturn shirt Ness on Onett with a green Inkling ally. The purple enemies represent Ballas gang members who sport 90’s clothing and wear purple. The green Inkling that helps you represents Sweet who can shoot green paint which is the signature color of the Grove Street gang. Onett represents a peaceful area that is disrupted by a gang war which often happens across Los Santos.
  • Cesar Vialpando (:starman:)
    • Captain Falcon on WarioWare while your controls will occasionally become inverted. Captain Falcon represents Cesar who is a street racer. The WarioWare stage and inverted controls represent the lowrider minigame where you have to input specific buttons and follow the directions to win. If copyrights weren’t an issue then the song Odyssey would play during this spirit battle as it plays in San Andreas during the lowrider dancing minigame.
  • The Truth (:starman:)
    • Bayonetta + Samus + Snake on Shadow Moses Island with the Rocket Belt item spawning frequently. This battle is directly based on the “Black Project” mission of San Andreas, where The Truth orders CJ to sneak into Area 69 and steal the jetpack.
  • Claude (:starman::starman:)
    • Mii Swordfighter (wearing Claude costume) holding a homerun bat on New Pork City. The baseball bat is one of Claude’s signature weapons that he uses both in-game as well as in promotional artwork of GTA III. New Pork City represents Liberty City, the setting of GTA III. Both cities are based on real life New York City.
  • Tommy Vercetti (:starman::starman:)
    • Mii Brawler (wearing Tommy costume) + Purple Falco + Dr. Wright assist trophy on Tortimer Island. Falco represents the hot-headed Lance Vance who is Tommy’s sidekick for most of the game. Dr. Wright is based on how you purchase many assets in Vice City that makes your rule of the city grow (and could also be seen as a reference to Tommy’s business associate Ken Rosenburg). Tortimer Island represents Vice City, a beach-like city based on the real world city of Miami.
  • Niko Bellic (:starman::starman::starman:)
    • Snake + Villager that only uses side smash + Kapp’n assist trophy on Omega form New Donk City. Snake represents Niko who is a hardened war veteran. Villager and Kapp’n represent Roman Bellic, Niko’s cousin who runs a taxi service and always wants to go bowling. New Donk City represents Liberty City, both of which are based on New York City. New Donk City being used for Niko instead of New Pork City like in Claude’s spirit battle is also a small reference to how the HD universe features more realistic looking locations unlike that of the more cartoony 3D universe.
  • Michael De Santa (:starman::starman::starman:)
    • Lucina + 2 Samus enemies on Battlefield form Onett with a 1:30 minute timer and the floor being sleep-inducing. This spirit battle is based on “The Jewel Store Job” which is the first major heist of GTA V. In the Smart approach of the Jewel Store Job, the jewelry store is gassed with pesticides so that everyone will be knocked out (hence the sleep-inducing floor). Afterwards, Michael and two masked up robbers steal as many jewels as they can within 1 minute and 30 seconds. Lucina represents Michael who changed his identity from Michael Townley to Michael De Santa after faking his death prior to the start of the game (like with Lucina pretending to be Marth).
  • Franklin Clinton (:starman::starman::starman:)
    • Blue alt CJ on Grove Street with Duck Hunt while time will occasionally slow down. CJ represents Franklin, both of whom are members of the Grove Street gang (CJ in the 3D universe and Franklin in the HD one). Duck Hunt represents Chop, Franklin’s pet Rottweiler dog. The time slow down is based on Franklin's Driving Focus ability where he can slow down time while driving.
    • Fun fact: Shawn Fonteno - the voice actor of Franklin in GTA V - is cousins with CJ’s voice actor Young Maylay. Shawn also voiced several NPC Grove Street members in San Andreas. More of a reason for Franklin to be represented through CJ.
  • Trevor Philips (:starman::starman::starman:)
    • Wario on Mushroomy Kingdom who gains a boost to all of his attacks as well as increased defense after a while. Wario represents Trevor due to both of them being gross slobs. The increase in power is based on Trevor’s Red Mist special ability in GTA V where he temporarily becomes stronger. Mushroomy Kingdom represents the desert region Blaine County which is where Trevor lives.
  • Big Smoke (:starman::starman::starman::starman:)
    • 4 Fox’s on Spirit Train with a 2 minute timer with an Olimar ally equipped with a super scope (but spawns with no Pikmin and can’t pluck any). This spirit battle references “Wrong Side of the Tracks” which is one of the most infamous missions in the entire series (and quite possibly even gaming as a whole). In this mission, you have to drive up to the front of a train on a motorcycle while Big Smoke shoots at 4 gang members on top. Failure to kill the gang members in time results in failing the mission as well as Big Smoke’s infamous quote: “all we had to do, was follow the damn train CJ!” The main reason this mission is so infamous is because Big Smoke’s aim is so awful that you’ll often fail because of him. For the Smash spirit battle, the Fox’s represent the gang members while Olimar represents Big Smoke who is basically useless in this mission. This spirit battle is intended to be annoying as possible and is even harder since you will automatically lose if Oilmar dies.

Classic Mode: Purple Turf Takedown


CJ’s classic mode has him fighting purple enemies as a reference to the enemy Ballas gang.

Assume each character is wearing their purple alternate costume:
  • Stage 1: Dr. Mario and Fox
  • Stage 2: Ganondorf and Incineroar
  • Stage 3: Two Inklings (female purple alt and male indigo alt)
  • Stage 4: Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong
  • Stage 5: Richter and Ridley
  • Stage 6: Mario and Luigi
  • Final Boss: Galleom

Victory Theme

CJ’s victory theme would be the mission complete theme from San Andreas which plays after completing a level.


Music

Grand Theft Auto is in a really interesting situation when it comes to music. While the series does indeed have its own original music that could easily fill a challenger pack, almost all of the music in the series are real world songs. These range from small obscure tracks to mainstream picks such as Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean in Vice City and Lady GaGa’s Applause in GTA V. Obviously getting just one real world song would be a hassle on its own, so it’s safe to say that we won’t be able to forward smash people as Mario while listening to Africa by Toto. For that reason I have divided the music section into two parts: one for songs that could get into Smash and the other for real-world songs that most likely couldn’t.


Now just for fun, here are some possible real world songs that could go along with CJ:

I would’ve added some rap songs from San Andreas and V, but considering how they had to remove “hell” from the DK Rap… I don’t think any of these songs would be allowed for Smash.

Mii Fighter Costumes

Lastly, the Mii Fighter costumes would feature characters from across the GTA series as well as potential characters from other Rockstar Games titles such as John Marston from Red Dead Redemption.


  • Claude (Swordfighter)
  • Tommy Vercetti (Brawler)
  • Big Smoke (Swordfighter)
  • Niko Bellic (Brawler)
  • John Marston (Gunner)
  • Ryder (Hat)
Closing Comments

I hope you all enjoyed this giant read of an article. This is the biggest and most ambitious article I’ve done as it was for a character and series that I greatly enjoy. I even went and played through the first part of San Andreas so I could take the screenshots of CJ's first 6 costumes in the Costume section. I'm really proud with how this turned out so now I'm going to take a giant break.


Next time on Smash Underdogs: ...I’m so exhausted from this article that I haven’t even thought of who I’m going to do next. Needless to say though, I will be back in 2021.

Credits
Editing:
@Venus of the Desert Bloom and @Scribe
Graphics: @Zerp (I can't thank him enough for that awesome thumbnail)
Social Media: @Zerp
Special Thanks: GTA Wiki, gtasanandreas.net, and gta.cz for various pictures/info. Also Youtube user PCGameModsTV for their video on the fighting moves from San Andreas.

Author's Note: What are your thoughts on the idea of GTA appearing in Smash? Do you think it could actually happen one day? Let us know in the comments below!
 
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Sari

Comments

I sorta want the final smash to involve the Grove Street Families (yes, Sweet, Big Smoke, and Ryder should appear as well) teaming up with CJ as they shoot the opponent together. But having the police involved in CJ's final smash is probably a better idea and would fit more.

But yeah, as a person that really wants a Grand Theft Auto rep, this was amazing! Thank you for making this!
 
I wish the Final Smash would involve the military instead of the police, as the military attacks at six stars. The victim would be pummeled by jeeps, hydras, and a tank as the finishing blow.
 
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This is amazing! great work! I would personally add The Dark March from GTA Liberty City Stories and Vice Squad from GTA Vice City Stories and Maybe some music from GTA Chinatown Wars and GTA Advance
 

Welcome to the seventh episode of the Smash Underdog series! In these articles, I’ll be taking a look at some of the lesser talked about characters in Smash speculation. These characters aren’t as popular as big names like Sora or Dante but would be just as great additions with the content they could bring. The purpose of these articles is to get viewers hooked on these characters and the idea of them appearing in Smash one day.

As some of you may remember in my last article, my hint for the next character I would be covering was: “wait… you’re not a Sonic character?” Originally I was going to cover Klonoa next, however I was growing more fond of a certain character from a certain series getting into Smash and before I knew it I had written the entire article on them. I guess for consistency sake you could say that this character stole Klonoa’s spot which would make a ton of sense considering their origins. From rags to riches but always a straight busta, it’s Carl “CJ” Johnson from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas!

Who is Carl Johnson?


First Appearance: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)​

Carl Johnson (better known by his nickname “CJ”) is the main character of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Five years prior to the game’s story, CJ was a member of the Grove Street Families gang along with his brother, Sean “Sweet” Johnson, as well as two of their best friends, Lance “Ryder” Wilson and Melvin “Big Smoke” Harris. Grove Street Family members competed with other gangs to control the streets of Los Santos, the most notable of them being the purple-wearing Ballas gang. Following an unexplained incident where his other brother named Brian was killed, CJ left Los Santos in guilt and would live the next 5 years of his life in Liberty City (the setting of GTA III).


Cut to the start of the game in the year 1992, CJ flies back to Los Santos to attend the funeral of his mother who had just been killed in a drive-by shooting. As soon as CJ returns home, he is stopped by Frank Tenpenny, a corrupt C.R.A.S.H. unit police officer and old enemy (who also happens to be voiced by big name actor Samuel L. Jackson). Tenpenny forces CJ to do various tasks for him throughout the game or he will be framed for the murder of a police officer who Tenpenny actually killed. After CJ reunites with his old friends and restores the Grove Street Family to its former glory, a shocking turn of events lands Sweet in prison and CJ in the countryside. In order to free his brother, CJ performs various missions from people from all across the fictional state of San Andreas - from the countryside plains, to the blistering desert, to the casinos of Las Venturas.


With tons of customization and things to do, one must ask: what doesn’t San Andreas have?

Along with other GTA characters such as Niko Bellic and Trevor Phillips, CJ is among one of the most popular and recognizable characters in the series. San Andreas is widely regarded as the greatest game in the series and holds the record as the all-time best-selling game on the Playstation 2. The game laid many foundations for the series and would serve as one of the main inspirations for GTA V which would become the second best-selling video game in history (only behind Minecraft).


“I’m interested in Grand Theft Auto! How can I get into it?”

The GTA series is available on pretty much any system that isn’t Nintendo, whether it be in the Steam store or on PSN/Xbox Live. Although each game usually has some connection to at least one other, they can generally be played independently. Each mainline game is good in their own right so it is hard to choose the right starting point.


The most ideal starting point would probably be GTA III followed by Vice City and then San Andreas as that was the order they were originally released. If you are really eager to jump into the world of San Andreas then you could always start there as it has a ton of things to do and would serve as the basis for most later games in the series. The PC version also has a nearly endless amount of mods to download which is an extra bonus. If you are interested in the more recent games then you can’t go wrong with GTA V either.

Something I should address as I will mention it a few times in this article is that there are 3 “universes” of the GTA series: the 2D universe (the first two GTA games), the 3D universe (the games released during the PS2 era), and the HD universe (GTA IV and onward). Both CJ and San Andreas are set in the 3D universe and thus are connected to the other PS2 era games like GTA III and Vice City. The HD universe games like GTA IV and V don’t have 3D universe characters like CJ in them, however there are similarities between the two, like GTA V also taking place in San Andreas.

CJ’s Chances for Smash

I won’t lie: of all the characters I’ve covered so far (and probably will ever cover), CJ is easily the least likeliest of them all.

Obviously the biggest issue with adding a Grand Theft Auto character would be with how controversial the series is. GTA is notorious for making headline news when it comes to violent video games and not being viewed in a good light by parents. Examples of specific controversies that were really big include the torture mission in GTA V as well as the scrapped sex minigame found in the files of San Andreas (aka the “Hot Coffee” incident). The Hot Coffee incident attracted the attention of US Senators and even resulted in San Andreas being temporarily pulled off of the shelves. While I do think that a GTA character can be represented in Smash without being overly censored, the general nature of the series may mean that Nintendo won’t want it near Smash at least for now.


Another potential issue comes with series competition. If Rockstar had to agree on a GTA character then they most likely would go with someone from GTA V (probably Trevor) since it is still their big moneymaker even after all these years. It also does not help that Young Maylay - the voice actor of CJ - trash-talked Rockstar Games earlier this year and said he wants nothing to do with them. Of course if they wanted CJ in Smash they could either reuse his voice clips or get a new VA, but Maylay’s comments may mean that they won’t want anything to do with CJ in general.

Now, how would Smash benefit from this addition? Grand Theft Auto is such a massive series with worldwide popularity that Nintendo could always see it as a way to bring even more people into Smash. Although Rockstar's relationship with Nintendo isn't the greatest, they have shown Nintendo some interest in the past such as with GTA: Chinatown Wars which was originally a Nintendo DS exclusive and recently the port of L.A. Noire to Switch. As for CJ himself, in regards to Smash speculation he has gained a small bit of traction recently and is usually considered to be the best choice to represent GTA. So while things aren’t all too good for CJ just yet, with enough effort he can easily be a highly requested underdog.

Why Should CJ be in Smash?

Since the last three paragraphs were dedicated to why CJ isn’t likely, let’s look at why CJ should be in Smash. I have these sections for all of my Underdog articles but I’ll be putting in the most effort for this one.

Grand Theft Auto is one of the biggest gaming franchises of all-time; the games have always done well while GTA V is the second best-selling game in history. The consistent amount of high quality and beloved games in the series shows that GTA is more than just a fad: it’s a solidified piece of gaming history worthy of starring in the biggest gaming crossover ever.

Now as for who should represent GTA, there are a multitude of options. Claude, Niko, and Trevor are viable candidates based on their significance/popularity. Another somewhat talked about idea is making a single GTA character that has characters as alts similar to Hero. While these are all perfectly viable options, I personally think CJ alone would be the best character to represent the series. San Andreas contains most of the series trademark features that can be perfectly represented through CJ, plus certain characters like Niko would feel weird using moves like a jetpack.

One elephant in the room that should be addressed in regards to CJ in Smash: is he just a meme pick? San Andreas does indeed have a fair amount of popular memes coming off of it, so some may argue that CJ's inclusion in Smash would just be for laughs.


You can hear this image

While CJ’s inclusion would be a bit humorous, I can assure you that CJ is more than just a joke. San Andreas is a game widely beloved by both fans of the series and gamers in general. In addition to having an insane amount of content, San Andreas has many memorable characters as well as a great story involving both police corruption and the meaning of sticking together as a family. Things like writing down cheat codes on scraps of paper and trying to find the rumored Big Foot are many classic memories that can be attributed to San Andreas. Even today, people still talk about and enjoy San Andreas as much as they did more than 15 years ago. There is a reason why it is the best-selling PS2 game of all time: it is a true gaming classic.


Moveset

CJ would be about the same height as Link while his weight would be on the lighter side and be about 82 (the same as Falco and Rosalina). So although CJ has a ton of gimmicks which will be explained below, he is fairly easy to launch when his skill levels are low (“east coast got you all thinned out holmes!” as Big Smoke says at the start of the game).

Wait a second… “skill levels?” What do you mean by that?

One of the main features of San Andreas is the introduction of RPG elements to the GTA series. By training yourself at various locations like shooting ranges and gyms or simply by doing things a lot in general, you can increase your skills. Increasing stats results in beneficial perks like longer running durability, better aim, dual-wielding pistols, etc. This is a big part of San Andreas and would later be used again in GTA V.


For Smash, all of CJ’s attacks would be split into three categories: melee, weapon, and respect. By using attacks of the specific category, your skill meter for that category will go up and will eventually level up (you start at level 1 and the max level is 3). With each level, you’ll get a variety of buffs for that attack type.

  • Melee
    • Attacks that involve CJ’s own fists or melee weapons like knives.
    • Melee bar increases by hitting opponents with melee category attacks. Results in buffs to CJ’s melee category attacks.
  • Weapon
    • Attacks that involve weapons like guns, explosives, etc.
    • Weapon bar increases by hitting opponents with weapon category attacks. Results in buffs to CJ’s weapon attacks.
  • Respect
    • This meter is only for CJ’s neutral and side specials.
    • Respect bar increases by getting KO’s, utilizing CJ’s spray can neutral special, and by stealing vehicles (more on those last two in the special moves section). Results in buffs to CJ’s neutral and side special as well as increased defense.
If you die then all your stats and upgrades will go back to level 1. In addition to this being for balancing purposes, this may also serve as a tongue-in-cheek reference to how dying in San Andreas means you lose all of your weapons.

This all might seem scary to think about but really it can be summed up like this: hit enemies to get stronger and don’t die.

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As a first for these Underdog articles, I took the liberty of creating CJ's entire moveset instead of just listing what I think his special moves would be. I might do this for future articles but don't count on it for all of them. Click the spoiler tag to read the moves regarding the specific section.

Normals

All normals are in the melee category.




Jab: CJ will punch up to three times, ending the attack with a right hook (left gif).
  • At melee level 2, an extra punch is added into the mix and the combo instead ends with a left hook (middle gif).
  • At melee level 3, this will become a six punch attack based on the combo move that CJ can learn at the boxing gym (right gif).

Dash Attack: Hits the opponent with a right hand punch.
  • At melee level 3, this instead becomes a jump kick that CJ learns from the Kung-Fu dojo in San Fierro. The damage and launching power is greatly increased.

Forward Tilt: CJ does a quick swing with his knife.
  • At melee level 3, this move instead becomes a katana swing which has increased range.

Up Tilt: A quick uppercut with the brass knuckles. Similar to Terry’s up-tilt.
  • At melee level 2, CJ will quickly swing a police baton, giving his up-tilt a bit more range.

Down Tilt: Bends down and stabs the ground with his knife. Similar to Marth’s down-tilt except it has less range.
  • At melee level 2, this move is much faster and has a similar speed to Meta Knight’s down-tilt.

Grabs/Throws

All grabs/throws are in the melee category.


Grab/Pummel: CJ puts the opponent in a front headlock. Pummeling is done by CJ striking the opponent with his right knee. Based on the combo move that CJ can learn at the kick-boxing gym.

Forward Throw: CJ punches the opponent in the face (as seen in the above gif) which launches them.

Back Throw: CJ punches the opponent in the face and then throws them on the ground behind him using both of his arms. Based on the carjacking animation. This throw is very unique since although the opponent won’t be launched too far, CJ will take whatever item the opponent is currently holding. Stealing is a major part of the GTA series so I wanted to give CJ a unique stealing move.


The distance the opponent is launched will increase with your melee level. Even at level 3, it isn’t exactly the best killing throw but the greater distance between you and the opponent means that you’ll have more time to plan how you’ll use the stolen item.

Up Throw: CJ uppercuts the opponent and launches them upwards.

Down Throw: CJ throws the opponent on the ground, quickly stomps on them three times, and then kicks them forward.

Smash Attacks

All smash attacks are in the weapon category.

Forward Smash: AK-47 / Carbine Rifle
View attachment 297690View attachment 297691
CJ aims an AK-47 in the air and fires 5 shots. The shots deal a decent amount of damage. The bullets from the level 1 variant scatter towards the end of their travel and thus aren’t too accurate unless you are up close. Like other forward smash attacks such as Mario’s, this attack can be angled to aim either upwards or downwards.
  • At weapon level 2, the shots become more accurate and fire in a straight line as intended.
  • At weapon level 3, the AK-47 becomes a Carbine Rifle which retains the accuracy from the level 2 upgrade, travels a greater distance, and is even more powerful.

Up Smash: RPG
View attachment 297688View attachment 297689
CJ pulls out a rocket launcher and shoots it, causing a powerful explosion with great launching power. This is a very unique up-smash in that it is actually a diagonal projectile. It is similar to Snake’s up-smash except the grenade doesn’t fall down and will explode in midair. The longer you charge, the greater the speed and distance. Although it might seem tricky to properly set up, a fully charged smash attack can kill pretty much anyone that is recovering from a high area off-stage.
  • At weapon level 3, the rocket launcher becomes the heat-seeking rocket launcher. At the end of the distance it travels, the missile will target enemies that are very close to it. This upgrade is perfect for getting those opponents that are just out of reach.

Down Smash: Pump Shotgun / Combat Shotgun
View attachment 297687View attachment 297686
CJ aims to the ground and fires a powerful shotgun shot. The level 1 variant has a ton of endlag but is very powerful.
  • At weapon level 2, the Pump Shotgun becomes the Combat Shotgun which has less endlag.
  • At weapon level 3, CJ will quickly fire one shot in front of him and another shot behind him in roughly the same amount of time as the level 2 variant.

Aerials

Forward and back air are in the weapon category. The rest are in the melee category.

Neutral Air: Knife / Chainsaw
CJ swings a knife in front and then in back of him similar to Toon Link’s neutral air. Has little landing lag.
  • At melee level 3, the knife is replaced with a chainsaw which allows for multi-hits.

Forward Air: Tec-9
CJ fires shots from his Tec-9 submachine gun.
  • At weapon level 3, CJ will wield two Tec-9s at once which means the attack will deal double the damage.

Back Air: Micro SMG
CJ looks backwards and fires his Micro SMG. Partly based on shooting backwards while driving a car that would be seen in later games in the series. Has an average amount of landing lag.
  • At weapon level 3, CJ will wield two Micro SMGs at once which means the attack will deal double the damage.

Up Air: Katana
An upward slash using the katana. In San Andreas, CJ prominently used a katana in the mission “The Da Nang Thang” to fight the leader of the Da Nang Boys gang onboard a freighter.
  • At weapon level 2, CJ will quickly swing this in a wide 180 degree arc meaning the range has been increased.

Down Air: Baseball bat
  • At weapon level 2, the wooden bat becomes a metal bat. The damage is greater and CJ can now spike with it if it hits at the end of the bat.

Special Moves

Neutral Special: Spray can


CJ will pull out a green spray can and spray whatever is in front of him. Whoever gets hit by the paint will take a very small amount of damage and will be covered in green paint. While covered in paint, the enemy will take more damage from all attacks and CJ’s skill meters will level up much faster whenever they hit the painted opponent. So for example if I hit a painted opponent with CJ’s forward smash, the weapon skill meter will go up by x1.5 greater than if I forward smashed them while they were unpainted.

In addition to helping level up the melee and weapon meters, the spray can is also used to level up the respect meter. Hitting painted opponents will slowly level up the respect meter but not as greatly as it would with the other two skill meters.

The spray can is one of two weapons that are affected by the respect meter. The perks for the spray can are as follows:
  • At respect level 2, the range of the paint that shoots out of the can will be doubled.
  • At respect level 3, the paint will now cause opponents to flinch and will also decrease both their move speed and airspeed. It will also deal a great amount of damage to shields leading to some easy shield breaks.

Side Special: Grand Theft Auto


One of the biggest features of GTA is the ability to steal and ride vehicles. I wanted to give CJ a move that represents this mechanic so I made his side special a move that spawns a vehicle for CJ to ride.

Press side-B and CJ will hop onto a vehicle. The vehicle that CJ rides depends on whatever his respect level is.
  • At respect level 1, CJ will ride a bike.
    • This is the weakest of all the vehicles and can be destroyed by basically any attack. Respawn time is 4 seconds.
  • At respect level 2, CJ will ride a motorcycle.
    • This is pretty much the same as Wario’s bike side special. It is the fastest of all of CJ’s vehicles. Respawn time is 6 seconds.
  • At respect level 3, CJ will ride a lowrider.
    • The strongest of all of CJ’s vehicles but also the slowest. Ramming someone at full speed (which takes about 3 seconds of driving) makes this a very good killing move. Respawn time is 8 seconds.
    • Press the taunt buttons while riding the lowrider and it will bounce in that direction. This has no real gameplay effect but is meant to be a nod to the lowrider dancing minigame from San Andreas.
Jumping off of your vehicle will cause it to move for a bit (which can crash into opponents) and then stop on the ground. Press side B next to a vehicle on the ground to ride it. Other CJ players can ride each others abandoned vehicles regardless of what their respect level currently is. Riding a stolen vehicle for the first time will fill your respect meter by about 1/8th of the max meter (steal four vehicles to get to level 2, steal eight to get to level 3).

CJ’s side special would also have another very unique feature, and that is the ability to ride on Wario’s bike if it is on the ground. Press side-B next to an abandoned Wario bike and CJ will ride it like his level 2 bike. You will also gain respect by riding it.

Up Special: Jetpack


CJ equips the jetpack that he stole from Area 69 during the mission “Black Project.” With it equipped, he can fly around for a bit similar to R.O.B.’s up-B. A good recovery move but CJ is vulnerable from both above and below.
  • At weapon level 2, press A and CJ will shoot forward with his micro SMG while flying.
  • At weapon level 3, CJ will shoot with two micro SMGs while flying and pressing A.

Down Special: Grenade / Molotov / Satchel


CJ throws a grenade in a similar manner to Snake’s down-B. Automatically detonates after a few seconds. One difference from Snake's down-B is that CJ can't hold the grenade in his hand so that he blows. Instead, CJ will perform a throwing animation once you press down B which you can use to determine how far your item will go. Not pressing anything after pressing down B means that the object will travel its max distance. If you are hit while holding an explosive then you will drop it and it will detonate.
  • At weapon level 2, the grenade instead becomes a molotov. Throwing it causes the ground to catch on fire for a bit and all caught opponents to take burn damage.
  • At weapon level 3, the molotov becomes a remote satchel charge. Throw the satchel and it will stick to either the ground or onto another player. Press down-B to activate the charge and blow them up.
Unlike the other weapon moves, these three are considerably balanced with each level so the three weapons are good in their own way

Final Smash: 6 Star Rating


This final smash references the wanted system in GTA, where more law enforcement agencies try to kill you as you commit more crimes which in turn raises your star rating. The highest star rating you can get in San Andreas (as well as every GTA game aside from GTA V) is 6 stars which prompts the attention of police, FBI, and even the military.

When CJ uses the Final Smash, a cop car will drive in front of him while CJ just barely misses it (the activation is similar to Captain Falcon’s final smash). To any opponents that are hit, a cinematic will play out of them in the middle of a street while getting hit by a bunch of cop cars. CJ will then drive a motorcycle through all the chaos while an explosion happens behind him like in the mission “Just Business.”


Costumes

San Andreas has a ton of customization options so it was hard for me to decide on CJ’s costumes. In the end, I went for some uniquely colored ones while also avoiding the color purple like the plague.

  1. Default outfit.
  2. Cornrow haircut with Green Hoody + Dogtags + Blue Jeans + Black Low-Tops clothing combo. All of these clothes are obtained from the Binco clothing store.
  3. Caesar and beard haircut with Black Skully + Red Tint Shades + Rockstar Hood + Silver Cuban Chain + Red Jeans + Strap Sneakers clothing combo. All of these clothes are obtained from the SubUrban clothing store.
  4. Black Rag + Aviators + Gray Chonglers + Black Mid-Tops clothing combo along with some tattoos.
  5. FlatTop haircut along with the Saint’s Shirt + Ball Shorts + Mid-Top Sneakers clothing combo. All of these clothes are obtained from the ProLaps clothing store.
  6. Pink mohawk haircut along with Aviators + Black Tank + Urban Camo + Black Mid-Tops clothing combo.
  7. Blue Jacket + Blue Pants + Black Shoes clothing combo from the Didier Sachs clothing store.
  8. Croupier outfit that CJ wears during the mission “Breaking the Bank at Caligula’s.”

Stage: San Andreas


San Andreas has so many memorable locations which is why CJ’s stage features more than just one. This stage would be similar to Garreg Mach Monastery in that you fight on one of four places for a short while before being taken to the next location. The four locations for CJ’s stage would be as follows:
  • Grove Street
    • CJ’s home and the most well-known location of San Andreas which acts as a sort of hub area for the first part of the game. You can jump on the houses on the left side while there is a walkoff area on the right.
    • Stage Cameos: Sweet, Ryder, Big Smoke, Kendl.
  • Mount Chiliad
    • This area takes place near the base of the tallest location in the game. The mountain is visible in the background while you fight in a forest area with some hills.
    • Stage Cameos: The Truth (anti-government conspiracy theorist), Catalina (CJ’s ex-girlfriend who would later become the main villain of GTA III), and Claude (Catalina’s new boyfriend who would later become the main protagonist of GTA III).
    • There is a 1/100 chance of a car appearing in the background and rolling down a hill. This has no effect on gameplay but serves as a reference to the famous ghost car myth of San Andreas, where parked cars would spawn on hills and roll down them which lead many players to believe they were being driven by ghosts.
  • Bone County
    • The desert area of San Andreas. This section takes place on top of the big cliffs and is the only section of this stage with hazardous deaths as you’ll die if you fall off.
    • No stage cameos though Verdant Meadow Fields (the airstrip that CJ buys in the game) is visible in the background.
  • Las Venturas Strip
    • The middle of the busiest road in the city of Las Venturas (which is based on the real world Las Vegas). This section is just a walkoff map, however after a while, a platform will appear in the middle for players to jump on and avoid the onslaught of speeding cars similar to Port Town Aero Dive.
    • Stage Cameos: Salvatore Leone, Wu Zi Mu, Ken Rosenberg.
The Omega/Battlefield variants of this stage will always take place on Grove Street.


Spirit Battles

For the spirit battles, I went with a combination of characters from both San Andreas as well as other games in the series.

  • Sweet (:starman:)
    • Purple Inkling + Purple Diddy Kong + Mr. Saturn shirt Ness on Onett with a green Inkling ally. The purple enemies represent Ballas gang members who sport 90’s clothing and wear purple. The green Inkling that helps you represents Sweet who can shoot green paint which is the signature color of the Grove Street gang. Onett represents a peaceful area that is disrupted by a gang war which often happens across Los Santos.
  • Cesar Vialpando (:starman:)
    • Captain Falcon on WarioWare while your controls will occasionally become inverted. Captain Falcon represents Cesar who is a street racer. The WarioWare stage and inverted controls represent the lowrider minigame where you have to input specific buttons and follow the directions to win. If copyrights weren’t an issue then the song Odyssey would play during this spirit battle as it plays in San Andreas during the lowrider dancing minigame.
  • The Truth (:starman:)
    • Bayonetta + Samus + Snake on Shadow Moses Island with the Rocket Belt item spawning frequently. This battle is directly based on the “Black Project” mission of San Andreas, where The Truth orders CJ to sneak into Area 69 and steal the jetpack.
  • Claude (:starman::starman:)
    • Mii Swordfighter (wearing Claude costume) holding a homerun bat on New Pork City. The baseball bat is one of Claude’s signature weapons that he uses both in-game as well as in promotional artwork of GTA III. New Pork City represents Liberty City, the setting of GTA III. Both cities are based on real life New York City.
  • Tommy Vercetti (:starman::starman:)
    • Mii Brawler (wearing Tommy costume) + Purple Falco + Dr. Wright assist trophy on Tortimer Island. Falco represents the hot-headed Lance Vance who is Tommy’s sidekick for most of the game. Dr. Wright is based on how you purchase many assets in Vice City that makes your rule of the city grow (and could also be seen as a reference to Tommy’s business associate Ken Rosenburg). Tortimer Island represents Vice City, a beach-like city based on the real world city of Miami.
  • Niko Bellic (:starman::starman::starman:)
    • Snake + Villager that only uses side smash + Kapp’n assist trophy on Omega form New Donk City. Snake represents Niko who is a hardened war veteran. Villager and Kapp’n represent Roman Bellic, Niko’s cousin who runs a taxi service and always wants to go bowling. New Donk City represents Liberty City, both of which are based on New York City. New Donk City being used for Niko instead of New Pork City like in Claude’s spirit battle is also a small reference to how the HD universe features more realistic looking locations unlike that of the more cartoony 3D universe.
  • Michael De Santa (:starman::starman::starman:)
    • Lucina + 2 Samus enemies on Battlefield form Onett with a 1:30 minute timer and the floor being sleep-inducing. This spirit battle is based on “The Jewel Store Job” which is the first major heist of GTA V. In the Smart approach of the Jewel Store Job, the jewelry store is gassed with pesticides so that everyone will be knocked out (hence the sleep-inducing floor). Afterwards, Michael and two masked up robbers steal as many jewels as they can within 1 minute and 30 seconds. Lucina represents Michael who changed his identity from Michael Townley to Michael De Santa after faking his death prior to the start of the game (like with Lucina pretending to be Marth).
  • Franklin Clinton (:starman::starman::starman:)
    • Blue alt CJ on Grove Street with Duck Hunt while time will occasionally slow down. CJ represents Franklin, both of whom are members of the Grove Street gang (CJ in the 3D universe and Franklin in the HD one). Duck Hunt represents Chop, Franklin’s pet Rottweiler dog. The time slow down is based on Franklin's Driving Focus ability where he can slow down time while driving.
    • Fun fact: Shawn Fonteno - the voice actor of Franklin in GTA V - is cousins with CJ’s voice actor Young Maylay. Shawn also voiced several NPC Grove Street members in San Andreas. More of a reason for Franklin to be represented through CJ.
  • Trevor Philips (:starman::starman::starman:)
    • Wario on Mushroomy Kingdom who gains a boost to all of his attacks as well as increased defense after a while. Wario represents Trevor due to both of them being gross slobs. The increase in power is based on Trevor’s Red Mist special ability in GTA V where he temporarily becomes stronger. Mushroomy Kingdom represents the desert region Blaine County which is where Trevor lives.
  • Big Smoke (:starman::starman::starman::starman:)
    • 4 Fox’s on Spirit Train with a 2 minute timer with an Olimar ally equipped with a super scope (but spawns with no Pikmin and can’t pluck any). This spirit battle references “Wrong Side of the Tracks” which is one of the most infamous missions in the entire series (and quite possibly even gaming as a whole). In this mission, you have to drive up to the front of a train on a motorcycle while Big Smoke shoots at 4 gang members on top. Failure to kill the gang members in time results in failing the mission as well as Big Smoke’s infamous quote: “all we had to do, was follow the damn train CJ!” The main reason this mission is so infamous is because Big Smoke’s aim is so awful that you’ll often fail because of him. For the Smash spirit battle, the Fox’s represent the gang members while Olimar represents Big Smoke who is basically useless in this mission. This spirit battle is intended to be annoying as possible and is even harder since you will automatically lose if Oilmar dies.

Classic Mode: Purple Turf Takedown


CJ’s classic mode has him fighting purple enemies as a reference to the enemy Ballas gang.

Assume each character is wearing their purple alternate costume:
  • Stage 1: Dr. Mario and Fox
  • Stage 2: Ganondorf and Incineroar
  • Stage 3: Two Inklings (female purple alt and male indigo alt)
  • Stage 4: Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong
  • Stage 5: Richter and Ridley
  • Stage 6: Mario and Luigi
  • Final Boss: Galleom

Victory Theme

CJ’s victory theme would be the mission complete theme from San Andreas which plays after completing a level.


Music

Grand Theft Auto is in a really interesting situation when it comes to music. While the series does indeed have its own original music that could easily fill a challenger pack, almost all of the music in the series are real world songs. These range from small obscure tracks to mainstream picks such as Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean in Vice City and Lady GaGa’s Applause in GTA V. Obviously getting just one real world song would be a hassle on its own, so it’s safe to say that we won’t be able to forward smash people as Mario while listening to Africa by Toto. For that reason I have divided the music section into two parts: one for songs that could get into Smash and the other for real-world songs that most likely couldn’t.


Now just for fun, here are some possible real world songs that could go along with CJ:

I would’ve added some rap songs from San Andreas and V, but considering how they had to remove “hell” from the DK Rap… I don’t think any of these songs would be allowed for Smash.

Mii Fighter Costumes

Lastly, the Mii Fighter costumes would feature characters from across the GTA series as well as potential characters from other Rockstar Games titles such as John Marston from Red Dead Redemption.


  • Claude (Swordfighter)
  • Tommy Vercetti (Brawler)
  • Big Smoke (Swordfighter)
  • Niko Bellic (Brawler)
  • John Marston (Gunner)
  • Ryder (Hat)
Closing Comments

I hope you all enjoyed this giant read of an article. This is the biggest and most ambitious article I’ve done as it was for a character and series that I greatly enjoy. I even went and played through the first part of San Andreas so I could take the screenshots of CJ's first 6 costumes in the Costume section. I'm really proud with how this turned out so now I'm going to take a giant break.


Next time on Smash Underdogs: ...I’m so exhausted from this article that I haven’t even thought of who I’m going to do next. Needless to say though, I will be back in 2021.

Credits
Editing:
@Venus of the Desert Bloom and @Scribe
Graphics: @Zerp (I can't thank him enough for that awesome thumbnail)
Social Media: @Zerp
Special Thanks: GTA Wiki, gtasanandreas.net, and gta.cz for various pictures/info. Also Youtube user PCGameModsTV for their video on the fighting moves from San Andreas.

Author's Note: What are your thoughts on the idea of GTA appearing in Smash? Do you think it could actually happen one day? Let us know in the comments below!
As much as CJ would be the best choice for Smash, I think GTA Online's "Thug" Create-a-Character stands a much better chance a getting into Smash due to relevance, the easy ability to make all the Male Alts Reference other protagonists, and how San Andreas is considered the worst GTA in Japan due to the amount of CERO Related Censorship it received when it finally got a Localization in 2007. CJ would be amazing, but I simply don't see it happening, especially among his own series. But hey, if GTA Online's Create-a-Character got in, they would probably have a reference to CJ within one of their alts so I guess that counts for something I guess.
 
A GTA character in Smash, huh? The chances may be small, but I think I can work with CJ. Also, imagine having licensed music in Smash.
 
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I remember the day when characters like Ryu from Street Fighter and Cloud Strife would get you laughed at in Smash 4 discussions if you talked about them, around the early Twenty Tens. Now as we wrap up 2020, people are at least entertaining the idea of CJ of all people in Smash. Things have changed.

Can't say i want him, but i appreciate the passion for this article.
 
Well since you asked for opinions, this is quite possibly my least wanted character. I have very little interest in GTA if I'm being honest.

This article was incredibly well-written though! I look forward to whoever you write about next, whether I want them or not
 
My brother ironically wants a GTA rep in Smash, and while I've always told him it will likely never happen, I do have to admit that it would be welcomed by many people and would be one of the few characters left that could raise the bar for how crazy Mr. Sakurai's Wild Crossover Ride can get. Plus, we can't pretend at this point that Nintendo is above having characters in Smash that represent a little bit more mature themes than the typical family friendly Mickey Mouse-esque family friendly pastel colored characters Nintendo prefers to keep up their brand as the family company (though they have made moves to be more general audience with the Switch.). I imagine it terms of shock and offense value the rank of characters already in or viable for Smash probably looks something like:

-Cloud
-Sephiroth
-Solid Snake
-Bayonetta
-Doom Slayer
-GTA protag (CJ, Trevor, etc.)
-Leisure Suit Larry

Anybody denying GTA as a gaming icon would have to be bloody obtuse as well, so it's not like it isn't a classic namesake series at this point that deserves some recognition in a few gaming halls of fame. If Nintendo keeps wanting to surprise people and capitalize on more people invariably buying Smash, either Ultimate or a game after Ultimate, just to pit their favorite characters against Nintendo All Stars, GTA does feel like an uncomfortable elephant in the room they'll either ignore or have to consider eventually.

Plus with each new crazy Smash reveal, the memes write themselves. If CJ did actually make it inb4 CJ gets a ton of exposure when Twitter and Reddit explode with the screenshots of CJ, Steve, Sephiroth, Pac-Man, Sonic, Isabelle, Solid Snake, and any other character in an 8 player smash with captions of "THIS DOES NOT LOOK REAL SGLJDFBFLKJGHDFJKGGDJHGDJKG".
 
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I think they could also use some music from Red Dead and Bully. Here are some examples:
Main Theme (Red Dead Redemption): https://youtu.be/cpXXfCzSmJQ
Horseplay (Red Dead Redemption): https://youtu.be/_yQjHkoDip0
Triggernometry (Red Dead Redemption): https://youtu.be/tg-yC0xcI9s
American Venom (Red Dead Redemption 2): https://youtu.be/-MK5ChLJTAk
Walking Theme/Main Theme (Bully): https://youtu.be/PSBxP6-Bz40
The Setup (Bully): https://youtu.be/pwxIgEgVBvo
Russell in the Hole (Bully): https://youtu.be/flr8V-CeXM0
Final Showdown (Bully): https://youtu.be/ja49mmsx2xo
 
I would give CJ a 0% chance of getting in, not even .00001. In my mind it's impossible. This isn't the type of shocker like Cloud, Steve, etc; it's because Nintendo doesn't vibe with the adult "lifestyle" values represented by GTA. It's not happening. I would say the only rule outside of being from a game is the adult "Mai Shiranui" thing: Smash is for “good boys and girls of many different ages.” He did say Ridley would never be in cause he wouldn't be Ridley, but this on the other hand will not change.
 
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