Hello and welcome to Part 2 of our Top 10 Most Likely Characters for Ultimate article! In this article, we'll continue with where the previous article left off and talk about characters ranked #5 through #1 in terms of likelihood of becoming playable. This article was created purely for entertainment purposes between several SmashBoards staff so please do not use this as some sort of definitive Top 10 list.
If you have not read Part 1 of this article, click here to do so. Part 1 contains characters ranked #10 through #6 as well as an explanation on how this Top 10 was formed.
The biggest difference from Part 1 is that Part 2 contains multiple writers covering each character. Make sure to click the "click to expand" text below each quote to give each writeup a read as most of them are pretty long.
With that out of the way, let's see who are the Top 5 most likely characters for Ultimate (according to us)!
5. Sol Badguy (Guilty Gear series)
The Dark Horse of Fighters Pass Volume 2 picks. Sol Badguy comes from Guilty Gear - an incredibly edgy, rock and roll fueled fan-favorite fighting game created by Arc System Works. You may have heard of ArcSys recently for licensed games such as Dragonball FighterZ, Granblue Fantasy VS or Persona 4 Arena, but their original fighting game franchises BlazBlue and Guilty Gear have become fan-favorites and cult classics within the fighting game community as well.
Sol Badguy, as the poster boy for their first original franchise, is the most obvious choice for ArcSys. With SNK sneaking into the roster with Terry in FP1, it’s easy to imagine another company known for their fighting games coming in as well. If you combine that with ArcSys becoming more of a household name in the community, recent and upcoming releases like Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary or Guilty Gear Strive, and Nintendo working with ArcSys to include the recent Kunio-kun spirits in Smash, then Sol’s inclusion starts making a lot more sense.
While he’s often overlooked in favor of more popular characters like Crash or Dante, Sol stands out as a representative from a brand new Japanese company - one that has become a huge name in the gaming space as of late. Sol and ArcSys seem like the Terry and SNK of this pass, which could mean Sol is the included Dark Horse Pick this time around.
Sol honestly feels like something of an odd one out among this list. While certainly popular among the fighting game community, Guilty Gear is not quite the most widely-recognized franchise to the gaming public, especially Nintendo fans.
At the same time, Sol is also the sort of character whose appeal is immediately obvious even to someone who's completely unfamiliar with him: at his core, he's what you get if you take old-school shonen battle anime protagonists like Jotaro Kujo, Kenshiro, and even Goku to a lesser extent and filter them through the lens of heavy metal. Of course, his appeal extends beyond his looks and characterization as well.
His moveset in Guilty Gear may be a permutation on similar concepts to the ones we've seen with Ryu, Ken and especially Terry, but they're pushed in a much more wild and aggressive direction, with a large focus on moves like Grand Viper and Bandit Revolver that help him get in on opponents while avoiding their attacks. This is on top of several of Guilty Gear's core mechanics, like air dashing, gatling chains, roman cancels and the Tension gauge, which all further enable and reward this playstyle.
Sol does have one big mitigating factor that might limit his likelihood: his spotty history on Nintendo platforms, though looking at other third-party characters, that might not be a dealbreaker. While the Guilty Gear franchise's presence on Nintendo platforms has largely been limited to spinoffs and ports of existing titles, the same can be said of Street Fighter and Fatal Fury, with the latter carrying a similarly low profile, especially nowadays. While Sol certainly isn't on the same level as Ryu and Ken, he might actually have a comparable cultural caché to Terry, especially with the attention the upcoming release of Guilty Gear Strive has garnered.
4. A Character from Pokémon
Regardless of your thoughts on Pokémon Sword/Shield, the game was destined to be one of the biggest hits on the Switch considering that it was a new mainline Pokémon entry on Nintendo’s shiny new home console. And what a hit it was: Sword/Shield is currently the 5th best-selling Switch game of all time and it even dethroned Ultimate as the fastest selling Switch game prior to the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons (which greatly benefitted from the unexpected lockdown). It even became the first Pokémon game to sell over 20 million copies since Gold/Silver. Nintendo definitely knew that Sword/Shield was going to be one of their biggest Switch games ever, so it’s easy to see them adding a Galar rep to capitalize on it.
The biggest thing going against this is definitely the Sword/Shield spirit event which launched a week after the release of the game. A lot of people (myself included) view post launch spirit events as a major blow to a character’s chances since normally they would've added the spirits to go alongside a character. Considering how big the Pokémon series is and Nintendo’s willingness to promote the recent Gen as much as they can, it feels really weird to pass by the most recent Pokémon Gen with no content outside of those few small spirits. It’s why I feel additional Galar content is inevitable in some form and that the spirit event may have just been used as a cheap promotional tie-in. If you take the spirit event out of the equation then a Gen 8 rep has just about everything going for it, from the success of Sword/Shield to Sakurai’s tendency to rep the most recent Pokémon Gen with a character whenever possible (Gens 3 and 5 were overshadowed by Lucario and Greninja, whose games were more recent by the time of Brawl and SSB4 respectively).
Like with the Xenoblade series, Sword/Shield has a lot of viable choices when it comes to Smash. There are the starter Pokémon (with Cinderace and Rillaboom specifically being at the front of most people’s minds), Toxtricity (a popular electric/poison type), Urshifu (a fighting type legendary introduced in the Isle of Armor DLC), and Dragapult (a dragon/ghost type that was the most popular Galar Pokémon in Game Freak’s official Pokémon poll). Right now, I am personally leaning towards a Gen 8 rep being either Cinderace or Rillaboom due to Sakurai’s tendency to add starters. If we actually do get more DLC after FP2 then I can see Toxtricity and Dragapult being a bit more likely due to them both placing well in that poll I linked earlier.
Gen 8 was at the top of my personal list for a bit of a simple reason - After seeing Byleth, it’s a ‘safe’ guess. The more and more Smash characters get in, the murkier it gets. Doubly so if it’s for downloadable content. I can go into some hooplah about Pokémon newcomers, but my guessing is simple: Fire Emblem and Pokémon are always changing what’s hot for the series.
With Pokémon Sword & Shield selling many copies, and The Pokémon Company always being quick with promotion, it wouldn’t shock me to see this one. So when I say I have it as #1, it’s more “This is a choice I would be the least surprised by” and “I have many ideas for who comes next, but little strong guesses.”
I will say that, if they do pull from Pokémon Sword & Shield, I hope that they give us a choice we’re all a little more surprised by. Give me Yamper. Or Corviknight. Just shock me with something good.
I think it’s incredibly likely we’ll get a Pokémon character. The Pokémon Company really has no reason not to request a DLC fighter for promotion, it just makes sense for them to do so. However, I’m not convinced they have to be from Galar. Why? Because Pokémon Sword & Shield’s time as the current mainline game might be coming to an end soon. And well, if Smash is going to get another Pokémon, it’s probably to promote something.
Normally one of two types of games will come after a generation’s debut game, another version focusing on the generation’s main region or a version that’s a remake of an older game. However, given that Sword & Shield received two expansions, it’s logical to assume the next mainline title’s going to be a remake. If the next game isn’t focused on Galar, I don’t see why The Pokémon Company would want to add a character from Galar. What’d that promote? Sword & Shield, not whatever the next game is. While it’s not a certainty, it’s possible that by the time we see the next Smash character we’ll already know what the next Pokémon game is. So, yeah, that should be factored in here.
Still, even if we assume the next game’s a remake that doesn’t tell us what game would receive a remake. Disregarding any and all rumors, Diamond & Pearl and Gold & Silver seem like the most likely candidates to receive remakes. Sinnoh is the oldest mainline region to never receive a remake, but Let’s Go, Pikachu & Eevee existing clearly tells us regions that already received remakes can get new remakes as well. There isn’t really a way to tell which one of those two is more likely without factoring in leaks, but from a purely subjective standpoint I feel like Sinnoh is next so I’ll focus on that first.
In the event we do see a Sinnoh remake, I think there’s two Pokémon especially likely to get in Smash for the sake of promotion, Rotom and Manaphy. Rotom because they’re in everything ever and Manaphy because they were the first mythical used in advertising for Generation IV. However, they are far from the only possibilities, there’s plenty of other plausible Sinnoh Pokémon like Riolu, the starters, Glaceon, Leafeon, Darkrai, Shaymin and Garchomp. Now, for Johto, there’s a ton of viable possibilities here too, for example there’s Espeon, Umbreon, Suicune, Togepi, Celebi (pretty please?), Ampharos, Scizor, Marill and the starters. Unfortunately though, we can only really tell who they’d promote the most if we saw the future, and we can’t do that. What I can say though is that there’s a lot more Pokémon out there with serious chances than just the ones from Galar.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Pokémon from Galar are still likely, especially since all of these theories about remakes are just theories. In the end, they’re all just hypothetical things that might happen, not things we know will happen. I’d go so far as to say Galar might still be the most likely region to receive a character. However, what I’m saying is that we really shouldn’t be super surprised if we see a Pokémon from Sinnoh or Johto either. The possibilities are pretty much endless!
3. Dante (Devil May Cry series)
If we got a Capcom guessing game similar to the ARMS one that preceded Min Min’s announcement, I feel like it would cause a civil war in the Smash Bros. fandom, but I know who I’d be rooting for: Dante. Capcom has a ton of great options to choose from (Monster Hunter, Phoenix Wright, Morrigan Aensland, Jill Valentine, Leon Kennedy, Viewtiful Joe, Amaterasu… You could probably make a top 10 or 15 just from potential Capcom characters for Smash), but for me, Dante stands head and shoulders above the rest for the sheer potential alone.
Even if they stuck with the absolute basics like they did with Bayonetta (one of his swords, and his two pistols), there would still be more than enough material for a moveset, and that’s without his countless other weapons. A motorcycle that turns into chainsaws, ice nunchucks, a briefcase that transforms into 666 different weapons (allegedly - we only see seven of them in action), flaming gauntlets, a pair of rocket launchers, a hat… You could probably pick any game in the Devil May Cry series and get at least two or three movesets from that game on its own. (well, aside from Devil May Cry 2, but we don’t talk about that one).
Devil May Cry has been around for roughly 20 years now, and its influence on 3D action games is undeniable - God of War, the modern Ninja Gaiden games, most of Platinum Games’ output (including Bayonetta, which is already in Smash Bros.), and many more owe a great deal to Dante’s exploits. Capcom definitely has no problem with cooperating when it comes to Smash Bros., as they have included content from Mega Man, Street Fighter, Monster Hunter, and Resident Evil already, and making Dante vs. Bayonetta a reality would fulfil something that people have wanted to see since the Bayonetta series started. If we got another Capcom character, it’s tough to say for sure who it would be - cases could definitely be made for a Monster Hunter, Phoenix Wright, Chun-Li, or any number of other characters - but there’s definitely a lot of support for the red-clad devil hunter.
Sure, his series may not be as good as Bayonetta’s (yeah, I said it), but the demon hunting, dimension cutting, motorcycle riding, electric guitar playing, wise cracking, pizza eating party animal embodies all of what makes video game characters fun. Sword? Check. Guns? Check. Superpowers? Check. Flashy fashion sense that tells you all about his badass personality in game but would feel really cringey if replicated in real life? Checkarooni.
The point is that no matter what kind of gamer you are there’s at least something about the son of Sparda that you can get behind; especially if you’ve played any of the recent Marvel vs Capcom games, in which case you know that he already has a proven track record of working brilliantly in a 2D fighter. Plus, with Capcom already being open to bringing their characters into Smash, there’s no excuse for leaving such a popular character on the cutting room floor.
2. Ryu Hayabusa (Ninja Gaiden series)
Honestly, I’ll be surprised if Ryu Hayabusa doesn’t make it into Smash at some point. He’s got history stretching back to the NES days, along with the modern Ninja Gaiden games and his Dead or Alive appearances to draw from, and Koei-Tecmo seems like the biggest Japanese third party gaming company that doesn’t have a playable character on the roster yet. (there’s a Fatal Frame assist trophy, but that series has been funded and co-developed by Nintendo since the fourth installment)
Seeing as Koei-Tecmo is close enough with Nintendo to work on spin-offs for Zelda, Fire Emblem, and Pokemon, along with a main series entry in the form of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, it doesn’t seem like there would be issues in terms of getting both companies to cooperate. Ninja Gaiden seems a lot like Castlevania or The King of Fighters in that the developers, musicians, etc. could go wild with references to the series’ history. While I’m not sure if they’d include 34 to 50 music tracks with Ryu Hayabusa, they definitely have a lot of options for stages, music, and spirits to include, along with attacks for the Dragon Ninja to use. People often tout him as the last big NES all-star who isn’t on the roster yet, and while that isn’t necessarily true depending on who you ask (and how you feel about games like Contra, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, or Battletoads, to name a few), it does speak volumes about Ninja Gaiden’s legacy and impact on the gaming industry.
The fact that what is arguably the most iconic Ninja in video games hasn’t snuck his way into Smash already is actually quite surprising. Of all the 3rd party companies who haven’t had a character make it in, I would say the most surprising is Koei-Tecmo. The company itself has had its hand in everything from Pokémon and Zelda to Fire Emblem and Metroid. Ryu Hayabusa himself has even crossed over and traded blows with Ridley in Dead or Alive Dimensions.
Ninja Gaiden itself has a long running and intertwined history with Nintendo as well. Starting with the original Ninja Gaiden Trilogy on NES, a compilation of the NES titles on SNES, an exclusive DS game in Dragon Sword, Nintendo publishing Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge on Wii U, and most recently NES Ninja Gaiden being an earlier title on Nintendo Switch Online. That’s without even taking games like the Warriors (or Musou) series of games he’s appeared in or the other franchise he co-headlines - Dead or Alive. This amount of legacy doesn’t come without a possible slew of content either. Being able to pull from games that Hayabusa has appeared in could mean music and spirits from games including Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive, Warriors, or even Nioh.
Ninja Gaiden getting into Smash aligns with that rare thought of “why hasn’t this happened yet?” like Castlevania and Mega Man before it, and I believe that Ryu Hayabusa will finally make it in Fighters Pass Volume 2.
1. Crash (Crash Bandicoot series)
You were probably expecting this but yeah it’s no secret: Crash is definitely the most likely character for Smash according to our writers as well as many Smash fans. The original trilogy of Crash games were a massive success while Crash himself was the face of the PS1. The idea of Crash sparring heads with Mario was (and always has been) a dream for many. Although the Crash series did go on hiatus during the early 2010’s, Crash himself has always been a super popular and iconic character.
So what has changed from the SSB4 days to now? Well for starters, the 2017 remake of the original Crash trilogy was a gigantic hit for Activision and brought in a whole new generation of Crash fans. The N. Sane Trilogy was such a success that it prompted several other Activision remakes (Spyro: Reignited Trilogy and Crash’s own Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled) as well as the long-awaited brand new Crash platformer Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. With all of these titles as well as several other promotions such as the Crash: On The Run mobile game, it is clear that Activision has been trying to promote the Crash series more than ever. Not only was the reboot of the Crash series a success, but it also happened at just the right time for Ultimate consideration. Similarly, SNK had been going through a massive company reboot around the same time and we were able to get Terry in Smash.
We’ve also seen that Nintendo is willing to play ball with both Activision and Crash. Nintendo has collaborated with Activision in the past via the Skylanders game which featured Bowser and Donkey Kong figures as a tie-in promotion. They have also shown great praise for Crash through things like referring to him as iconic during the March 2018 Nintendo Direct, hosting a weeklong free trial for Nitro-Fueled, and just recently putting both Crash and Spyro as the only third party titles in a Switch commercial. While all of these might not seem like giant things by themselves, they seem to indicate a trend of Nintendo being onboard with Crash himself.
To me, Crash feels like Rayman but with all of the answers to the Ubisoft mascot’s flaws. Although both characters are popular Western platformers, Crash is twice as popular and is much bigger in Japan which can’t be said about Rayman. This along with the willingness to be constantly promoted both by Activision and Nintendo is why I think Crash is one of the most likely characters for Ultimate.
While some of my fellow 90s babies may prefer to see Spyro in Smash Bros. (sorry Kevin) the manic marsupial just has too good of a case to ignore. With the 3-hit combo of the N. Sane Trilogy, Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled and Crash 4: It’s About Time, the original champion of 3D platforming is the hottest he’s been in decades, and has gained some sweet new moves to boot.
The original Crash trilogy set a great foundation for a potential Smash Bros. moveset all those years ago with his spin attack, slide and fruity bazooka, but the newer games have brought so much more to the table. Mind control, gravity manipulation, phasing objects out of existence and more. At this point it’s all but a question of when, not if, Crash will show up in Smash.
----------The gaming landscape today is without a doubt Xbox vs. PlayStation vs. Nintendo. When you walk around stores or visit websites you’ll often see Master Chief, Kratos, and Mario promoting these three companies. However, flashback to the mid ‘90’s and it’s a different story. Sega is still in the fray with Sonic, Nintendo is living it up with the incredible prototype that would become Super Mario 64, and a brand new company - Sony - was trying to try its hand at the ludicrous video game market and who was on the front line for Sony? Your favorite marsupial, Crash Bandicoot. Times change and IPs change hands and now it’s more than possible for Crash to appear in Smash. Appearing game after game on Nintendo consoles since the 2000’s and having a rebirth with the N. Sane Trilogy is more than enough to warrant his spot in this gaming hall of fame.
And if the spectacle of seeing Crash duke it out with Mario, Banjo, and Sonic isn’t enough to satiate your desire for incredible crossovers I don’t know if anything will.
We hope you all enjoyed this giant collaborative article. This whole thing took more than a month to create but I think it paid off. Regardless if you agree with these characters or not, it is always fun to speculate on which characters could become playable in a video game, and even more fun when that game is Smash.
- @NonSpecificGuy for their Sol Badguy, Ryu Hayabusa, and Crash writeups.
- @Scribe for their Sol Badguy writeup.
- Sari for their Pokémon and Crash writeups.
- Thirdkoopa for their Pokémon writeup.
- @Zerp for their Pokémon writeup.
- Megadoomer for their Dante and Ryu Hayabusa writeups.
- @Octorockandroll for their Dante and Crash writeups.
- @Venus of the Desert Bloom for helping out in the first part.
Social Media: @Zerp
Special Thanks: All of the writers for this article for actually going through with this entire giant project. Also SmashBoards user TCT~Phantom for helping out with Sari's part of the Crash section
Author's Note: What did you think of the Top 5 characters? Which characters do YOU think are the most likely to become playable? Let us know in the comments below!