Time to Bid Farewell to these Smash Bros. Characters

A tribute to the dearly departed of Smash Bros., plus a look at one surprising omission.

Analysis by Kat Bailey, .

Note: If you really don't want to be spoiled on the Super Smash Bros. roster, then you might not want to continue. This piece contains some information that might be considered spoilers.

My partner and I started played a lot of Super Smash Bros. Melee together in college. I usually took some combination of Link, Marth, or Fox, and she always, always played as the Ice Climbers.

The Ice Climbers appealed to her because she could press forward on the right stick and they would smack the hell out of everything in their way. She got annoyingly good at that, actually, often catching me from behind while I was otherwise engaged. Either that, or she would camp on ledges and shoot ice projectiles. What she lacked in raw skill she made up for in being devious, and as time went on, she became quite versed in their skillset.

Alas, the Ice Climbers are now a confirmed cut from the Smash Bros. roster, meaning that she'll have to stick with King DeDeDe, whom she adopted in Smash Bros. Brawl (she really likes those hammer characters). They join Wolf, Lucas, Pokemon Trainer, and Snake, as well as Melee's Mewtwo, Pichu, Roy, and Young Link on the Smash Bros. equivalent of the Island of Misfit Toys. There was some fear that Ness would be cut as well, but he's back along with (weirdly enough) Dr. Mario and ROB. Fricking ROB.

Most of the cuts are not that surprising. Lucas and Wolf were, to a certain degree, clones of existing characters, with Wolf feeling particularly redundant. Fox and Falco have been kicking around together since Melee, so it felt weird to get Wolf as well, whose main claim to fame was being heavier and hitting harder than his counterparts. The only thing stranger than including Wolf was the decision to make Ganondorf a clone of Captain Falcon.

Anyway, Snake is a more interesting case than Lucas or Wolf. He was a surprise addition to the Smash Bros. roster, appearing partly because Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima "practically begged" for him to be included. In gameplay terms, he was one of the hardest characters to pick up, but also quite strong if his mines and projectiles were used properly. I rarely used him myself, but I enjoyed codec calls like these:

Snake was one of two third-party additions to the Smash Bros. Brawl roster, igniting intense speculation that Mega Man would also be included (which he was... eventually). But though Kojima seemed amenable to a return engagement, Snake was considered a likely roster cut, and he is indeed gone.

Pokemon Trainer, for his part, was always a bit of a strange one. I used him a lot, but that was more out of loyalty to Pokemon than anything else. Charizard, Ivysaur, and Squirtle weren't the easiest characters in the world to use, and their gradual decrease in damage meant having to switch between them a lot. Playing as Pokemon Trainer meant losing a lot, but as I've long since given up any aspirations of being a tournament player, that didn't bother me too much.

As something of a gimmick character that didn't really work that well, it was reasonable to expect that Pokemon Trainer would get cut. But the Smash Bros. team has instead opted to pare him down to his most popular component, which is evidently Charizard—now a standalone character. I guess I'm in the minority on the front, but I've always preferred Ivysaur to Charizard owing to its long reach, solid projectiles, and powerful upward smash attack. But I'm glad Charizard made the cut, because I still consider its heavy playstyle more interesting than that of Pikachu, Lucario, or any other Pokemon outside of possibly Greninja.

As for the Ice Climbers, I'm still not entirely certain why they were cut. I can't believe it's because they weren't that popular because I've seen them used in venues like EVO. They aren't clones either. They're the only characters out of the ones to cut to have appeared in more than one game, having made their debut in Super Smash Bros. Melee. So what gives?*

*Reader JakeSpencer pointed out this reply from Sakurai. In a nutshell, it's due to hardware limitations. Also, the Ice Climbers aren't a priority as they are unlikely to see another installment in their franchise. That's marketing for you.

My best guess is that the Ice Climbers themselves are rather obscure characters in Nintendo lore, and are unlikely to be recognized by younger players. If that's the case, then it's too bad. I've always viewed Super Smash Bros. as both a tribute to video game history as well as something of an educational tool. As I discussed in my recent breakdown of Mega Man, the game's attention to detail is incredible. As an NES launch title, the original Ice Climber is an indelible part of Nintendo's history, hearkening back to an era when Mario was an upstart and console games were still trying to make a comeback. In that regard, cutting Popo and Nana hurts Super Smash Bros. more than creator Masahiro Sakurai might realize.

I'll admit that even without the Ice Climbers this is probably the most impressive Smash Bros. roster to date. From Mega Man to Fire Emblem's Robin, Sora Ltd. and Bandai Namco have outdone themselves. But I know at least one fan who will be sorely disappointed when she gets a good look at the final roster. I'm sure she won't be the only one.

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Comments 20

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  • Avatar for Pacario #1 Pacario 4 years ago
    I'm surprised any of the non-clone characters were cut, including Pokemon Trainer and the Ice Climbers. Just seems odd, especially in Red/Ash's case--he's a pretty iconic character to be so easily dismissed. Perhaps the development team just got too annoyed always trying to integrate him somewhere into the background on the more volatile stages.

    Squirtle, you will be missed.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #2 Roto13 4 years ago
    You probably wrote this before the news broke, but Sakurai says in the newest Famitsu that the Ice Climbers were cut because they were having trouble running on 3DS. It makes sense, since, unlike the Pikmin and Luma, Nana has her own AI. A four-man Ice Climber match would have between 4 and 8 AI-controlled characters and it can't be easy to keep things running at 60 fps that way.
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #3 Captain-Gonru 4 years ago
    Snake was the most logical cut to me. I felt he was only in the last one as a sort of "thank you" for Twin Snakes.
    Now, who's with me to get some Advance/ Battalion Wars love for the next one?
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  • Avatar for kingaelfric #4 kingaelfric 4 years ago
  • Avatar for DemiurgicSoul #5 DemiurgicSoul 4 years ago
    I think Nintendo should make another Ice Climbers game. Not one like the original. I think they could probably make a pretty good platformer with the concept.
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  • Avatar for abuele #6 abuele 4 years ago
    Just to have Smash Bros. on the go, is a very interesting concept just by itself. Let them take or add or even sell them as DLC, it is a good opportunity for such a franchise.
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  • Avatar for docexe #7 docexe 4 years ago
    Snake was the character I used the most in Brawl, followed by MetaKnight and Samus. So I will definitely miss him, but I had already settled on the idea that his special appearance was a one-game-only deal.

    I’m more troubled by Wolf and Lucas being cut, or more specifically, by the fact that they are removing two clones (which all things considered, had some notable differences from the originals) but adding three more (Lucina, Dark Pit and Dr. Mario). It seems like... well, a waste.

    Beyond that, I’m pleased with the roster and most of the new additions. I wouldn’t mind it if at some point they consider adding more characters as DLC, but right now I can't wait for the Wii U version.

    @Roto13 Yeah, I remember Sakurai actually said before that some characters from previous games would not return due to technical limitations with the 3DS. I would not be surprised if the Pokémon Trainer was also cut because of that.
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  • Avatar for lasttrueoutlaw37 #8 lasttrueoutlaw37 4 years ago
    @Captain-Gonru Bring in Sturm! The most OP nintendo villain ever!
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  • Avatar for The-Fool #9 The-Fool 4 years ago
    I'm going to miss you, Lucas.

    You'll always live on in my heart, and as my avatar.
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  • Avatar for josephlandriscina17 #10 josephlandriscina17 4 years ago
    For those of you who want to see gameplay footage of Super Smash Bros. U, I'll be doing it for my YouTube channel, Project Maelstrom Productions. I have many videos already and many more to come:)
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  • Avatar for benjaminlu86 #11 benjaminlu86 4 years ago
    Wobbling is dead. Long live wobbling.
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  • Avatar for PreposterousWhitey #12 PreposterousWhitey 4 years ago
    I'm really, really bummed about Snake getting cut. It's a shame that they couldn't at least give his moveset to an in-house Nintendo character or something. It's gonna take quite a bit of adjustment to not pop out remote-controlled missiles all the time while I play.

    My second most-used character in Brawl? Lucas. Ouch. At least he hurts less since Ness is still around, and seems to have been beefed up a bit for this installment. I really hope they consider adding Snake, Lucas, and the other cut fighters back in as DLC. Hell, give me Melee and Brawls packs with all the cut characters between each game, and we can really have the ultimate Smash.

    Even if they don't do DLC, though, I'm quite satisfied with the roster. From what I've heard out of Japan, Sakurai seems to have made good on his word that balancing characters and fleshing out unique playstyles was the main priority this time around. I can't wait to get my mitts on this one.
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  • Avatar for Arvis-Jaggamar #13 Arvis-Jaggamar 4 years ago
    @Duskblayde Yeah, I mained Lucas. Sure, on the surface he was Ness clone, but there was so much more to him than that. *sigh*

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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #14 LBD_Nytetrayn 4 years ago
    @demiurgicsoul Like I said in the tag for their pic above, if Nintendo insists on continuously re-releasing the original, I wish they'd fix the controls or just update the thing. Even give it the DK'94 treatment.

    Or let Sakurai apply his magic to reinvigorating them as franchise players. He likes doing original stuff, right?
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  • Avatar for hal9k #15 hal9k 4 years ago
    @Captain-Gonru Good call on Advance Wars! That one never occurred to me, but it would be nice to see those characters again. A new entry in the series would be even better, though.
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #16 Captain-Gonru 4 years ago
    @hal9k Oh of course it would. And what better way to gauge interest than to have some inclusion in a game like this? It would even have made for a way to, as someone else suggested, port Snake's move set in a logical way. Can't really give a rocket launcher to Prince Fluff, right?
    Hmm. Or I've just stumbled onto the coolest hook for Epic Yarn 2: Yarn Epicer.
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  • Avatar for hal9k #17 hal9k 4 years ago
    @Captain-Gonru Ha, I was wondering how they could implement the Wars characters, and that's a great idea.

    Alternatively: 2 Epic 2 Yarn.
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  • Avatar for matthewdoherty31 #18 matthewdoherty31 4 years ago
    I am sorry to see Snake go, especially with the inclusion of other non-Nintendo characters. Thankfully given Kojima's attitude about his inclusion it is possible for him to return in the future and I certainly hope he does.
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  • I just dont understand why they cant include all the characters ever every single one i mean, its "NEXT GEN" Consoles were talking about. I get for the 3DS but for the Wii U come on man, they are running games on BLUE RAY!!! like they dont have enough space for every character. RIDIC!!
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #20 Captain-Gonru 4 years ago
    @gerardodavidromero27 Unfortunately, the 3DS and Wii U rosters HAVE to be identical. So, as is the case with the Ice Climbers, anything that wont run on one won't be on the other. I haven't heard a definitive "why" on that, though the speculation seems to be revolving around the amiibo interactivity.
    That said, I'd be surprised if we don't see many of the cut characters released as DLC somewhere down the road. Except maybe for Snake, unless the licensing issues can be sorted.
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