Fairly recently, Nintendo held a Direct dedicated to their upcoming “Smash Ultimate” title. It was great. They announced numerous new game modes, multiple new characters and a number of great modifications to what already existed. It generated lots of hype for the game (to be released in early December) and was a phenomenal PR move.
On Sept. 13, 2018, the company held another Direct. This one was not dedicated to Smash in the same way, but the primary highlight (predictably) was when the company returned their focus to the upcoming fighting game extravaganza. In doing so, they introduced a new character who will join the fight: Isabelle, the secretary of the popular “Animal Crossing” series. Thankfully, for Animal Crossing fans, Isabelle will actually not end up a mere Villager echo; she has been listed as a totally unique fighter on Nintendo’s website. Nintendo did a number of other things, such as announce a new “Animal Crossing” game due to release in 2019, then called it a day.
Of course, I want to primarily examine the Isabelle release trailer. I would like to start by analyzing the character inclusion itself; Isabelle is a welcome addition to an already amazing and large roster that will now reach nearly 70 total characters. The added representation for “Animal Crossing” ties in perfectly, albeit rather predictably when intertwined with the announcement of an upcoming new “Animal Crossing” standalone video game. As one of now two representatives from the game—additionally one who is not an echo fighter—Isabelle boasts versatility, uniqueness and a return on the investment of the many fans who wanted the aforementioned attributes in a new standalone fighter.
Buuuuuut like with most things, this reveal was far from perfect.
Starting off with the climax of the reveal, one cannot avert their attention to how ridiculously generic and cliché it was. Much like her comrade, Villager, Isabelle gets a letter in the mail which, to her surprise, is an invitation to join the Smash roster. Whoop de doo. Are you kidding me? Referencing trailers for characters in the past, the Belmonts’ trailer was amazing. It was well drawn out, decently lengthy and notably lacking in the clichéd elements of how Isabelle was introduced.
King K. Rool’s was also great, boasting a few nice cliffhangers, and notably having a great deal of rising action that was entirely missing from Isabelle’s trailer. Instead of simply going from nothing to getting the “invite,” the clamor and noise disturbing DK and Diddy Kong has a good deal of suspense to it as they investigate the source. Meanwhile, Isabelle’s is extremely cheesy, too abrupt and not befitting an inclusion of her stature.
Nevertheless, while the trailer itself was quite poor, I commend Nintendo on their noticeable efforts to raise representation for their mainstream franchises in what very much looks like the best Smash of all time. Including King K. Rool was great fan service. Bringing back returning characters, such as the Ice Climbers and Snake, holds great appeal to players of older Smash versions. Now that Villager is no longer the only “Animal Crossing” representative, one of the few things left to wonder is what franchise or character is next to get their moment in the limelight.
The “Metroid” franchise could be it, though they have been virtually spoiled in these reveal trailers, receiving Ridley and Dark Samus as new inclusions. There has a been significant amount of support for Geno and Waluigi, who would serve to further inflate the massive amount of Super Mario representatives to enter the game. While the clamor for Waluigi has died down in months recent, the desire to see their 22 year old spinoff star has not. Meanwhile, third party characters, such as Sega’s Shadow the Hedgehog, Indie games’ Shantae and the loveable duo of Banjo and Kazooie have had plenty of backing.
However, one area that has notably remained untouched is the question of who will be the newest representative of the “Pokémon” franchise.
This asks the question: why does “Pokémon” necessarily need a new representative? In truth, they don’t, as it boasts the second most reps out of any franchise at six (trailing only Super Mario, who has eight). But if Nintendo’s precedent remains consistent, it assures that “Pokémon” will receive at least one new entrant for this Ultimate iteration. Since Smash 4 came out, Nintendo has since released a new generation of Pokémon as well as a sequel to that generation with Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Already, fans have speculated that Decidueye and Incineroar could be the Generation Seven reps. This is not exactly crazy, either: Smash Melee had Pichu as it’s new Pokémon rep at a time when the second generation was cutting edge, Smash Brawl came up with Lucario when the fourth generation was the hot topic, and Smash 4 introduced Greninja when the sixth generation was in style.
But does that mean Smash Ultimate will follow suit with their seventh generation? Possibly. But I would like to present the case that they will deviate from this model slightly, and soon introduce the tandem of Gardevoir and Gothitelle as new “Pokémon” reps:
Gardevoir (introduced in the third generation) and Gothitelle (a fifth generation newcomer) would notably be the only Pokémon to represent their generations, as they were both skipped in the past. That isn’t all, though: there have been leaks from reputable sources that suggest Gardevoir and Gothitelle (as a Gardevoir echo) could be forthcoming. Gardevoir has been a Poké Ball item since the days of Smash Brawl, has been featured in two different Pokémon movies as a significant character’s sidekick, and received a significant amount of support during the Smash Ballot years ago. Gothitelle does not boast a similar resume, but holds enough in common with Gardevoir where getting into the game as an echo fighter makes sense. It is also a Psychic type, has many mainstream attacking moves in common with Gardevoir, and it would more importantly fill in the fifth generation hole that Nintendo has yet to patch up. This isn’t to say that Nintendo couldn’t just choose a seventh generation representative as a new combatant—it is only to say that there is enough evidence to support their inclusion as a serious possibility. Notably, unless Gothitelle was not included in this discussion, this would actually give “Pokémon” nine representatives, allowing it to take the lead as the most represented franchise in the game…
Or would it?
Not so fast. With “Super Mario” characters Geno and Waluigi drawing a significant backing, and the aforementioned paragraph of information being as it is, this could be the time for Nintendo to drop another bomb on the community—by including Geno. Waluigi is unfortunately not a particularly likely inclusion, considering he has already been revealed in the game (once again) as an Assist Trophy. Unless Nintendo agrees that existing as both an Assist Trophy and playable character is plausible, this will once again doom Waluigi to the depths of a supporting cast character. Geno, however, has a lot more going for him in this discussion. He is a heavily wanted character who is part of a popular franchise; one that could be in need of a new representative in order to keep up with “Pokémon”. If my above predictions ring true, I would be extremely surprised if this one ended up being incorrect. There isn’t a more popular Mario rep being clamored for by the community (except perhaps the aforementioned Waluigi) and the pairing would make too much sense for Nintendo to ignore.
Beyond this, any predictions for potential new characters at this time would be pure speculation. Nintendo could truly go in a number of different directions when casting new characters. The “Kirby” series could receive a new representative in the heavily requested Bandana Waddle Dee. They could also decide to make my biggest wish come true and include Galacta Knight—though this is ridiculously unlikely, and merely wishful thinking on my end. Beyond that, they could give in to the third party prospects of “Shadow the Hedgehog,” “Shantae” or “Banjo and Kazooie.” Finally, Nintendo could do what only Nintendo is capable of; look for a totally random, unrepresented franchise somewhere in the depths of the gaming company, and bring it to light with a character representative. In Smash Melee, this was Mr. Game and Watch. In Smash Brawl, this was R.O.B. And in Smash 4, this was the tandem of Wii Fit Trainer and Duck Hunt. Who knows what it could be in Smash Ultimate?