SUPER SMASH BROS SWITCH was announced at the tail-end of a fast-paced presentation for Nintendo last Thursday, a surprising finale to one of the strongest Nintendo Direct events yet. Thousands of fans around the world erupted into cheers as they recognized the familiar Super Smash Bros logo during its debut trailer, and it’s times like these that the draw of the series becomes fully apparent, especially when it comes to reaching a mainstream audience.
Its pick-up-and-play nature has contributed greatly to its success, and it has also served as a largely contributing vessel when it comes to introducing people to Nintendo’s IP — it could even be debated that it helped ignite Fire Emblem’s popularity outside of Japan with the inclusion of Marth and Roy in Melee). While the series has remained consistently popular, its iterations have ranged in how much more developed they have been in comparison with their predecessors, and the question stands as to how extensive the development will be this time around. With the trailer not giving much away, fans are left wondering if Smash Bros Switch will be a port or an entirely new game.
When a new Super Smash Bros is coming out, one of the first mysteries that fans try to get to the bottom of is which old characters will be returning. There are mainstays such as Link, Mario, and Pikachu, yet there have been some casualties along the way, such as the loss of the Ice Climbers in Super Smash Bros Wii U and 3DS. Many are surprisingly on board with Smash Bros Switch being a port, since this would mean a handful of characters would get added to the game on top of an already established roster.
Then there’s also the fact many Switch owners didn’t purchase the Wii U, and a port of that game would be many’s first with the title. This combined with the added features that the Switch’s portability offers, along with the company’s track record of developing excellent ports, is why Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sold like hotcakes. Perhaps Smash Bros is set to follow a similar path?
Smash Bros creator Masahiro Sakurai has been famously against ports of games. For a game such as Smash Bros Switch, there should have been enough time for him to create a game that includes a variety of new features, but just barely. The development of the last Smash Bros ended in 2014, with it involving over three years of crunch for Sakurai and his team even with help from Bandai Namco.
However, it’s been almost 4 years since Sakurai’s last game, and him spending more time on a game that wasn’t just a port of a pre-existing title is arguably the most likel possibility. This is also evident when considering his recent Tweet, which stated that he’s been “working on this game in silence day after day.” Taking this into consideration, the Nintendo Switch version has most likely been in the pipeline for longer than people have assumed.
It’s also important to realize that Smash Bros 4 was incredibly taxing as it had to be developed for two separate platforms, with an incredible effort to make sure that both systems of very different power were able to run the game in the same way. Since the only focus is bringing Super Smash Bros 5 to the Nintendo Switch, development is probably much easier due to Sakurai and his team not being spread too thin this time around.
It’s important to realize that Nintendo has been known to create sequels which use pre-existing assets, such as Splatoon 2. Most of the assets and animations in Super Smash Bros 4 were built completely from scratch, which also contributed to the extensive amount of time it took for it to be developed. It’s common knowledge that the game took its toll on Sakurai. This means that it is safe to assume — though not confirmed in any capacity — that Smash Bros Switch will have a lot of the same animations, characters, and music selections as the previous entry in the series.
However, it is also reasonable to assume that the fresh coat of paint will be substantial enough for Smash Bros Switch to be considered its own port, rather than a remake. It would be a considerable waste of time and resources to remake every part of Smash Bros 4 again, and we’ve already seen that new characters and costumes are going to be added to the game (Breath of the Wild Link, anyone?), so it seems likely that the next game will sit in the midway point between the old and the new.