There's no series that throws the collective Nintendo community into an absolute frenzy quite like Super Smash Bros. The March Direct capped with the tease of a brand new entry in the highly coveted crossover fighter franchise, and fake leaks, rumors, and speculations have pretty much taken over the internet at this point. Naturally, there is one big question on everyone's minds with answers that pretty much define a new Smash entry: which new characters will join the roster?
Today, I'll be going over some of my most anticipated characters for Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo Switch! These are ten different candidates who aren't necessarily my most wanted, but more so fighters I also predict have a strong chance at making the cut following the previous Smash Ballot. As a fun bonus, we'll even go over possible moveset ideas for most of them!
Before we get started with the list, let's cement a few ground rules.
- I won't be going over Smash veterans who have been cut from previous rosters. Not to say I don't want Wolf O'Donnell or Ice Climbers back, but let's shine the spotlight on new characters for today (for the record, I am expecting Ice Climbers to return).
- I won't waste guesses on fighters from upcoming games we know nothing about, so don't expect me to talk much about "8th Gen Pokémon," "Metroid Prime 4 character," or "Fire Emblem 16 hero" since we have no material to work with.
- I won't be discussing probable character cuts from Smash 4 to Smash 5 to "make room" for newcomers.
- These characters will be in order from "least" to "most likely" to land on the Smash 5 roster.
Without further ado, let's start the countdown!
- First Appearance: Shantae (GBC – 2002)
- Latest Appearance: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition (NSW – 2018)
- "Shantae Smashified" art by Omni Jacala and Chris Szczesiul
Among possible third-party newcomers, it wouldn't be unrealistic to expect an indie character to join the roster this time around. The independent video game industry has grown and evolved considerably as of late, and many have found a great home in Nintendo consoles. With that in mind, I see two perfect candidates who best represent this side of Nindie gaming and can make for well-rounded fighters in their own right.
First, let's start with Shantae, the Half-Genie heroine of Scuttle Town!
Shantae's humble beginnings go way back to a Game Boy Color passion project by Matt and Erin Bozon of WayForward. While the original Shantae being a late GBC release may have led to franchise obscurity, the eponymous genie girl came back with a vengeance in Risky's Revenge on DSi. This was followed by bigger and more ambitious games in Shantae and the Pirate's Curse on 3DS and her first HD adventure in Shantae: Half-Genie Hero.
Seniority in the indie industry aside, the next question becomes "What can't she do?" as Shantae has proven time and again just how fearsome she can be in battle, thanks to her potent Genie Magic and Ponytail Whip. As such, it's only fitting that most of her Specials would revolve around her transformations, each with a quick startup around her captivating belly-dancing...
...save for her Standard Special, which would be something simple akin to a Mighty Ponytail Whip: a stronger, Genie magic-infused flick of her hair. While such a move doesn't necessarily exist in her games, it is a perfect embodiment of her trademark hair-whipping talent combined with her powers from her half-Genie side. This would differ from her standard attacks involving her hair by including the Attract power-up from her games, drawing in other combatants from a short distance for a mighty wallop.
Onto her Side Special, Shantae could transform into her Monkey form and launch herself as a Monkey Bullet. In the Shantae series, this is typically executed when clinging to a wall first, but in Smash it could operate similarly to Diddy Kong's Monkey Flip, where she'd travel a short distance mid-air in a perfectly horizontal line to either ram into other fighters or cling to them and attack with her Monkey Claw. She wouldn't use this move indefinitely, however, as using it in midair and latching onto nothing would leave her falling helplessly.
Shantae's Down Special would be relatively straight-forward, looking to her Elephant form for an Elephant Stomp. In other words, a devastating Ground Pound, much like Bowser and Yoshi, perhaps with an additional burying effect and midair Spike, as elephants weigh a ton.
And her recovery? Easily her iconic and incredibly mobile Harpy Flight, which would somewhat harken back to Pit's old Wings of Icarus recovery from Brawl. To offset that kind of mobility, much like its predecessor, it wouldn't last very long and would leave Shantae in a helpless state once it wears off.
Shantae has plenty of other Genie transformations at her disposal, but they can see other uses, be it something cosmetic like swimming on the water's surface in Mermaid form or something useful like grabbing onto the wall in Spider form, like in her debut title.
Alternatively, provided Custom Moves return, you could also look into Pirate Gear borrowed from her arch-nemesis Risky Boots, as Shantae did when she'd lost her powers in The Pirate's Curse. The Scimitar + Risky's Boots combo would work as a Side Special alternative, Flintlock Pistol as her Standard, and combining the Down Special Cannon and Up Special Pirate Hat would provide ridiculous recovery options. This all goes without even mentioning the variety of magical attacks and special items at her disposal, like the Pike Balls, Storm Puffs, and Fireballs. We also have a pretty good idea of how Shantae handles herself in melee situations thanks to the Fighter's Gear and associated Relics she picks up in her adventures.
For a Final Smash, there's nothing more defining to Shantae than the Dance Parlor from her debut title. This could operate either like Donkey Kong's Final Smash, where you have to time button presses to the beat, or it could just be a flashy trapping-based finisher like Mega Man's or Captain Falcon's, where the crowd-tossed gems would pelt poor fighters caught in-range of her Final Smash activation.
All in all, she would make for a terrific and unique addition to Smash, and the more kickass heroines we have joining the roster, the better. Hopefully her popularity during the Smash 4 Ballot helped raise her chances!
9. SHOVEL KNIGHT
"Justice in Spades!"
- First Appearance: Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope (WiiU/3DS – 2014)
- Latest Appearance: Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (NSW – 2017)
- "Shovel Knight Smashified" art by Omni Jacala
Now onto Shovel Knight, master of the ancient code of Shovelry and a recurring presence in the indie gaming scene.
Yacht Club Games' love letter to games of yore shines through the gameplay of the titular Blue Burrower. Sharing similar roots to Shantae, Shovel Knight's design and gameplay cues were pulled from all-star greats of the 8-bit era—Super Mario Bros. 3, DuckTales, Zelda II, Castlevania, Mega Man—which made for one of the best gaming experiences of 2014. It also helps that Nintendo of Japan seems pretty fond of the character, that Shovel Knight was the first third-party property to get their own standalone Amiibo, and that the game saw more success on Nintendo platforms collectively than any other console family.
In a Smash setting, the crux of Shovel Knight's moveset could revolve around the signature Shovel Blade. This weaponized gardening tool is perfect for swipes, strikes, and scoops, and its Scrooge McDuck cane-like pogo bounce would make for a fun Down Air to cheese.
Shovel Knight's Specials would likely rely around the Relics from their home game, but the Shovel Blade's Drop Spark should serve as the emblematic Standard Special. It is ideal for both close quarters and long range when used on the ground. In other words, those who get caught up in the actual shovel's attack will rack up extra damage from the Drop Spark. Its main weakness, however, would carry over from the original game: it cannot be used in midair.
The Propeller Dagger would easily serve as the Up Special, though its execution would differ somewhat from the source material. Rather than be purely horizontal, it could perhaps adopt a more diagonal trajectory for optimal recovery, with Customs switching up between the original strictly horizontal move and the vertically-oriented Rising Dagger. Anyone caught up in the blade or propeller would be swept into it similar to Meta Knight's Drill Rush.
The War Horn would make for a nice concussive blast with a hefty amount of knockback for a Down Special. It could work somewhat like Cloud's Finishing Touch, though not as powerful, trading some knockback for extra damage. Power and knockback will differ between the base Down Special and its custom alterations.
That leaves the Chaos Sphere as a viable long-range Side Special option, bouncing around and knocking into other fighters while on-screen. Additionally, Shovel Knight still has a few projectiles hidden up their chain-mail sleeves—with the Throwing Anchor traveling a short distance for heavy damage, and the Flare Wand for longer range but less punch—that could make for Custom Moves.
All that remains now are a few other Relics and upgrades that could be included in specific contexts. The Dust Knuckles, for example, could easily be incorporated into Shovel Knight's Grab, Pummel, and Throws. Meanwhile, the Mobile Gear could fashion itself as part of their Dash Attack to run down other fighters. Finally, the Shovel Blade's Charge Handle already functions like a Side Smash and could easily be refashioned as an Up Smash, leaving his Trench Blade as a Down Smash.
When it comes to Final Smash concepts, a popular idea floating around the Internet involves the use of Shield Knight, who I personally feel would be better suited for the role of Assist Trophy. Plus, I already had three magic words come to mind: Troupple King Dance. A familiar chiptune waltz plays for a perfect moment of soundtrack dissonance, and then, rather than enjoying the ceremonial ritual of the Troupple King and his fishy-fruity subjects, fighters would get pelted nonstop by troupples flying about the screen!
You might've noticed my use of "they" pronouns for Shovel Knight's case. I have a feeling their possible inclusion in Smash might be similar to what we've seen with Villager, Robin, and Corrin, with players being able to swap between a male and female Shovel Knight, just like the game's very own Body Swap mode.
Shovel Knight, much like Shantae, is a very capable candidate who can bring some much deserved indie representation to Super Smash Bros. Armed with both name recognition and Nintendo's own vouching, it's not impossible to expect the Shovelrous hero to join the brawl.
"Long ago, the primordial forest, deep and mysterious, witnessed the birth of
a man... uh, a vegetable?No, no, no... ah, a thingamajig." — Nymph
- First Appearance: Rayman (AJG – 1995)
- Latest Appearance: Rayman Legends: Definite Edition (NSW – 2017)
- "Rayman Smashified" art by Omni Jacala
Smash hoaxes are a dime a dozen, but one famed hoax took the web by storm a few years back, leading many to believe a certain character would appear as DLC before Artsy Omni revealed its falsehood. But for all we know, a full-on inclusion could very well be happening this time, especially after Nintendo's new friendship with Ubisoft after Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle.
So, I'm gonna go out on a limb and highlight Rayman for number 8! The protector of the Glade of Dreams has defended his realm from all sorts of evil, be it from raving rabbids, robot pirates, embodiments of darkness, or zombie grannies, and while he is a simple soul (albeit on the crazy side), Rayman's dutiful heroism and athletic talents are the real deal.
The way he would control in Smash Bros would pretty much be airlifted straight out of Rayman Origins and Legends, which rounded out an arguably complete melee moveset: a four punch jab combo, directional kicks and punches for his air game, a spinning Dash Attack that doesn't interrupt his running, landing from a jump into a roll to keep running or smash into the ground with his meteor Down Air, walljumps, tilt-input attacks, and so on. Rayman as a character would essentially be all about agility and proper flow.
Even from Origins and Legends, we have some ideas for his Smash Attacks. His Telescopic Fist could rear back for a Wind Up Punch as a Side Smash with ridiculous reach, and for his Down Smash, an earthquaking strike from his fists would cover both sides. For his Up Smash, we look to a move scrapped from Rayman Origins that was featured in the game's teaser trailer, the "Propeller Updraft," as...demonstrated on Betilla the Fairy—something that has no power but can blow opponents away, like a grounded Mr. Game & Watch's Up Air.
Like that, we've covered just about everything for his basic movepool by pulling material from the two most recent mainline Rayman games. As for the original trilogy, that's where the Specials and Custom Moves come into play.
Rayman's Standard Special could be projectile-oriented, with its default being the Magic Fist, as featured in Rayman 2: The Great Escape. This technique allows Rayman to shoot fist-sized energy balls from his hands in rapid succession, which can travel a long way to pester other fighters. As alternatives, there is the Blue Punch from Origins—which could be stronger, but doesn't travel as far and needs to cool down/reload after a few shots—or the Raving Rabbids-native Plunger Gun for a single power shot.
His Side Specials would mix things up with the Laser-Washing Powder power-ups from Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc. I'd go for the whirlwind-unleashing Vortex as his default, to stick with a semi-consistent speed/wind theme. The electrifying long-reaching metal Lockjaw and the guided missile-launching Rocket Shot could both serve as custom swaps.
His Up Special would no doubt be the Super Helicopter featured in various games, allowing Rayman to harmlessly fly up and glide gently down with his trademark hairdo. Letting go of the move, however, will have Rayman fall in a helpless state. For alternates, Rayman can focus more on horizontal travel with the Helicopter Glide, or shoot for verticality with the remaining Laser-Washing Powder we haven't covered yet: the Throttle Copter.
For his Down Special, I'd focus on one move pulled from his debut, way back in the original Rayman. That move is the Magic Seed, which Rayman would plant into the ground or walls to sprout an extra platform. Comparatively, it would be a weaker take on the Villager's Timber, as any fighter who gets caught in the instantaneous bloom would take some damage with vertical knockback. As for variants, there could be Timed Magic Seed, operating like a landmine, or Heavy Magic Seed, which would take a bit longer to sprout but deal much more damage.
To wrap it up with Rayman's Final Smash, there's probably nothing better suited to the character than Moskito Bombardment, as featured in Rayman 1 and Rayman Origins. Rayman would hop aboard the Moskito's back and either shoot down the battlefield with their proboscis or suck up other fighters to spit them out. Pretty cut and dry.
For all his speed and versatility, what would offset Rayman's strength and nimbleness would be his fragility. I'd imagine someone with no neck, arms or legs who, in his recent ventures, can hardly take a hit himself without Bubblizing to death would likely come off as incredibly light and easy to send flying, so keep that in mind should you choose Michel Ancel's limbless wonder.
That should wrap it up for third parties, I think! Now, let's shift our focus back to Nintendo with one of the most requested first party inclusions from the Smash Ballot.
7. KING K. ROOL
"King K. Rool doesn't do anything halfway! Hope you've said your goodbyes, fools!"
- First Appearance: Donkey Kong Country (SNES – 1994)
- Latest Appearance: Mario Super Sluggers (Wii – 2008)
- "King K. Rool Smashified" art by Chris Szczesiul
When Rare was given the chance to breathe new life into the Donkey Kong name with Donkey Kong Country, the rebranded King of Swing needed a new force to contend with. Rare found the gorilla's answer in the form of a crocodile, the superior species. Enter the reasonable, raving, derangeable despot at the helm of the Kremling Krew, King K. Rool!
With his outstanding physique, unparalleled strength, and impeccable singing voice, DK's arch-nemesis and frequent banana hoard thief has a lot going for his regal self, on top of fans clamoring for his return. Smash has a distinct lack of truly villainous characters—really only Ganondorf and Bowser, while Meta Knight, Dedede, and Wario often serve more as anti-heroes these days—and K. Rool's established villain status would finally add a plus one to that neglected quota.
The King of Kritters would classify as a deceptively speedy heavyweight contender, capable of shockwave-inducing ground slams and powerful uppercuts rivalling DK's own impressive strength. He's also the fanciful sort, adopting several aliases in his appearances: the brash buccaneer Kaptain K. Rool, the mad scientist Baron K. Roolenstein, and boxing champion King Krusha K. Rool. Alternative costume potential aside, his weapons and abilities from these boss encounters also make for great ideas for his Specials!
We have his Kaptain's Blunderbuss, with an unlimited supply of Kannonballs that can serve as his Standard Special. For simplicity's sake, we'll limit his ammunition to basic Kannonballs for the default, and save the spiked and twirling variants for his Customs. Kannonballs would go a short range and pack a decent amount of punch, but they could linger on-stage and get thrown around by other fighters. Of course, hitting the Blunderbuss with a Kannonball would cause it to explode in K. Rool's face, but the returning fire will be devastating.
On the side, he could also use the Blunderbuss as part of his Dash Attack, with its flamethrower aspect propelling him forward while he barrels into other fighters.
His signature Krown Toss would serve as a long-reaching Side Special where K. Rool would throw and retrieve his crown in a manner similar to classic Link's boomerang. Not really much else to say here!
For K. Rool's Up Special, his recovery would be his Helikopter-Pack from Donkey Kong Country 3. This would serve as K. Rool's lifeline as well as his greatest weakness, as damaging the propeller could see him come loose and fall helplessly to his doom, or have him fly around uncontrollably to, once again, his doom.
K. Rool is known to be shrewd and sneaky, so his penchant for invisibility—as featured in DKC2 and DK64—would be the perfect Down Special. While his shadow would make an obvious tell for his whereabouts, Kamouflage would allow K. Rool a few seconds to scheme his next move, operating like a shorter-lasting Cloaking Device. I did consider a ground slam and shockwave like we see him use in DK64, but I figured that would be a better Down Smash for a show of raw power.
As for Final Smash ideas, he could consume a Crystal Banana and grow to Kraid-sized epic proportions behind the stage to become a weather manipulating, meteor-summoning, fire-breathing titan of pure chaos, as seen in DK: Jungle Climber. I initially considered him helming the Gangplank Galleon with cannonballs raining on the map, much like the Nintendo Week podcast originally envisioned, but I figured that would be much more fun as a new DK stage.
That being said, K. Rool hasn't been around since his last appearance in Mario Super Sluggers ten years ago. The series' relaunch has seen no signs of the Kritter leader anywhere, with the role of antagonist instead filled by the Tiki Tribe and the Snowmads. However, there is the possibility that a new, standalone Donkey Kong Country game could see his long-awaited, and frankly long overdue, return.
Hopefully, with the likely outpouring of support for him in the Ballot, K. Rool could not only return in an upcoming Donkey Kong game with renewed vigor, but also step in as Donkey Kong representative number 3 over the likes of Dixie, Cranky, and Funky Kong. Hell, like Inklings, there was a K. Rool Mii Fighter costume last time around, and now that Inklings are joining Smash in earnest, here's to hoping!
Speaking of Inklings...
"I'll take your stunned silence as a YES!" — Cap'n Cuttlefish
- First Appearance: Splatoon (WiiU – 2015)
- Latest Appearance: Splatoon 2 (NSW – 2017)
The new squids on the block are finally joining Smash in an official capacity after that DLC Mii Fighter costume tease! Native to Splatoon and its Nintendo Switch sequel, the third-person shooter and brand new big ticket Nintendo IP has quickly cemented itself as the company's latest household name. With Inklings now in Smash, taking into account how loaded these squid kids' arsenals are, their movepool has a ridiculous amount of material to pull from—so ridiculous that, even with Custom Moves, a single new character might not be enough to contain it all.
So, what better way to highlight more of Splatoon's craziness than by including not one, but two separate fighters from the series? Once your fearsome adversaries in the games' single player campaigns and now playable in Splatoon 2's upcoming Octo Expansion, I fully expect Octolings to take up arms and joining Smash Switch as their own separate character from Inklings.
"But Jeff, Octolings are basically clones in Splatoon! I hate clones because they're useless and just take up my favorite character's spot! Why can't they just be an alternate costume, huh?"
By Sakurai's own account, most clones are unplanned and actually began as alternate costumes during the course of a new game's given development period. If his team can quickly churn out a bonus character for fun without taking up much time or resources, then why shouldn't they? They simply exist as fun extras to choose from in an otherwise still varied and complete roster.
With that in mind, I wouldn't be surprised to see Octolings made into either an Inkling clone with distinct differences, or—due to the Splatoon games' ridiculously packed armory of Ink, Sub, and Special Weapons—their own unique combatant altogether. Either way, they would definitely come across as a perfect foil to Inklings like in the source material.
It's also due to this ridiculous amount of potential that I'm actually going to abstain from coming up with a possible moveset for both Inklings and Octolings. There are simply too many variants at play for me to feasibly cement one moveset idea, as their weapons would without a doubt be incorporated into their entire movepool and not just their Specials. We'd be stuck here all day on guesswork alone!
Additionally, when it comes to costumes, both races are wayyyyy too fresh to limit their wardrobe to so few options if Octolings were just an alt to Inklings, as designing your own unique squid kid is one of the most fun things to do in the games outside of actual Turf Wars. We'd definitely see many Inkling designs beyond just the OG Inkling Girl and Boy, with Nintendo pulling alternative costume ideas from both Splatoon and Splatoon 2. The same would likely apply to Octolings beyond the promo designs, be it dressing up as Agent 8 themselves, enemy Octolings, or the Sanitized designs we'll be seeing up close in Octo Expansion.
In short, brace yourselves for the Inklings' most notable foes to start splatting the Battlefields of Smash as their own territory. 2018 is the "Year of the Octoling," after all!
This entry is quite long, yet we're only halfway through the list. So for now, I'll leave things at that and allow you to ruminate over the candidates I've brought forward so far. What do you make of these potential fighters? Can you see any of these predictions coming true, or do you have better ideas that you'd like to share with us?
I'd love to hear what you have to say, so sound off with your newcomer theories in the comments below, and come back soon to acquaint yourselves with the Final Five!