I recently wrote a feature on the topic of things Smash 5 can incorporate from its predecessors to make for a stronger game. Now, I would like to share my opinion on ways that Smash 5 can change in new and exciting ways. Enjoy!
New Movesets For Returning Characters
One thing you may have noticed in Smash Bros is that the older characters frequently had a great number of liberties taken with their movesets. Often coupled with basic attack that, while logical, frequently have no basis out of the context of the games the characters originated from. Ganondorf is one of the primary examples of this.
In the Smash series, Ganon is portrayed as an exclusively close-range fighter using punches, kicks and grabs. Almost every one of them is copied over from Captain Falcon’s (also dreamed up) moveset as he was originally put into Smash as a clone character of the captain. Sure, he has had some additional animations and visual effects to his attacks added to give him a bit more of the feel of that command of the dark magical forces he enjoys in the Zelda series. But, there are a wealth of interesting magical and otherwise unique attacks that could be incorporated into his Smash Bros incarnation.
For example, Ganon is capable of creating a magical ball of energy to hurl at his opponents that can be reflected back and forth via attacks. This sort of attack fits right into the Smashverse, so why no bring it in? Additionally, Ganon almost always performs direct melee attacks via his swords. Why not incorporate this into his moveset somehow? In a way, I could easily envision Ganon becoming conceptually more of a magical swordsman similar to Robin in Smash 4.
Other characters that feel like they could be refreshed greatly to more closely resemble their more recent depictions from their modern games are Mario and Link. We already know that Link will have his Breath of the Wild visual design. If they are going to depict the characters with their current forms, it would be very exciting to see them come along with new attacks that represent those games as well.
Let Mario throw Cappy around for some smash attacks. GameXplain did an excellent video on their thoughts for how Mario could use his capture mechanic in the game. They suggested it could be his grab. This could work quite well. Their recommendation was to have the enemies hit theirselves for the grab jab which would be hilarious and then allow him to throw them in a general direction from a still position, but I think this concept could be taken a distinct step further.
I think when Mario grabs a character, he should gain full control over them and their abilities for the duration of the grab just as he does in the games. We already have a character that can walk around with a grabbed victim: Donkey Kong. To balance this, he moves relatively slowly which could also be a balancing mechanic for cappy Mario as well. Either that, or just give it a short duration time or make it easily broken from so players don’t just immediately run the victim over the edge of the stage and release them to their death. There are multiple ways this could be balanced, so I won’t spend too much time going over the various options. Perhaps also give Mario the ability to properly throw them in a direction if that is your desire by pressing the grab button again while consecutively pressing a direction with the analog stick akin to a basic smash attack.
Link would be a bit of a challenge to balance with his breakable weapons system, but it would probably be a lot like Robin (another Robin reference!) in that Robins weapons can break and his magical tomes run out of energy. To make him work in a satisfying way for returning Link players would not be an easy task, but it could be incredibly rewarding to do so.
I believe the key to bringing this version of Link to Smash in a satisfying way is to give him a focus on swapping his weapons perhaps among a few types: the Master Sword+Hylian Shield, a spear, a heavy two-handed weapon and a bow and arrow. Give him access to all these and perhaps the ability to swap between them with his taunts. As he uses them, they break and will restore over time like Robin’s weapons.if each one comes complete with a unique A-attack move set and style, and we could have a very interesting and dynamic characters.
Link has several other mechanics from Breath of the Wild which could be amazing if brought into the Smash fold, so I will just quickly name a few options I would love to see. Link’s up-B off the ground would be Revali’s Gale. Holding the jump button in the air lets him pull out his paraglider. Down-b is suitably his defensive move which would be Goron’s shield, his bombs set to neutral-B and side-B would be his stasis allowing him to freeze opponents or objects. Magnesis would be great but probably couldn’t be of much use for players with no items on unless multiple stages could incorporate it.
The hardest part of updating older characters with new and interesting move sets is that it’s a touchy subject with returning fans for many of us have gotten used to playing with our favorite characters in almost the exact same way since Melee, but fear not, for my next suggestion covers that, too
Multiple Move Sets For Characters Tied To Their Selected Costumes
Smash 4 came with one incredible feature which was custom move sets. This was sadly underused in the competitive scene for how it was discovered that some attacks became overpowered when mixed and matched together. This had the side effect of damaging the balance of the game and thus went to the wayside for many players. Some were just slight variations to the hitboxes or minor added effects while others had a bit of a greater effect on the attack such as the difference between Samus’s regular charge beam which can be charged and shot at long distances and her close-range charge beam which would shot directly in front of her but packed a greater punch. While not everyone used this feature, what this evidences is that since every pre-DLC character had been programmed with four complete special attack move sets for a total of 16 optional attacks each, it can happen again. However, I would like to see it done differently this time.
What I would like to see is for various costumes to come with their own alterations to the move sets of the characters. This could range from minor changes to hitboxes or additional special effects added to attacks to accommodate the new costume in a logical way. Samus would be a great example of this. Let’s take her Light Suit from Metroid Prime 2. The way I envision this is for her attacks to become more themed around her light attacks and other such weapons from the Prime series. Then, for example if you have her equipped with her Varia suit from Super Metroid, she might come with her wave beam as opposed to her standard charged beam. What this leads me to are legacy move sets attached to each character’s classic costumes.
Legacy Move Sets
Of course, balancing is a tricky pony to break, but one of the greatest advantages to recycling old move sets is they are already animated and carefully balanced over many years. Sure, each one could use some tweaking to balance them with the new caste and moves associated therein, but bringing back the classic move sets in this fashion is the easiest way to appeal to everyone. Returning fans can still play with their favorite characters in a way they are familiar with while they and everyone else get to have the option to play with brand new versions of those characters. It is a win-win all around.
Remove The Smash Ball And Naturally Integrate Final Smashes
Ahh, final smashes. How intense you can be. How awesome you make me feel. How little I actually use you.
Final smashes are intriguing at a base level. They make each character have even more of a unique feel than they already do. But, ever since they were first incorporated, I have been unhappy with the method for actually accessing them. Sure, you can get immediate access to it if you fall significantly far behind in stocks. But, that is a rarity.
As most Smash players are aware, to use a final smash, you have to turn on the Smash Ball item. Once it spawns, it will float around the battlefield with each character needing to hunt it down, attack it, and whoever manages to break it can unleash their incredible smash attack. This sounds great and might be in some ways. However, my experience with the smash ball is generally a sour one.
What I have found is that the smash ball tends to distract players from the conflicts they had been engaged in prior to its appearance on the battlefield. Tempers are flaring, knuckles are white and each individual is focused completely on getting the upper hand on their opponent. Then, the smash ball appears. Around it floats and everyone makes a scramble for it. Often, it floats barely out of reach and everyone just flails around trying to get it first because of the advantage it represents. All form of concentration is broken and the intensity is just kind of gone. Sure, there is sometimes the payoff of landing a massive hit, but it isn’t worth the distraction in my opinion.
The direction I would like to see Final Smashes take in the new game is to have them integrated into the gameplay more naturally. Perhaps through a hidden meter akin to Cloud’s limit break meter. As players deal damage, the meter raises. Balance this by making the meter fall as they take damage however at a slightly lower rate than it raises by dealing damage. In doing so, the final smash becomes more of a natural and predictable attack which builds into a combo finisher for expert players while also having a feeling of randomness for more casual players who might not do the homework to predict how much damage must be dealt to activate it.
This would obviously require some balancing and characters with more of a one shot attack like Captain Falcon might take less time to build it up than a character who transforms for an extended period of time like Sonic or Bowser.
At the very least, I would like to see this integrated as a Custom Smash Mode option. If the balancing could be achieved properly, I feel as though this change could be an exciting and reinvigorating change for the franchise which would give it a bit more of a competitive, traditional fighting game feel.
These are just some ways I would like to see the characters in Smash 5 change to refresh the feel of the game. What do you think? What are some ways you would like to see the series change? Let us know in the comments below!