Pokémon have always been a crucial part of the Super Smash Bros. experience, but for years I felt that the included pocket-monster characters were a bit lackluster if you didn’t play Pikachu. The Pokémon trainer character was a pretty great addition that gave you limited access to Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard, but none of them were well-rounded enough to be used exclusively, and were instead swapped in and out for best results.
In its Smash Bros-centric Nintendo Direct stream yesterday, series director Masahiro Sakuria changed all that with the announcement of two new fighters — Charizard and Greninja. The trailer if arguable the most amazing pre-rendered Smash promo yet, so definitely check it out in the video below:
Depending on your age, each character will have a different impact on your excitement levels, though I imagine most players over the age of twenty will be absolutely thrilled by Charizard’s inclusion. Still, Greninja is one of the more imaginative starters we’ve seen since the original three, and I’m sure younger Poké-fanatics adore him just as much, if not more.
The entire Direct was rife with other Smash info as well. Certain characters like Zelda and Samus will no longer transform during battles, for example. Instead, their alternate forms will be available from the character select screen. Elsewhere, new assist trophies like Midna were announced (personal favorite!), not to mention a wealth of previously unseen items and collectibles.
Perhaps most importantly, Sakurai detailed the game’s online structure, and though it does lack a traditional ranking system, it includes some truly awesome features. You can play against your friends like you did in Brawl, and that functionality remains largely untouched. However, when playing online with strangers, there are now two modes: For Fun, and For Glory.
With For Fun, the stage is randomly chosen, and items are turned on. This, of course, includes Final Smashes and every last bit of the game’s signature chaos and craziness. In “For Glory” mode, though, the stage is automatically set to Final Destination (a flat stage preferred by technical players and professionals), and all items are set to never appear. Luckily, each of the game’s stages have received flattened, Final Destination-esque versions, so you don’t have to worry about getting too bored during serious competition.
In terms of concrete details, release windows for both the 3DS and Wii U versions were finally confirmed: summer for 3DS, and Winter for Wii U. This made me sigh at first, but I soon realized that it’s a smart move. Were Nintendo to release both games at once, players might be tempted to go 3DS-only, and forego the Wii U edition — something Nintendo certainly can’t afford right now. With the new plan, players will likely grab the 3DS edition, and be tempted yet again by the technically superior Wii U edition come holiday time. Nintendo, you sly dog you.
The Direct is loaded with extra tidbits not mentioned here, as well as Sakurai’s trademark brand of off-humor (he even replaces himself with a substitute when discussing Pokémon), so be sure to watch the whole thing for all the juicy details. Regardless, both the 3DS and Wii U versions are looking really sharp, and we can’t wait to get our hands on both.