Masahiro Sakurai's Super Smash Bros. games are some of the most fun games to speculate on. Each time another is announced, both fans and critics alike take to their keyboards to predict which characters from dozens of Nintendo franchises are most likely to make the cut this time around. Of course, 2014's Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS has been no different; roster predictions and official character reveals have kept Super Smash Bros. at the forefront of both fan and media attention since it was revealed at E3 2013.
However, beneath all the character speculation, there's five looming questions about Super Smash Bros. that Nintendo has neglected to answer.
5. Who won't make the cut?
If you're a longtime Smash Bros. fan, this outstanding question probably outranks the other four in this list. Not one to be content with simply adding more characters, Sakurai has stated the next Smash Bros. will not feature a larger cast. He cites balance issues and the limitations of the 3DS version as why we won't see more characters than the 36 in Brawl.
Mr. Game & Watch, R.O.B, and Wolf O'Donnel won't make the jump to the Wii U/3DS Smash Bros., if I had to guess. We've already seen four new characters announced—the Villager, Mega Man, the Wii Fit Trainer, and Rosalina—and I would bet Nintendo has a couple more surprise reveals, so quite a few players might be cut. Will we see Solid Snake again, or has he been replaced by Mega Man? What about Pikachu, Jigglypuff, Lucario, and the Pokemon Trainer? Sakurai and his team might want to trim down the overabundance of Pokemon-themed brawlers. I wouldn't put much hope on characters like King Dedede and Ike, either. Sheik and Zero Suit Samus are also missing at this point, even if their counterparts—Zelda and Samus—have been confirmed.
Unfortunately, this is a question that won't be answered until someone inevitably leaks the official character roster sometime in the future.
4. Is that it for the third party characters?
There's nothing like a steady stream of character announcements to keep a game relevant with both media and fans. Seeing as Super Smash Bros. is still a long way off, it's safe to assume Nintendo has a new character or three hidden away to reveal between now and release.
A more uncertain question is whether or not any of these characters will be from a third party franchise. The third party possibilities look endless now that Super Smash Bros. is being developed in-part by Namco Bandai, a company in charge of a plethora of iconic gaming series. However, Sakurai has said that Namco Bandai characters probably won't make it into Super Smash Bros. Still, Nintendo seems to have played its third party cards early: Mega Man was announced the same time the game was, and Sonic's second Smash Bros. appearance has already been let out of the bag. As third party characters are the most exciting new challengers, you'd think Nintendo would save at least one to make a splash leading up to release—possibly at E3.
3. When's it coming out?
A German Nintendo representative leaked that Super Smash Bros. will hit sometime next spring, but this rumor has since been confirmed false. Which is unfortunate, because despite the release of Super Mario 3D World, Nintendo's mascot brawler would keep hungry Wii U owners well fed until the system's library fleshes out a bit more. Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze might ease the wait a little, but a large gap between must-play titles looks to foreshadow another bleak year for the Wii U.
Wwe haven't heard an official peep from Nintendo about the release date—other than it being sometime in 2014. As we're in early January, I sure hope we don't have to wait until 2014's holiday season to have another must-buy game for the Wii U.
2. How will the Wii U and 3DS versions interact?
Since Super Smash Bros. was announced, Sakurai has emphasized how important the connectivity between the Wii U and 3DS versions will be. In fact, he stated that the way the Wii U and 3DS versions interact will keep Super Smash Bros. from becoming a stale sequel with better visuals and a half dozen more characters.
For such an important feature we know so little about it. Sakurai has hinted character customization will carry across both systems, possibly affecting the gameplay of individual characters, and maybe dealing with cosmetic changes. And that's about it. Because both Nintendo had Sakurai have been vague about this feature, this unanswered question looms large.
1. How will this generation's online features change the series?
Both the Wii U and the 3DS have online capabilities their respective predecessors did not have. Sakurai is certain the Wii U will allow for much better online play for Super Smash Bros., which will be a most welcome and necessary addition to the series. Super Smash Bros. Brawl did feature online matches, but most of the time Nintendo's servers couldn't handle the frantic gameplay.
More intriguing is whether or not Nintendo will utilize the systems' online functionality further. In Brawl, Meta Knight was notorious for being an overpowered character; as a result, it stands to reason that Nintendo might offer character balances the same way other fighting game series do. While he appears hesitant to commit to balance patches and DLC, Sakurai admits both may be seen in Super Smash Bros.'s future when the game finally launches.
Online support may be just what Super Smash Bros. needs to modernize the series and keep it up to date with other popular fighting games; however, we won't see this question answered until after Super Smash Bros. releases sometime in 2014.