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Why are there no Black characters in Smash Bros?

no black characters in smash

For years fans have been wondering why a Black character has never been playable in Nintendo's flagship crossover fighting game, Super Smash Bros.  

The first game included 12 fighters, but fast forward to 2021 and the Nintendo Switch Version, Super Smash Bros Ultimate features over 70 playable characters. Yet despite this massive roster, there is not a single playable Black character.

Alternate costumes

super smash bros black characters

There are a few colour options of Smash characters with dark skin. For instance cycling through the alternate costumes on Villager or Inkling will let the player be both male and female versions of a dark skin avatar. More recently Smash DLC character Steve from Minecraft also has a dark skinned alt.

Though this is a nice gesture, it doesn't solve the problem at hand, because these characters are simply secondary variations of unnamed characters who are customisable in their original game.

Nintendo's Diversity 

Although Nintendo doesn't exactly have a wide variety of diverse characters to choose from, especially compared to other publishers. This point isn't as strong as it once was because there has been a rise in inclusivity and diversity with recent Nintendo titles, that is more or less absent in SSBU.

The main problem with representation in Super Smash Bros, is that a great deal of Nintendo and videogame icons in  the game come from an era where games were made with little regard for representation, resulting in a largely racially homogeneous cast.



To add, Nintendo have always shied away from creating a dark skin protagonist,  usually keeping them in a secondary or minor role, even in recent titles. Which shows how Nintendo, along with much of the video game industry sees white as the default for their characters. 

As acknowledged, Nintendo has a severe lack of non-white characters, but they have enough to warrant visibility in a series like Smash Bros. which should at least be considered. 

Is Sakurai the problem?

If you wasn't already aware, Masahiro Sakurai is the creator and director of the Super Smash Bros. series and naturally he plays a huge part in deciding who makes it into onto the roster as a playable character.

Sakurai follows orders from Nintendo to some extent, but as the creator, director and designer of Super Smash Bros. he also has the power to push for characters. However, it appears that he is simply not interested in representation.

If anything, he's just the product of Japanese society which is obviously much less diverse culturally and racially than places like North America, so at most he just doesn't care or isn't aware of the importance of this subject.

Though this point shouldn't even matter because this isn't the 90's anymore and Nintendo clearly positions itself as a global brand rather than something niche and Japan-focused, so it shouldn't be an excuse.

smash ultimate roster

Requests to add a black character to Smash have been around since smash bros brawl discussions and have only gotten louder in recent years, yet this has clearly fallen on deaf ears. Sakurai has had the chance to add a dark skinned character to the roster twice, but has simply not.

Take Elma for instance, she should have been an obvious choice to add into the base roster, yet she along with the rest of Xenoblade Chronicles X were shafted to a bunch of Spirits. Sakurai and Nintendo instead added Pyra/Mythra from Xenoblade Chronicles X  as DLC.

Elma came first and has as much moveset potential as Pyra/Mythra, plus she comes from one of the games that represent the WII U legacy. Besides if we're talking about popularity then fine, but..

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 sold 2 million copies, while Splatoon 2 sold 12 million copies. Both games feature a pair of girls who serve as the literal face of the series. In one of these games, one of the two is a Black female character. Guess which duo got into Smash.


Another character is Twintelle from Arms, who was heavily requested by fans in the west. Despite her popularity, she wasn't even consider by Sakurai, who instead wanted Ninjara. Which is bias because she's probably the most recognized ARMs character in that game.

At this point it's safe to say we may never see a playable black character with Sakurai in charge as diversity simply isn't on his mind, and his clear bias of the Japanese fanbase and their taste doesn't help. 

What characters should be in Smash?

black nintendo characters

People always draw a blank when deciding what first-party black characters could appear in Super Smash Bros, which is understandable considering Nintendo's lack of racial diversity.

Though although the options are limited but they still exist. Believe it or not but there's quite a few unique Black Nintendo characters that would be a perfect fit for the roster even if they ain't the main characters of their respective games. 

The “only iconic characters get into smash and there is a lack of iconic Black characters in general” argument falls flat when characters like Pichu, half of the fire emblem roster, Piranha Plant, dark pit, etc. are playable.

Mr Sandman (Punch Out)

punch out

Punch-Out! currently has one one rep in Super Smash Bros Ultimate and who better to add then Mr Sandman, the main antagonist of the Punch-Out! franchise. He is Little Mac's arch-nemesis and is also often one of the toughest opponents in the game.

Introducing Mr Sandman into the fray gives the series not only a brand new villain and Punch-Out! rep, but also actual African-American representation without Smash Reddit arguing that the video game company is pandering. 

In terms of gameplay, the character would be extremely strong, dishing out easy KOs with even greater super armour. He could destroy shields much easier as well. Lest we forget that as a heavyweight, it would be hard to KO him. His drawback would be his speed and recovery, just to balance things out.

Honourable mention: 


Twintelle (ARMS)

twintelle smash bros

Twintelle is a playable fighter in the Nintendo new ip ARMS. Unlike the other combatants in the game she has natural human arms and fights with her hair. Few Nintendo female characters are as exotic and distinct as Twintelle. Not only is she a prosperous actress, but she is also one of the most popular characters from the ARMS franchise. 

This character beats opponents up with her long pigtails, which would make her addition to the game rather unique, because besides Bayonetta, no other fighter uses their hair as a weapon in Smash.

Furthermore, her main style of gameplay in ARMS revolves in slowing down incoming attacks. This in turn makes the character a technically distinctive brawler, allowing her to control enemy speeds while dispensing long-range attacks, while having her actual arms free to deal close range yet weaker strikes.

From a gameplay perspective, it's regrettable such a unique character didn't make the cut. However, it's even more irritating that one of the few Black Nintendo characters was denied an appearance outside of featuring as a Sticker in the Spirit World mode. 

Devdan (Fire Emblem)

fire emblem characters in smash

Devdan also known as Danved, which is supposedly his alternate ego, appears in both Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn as a playable character.

Many will agree that Super Smash Bros Ultimate has far too many Fire Emblem characters as it is, but what makes Devdan stand out is not only his diverse appearance, but also his ability to fight with a lance, unlike majority of the FE characters in Smash who use swords.

Yes, Devdan would be yet another Fire Emblem character added to the game, but at least he would be interesting in character design and fighting ability.

Marina (Splatoon 2)

splatoon 3

Marina need no introduction unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple years, but either way.. Making her debut in Splatoon 2, Marina is one of two members of a band called Off the Hook alongside her partner Pearl, a character she completely overshadowed.

Even though Marina isn't a fighter, if Sakurai and co can give fighting abilities to non confrontational characters such as the Wii Fit Trainer, Duckhunt Dog and Rosalina, then surely they can work something out with Marina. 

Anthony Higgs (Metroid: Other M)

metroid

Anthony Higgs is a soldier and old friend of Samus Aran in Metroid: Other M, a game released on Nintendo Gamecube. For those who remember him, Anthony plays a decent supporting role in the game.

 As point man of the small unit of Galactic Federation soldiers, Anthony aides Samus Aran through a fair amount of her journey with his arsenal of freeze guns, plasma beams and famous one liners!  He's also the most important soldier besides Samus herself.

Kate Alen (F-Zero)

f zero

Kate Alen is a F-Zero pilot who made her debut in F-Zero X for the Nintendo 64 in 1998. Since then, she has appeared in several sequels in the futuristic racing series.

She is a global superstar, singer and powerful dancer, so naturally her moveset should incorporate rhythmical and soulful elements.

An example of this could be her using her powerful vocals to break shields and stun enemies. She could also pull out a microphone and use it like lasso, roping in opponents towards her for quick attacks.

John Henry (Code Name S.T.E.A.M)

smash 3ds

John Henry is a playable hero in Code Name: S.T.E.A.M, a turn-based strategy game which was released on the Nintendo 3DS. The title was developed by Intelligent Systems (best known their Fire Emblem and Paper Mario games).

Among Nintendo's cast of characters, John Henry and his teammates stand out as some of the most unique, interesting choices yet. Besides that, adding him would be holding a metaphorical banner of the 3DS' legacy.

As the powerhouse of his crew, John Henry has no shortage of potential when it comes to battle. Half his body is made out of machinery and allows him to slam the ground with force and create shockwaves. He is also is able lobs grenades and push back multiple enemies. 

Conclusion

The invisibility of a playable dark skin character in a mascot-style game with such a huge roster really gives a window on what's considered central or "normal,". People want to see themselves in their entertainment, especially when it's supposedly tailored to a mass market.


Comments

  1. TO BE HONEST WHY WOULD THERE BE? A company from Japan trying to represent black people and their culture its like that ridiculous toonami commercial about black lives matter, i say we reinvent our own

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