This week sees the release of the final two downloadable characters for Super Smash Bros Wii U, Corrin and Bayonetta, and all in all, it’s safe to say that the downloadable content model has worked out pretty well for the title. This writer practically used to run from downloadable content, viewing it as an excuse for devs to release half-complete games and to make players fork out just to make the full picture.
However, Smash Bros has been different, succeeding in parting me from my cash. Already packed with a substantial number of characters and stages, the title’s DLC allowed it to reach almost ridiculous levels of content, while also allowing Nintendo to engage with their fanbase in a more meaningful way than it arguably ever has. Here, we take a look at five things we learned from Smash Bros’ DLC experiment.
1. How to do fan service like Nintendo
Since Super Smash Bros. Melee’s release back in 2001, the series has become a symbol for nostalgia and fan service – and the series’ Wii U instalment really demonstrated its commitment to the latter. By creating a poll whereby fans of the series could select their preferred choice of characters to be added to the game, Nintendo literally gave the fans what they wanted. In an age where gamers bemoan game developers’ refusal to listen to fan demands, this writer found it refreshing for Nintendo to reach out to their fans in this way. It’s worth noting that Bayonetta was announced with the note that she was the most requested ‘reasonable’ request, which suggests that Nintendo even probably tried to go the extra mile to incorporate a very powerful character (Goku?) – so kudos to Nintendo for their work here.
2. DLC should be a bonus, not required
Search for ‘EA DLC’, and you’ll find memes criticising the DLC approach taken by big game developers, where a game can be rushed out with the blanks being filled later through DLC – at a small cost. This model is becoming increasingly popular, with this writer often refusing to fork out for DLC when a game is obviously just trying to milk my wallet. Smash Bros’ model was more effective. With an impressive range of characters to purchase, and at fairly reasonable prices, this writer was happy to fork over some small change whenever a new stage or character was made available. Come to think of it, I’ve now spent upwards of £60 on Smash Bros Wii U, and didn’t even realise. Huh.
3. Nintendo, y u give us so much Fire Emblem?
Nintendo clearly loves Fire Emblem, and it’s quite jarring. The series has increased in popularity ever since series protagonists Marth and Roy were made playable in Melee, but for there to be SIX characters (after the release of Roy and Corrin) from the series in Smash Bros Wii U is excessive. To put this into context, there are only five characters from the Legend of Zelda series, and that’s Nintendo’s second most popular franchise. It was also incredibly irritating that Smash fans chose to use the character poll to bring back Roy, a glorified clone character, instead of someone like Snake (Big Boss), who would have been relevant, considering that Metal Gear Solid V hit stores in September.
4. Rivals respect the series
It’s been a while since Nintendo was top dog in the console wars, even despite the Wii’s commercial success, and many non-Nintendo gamers will consider Smash Bros to be the best option on a generally irrelevant console. However, the availability of Ryu and Cloud Strife in the game’s downloadable roster showed off the title’s reputation effectively, as deals with Konami and Square Enix – for two characters that don’t really feature on Nintendo consoles – were done efficiently and quickly. Of course, we’ve heard about devs asking series creator Masahiro Sakurai to add their characters to the series – Solid Snake and Sonic were added after their devs made requests after all – but it was still a real joy to see just how ambitious Nintendo allowed their fanbase to be with their requests.
5. Waste of money but I look fabulous tho
I admit to dropping some money on buying my Mii character a hoodie and a pretty sharp suit, and I am ashamed. Initially, I thought Nintendo were ridiculous for making Mii outfits available in Smash Bros – it reminded me of a scene in the TV show Black Mirror, where a man in the future spends his hard-earned money on a hat for his avatar, and is portrayed as pathetic for doing so – but here I was, proving them right. Fair play.
Who would you have liked to see? Let us know in the comments below!