The Super Smash Bros. series has featured five Fire Emblem protagonists as playable fighters coming and going over the years, and with the latest Smash game, all five are playable together for the first time. Some fans love the representation, but others argue that Fire Emblem doesn’t deserve five characters when franchises like Metroid and Donkey Kong don’t even have a third playable Smasher yet. Whatever your feelings may be, Sakurai explains that most of these characters have been the result of fortunate timing more than anything else.
Interviewer: In Smash for 3DS/Wii U, there are far more Fire Emblem characters on the roster than in previous games. How did you go about the selection process for these characters?
Sakurai: It really depends on the situation. For example, Roy and Robin were included for completely different reasons. It also depends on luck, of course. Industry trends around the time when development begins is a pretty big factor. I started development on Smash for 3DS/Wii U right after I’d wrapped up Kid Icarus: Uprising, and Fire Emblem Awakening was released one month after Uprising. So what’s popular around the time when I begin designing the game is important. Characters are almost never added after I’ve completed the project plan for Smash.
Sakurai went on to explain just how fortuitous that launch timing really was; if it had been released even six months later, he says, Robin might not have made the cut, and if it had launched six months earlier, Sakurai may not have even considered
Fire Emblem Awakening characters at all. Roy, on the other hand, was introduced to Smash because Melee was pushing to expand its roster with clone characters as development was winding down, and Roy’s game was currently in development at the time (although it was initially scheduled to release before Melee).
The two never draw specific attention to Ike, but his situation somewhat resembles Robin’s, given the timing of
Brawl‘s planning stage as compared to the launch of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and the development of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn.
Other than Marth, the original star of the
Fire Emblem series who Sakurai hoped to include since the beginning of Smash, it looks like all of the Smash characters result from lucky timing, rather than a conscious effort to include the latest Fire Emblem heroes. “It’s not as if we have a stipulation that says ‘we have to include the protagonist of the next Fire Emblem game,'” Sakurai says.