SSBU – The End of an Era

Silas Gonzalez ’24

With the final DLC character revealed and released this month, the three-year support for Super Smash Brothers Ultimate has completed.  The constant effort put into this celebration of gaming was no easy feat, and Masahiro Sakurai along with his team deserve the mass amount of praise they receive.  

When Sora from the hit franchise “Kingdom Hearts” was announced as the final playable fighter for Ultimate fans, myself included, were astonished that a collaboration between Nintendo, Square Enix, and Disney could even be possible.  In fact, in Sakurai’s own Weekly Famitsu column, he stated that “as some can imagine, the barriers for Sora entering the battle were quite high.  Even though the player’s expectations were great, I honestly thought it would be impossible.”  As with most characters not owned by Nintendo in Smash, Sakurai would have to face a fight of his own with several meetings with creators and pitching ideas with how their character would be represented.  However, Sora being co-owned by Square Enix and Disney proved to be a mountainous challenge.  In the earlier fourth game, fans even mocked Square Enix’s tight hold on their character Cloud Strife, only adding 2 songs without the permission of remixes.  Thankfully, Square Enix has opened up in Ultimate.

Sora is not the only character Square Enix allowed to be introduced in Smash.  Not only did Cloud return, but Dragon Quest’s Solo, Luminary, Erdrick, and Eight were added as DLC with eight songs permitted to coincide.  Additionally, during the second wave of DLC fighters, fans were amazed when Sephiroth, Cloud’s rival in Final Fantasy, dramatically enter, with a stunning stage and 9 songs, showing Square’s tolerance for their characters on separate platforms.

While Square Enix expressed an abundance of respect for Sakurai and his team, any developer would be fearful of Disney possibly refusing.  The concept of Kingdom Hearts in Smash became possible after Sakurai had a chance encounter with a Disney representative during an awards venue, who said they were open to the idea.  With challenging negotiations involving Disney, Nintendo, and Square Enix having their say of the franchise’s inclusion.  Some hurdles were not exactly successful, however.  Players with Sora have noticed that the only semblance of Disney in the game is the Mickey Mouse symbol on Sora’s keyblade, aside from this there are no other references to the company, sadly meaning Sora’s classic duo of Donald and Goofy were left behind.  In fact, Sora’s negotiations were so late Sakurai himself stated that the team considered Sora as a bonus to their second fighter’s pack.  All this effort was worth it as Sora’s inclusion was met with grand praise from fans, finding his conclusion a perfect fit as the final fighter.  

The most appealing and unique aspect of the Smash franchise is that it is considered to be more than just a game, but rather a celebration of the gaming genre as a whole.  Smash is a grand hall of fame for these companies, and the characters of whom they created.  Indubitably, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate will be etched as a special place in time as an era where characters became legends, marked onto a platform that immortalizes and expresses their success.