Namco-Bandai is doing the next Smash Bros., is that a good idea?

The Smash Bros. series has gained a lot of popularity over the years with its unique combination of platforming and 2D fighting. The fans of the series are some of the most hardcore you’ll meet; they even go so far as to master a glitch in the game, such as the infamous “wave-dash”. Having said that, will Namco-Bandai be able to live up to their expectations? They do have the series producer, Masahiro Sakurai, at the helm, so maybe everything will be alright. Maybe.

Then again, Nintendo just recently let Metroid out of the Nintendo building, into the arms of Tecmo, and what did we get? Some of you out there may have liked Other M, but for me, as a Metroid fan, I hated it. Samus automatically attacking enemies on the ground with some special attack, the fact that you couldn’t move while in first person (and had to repeatedly go back and forth between 3rd and first-person), and those first-person “find the thing” sections were all annoying to me. Then you have Samus giving people the “thumbs down” signal to show everyone how cool she is. In another sequence Samus nearly dies because she has to get permission to use one of her tools to save herself–totally ridiculous. Then she goes on and on about her experience of getting metroid baby juice on her in the most disturbing manner. I mean, really, what in the holy hell happened here? I can’t say for sure who’s to blame: Tecmo, or Yoshio Sakamoto, the co-director of the original Metroid on NES. Either way, I have personally blasted Metroid: Other M out of the cannon.

It seems that when Nintendo does give their franchises to other developers, it’s because Nintendo doesn’t care enough about them to make them on their own. Sure, Wario Land: Shake It! on the Wii was okay, and it received a 78 on Metacritic, but since when do you as a Nintendo fan settle for “okay”? I got close to the end of that game, but near the end I just didn’t care enough to finish it. Wario: Master of Disguise fared much worse, receiving a 60 on Metacritic. Without even knowing that it wasn’t developed by Nintendo, I tried that game at a store, and after 15 seconds I could tell it was not worth my time. I later discovered that it was developed by Suzak, not Nintendo.

It’s not all doom and gloom though; there have been partnerships with Nintendo that have worked. Take for example the Zelda games that appeared on the Gameboy, most notably Link’s Awakening–it’s one of my favorite games of all time. When I drove home with that game, I knew it was going to be something special. Link’s Awakening, Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages, and The Minish Cap were all developed by Capcom on the small screen, and they were all fantastic. SEGA didn’t do too bad with their version of F-Zero either. Heck, I wouldn’t be phased by someone calling that the best F-Zero game there is. It’s not heresy, SEGA fans. We’ll allow it just this once. Another thing to note is that Super Smash Bros. Brawl was made by “Ad Hoc Development Team”, which consisted of Sakurai, Game Arts, and staff from other development companies, so a Smash Bros. game made of non-Nintendo development people has succeeded before.

As for Masahiro Sakurai, he’s mostly had aces up his sleeves. The following list will reveal only one awful game:

1992 – Kirby’s Dream Land
1993 – Kirby’s Adventure
1993 – Kirby’s Pinball Land
1995 – Kirby’s Block Ball
1996 – Kirby Super Star
1999 – Super Smash Bros.
2001 – Super Smash Bros. Melee
2002 – Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land
2003 – Kirby Air Ride
2005 – Meteos
2005 – Kouchuu Ouja: MushiKing — Greatest Champion e no Michi
2008 – Super Smash Bros. Brawl
2012 – Kid Icarus: Uprising

Did you find the awful game? If your eyes were glaring over at Kirby Air Ride, well, you get a gold star. Kirby Air Ride opened that big wide door to the world and was greeted with a 61 score on Metacritic. Ouch.

Getting back to Namco, they did develop StarFox: Assault for Gamecube, a game that got some mixed results. It mostly just repeated what had already been done in previous Star Fox games. Then there were the sections that were new, such as the walking ground missions, and I didn’t quite like the controls there. It was a bit of a mixed bag, and it ended up receiving a sour 67 on Metacritic.

There’s really no telling whether or not Namco-Bandai, combined with Masahiro Sakurai, will accomplish a fan-pleasing version of Smash Bros. Hopefully Nintendo keeps a careful watch on the development of the game so that it doesn’t end up like the other ones. I’m sure that we all want something that we can be proud to drive home with. Sakurai, Namco-Bandai, let’s have a Link’s Awakening kind of result, yes? We can only hope.

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Ryan Southard
Ryan Southard 776 posts

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it's new or it's old, as long as it's awesome, he'll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>