Super Smash Bros. Without Cutscenes: Closed Minds and “Two Black Ships”

Super Smash Bros. Logo

Before talking about the newest iteration, it is perhaps important to establish some thoughts about the previous game in the franchise; Super Smash Bros. Brawl (SSBB). Super Smash Bros. Brawl offered a strange and conflicting experience. One one hand:

  • It had superb production value.
  • An amazing and inimitable soundtrack.
  • Was almost perfectly balanced (almost to a fault).
  • Fixed the horrendous level of “clone” and “copy-paste” characters (i.e. Mario/Dr. Mario/Luigi, Pikachu/Pichu, Captain Falcon/Ganondorf, Marth/Roy, Mewtwo and Ness/Zelda, etc.).
  • Had a much better variety of stages.
  • Added good variety of game modes.
  • The inclusion of an online mode.
  • Interesting addition of third-party characters.

On the other hand:

  • The gameplay and characters were so balanced that after a certain point it didn’t really matter what character you were playing as anymore.
  • Most of the new characters were not that interesting.
  • Sonic, for all the hype, added absolutely nothing to the game (even his stage was pretty lame in comparison to many of the other new stages).
  • Too many of the “unique” stage mechanics and items turned it into a lackluster “quasi-party game.”
  • Completely ignoring the “unique” stage mechanics and items left the gameplay somewhat bare and dull.
  • The online mode was garbage.
  • The “story” mode (i.e. The Sub Space Emissary) was a massive and dull time sink with no other purpose than to claim “all your favorite characters are together” or something, and of course to quickly/conveniently unlock all the characters.

That last point is the most relevant to this topic, of course. The entire story mode seemed like a huge waste of time, for both the producers and the consumers. The initial thought of the next entry in the franchise completely forgoing the whole idea seems good, and it ultimately is. Unfortunately, it is brought down by the primary reason behind why the decision was made in the first place:

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“Anyone eager to see their favorite Nintendo characters interact with one another in a cinematic capacity in the new Super Smash Bros. should begin preparing for disappointment right now. CG cutscenes won’t be included in either the Wii U or 3DS versions of the game.

Creator Masahiro Sakurai wrote in his column on Famitsu that because the Super Smash Bros. Brawl cutscenes ended up being uploaded to the Internet, they wouldn’t be included in the newest iteration. ‘You can only truly wow a player the first time he sees [a cutscene]. I felt if players saw the cutscenes outside of the game, they would no longer serve as rewards for playing the game, so I’ve decided against having them,’ Sakurai commented.”

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Super Smash Bros. Dinner Party

Even if it is just a “quasi-party game,” it’s still a hell of a party. Or dinner. Or feast. Or whatever it is.

The only reason for this “positive” development is only because the creator doesn’t like the idea that seeing “the cutscenes outside of the game,” on the internet, would spoil the “rewards for playing the game.” Cutscenes are kind of a lame reward anyways. People want their characters, their stages, and online modes. No one cares about the cutscenes, at least not in fighting or party games. Also, why is the fact that people upload recordings of video game content only now a big deal? Let’s Plays have been around for a while. Railing against used games is one thing, but this, this doesn’t make any difference.

Would people trust a game reviewer that never actually played the games he reviewed, but only watched gameplay videos of online? Of course not, that is entirely missing the point. It’s interesting to see example after example of Nintendo’s management being either stuck in the past or under a rock.

Regardless, hopefully the time and money that may have been spent on an over glorified “fan-fic-flick” will go towards actually making the online mode decent, or altering/removing some of the less practical mechanics of the franchise, or just making the game better in general. Then again, all of this seems to fall eerily in line with Nintendo’s previous antics regarding Let’s Plays. If there is one lesson that can be learned from history, it is that if the people want it badly enough, they will find a way to get it, one way or another.

Of course, it has been brought up many times over the web and through critics and commentators that the “under-the-table” sharing of products, or used products, is not new to any industry. The question is; “What makes video games so special?”

It’s anybody’s guess as to how much longer the industry can attempt to do business with closed-minds and “closed-doors.” Perhaps this is a sign that those “doors” need to be “opened.” Say, with “two black ships?” Or “two black boxes?” A “single black box?” Maybe just a “steam box?”

Super Smash Bros. Brawl Banjo Kazooie

I still desperately want this to be a thing.

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