With the release of a new Nintendo console comes the promise of a new Smash game to coincide with the system. Smash is a once-in-a-generation kind of game that has no trouble generating a massive storm of hype. There’s nothing like waiting for a Smash to release; speculation is abound as people wait to see what new characters, stages, modes, and so forth will be included in the latest title. There is no time more exciting to be a Nintendo fan than waiting for a brand-new Smash to release.
Sadly, a lot of people seem to be willing to settle for merely getting an old Smash ported to the Switch. I’ve seen a lot of talk about how people would be satisfied with some kind of SSB4 Switch edition that ports over content from the Wii U and 3DS versions and adds one or two newcomers.
This is just baffling to me. It’s been over three years since SSB4 came out; that’s half the time between the release of SSB4 and Brawl. SSB4 has had its time in the sun and plenty of time to settle and lose that “new game” feel; we shouldn’t be accepting the idea of an easy port in place of a new Smash. Not at this stage in the game. Instead, we should be looking towards a new Smash that, based on the time between Brawl and SSB4, should be ready for release within the next few years.
But of course then a choir of easily placated fans will sing a song about how Nintendo should pull a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with Smash; they put a lot of effort into the game and the payoff wasn’t great due to being stuck on the Wii U, so it makes sense to make a Deluxe version to give more players the opportunity to experience the game while allowing Nintendo to make the money they deserved for the effort.
Well, first off, Mario Kart 8 sold roughly 8 million units on the Wii U despite the system only selling around 13 million units. That’s a pretty good payoff, though it’s still true that many would be missing out on the game, and if you couple that with the necessity of the Switch to have a strong showing right out the gate, porting it makes a lot of sense. But pretending like a Smash port would be in the same situation is just mistaken.
Smash 4, unlike Mario Kart 8, wasn’t just confined to the Wii U; two separate versions of the game released, with the other being on the 3DS. The 3DS version sold nearly nine million copies whereas the Wii U version sold around 5 million. The 3DS version alone outsold every Smash game sans Brawl, and combining the two results in the highest selling edition of Smash. It’s not like the game hasn’t gotten proper exposure; plenty of people have played the game already thanks to its release on the 3DS. And while yes, the two versions have different stages, they’re still two versions of the same game, with the same characters and engine.
Now let me point out, just for the record, that yes, I’m convinced that a port of Smash 4 would mean that the Switch would not get a dedicated Smash title down the line. These have always been a one-per-system sort of thing, and if a Smash Deluxe generated about as much revenue as your average Smash game, I doubt they’d see any reason to give the system a proper Smash title rather than hold off until their next console. And at that point we’d be going nearly a decade between Smash games; people asking for the port may not be tired of Smash 4 now, but they damn sure would be by then.
The most important point to keep in mind, however, is that a Smash port just plain isn’t necessary. The Switch has already gotten its foothold in the gaming sphere. It absolutely dominated Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and is projected to outsell the Wii U by the end of the holiday season, a mere nine months after its initial release. The Switch doesn’t NEED a Smash port to stay afloat. It’s already a roaring success. It would be better to spend the next few years working on a new Smash game to help beef out the system’s library and generate hype during its middling years, because as of right now the Switch is not lacking in games.