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Super Smash Bros. Nintendo Direct: the power and the passion

Friday, 11th April 2014 07:58 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Tuesday’s Super Smash Bros. Nintendo Direct set the internet alight. Rocket-heels, standing dinosaurs, delays and gender-bending – will the fighter’s fanbase ever recover? Brenna recounts the dramas.

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I’m only partially on board the Smash Bros. train, but you can’t be a video game journalist and just pretend Nintendo doesn’t exist (although the Wii U’s making a spirited bid to change that oooooooooh yeah I said it). The amount of hype Smash Bros. produces is intense; it’s no wonder Sony tried to get on board with the sadly received PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (good work putting out an update on Smash Bros. Nintendo Direct week, Sony).

Watching every new reveal from a slight outsider perspective is amazing. Nintendo fans are notoriously outspoken but every little drip of Smash Bros. news causes tidal waves of ripples across the internet as we all go mad howling with delight and/or rage; which appears to depend on the phase of the moon, or possibly which direction the wind is blowing.

If you missed the Super Smash Bros. Nintendo Direct, I encourage you to watch it below – but here are my highlights, recapping the drama and passion of the hour the internet held its breath.

3DS version to release soon, Wii U pushed back to Christmas

This is one of those heartbreakers. Of course you want Nintendo to take as long as it takes, and given Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai’s chronic injury, delays are easily forgiven. But this is one of the games Nintendo fans have been waiting for since the Wii U was first announced, and given the console’s fortunes in the interim, it’s no wonder the further wait has produced reactions from quiet dismay to roaring rage and every extreme in between.

The 3DS version is looking really great, though, right? The exclusive Smash Run mode looks like a lot of fun, and Sakurai’s assurance that the game runs at 60FPS – except for the trophy assist cutscenes – is more than welcome, especially given the fighter’s stereoscopic 3D support. It’s going to have full multiplayer support, too, although Sakurai’s plea that you find a decent connection suggests Nintendo’s well aware how flaky network support can be killer.

The official release windows are northern summer for 3DS and northern winter for Wii U; Super Smash Bros. Wii U might just be one of these year’s hottest holiday titles, which will be a good boost for Nintendo. Meanwhile, with any luck the Super Smash Bros. 3DS hype will carry Nintendo through E3 season. There’s an upside, see?

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Zero Suit Samus
If you were anywhere near gaming this week you probably heard the news: Nintendo has put two forms of Samus on the roster, and one of them wears high heels.

The reason Samus appears twice is because characters no longer change forms mid-battle. “So where has Zero Suit Samus gone?” Sakurai asked, or something very like it.

“Away forever?” I asked hopefully. “Since her existence is a stain on an otherwise impeccable franchise and the things Team Nina did to one of our most beloved female protagonists still make many hardcore series fans deeply uncomfortable even as they acknowledge the qualities of the game in general?”

No such luck, alas. She’s now an entirely separate fighter.

“Sakurai, apparently unaware that it is 2014, argued that without her powersuit, Samus isn’t strong enough to fight off her opponents.”

This is where shit gets kind of ridiculous. Sakurai, apparently unaware that it is 2014, argued that without her powersuit, Samus isn’t strong enough to fight off her opponents. (In the world of Nintendo, the idea of women being as powerful as men is still so far-fetched and fantastical that it simply cannot stand, despite the fact that one of the other cast members is a pink blob that swallows things and appears to have no skeletal structure. A male blob, by the way.)

So in order to make Samus a decent rival to her many foes, Sakurai’s shoved her in jet shoes. This is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous even before you notice the shoes have high heels. The heels take it from “ridiculous over the top video game nonsense” to “okay, now you’re just being offensively silly”.

Well, on the bright side, you know – two Samuseseseses. Your opinion re: Samus’s heels has now become a dagger-drawing matter, but please comfort yourself with this charming illustration from Bee & Puppycat creator Natasha Allegri on the subject.

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More highlights from the Super Smash Bros. Nintendo Direct on the next page.

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14 Comments

  1. dj

    Hi Brenna. I signed up for an account just so I could comment on this article. :)

    I disagree with your thoughts on Zero Suit Samus. While Team Ninja/Yoshio Sakamoto (mostly Sakamoto) may have not made the best design decisions regarding Samus for Metroid Other M, Sakurai is mostly doing the opposite. I don’t know why he kept the boots design as high heels, but he does not view Samus as weak simply because she’s female. Zero Suit Samus, by canon, only has her stun gun and not her full power suit.. thus, she’s much weaker physically! He wanted to change her recovery, so he gave her jet boots for that move. The boots also “power up” her design by the way they appear in all of her kicking attacks. This is what I believe he meant in that statement.

    You can see he doesn’t seem to think too much about her gender based on the way he showed Little Mac fighting her in his trailer. At least, these are my thoughts on that.

    #1 4 months ago
  2. polygem

    hmmm, i am having huge issues with games that oversexualize women and reduce them on being a weaker human being. huge problems with these things. in a game where blobs, foxes, dinosaurs, overweighted plumbers, ninja frogs, angels etc. fight against each other….the fact that a sexy (yet strong and self confident) lady with high heels is also part of the roster really isn´t an issue. this isn´t sexism. it´s a completely different issue than with the senran kagura burst game which is build around the idea of letting women fight for you and then undress during that process, revealing their unrealistic proportions. zero suit samus is just as sexy character in a videogame. i don´t think it is necessary but i don´t think that it´s really problematic. this whole business has a problem with sexism though, not only nintendo. but then, don´t only focus on all the female characters in games too much – also look at all the male stereotypes this industry creates game after game after game. that´s something people seem to forget as well. stuff can be sexist even withought the representation of female protagonists by creating stereotypes that, in the bigger picture, promote chauvinism and sexism.

    #2 4 months ago
  3. Michael Ireland

    The high heels aren’t sexist. But they are stupid.

    #3 4 months ago
  4. polygem

    @Michael Ireland
    i 100% agree with that!

    #4 4 months ago
  5. fihar

    Who cares about Samus?

    I can pit Greninja against Lucario now, woohooo!
    Charizard who?

    Seriously though, thank God this is also coming for the 3DS because that trailer for Greninja was one of the best things I’ve seen today other than Joan Jett and frickin’ St. Vincent filling on for Cobain.

    #5 4 months ago
  6. POOhead

    You argued as if samus wasn’t a girl already

    #6 4 months ago
  7. salarta

    I was going to wait to say this, but what the hell.

    The high heels put on this “Samus” are more sexist than the real Lara Croft’s original and iconic costume ever was. See, it’s not the fact that Samus is a woman wearing high heels that makes it sexist. It’s the fact that 1) it’s Samus wearing high heels, and 2) the high heels are part of her combat design rather than her simply wearing them at a social function.

    Let me put it this way. Lara Croft wearing skimpy clothing became such a big sticking point to people that it was treated like enough justification all by itself to redefine Lara into a completely different character that doesn’t fit her at all. If the reboot “Lara Croft” were to get another game and it involved her wearing high heels for the whole game, there would be complaints up the ass from the very same people that eagerly slurped up the reboot. If high heels would be wrong for the current “Lara Croft,” then they should be wrong for Samus Aran too.

    #7 4 months ago
  8. fearmonkey

    man…Samus has some sweet stripper shoes now ….wtf

    They need to edit those to be more z-coil like, less stupid.

    #8 4 months ago
  9. macromanjr

    “Away forever?” I asked hopefully. “Since her existence is a stain on an otherwise impeccable franchise and the things Team Nina did to one of our most beloved female protagonists still make many hardcore series fans deeply uncomfortable even as they acknowledge the qualities of the game in general?”

    …Considering that Samus gained considerable fame for being revealed as female in the first place… I love Metroid. One of the best science-fiction franchises ever. Solid gameplay, particularly with Super Metroid. One of gaming’s best. But seriously, you’re fooling yourself if you would claim that Samus’ femininity WASN’T much the attention-gainer to the series. Back when Metroid was new, the talk of among guys was that not only was the game fantastic, but the character turned out to be a chick. You can’t pin this all on Team Ninja–the sexual appeal of Samus has been a part of Metroid legacy from the start.

    (Though, personally, I’m not much a fan of Team Ninja’s rendition of Samus, either, but it has to do more with the foreign gameplay and overly-cinematic aspect with an entry of the Metroid series with Metroid: Other M, more than their gratuitous portrayal of Nintendo’s first bombshell beauty, Sex appeal sales, and males are the overwhelming majority of this franchises target audience–I get it. Kinda unnecessary, but still, I’m not going to act all offended over it.)

    This is where shit gets kind of ridiculous. Sakurai, apparently unaware that it is 2014, argued that without her powersuit, Samus isn’t strong enough to fight off her opponents.

    Considering that Samus doesn’t fight without her Power Suit, they’re probably just giving her some enhancements to validate her as a separate fighter.

    By the way, when will folks stop fallaciously bringing up the year in such sociopolitical matters, as if to claim that with enough time, general human nature is going to simply disappear? It’s 2014, and the public’s only gotten more politically-correct, as it’s gotten a lot easier to appear as such publicly. It doesn’t mean deeply-ingrained values are any more standing within society’s whole. People are just as shallow, pretentious, crude and groupthinking as they’ve always been, and projectively always will be.

    (In the world of Nintendo, the idea of women being as powerful as men is still so far-fetched and fantastical that it simply cannot stand, despite the fact that one of the other cast members is a pink blob that swallows things and appears to have no skeletal structure. A male blob, by the way.)

    Don’t be such a blatant feminist here.

    You’ve conveniently chosen to ignore Princess Peach, Princess Zelda (and by extension, Sheik), and the new additions of Rosalina and female Wii Fit Trainer. Not to mention the original power-suited Samus. All of these female characters can hold their own in the game against any male character, and Nintendo even went as far as to make the female and male Wii Fit Trainers with the same moves and strengths.

    By the way, Kirby is a pink blob that swallows things and appears to have no skeletal structure, who within context of his series, can turn into various material structures, swing heavy mallets twice his size, and fly by inhaling air. His context of character was already fantastic and outlandish.

    While Super Smash Bros. itself is fantastic and outlandish, the characters stay in tuned to their original context. Even Solid Snake back when he was included in Brawl stayed in character for the otherwise outlandish game. That’s the appeal of the game–series context versus series context, in a non-serious free-for-all context.

    Being that Zero-Suit Samus bears little (no pun intended) prior context as such within the Metroid series, some imagination is giving towards her abilities. Since the bulk of her abilities rely chiefly on the Power Suit, they emphasized her flexibility and her sex appeal. She has little to draw on in terms of prior context as to why she can double-jump, so they added the jet shoes.

    I myself would’ve preferred they gave her some jet boots rather than heels, but still, it’s rather a stretch just having her as a playable character. Honestly, I can’t complain. Since the average gamer of this series is a 25-30 year old male, and people like the novelty of alternative characters, and since so much of the Wii U’s success is riding on the success of this and only a few other key games, they went for maximizing appeal here more than anything.

    You could’ve instead just made it a valid point that Zero-Suit Samus had no prior context of being a character much to begin with, and thus little relevance as an playable character, but you didn’t. You choose a feminist route of making an argument.

    Oh, and pointing out that Kirby is male did absolutely nothing for your point. That point wouldn’t have made a lick of difference if he were male or female–Kirby would still be staying in character in context to the Kirby franchise. You merely tacked it on in a typical feministic fashion, appealing to emotion.

    So in order to make Samus a decent rival to her many foes, Sakurai’s shoved her in jet shoes. This is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous even before you notice the shoes have high heels. The heels take it from “ridiculous over the top video game nonsense” to “okay, now you’re just being offensively silly”.

    Silly? Sure. “Offensively silly”? Only if you take offense. Hate to say it, but in this world of expression, who cares much about whom they offend? They’re not in the business of sparing your feelings. They’re in the business of making games that make money. If you don’t want to be offended, simply ignore the character in the game. It’s not like you would have to express repulse every single time you see the character. Growing up near gang violence, I’m not particularly fond of gang-violence games–I don’t have to put effort towards minding it all the time. If one likes Saints Row, I’m not going to give them flak for it. People are going to like what they’re going to like.

    And even being a woman as you are, this isn’t a degradation towards all womankind, which is a common argument to this issue. It’s an instance of someone sexualizing a character for their game (and not too far off the mark how much many young women sexualize their own selves, mind you). Many women always act like something of an exaggerated nature with a female character is an attack to the nature of all womankind. If you’re going to be so readily offended by this, maybe I should be offended by men in the movies always being more handsome, physically-fit, idealized white guys than most men in reality will ever be. But I can’t be offended here, since I frankly don’t much care.

    Furthermore, you should know that I as a male simply do not take the exaggerated nature of female characters within a completely fictitious virtual world as some sort of measuring stick towards women in reality. I never look at Zero-Suit Samus and think, “Man, why aren’t more women built or dressed like her?”

    Games are a context of complete fantasy, where one can enjoy an experience where they simply won’t get in reality, and often times, probably shouldn’t. Some fantasies can cross a serious line, but sexualization of women isn’t always necessarily one of them. Since males are the majority of the core gamer market*, and since women are a chief topic among our fantasies, and since most developers are male, is it any surprise that such sexualizing of women in games are still so rampant? You earlier brought up that it’s year 2014, as if you’re surprised to see this logic and we should be beyond this by now, but why should the year 2014 truly change this from being reality? Nothing has changed about general male human nature.

    *(And sorry–I don’t care for misleading reports and polls that always include Facebook games and Angry Bird-esque mobile games as counting female gamers as “half” of gamers–something closer like approximately 30% of console owners are female and about 40% of hardcore PC gamers are female, according to one report from Entertainment Software Association. Women are increasing among the core gamer demographic, and I’m in love with a woman who games even more than I do, but generally-speaking, the majority of this game’s demographic and market is predominantly male)

    Perhaps we could stand to have less usage of such a cheap sex appeal and relying on more thoughtful character design, but there’s no sense in complaining about every case of it. Especially with women writers on gaming news publications, who all seem to point it out almost every time a game exhibits it. It’s just as annoying as how you find with the over-sexualized portrayals of women. This is nothing new, and it’s not changing any time soon.

    #9 4 months ago
  10. Legendaryboss

    ^ Wow!

    Topic: The high heels are Sexist? No. Silly and pointless is what the high heels are representative of.

    #10 4 months ago
  11. macromanjr

    @macromanjr Crap, that was longer than I had intended it. Oh, well. I meant every carefully-weighed word. Minus the typos.

    #11 4 months ago
  12. macromanjr

    @Legendaryboss You want to know what’s funny?

    If men portray women in games as dressed in sexy attire, some (though not all) women will complain of it being sexist–even if many young women dress in much the same sexy manner themselves and some women prefer sexy women in games (half the women at conventions dressed as sexy game characters attests to this).

    If men (say, male government officials) were to tell those same women to cover up more decent attire in public places (such as, forbidding the absurdity that is topfreedom, or simply telling nursing mothers that perhaps in this sick world, it’s safer to find somewhere private to breastfeed), many of those same women will complain of it being sexist.

    Such the conundrum of agenda.

    #12 4 months ago
  13. Legendaryboss

    @12
    That is an interesting and good comparison.

    #13 4 months ago
  14. Gekidami

    You know what would be great?: Not having Brenna push her dumb feminist agenda down our throats literally over nothing. Take that crap to Tumblr, readers didnt click on this article for you silly over reaction.

    But anyway, on topic: Make transformations into separate characters, nice way to artificially boost the roster. The bottom of the barrel is being scraped so hard, its now got holes in.

    #14 4 months ago

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