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Thank You Mr. Sakurai

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From a fan’s perspective, one of the most important qualifiers for a character to join the prestigious Smash Bros roster is deservedness. In the lead-up to the announcement of what would be the final Smash Ultimate character discussion amongst fans of the series seemed to settle on four major contenders that were seemingly universally agreed upon as being deserving. While Waluigi, Master Chief, and Crash Bandicoot have all left their own unique mark on the industry, it was Kingdom Hearts’ Sora that would take the final bow for one of the most beloved fighting games in history.

Criteria to be considered deserving of a spot on the Smash roster change from person to person but there seems to be a few things that make everyone’s list. Considering Smash has superseded its original form and become more of a celebration of gaming than a fighting game most fans agree that to be deserving of a spot on the roster a character must possess a certain level of popularity in the gaming zeitgeist. Despite the long wait for Kingdom Hearts 3, the impression that Kingdom Hearts has had on the medium will almost certainly never fade. Sora’s adventures through some of Disney’s most iconic animate movies accompanied by Donald and Goofy touched many children’s hearts. The franchise finally married rock-solid mechanics, great design, and Disney’s invaluable IPs in a way that had never been achieved by the previously licensed tie-in games. 

While Sora was extremely well-deserving of the final roster spot, he wasn’t the only one that fans felt was. Crash Bandicoot has long garnered support from fans for his being the second mascot platformer to really give Mario a run for his money. For the entire first generation of PlayStation Crash was synonymous with the brand and with his already built-in move set it is understandable why so many fans thought he would be an appropriate choice. Mario completely embodies everything that is Nintendo making it impossible to think of one without the other and to that same degree Master Chief is totally intertwined with the Xbox brand. Despite his being relatively more grounded in reality, Chief’s success running in lockstep with the Xbox even more so than Sonic’s did with Sega makes him an obvious choice for an invite. And finally, Waluigi. Since the introduction of Smash Ultimate fans have been clamoring for Waluigi insisting that the fourth Mario brother would eventually see his day in the sun. Waluigi had everything going for him but unfortunately in a world of limited supply to satisfy limitless demand his appearance just wasn’t in the cards. It goes without saying that Nintendo had plenty of great characters to choose from and working within these four it was impossible to make a wrong choice.

Over the years series director, Masahiro Sakurai has been extremely transparent and forthcoming about his intentions to leave the franchise behind after each entry. Some records dating all the way back to the early 2000s shortly after the release of the second game in the series indicate Sakurai was feeling as though he wanted to be done with the franchise. Since the reveal of Ultimate and its incredible scale fans have pondered as to what the future of the series might hold. Considering Ultimate includes every stage and character the series has ever offered a sixth entry in the series would have no choice but to scale back to some degree. This reasonable line of thinking has led many to the belief that Ultimate will be not only Sakurai’s curtain call but a final Smash for the entirety of the series. 

Sora’s addition to the game will undoubtedly be a good one. Despite not being everyone’s first choice, nobody argues the characters or the Kingdom Hearts franchise as a whole’s deservedness to be included. It may be a bit sad to see some characters left off the roster permanently, but the game’s current roster cannot possibly be considered anything less than Ultimate. Thank you for everything you’ve done Mr. Sakurai, you’ve earned a long and wonderful retirement.

News writer and Xbox reviewer. Patrick lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with his wife and their dog Ghost. Patrick studied economics at the University of Northern Colorado and is particularly interested in the market dynamics of the video game industry. When he's not working Patrick can be found walking Ghost through downtown MPLS, binging The West Wing on repeat, or playing hockey. Follow Patrick in everything he does on Twitter @TheLawMorris or on YouTube by subscribing to ColdNorth Productions, you can see everything he does independently at www.coldnorthpro.com.

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