If it isn't clear enough from the journal title, this is about the announcement of Cloud Strife as another DLC character for Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U... I was going to write this journal yesterday following that announcement, but I needed a lot time to gather my thoughts... not of excitement as some but of utter disbelief and disappointment. I was trying to brush this off as when I first heard of Ryu's arrival on the smash roster; but this one... I can't ignore it and I feel it necessary to share my thoughts and observations of the situation the Smash community now faces...
First and foremost, I'm not trying to start some flaming debate, whether you agree or not to my observations is entirely up to you and I won't decide that for you; but, this inclusion deserves some needed reflection. Right Now. Given that the reveal has likely cleaved and sent the entire internet/ miiverse/ smash community into unimaginable chaos, everything afterwards will likely add to the instability regardless, but my two cents on this must be shared...
A short trip backwards before the main discussion... in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Snake himself was a very contentious choice. From how I saw it and some others have observed, is that Snake was far too realistic than any other character to grace the roster at the time. I took the whole experience as the Frank Grimes episode in The Simpsons, where Hank Azaria voiced a real life-like person entering Springfield and having to endure the many hardships, struggles of everyday work and life only to be completely overwhelmed by the bizarre environments he is forced to interact with, accepting all their notions of logic and normalcy. Then Ryu appears, and while he doesn't have that strong of a realistic tone that Snake portrayed in the previous entry, my main gripe was that Ryu himself is in ENOUGH Capcom Crossovers already, making him feel very worn out and doesn't exactly spur out nostalgia as I have attributed to the Smash games over the years. Not to mention that Smash Bros. as a series was meant to give characters not commonly associated to fighting games, a chance to be in a fighting game. But I will give the Smash dev team props for using the same sound effects and the same palette swap colors as his selection back in Street Fighter II: (insert version/ release) on the SNES, and I did chuckle at the Congratulations Credit Image with Little Mac that wonderfully referenced the end match dialogue scenes in the SNES Street Fighter II matches.
Now we come to Cloud Strife and I was constantly saying in my mind over and over again: WTF. Now Smash Bros. as in previous entries was undoubtedly a celebration of Nintendo's History and Legacy, evidenced by the first game's redirection into a game that pits iconic Nintendo characters against one another, to Melee's expanded roster and introduction of the trophy system, to Brawl's larger roster, more trophies and introduction of stickers and the masterpiece collections; all of which hold vital memories of the respective franchises as an homage to Nintendo. While Snake certainly doesn't have a strong foray of game titles on Nintendo platforms, at the very least he was a prominent character in Metal Gear (NES), Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (aka Snake's Revenge, NES), Metal Gear: Ghost Babel (GameBoy Color), Metal Gear: Twin Snakes (GameCube), Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater (3DS), and even DreamMix TV World Fighters (GameCube). Ryu hasn't distanced himself from appearing on Nintendo platforms whether it is through his home series, Street Fighter or via a Crossover like Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom, so his inclusion was merited and Snake's as well held reasonable strength (aside from Hideo Kojima reportedly begging Sakurai to add Snake in Smash Melee at the time). Cloud on the other hand, has merely secondary appearances in Kingdom Hearts: Chains of Memories (GBA), Kingdom Hearts: Re:Coded (DS), Final Fantasy Theatrhythm and the sequel Curtain Call (3DS), as well as being a upcoming costume/ skin in Final Fantasy: Explorers (3DS). In comparison to Snake and Ryu having at least sturdy branches to intertwine their inclusions, Cloud's has mere twigs that hardly suggested his addition was imminent; which is why, (arguably universally) everyone was caught off-guard by this Nintendo Direct and has managed to shatter the somewhat stable threshold of Smash Bros. community into disarray.
Final Fantasy 7 was never even ported nor released on a Nintendo platform and it was THE major turning point in then Squaresoft severing ties with Nintendo, making this decision both all the more questionable and controversial. And for the record, I've played all of Final Fantasy 7 (www.youtube.com/playlist?list=…
), including all the sidequests. This game is nowhere near the breadth and engrossing story that I experienced playing Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI. So I don't see the appeal of that game that many revere so highly, but Cloud would never have been my choice as a Smash character regardless given the passage of history and facts surrounding Nintendo and Squaresoft soured relations. While many have been hammering for a Final Fantasy character to finally grace the Smash roster, many were expecting a Black Mage, Chocobo, Moogle, Warrior of Light, Cecil Harvey or Terra Branford, but certainly not a character who has little to no prominence to Nintendo's history; personally between Cecil and Terra, I felt that Terra would've gotten more favorable attention given Smash 3DS and Wii U's larger ratio of female Smash characters compared to previous entries.
Now some may argue that Cloud IS representing Final Fantasy as a whole and there could not have been a better choice; but that's not a valid way of thinking. Final Fantasy 7 since its debut has done what few franchise entries has been able to accomplish... spawn into a franchise of its own and subsequently becoming even more profitable than the mainstream series it grew from. If it's any indication, Final Fantasy 7 Compilation is literally a plethora of purely FF7 games and other medias of that entry's universe alone and validates this distinction. I believe Square tried to do the same with Final Fantasy XIII but it continues to struggle to secure a dedicated fanbase, following and success similar to the scale that FF7 had rallied. So Cloud is NOT representing Final Fantasy as a whole, instead he solely represents Final Fantasy 7 and only Final Fantasy 7; if he didn't, then that Nintendo Direct would've slowly faded from "Super Smash Bros. 3DS and Wii U" to "x" to JUST "Final Fantasy", but instead it faded to "Final Fantasy VII" clearly indicating a complete disregard to Final Fantasy's actual history with Nintendo. It's most likely because of this that many (and eventually) myself labelled his inclusion as an insult and based purely on popularity alone that may or may not have been influenced by the Smash Ballot that ended back in October. If the intent was to represent the entirety of Final Fantasy, then Warrior of Light should've been the TRUE new addition AND represent Final Fantasy as a Whole similar to his role in the Final Fantasy Dissidia series. Remember that if not for Hironobu Sakaguchi's supposed swan song of a game release on the original Famicom/ NES, Final Fantasy might not exist nor even exist the same today as we see it now, so Warrior of Light has more inherent meaning and history to Nintendo than Cloud had assembled in the few, minimal times he was remotely exposed on Nintendo platforms. In many circumstances, it seems that any other addition within the first 6 Final Fantasies would've been deemed more appropriate. If Cloud appeared merely as a Mii Swordsman outfit, the internet probably wouldn't be in the frail state of recovery it currently is in.
I've had a few people I spoke to, believe that this may be a prelude to the upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake. Great Idea, let's promote a game NOT destined for a Nintendo console... Great Idea. Now some may raise the idea that this MAY come to NX (or Wii U) in the future, despite being labelled as a PLAYSTATION 4 title; however, that's a VERY far stretch and I would never buy that kind of logic; a more appropriately opportune, coinciding announcement would deem Cloud's addition more justified, but as of now, it holds no water outside of purely popularity rather than relevance to Nintendo. The announcement isn't going to happen anytime in the near future; the remake is still in early stages of development, the capabilities of the NX is still unknown, and the Wii U alone may not be able to handle the graphical requirements for the remake. Making this very difficult to validate and a very poorly timed precursor if it really was to promote the remake to a Nintendo platform.
If this is purely to increase sales and/ or profits... and it probably is... then they might as well NOT give Cloud Ominslash as his Final Smash, and instead he summons the entire FF7 Crew on Highwind to blow up the entire stage... because EVERY crossover Final Fantasy 7 was included in, greatly inflates their presence more than any other Final Fantasy, so you MIGHT as well go ALL OUT.
However you may observe this situation, there are more things wrong with this inclusion than there are positives and the reality is that this sets the wrong precedent for future roster additions. Whether any of these discussions and/ or reflections generate some re-examination from the Smash dev team to more thoroughly consider the next Smash addition (given the teaser following the Cloud announcement) is up in the air, but I've shared my thoughts, and I felt better letting it out.
*It's my guess that given the character selection menu limitation (on the 3DS especially), that they may incorporate a secondary menu like they did for stages, and in this regard... who else could appear since it appears that Ryu was NOT the last Smash character of Smash 4? This also raise the question as to when... if ever... will Smash 5 be in the works? One last thing... where the hell are the custom moves for DLC characters, are they seriously delegated to nothing?RELATED ARTWORK: