Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is not a retro game. That is the opposite. We are months away from the December 7 release to Switch. But Nintendo's upcoming battle game gives retro players a great gift: It shows us what could have been with some favorite characters.
Earlier this month, Nintendo revealed Simon Belmont of Castlevania and King K. Rool of Donkey Kong Country as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are the latest characters. They are stars from 8-bit and 16-bit epochs. They are also both characters that have not received modern makeover.
Konami does not work with new Castlevania games. It does not work on many console games at all, really. The Japanese publisher has moved his focus mobile. Castlevania is famous for its 2D action game, which does not fit perfectly with touchscreen. Not what will stop Konami from trying, but I have little faith in the fact that a mobile Castlevania game can work. Konami's mobile shift means that we have not seen Simon, the biggest star of the franchise, for a long time. We last saw him as one of the playable characters in 201
Both of these games are old. More important, they are forgotten. Even for their times, they did not have the kind of production values you would hope for in the Castlevania game. They were on systems with limited hardware and contained gentle 3D characters. Also designed by Simon in these games felt, left the medieval look of its original character for something more anime.
Super Smash Bros. shows us what a modern interpretation by Simon Belmont can look like. It is a version based on his original look in Castlevania box art. And it looks amazing.
This is the version of Simon Belmont I have wanted to see for many years and we can only get it because of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
The same goes for King K. Rool. He was the last boss of the original Donkey Kong Country trilogy for Super Nintendo and for Donkey Kong 64 on Nintendo 64, but we have not seen much of the big guy since. Donkey Kong Country got a revival with newer games Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, but King K. Rool is not in them. So what would he look like in a high-end modern game?
Thanks to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, we know.
King K. Rool has never seen more animated, scary and detailed. It brings this character to life in a way that only our imagination could come back in the 90's.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a haven for characters discarded by time or circumstance. It's like The Island of Misfit Toys, but this is a good home for these video game heroes and villains. That is why I want to see other characters, such as Super Mario RPGs Geno, in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Does Geno have a chance to stare in his own game or appear in a new Mario RPG? Not really. But he is far more likely to appear in Smash and gives me the satisfaction of seeing one of my favorite retro figures shine in modern triple-A glory.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is not just a celebration of Nintendo. It's a unique form of desire for retro players like me.
RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at the game's past, dives into classics, new retrotitles or looks at how old favorites – and their design techniques – inspire today's market and experience. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you want to send me, please contact me.