Quick note before I get into my column: Shrek sucked. Hard. Granted, maybe it's because I was lucky enough to skip most of the banal animation films that have come out over the last few years, but this was truly one of the worst animated films I've seen in a long time. It may have had the production values of a big screen animated film, but everything else was on a Disney Channel Original Movie level. It's just sad. There's already a 4th planned, going back to Shrek's origins, hopefully that new focus will be a fresh spin that's badly needed. Also, I know the big news of the weeknd was all about Starcraft 2, but I don't know what I could say on the subject since RTS is one of my least favorite genres and I haven't really logged much PC game time since Oblivion.
Anyways, if you're any kind of Nintendo fan, you know that arguably the biggest game coming out this year (and arguably for the existence of the system if done right) is Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The Smash Bros. series is essentially any nerd's wet dream come true, all those questions of "would X beat y? in a fight?" can finally be answered (at least involving any of Nintendo's mascots, anyways). Now, it's still most likely quite a few months off, but the official website is "launching in 1 day. What does this mean? Hopefully that most of our questions will be answered, but more likely it'll be a minimal thing at best. But regardless, I figure this is a good time to list the top ten characters I think should be included in the game. I tried to include mostly non-Nintendo characters, ones that I think would fit, and that I think have a realistic chance of appearing (in other words, though Ratchet & Clank would be awesome, since they are Sony property, they will not appear on this list). So without further ado:
10. Little Mac
Admittedly, Little Mac isn't the most obvious fit given that he's simply a pugilist without any special tricks or powers (which is why he's not higher on the list), but it's his iconic status that get him a much deserved spot in this list. Punch Out is still one of if not the best boxing games ever made and it's ability to stand the test of time when most VC releases don't hold up very well solidifies him as a top choice. My suggestion: Keep him a short range character, but with incredibly powerful attacks and a whole lot of speed. Again, it would be tricky to make him work properly, but if anyone deserves the effort, it's every gamer's favorite underdog.
Though the real stars of his latest game are most definitely those psychotic rabbits, Rayman is a big reason for Nintendo's resurgence in the game market and has been a mostly solid presence in the platformer genre as well (Rayman 2 is still one of the best platformers of all time), so why not give the star of what is the Wii's biggest 3rd party title a shot at duking it out with Nintendo's elite? He has lots of natural abilities that fit right in, and arming him with plungers/a plunger gun would make him a very versatile character.
The TG-16's hard-headed hero is a perfect addition to the roster. His head-butts are already a great smash move in themselves, and his various abilities granted by eating meat (along with being able to change into certain costumes that give him other abilities could easily be incorporated, making him one of the more formidable newcomers.
Arguably the only character that's as iconic as Mario, Pac-Man is probably the most deserving character on this list by mere status alone. Like Little Mac, it may be difficult to come up with a fitting move list, but I'm sure the programming geniuses at Hal Laboratory can figure out how to properly fit in the guy that really helped start this whole wacky video game craze.
6. Simon Belmont
The original vampire hunter seems to have more or less retired since his NES & SNES adventures, so what better way to bring him back than on the Wii's flagship fighting title? He's already got a ridiculous arsenal of moves, and I know we'd all love to see Simon take on Samus since they basically copied off each other for years until Metroid made a move to 3D. Castlevania was synonymous with Nintendo for a long time and any fan would love the opportunity to test him out against the likes of Nintendo's best.
5. Earthworm Jim
There might be characters who are better suited to the style of gameplay, and possibly even more deserving with a better iconic status, but I'll take Jim's straight out insanity over those any day of the week. Part of the charm of Smash Bros is the utter ridiculousness of such a concept, and that's why Jim would fit in so well. His gun toting insanity would be a great match up against any of Nintendo's roster (and maybe being able to somehow include his sidekick Peter Puppy). And if included, they must use the EARTHWORM JIM THEME SONG whenever he is selected!
4. Toejam & Earl
The funkiest aliens to ever grace a console, ToeJam & Earl are exactly the type that fit right in with this crazy concept. They could even be a tag team like the Ice Climbers, but I'd rather see each be his own character. They could still have the same moves (Tomato Bazooka, rocket skate charge, etc.), but obviously have roughly the same differences they had in the first game (cause really, that's the only one worth mentioning), where TJ is the quick one and Earl is the strong one. These guys would be a tremendous addition to the lineup and I hope Nintendo and Sega see it that way as well.
3. Mega Man
Simply put, the blue bomber made a name for himself on Nintendo. He's tried to go with other systems, but it's never regained the glory of his 16 & especially 8-bit years. That fact should be recognized with a slot in Brawl. He'd be arguably the most versatile fighter on the roster if given the right weapons (note, most if not all of them should come from Mega Man 2!), and is probably the #2 most wanted choice among fans. If Capcom can slide one character into brawl, there is no other choice.
Bomberman is so high on this list cause he's such a seemingly obvious choice. He's been around nearly as long as any longtime mascot, and he remains a timeless symbol of fun & simple gameplay, which is what Nintendo and the Wii are striving to be synonymous with. Plus, with his various bombs, he's able to cause chaos. Lots of chaos. A key element to the Smash Bros. games is chaos, what with random things from umbrellas to laser guns to pokeballs pooping up randomly to use. A guy throwing all kinds of bombs all over the place would greatly add to that chaos, and in a good way. Bomberman always seemed most at home on Nintendo systems, that sentiment should be certified with a spot in Brawl.
This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Sonic has been a fan demand since Sega stopped making consoles. Execs at both Sega & Nintendo have slyly hinted that this is something they would like to see happen, and whenever an interview about anything Nintendo or Sega is doing comes up, even if the project has no relation, you'll see the interviewer try to worm it out of the interviewee. Sonic is the closest thing Mario has had to a serious rival for the gaming throne, and while he's certainly fallen on hard times, there's nothing like including him in Brawl to help him & gamers relive his glory days. It won't be a deal-breaker, but lots of fans will certainly be disappointed if Brawl comes out and the blue blur is nowhere to be seen.