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SSBM: Nintendo's Atomic Test Ground - by Sephy

SSBM: Nintendo's Atomic Test Ground

A lot of excitement in the Nintendo/GameCube community has been focusing on Smash Bros. Melee, the comic beat-em-up that comes as a sequel to its N64 predecessor. Although my acquaintances� general opinion is that Smash Bros. Melee is an excellent and involving game, the game itself serves a much more important purpose to Nintendo. Smash Bros. Melee is Nintendo�s nuclear testing ground, a place where different characters can be introduced to the gaming public. By seeing which characters create a sensation, Nintendo is able to decide where to focus its resources, and ultimately which games to release.

Take Marth and Roy, for example. They have never been in a U.S. Nintendo game. However, in Japan, they were popular in the game Fire Emblem. Nintendo's inclusion of Marth and Roy in Smash Bros. Melee allows it to see how U.S. audiences react to them. If the reaction is positive, Nintendo may decide that it is wise to bring those characters and their game to the U.S. Nintendo would not include these two characters to fill up space. It would be far too obscure, provided that Nintendo is trying to connect fans to more games through Smash Bros. Melee.

Ness, who appeared in the N64 edition of Smash Bros., returns for another season. The game Earthbound (SNES), in which Ness was the main character, is as old as 1995, but HAL Laboratories has not discarded Ness in Smash Bros. Melee. This could be due to a number of reasons. Ness could have been included because he is tied to HAL Laboratories, the same company that worked with Earthbound. HAL could have saved a lot of time and hassle in using one of their own characters. Another possibility is the prospect of bringing Ness back on the GameCube. A sequel to Earthbound was planned for N64 but was cancelled, partially because of the failure of the 64DD.

The Ice Climbers are even more intriguing. Their first and only game was released in 1985. Surely sixteen years would have placed them in obscurity. So why have they reappeared in 2001 for Smash Bros Melee? It is certainly logical to say that Nintendo is toying with the idea of bringing them back on the GameCube. An Ice Climbers game may already be in stages of development on the GameCube. If it is not, Nintendo may be watching the fans' reaction to the Ice Climbers, trying to decide if an Ice Climbers game would be popular enough to be profitable.

Smash Bros. Melee's proximity to the GameCube launch gives Nintendo some time to decide which characters will create a sensation in the gaming community. Ultimately, popular characters equate to higher profits for Nintendo. Although Smash Bros. Melee is an excellent game, its function as a testing ground for characters is very important. Surely we know that characters from Smash Bros. Melee have confirmed titles in development already. But it's the little known characters, the obscure ones, that will determine the fresh faces in GameCube titles in the many months to come.

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Sephy n00b Forum Guide
7/31/06 0.00


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