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Moto no saya - by Anthadd

Moto no saya

Mere weeks ago, at E3 2006, the world was wowed by trailers for the newest entry in the Super Smash Bros. series, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Much of the wowedness derived from the new characters, particularly Kirby's nemesis Meta Knight, Parthena's faithful angel servant Pit (from the Kid Icarus games), and relative gaming mainstay Solid Snake (obviously, from the Metal Gear series).

Since then, developer Sakurai Masahiro has published various thoughts on the development of Brawl on a website for the game. These thoughts have been published. One of these thoughts set off a storm in the Super Smash Bros. fandom. Particularly, and I'm loosely quoting from memory, that not all characters from Melee would return in Brawl.

Naturally, people hoped to hear of the removals of Pichu, of one or both of the Fire Emblem Lords (typically Roy, whose insertion was allegedly to promote his game, but less commonly Marth), of Dr. Mario, although all these characters still have their supporters. However, to be honest, I think that if that was an accurate quote, one of the non-returning characters will be Ness.

Seriously. As far as I can tell, there was a time during the development of Melee that Ness wasn't in it. Quoting from his profile on Sakurai's Smash Bros. website for Melee: Jitsu wa tousho, MOTHER3 no shujinkou ni henkou suru yotei deshita ga, iroiro atte toomawari shinagara, moto no saya ni osamarimashita.

Translated, roughly, from Japanese, that is: "By the way, at first we planned to alter him [Ness] into the main character of Mother 3, but after various detours, we settled on the original shell."

This can be read one of two ways. The first, and in my opinion less likely, reading is that they planned on changing the hero of Mother 3 from whoever it was during its development on the Nintendo 64 to Ness. I see this as the least likely reading because the profile was written, if not by Sakurai, by someone working closely with Sakurai. Although at the time Sakurai was still affiliated with HAL, and that incarnation of Mother 3 was developed by HAL, I'm rather sceptical that Itoi would've assented to HAL making the change.

This is because very few images of Mother 3 (N64), especially as far as the early images went, indicated that there would be a direct connection between Mothers 2 and 3. Meanwhile, Mother 3 was nestling in for a rather long stay on Famitsu's most wanted games list. The only complaints about Mother 3's lack of a direct connection came from the other side of the Pacific (cf. "stoopid cowman!").

Furthermore, in an interview with Mycom Inc., the following exchange occurred:

Question: So the story of Mother 3 was done two years ago?

Itoi-san Actually, it was much longer ago than that.

Although this interview was not explicitly dated, a later reference in it to "last year's Spaceworld" suggests that it followed a year in which a Spaceworld was held at which Mother 3 was shown. The most famous such Spaceworld was Spaceworld 1999. This is helpful because about a year after that Spaceworld, Mother 3 was cancelled. Consequently, this interview appears to have been conducted in the first half of the year 2000.

As such, in response to a question asking if the game's story had been completed two years ago (some time in 1998), Itoi said that he'd completed the story before that. But even in Japan, the first Smash Brothers had only been released in January of 1999. Why would Sakurai (or his ghostwriter) comment, out of nowhere, in a Super Smash Bros. Melee profile, on plans for another game, plans which ended up abandoned? Especially when that other game's storyline had been completed, at best, while development on the original SSB was just beginning?

The second reading is this: Sakurai and his team had planned on replacing Ness with the hero of Mother 3 in Melee. However, there were various detours that caused them to instead settle on moto no saya (the original shell). Consider the following: SSB was released in Japan in January 1999, and Melee was released in late 2001 in Japan. What happened approximately midway between the release of SSB in Japan and of Melee in Japan? I'll present it as if it were the final round in Wheel of Fortune. The category is "Event".


**T*ER 3 **S
**N*ELLE*

RSTLN E


I expect that the cancellation of Mother 3 was the last detour Sakurai's team had to go around before they settled on using Ness again, and the rest of those detours were the innumerable delays. In other words, the only reason Ness was in Melee was because Mother 3 was cancelled. If it had been released when it was supposed to have been released, in 2000 or so, Ness would've been a one-Smash wonder, because the main character of Mother 3 would've replaced him.

And to be honest, now that Mother 3 has in fact been released - even though an extra-Japonic release seems unlikely, and even though Sakurai has stated that he'd like to avoid Japan-only characters in Brawl (the SSB series now having become a global phenomenon) - I suspect that the original plan for the Mother series' representative in Melee will be followed through with in Brawl.

But before you say "Co-exist?", I have to say that it would be difficult to do so, especially as Sakurai has reportedly expressed interest in diversifying clones, and it would be difficult to put both Mother 3's hero and Ness into Brawl without ending up with a clone, a useless character, or a broken character.

You'll probably also say "Why not another main character?", but I've noticed that an overwhelming trend in the SSB games is that if a game/series has only one representative in an SSB game, that one representative will be the main character of that game/series, or (in the case of Captain Falcon and most of the Pokémon) the most popular characters in that game/series.


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