Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Ryu’s Smash Bros. debut is an example of Nintendo’s refreshing approach to DLC

Illustration for article titled Ryu’s Smash Bros. debut is an example of Nintendo’s refreshing approach to DLC

Welcome to our weekly open thread for the discussion of gaming plans, nagging questions, and whatever else we feel like talking about. No matter what the topic, we invite everyone in the comments to tell us: What Are You Playing This Weekend?


While I was away at E3, Nintendo was busy dropping a massive downloadable add-on bomb full of fighters, stages, and silly Mii costumes for Super Smash Bros. For Wii U and For 3DS. You can purchase each piece individually, but if you feel the need to buy everything, it’ll run you either $20 or $30, depending on whether you’re buying for one system or both. The bulk of that comes down to the price of the three new combatants: Lucas from Mother 3 (AKA the Japan-only sequel to EarthBound), Roy from the Fire Emblem series, and Ryu from Street Fighter. Roy and Lucas are fine additions. They’ve appeared in past Smashes—Roy in Melee and Lucas in Brawl—but they’ve been tweaked to fit into For Wii U’s lovingly balanced roster.

Ryu, though, is a completely new creation, and there’s a good reason why he comes with a higher price tag than the other two—besides being bundled with a new (and beyond boring) stage. The team behind this DLC put incredible care into translating Ryu’s Street Fighter repertoire to Smash Bros. His attacks, their properties, and the ways certain strikes can be linked together into combos are pulled straight from various Street Fighter games, right down to the way his “Collarbone Breaker” punch nets you two hits on an opponent, or the way you double-tap left or right to dash out of a “Focus Attack” mid-charge. You can throw out a wimpy fireball just by pressing a button—the simplified Smash version of the command—or use the classic “quarter-circle forward” motion from SF for a hadoken with more oomph. (That same logic applies to his other special moves as well.) He’s an ingenious hybrid of two distinct games, and as a fan of both series, I have to admit, it’s turned me into a giddy little kid again.

I never expected Nintendo to turn out a new addition this meticulous and clever, but in retrospect, I shouldn’t be surprised. Compared to every other game company, Nintendo is new to this whole “downloadable content” thing. It wasn’t until 2012 with Fire Emblem: Awakening and New Super Mario Bros. 2 that it really started experimenting with ways to make you pay to add new stuff to old games. It’s amazing that it took them this long to capitalize on 2006’s hottest trend, but by hanging back to observe the highs and lows of DLC and formulate its idiosyncratic approach, Nintendo has worked out a respectable and exciting strategy for this often-slimy corner of the industry (outside of that whole Mercedes-Benz thing).

It’s no different from the usual Nintendo philosophy, really: Take your time and make it shine. The amount of care going into each new Mario Kart 8 track and Smash Bros. combatant is enough to breathe life back into these games, even all these months after their release. It’s why I’ll be karate-chopping fools into the dirt this weekend with Ryu. What will you be playing?