What If Scenario: Smash Bros. 4 and a Gender Balanced Roster

I was going through the Miiverse looking at Masahiro Sakurai's posts (or, rather, some random intern at NoA who writes these) about the upcoming Smash Bros. 4 and ran across this:

To celebrate the launch of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds in Japan, Zelda joins the battle!! It's great to see so many female characters this time around.

So many female characters, eh? I thought for a moment and realized that there have been four female characters in the series: Princess Peach, Princess Zelda (and her Shiek alter ego), Samus (and her Varia Suit-less form), and Nana, one half of the Ice Climbers team. That's it. Over 15 years and 3 games. Sure, you could argue that some of the Pokemon are hinted as being female (Jigglypuff has a ton of stereotypically female accessories in their alt colours), but that's about it.

So far, Smash Bros. Wii U and 3DS has 22 announced characters, two of those being new females to the roster: Wii Fit Trainer and Rosalina. So if you ignore that you can also play as a Male Wii Fit Trainer, the roster is a little under a quarter female. It's an improvement, but I doubt it's going to stay that way once the roster is complete.

Then again, there aren't a ton of female characters in Nintendo's history and having a gender equal roster wouldn't really allow for the big favourites to have their time to shine.

Or would it?

I started digging through lists, wikis, and databases for Nintendo female characters. I started to think of it as a challenge:

Could a Smash Bros game have equal female & male characters and still have roster that people could be happy with?

I took a crack at it. Whether I succeeded or failed is up to you. But first let's lay some ground rules:

1) 50 characters would be an incredibly satisfying roster to see out of the new game, so I used that as a cap/goal.

2) I had to use all the characters that were announced. No replacing Mega Man with Volnutt or anything like that.

3) For our purposes, there are three categories for genders: Male, Female, and Other/Both. What I mean by "Other/Both" is any character that is considered genderless (see: Mewtwo), is both (see: Ice Climbers), or has a version of the character that is male or female (see: Wii Fit Trainer). That last one is important. The idea of swapping genders makes this list possible and, although its unreasonable to assume that Nintendo would make this many changes (due to the cost of extra voice acting, etc.), I'll defend it by just saying this is just a thought experiment, not an actual expectation.

4) The goal is to have equal number of Male & Female characters. Characters that fall under "Other/Both" just fill out the roster around them.

5) Characters are determined by slot, not by being a different character. Ex. Ice Climber is considered 1 Other/Both character, not 1 female and 1 male, and Shiek/Zelda is considered 1 female character. If Zelda/Shiek were split into two slots and could not switch from one to the other reliably, then they would be considered 2 female characters.

6) Only one more Third Party character is allowed. It sort of defeats the purpose when you can just add a ton of female characters from companies like Namco, Capcom, Konami, Sega, etc. Plus, with Megaman and Sonic already in the game, it's unreasonable to think there could be many more.

So with that all figured out, let's look at this hypothetical roster!

List items

  • #1 - Mario

    Gender: Male

    Series: Mario

    Status: Announced

  • #2 - Peach

    Gender: Female

    Series: Mario

    Status: Announced

  • #3 - Mario

    Gender: Male

    Series: Mario

    Status: Announced

  • #4 - Rosalina

    Gender: Female

    Series: Mario

    Status: Announced

  • #5 - Bowser

    Gender: Male

    Series: Mario

    Status: Announced

  • #6 - Samus

    Gender: Female

    Series: Metroid

    Status: Announced

  • #7 - Link

    Gender: Male

    Series: Legend of Zelda

    Status: Announced

  • #8 - Zelda/Shiek

    Gender: Female

    Series: Legend of Zelda

    Status: Announced (Zelda) & Not Announced (Shiek)

    Note: Despite not being announced, I highly doubt Shiek will be going anywhere. I fully expect them to change between each other freely.

  • #9A - Female Wii Fit Trainer

    Gender: Female

    Series: Wii Fit

    Status: Announced

  • #9B - Male Wii Fit Trainer

    Gender: Male

    Series: Wii Fit

    Status: Assumed (costume swap)

    Note: He has only ever appeared in one screenshot and his existence has not been clarified, but I am basing this entire list under the assumption that he is a costume swap of the Female Wii Fit Trainer soooooo....

  • #10 - Villager

    Gender: Other/Both

    Series: Animal Crossing

    Status: Announced (Male) & Not Announced (Female)

    Note: If there is a Male Wii Fit Trainer, there should be a female Villager. Just sayin'

  • #11 - Pikachu

    Gender: Other/Both

    Series: Pokemon

    Status: Announced (Male) & Not Announced (Female)

    Note: Pretty much the only Pokemon in the Smash Bros. series we can determine the gender of. The slight physical differences between the genders of this species of Pokemon could added in (relatively) easily.

  • #12 - Lucario

    Gender: Other/Both

    Series: Pokemon

    Status: Announced

    Note: No physical differences between genders for Lucario. Despite the species having a 7:1 male to female ratio (how does that even work?), I'll assume Lucario can be either gender.

  • #13A - Marth

    Gender: Male

    Status: Announced

    Series: Fire Emblem

  • #13B - Lucina

    Gender: Female

    Series: Fire Emblem

    Status: Not Announced (costume swap)

    Note: Everyone's favourite Marth doppelganger (early Fire Emblem: Awakening spoilers oops). Her thin disguise didn't last long anyway, but it's convincing enough for her to be slotted in for a gender swap costume role.

  • #14A - Olimar

    Gender: Male

    Series: Pikmin

    Status: Announced

  • #14B - Brittany

    Gender: Female

    Series: Pikmin

    Status: Not Announced (costume swap)

    Note: The perpetually hungry Brittany is the only playable female character in the Pikmin series. She could easily work as a costume swap.

  • #15 - King Dedede

    Gender: Male

    Series: Kirby

    Status: Announced

    Note: Here's where the list starts getting tricky. There are no more females announced. Nor are there male characters that could easily swap genders. So its all new female characters from here!

  • #16 - Zero Suit Samus

    Gender: Female

    Series: Metroid

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: It's not uncommon in fighting games to have one character fill two slots with two completely different playstyles. Ryu & Evil Ryu. Akuma & Oni. "Drunken Master", "Spiritual Master", and "Project A" Jackie Chan. I see this as the same thing. Remove Zero Suit's dependency on Samus and give ZSS her own slot.

  • #17 - Donkey Kong

    Gender: Male

    Series: Donkey Kong

    Status: Announced

  • #18 - Dixie Kong

    Gender: Female

    Series: Donkey Kong

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: The better half of Donkey Kong Country 2, anything Diddy can do Dixie can do better. A lot of Diddy Kong's moveset can just be given right to Dixie, like his bananas and normals, but Dixie would have more maneuverability and recovery potential.

  • #19 - Pit

    Gender: Male

    Series: Kid Icarus

    Status: Announced

  • #20 - Palutena

    Gender: Female

    Series: Kid Icarus

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: Sakurai loves putting his characters into Smash. I'd be shocked if she wasn't announced.

  • #21 - Toon Link

    Gender: Male

    Series: Legend of Zelda

    Status: Announced

  • #22 - Tetra

    Gender: Female

    Series: Legend of Zelda

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: Why? Because Tetra's a badass. A moveset based around her pirate skills would be siiiiick.

  • #23 - Kirby

    Gender: Male

    Series: Kirby

    Status: Announced

  • #24 - Jill

    Gender: Female

    Series: Drill Dozer

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: An unorthodox choice. Drill Dozer is a now long forgotten GBA game made by Nintendo and Game Freak. I envision a playstyle that is sort of like Tron Bonne in the Marvel vs. Capcom games.

  • #25 - Fox

    Gender: Male

    Series: Star Fox

    Status: Confirmed

  • #26 - Krystal

    Gender: Female

    Series: Star Fox

    Status: Not Announed.

    Notes: GUUUUUHHHHH. I hate this character. I hate everything about her. Sure, she could easily have an interesting playstyle and is really the only significant female Star Fox character, but she's boring, barely relevant, and designed to be nothing more than "pandering".

    Still, I think she could make a for a good replacement for Falco, having a completely new normal moveset, but maintaining some of the special attacks here and there. I just wish there was a new Star Fox game with better female characters so we wouldn't have to rely on Krystal.

  • #27 - Mega Man

    Gender: Male

    Series: Mega Man

    Status: Announced

  • #28 - Bayonetta

    Gender: Female

    Series: Bayonetta

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: Nintendo gave this character another chance and I think she could actually do pretty well in a Smash Bros game. Remember how they had Solid Snake in Brawl, but never gave him a gun? I think they could probably do the same thing with Bayonetta and her losing her clothes- hair- whatever. Still have the giant feet and punches, redesign her character to be slightly more conservative (because Nintendo), and throw in a torture device or two, and I think you have some great marketing to ensure Bayonetta 2 is a success.

  • #29 - Sonic

    Gender: Male

    Series: Sonic

    Status: Announced

    Note: No, I wasn't desperate enough to include a female Sonic character. The less we look at those character beyond the blue hedgehog himself, the better.

    Also, the last announced character on this list!

  • #30 - Jigglypuff

    Gender: Other/Both

    Series: Pokemon

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: Much like Lucario, Jigglypuff is very likely to be one gender (though female, in this case), I'm still going to not make assumptions and say Jigglypuff can be either. Even if it's wearing an adorable sun hat.

  • #31 - Gen VI Pokemon Trainer

    Gender: Both/Other

    Series: Pokemon

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: A Gen VI Pokemon Trainer that works similarly to Pokemon Trainer in the last game, but with a male and female model. Preferably having a team of Chespin/Braixen/Greninja.

  • #32 - Ice Climbers

    Gender: Both/Other

    Series: Ice Climbers

    Status: Not Announced

  • #33A - Ness

    Gender: Male

    Series: Mother

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: Could be replaced with Lucas. Don't really care either way, though I don't think both will, or should, return.

  • #33B - Kumatora

    Gender: Female

    Series: Mother

    Status: Not Announced (costume swap)

    Note: Kumatora is a fantastic character from Mother 3. Being a PSI user, she can use all of Ness's abilities, though it would be a little weird seeing her use Ness's smash attacks. She works better as a Lucas costume swap, but whatever.

  • #34 - Jenna

    Gender: Female

    Series: Golden Sun

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: AKA The Token Golden Sun Character. Golden Sun is a huge deal to a lot of younger Nintendo fans, being the first JRPG many people played. Even though the last game wasn't very good, I think it's time to have a playable character.

    And preferably not another spikey-haired sword-wielding male character. This series has enough of them.

    But why Jenna? I think she's probably the most important, memorable, and recognizable female character in the series. Plus, it would be cool to have a completely magic focused character in Smash for once (although Zelda got pretty close in Brawl).

    I wouldn't be too upset if another Golden Sun character took her place, though (Sveta might be cool).

  • #35 - Wario

    Gender: Male

    Series: Wario

    Status: Not Announced.

  • #36A - Kat

    Gender: Female

    Series: Wario

    Status: Not Announced

  • #36B - Ana

    Gender: Female

    Series: Wario

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: Wario does a good job representing his Wario Land self, but there needs to be some Warioware characters in Smash. And out of the Warioware cast, I think Kat & Ana could work exceptionally well.

    These twin child ninjas would work best if they worked together as a single character. Unlike the Ice Climbers, they wouldn't be able to separate and shared their damage %, but they would instead be able to attack multiple angles at the same time. Kat & Ana would be high damage, low vitality characters that could dish out a ton of damage to multiple foes, but get destroyed if they slip up.

    Sort of like how Meta Knight worked, but without his insane ability to recover and overpowering moveset.

  • #37 - Yoshi

    Gender: Male

    Series: Yoshi

    Status: Not Announced.

    Note: People freak out about Yoshi not being announced yet. I say, wait until Yoshi's New Island launches in Japan. You'll see him make the roster then.

    Also, remember I'm talking about the character Yoshi, not the species.

  • #38 - Birdo

    Gender: Female

    Series: Mario

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: There's been a small bit of debate on the internet on whether Birdo is female, transgender, or crossdressing. I'm just going to sidestep that and go with whatever answer you think makes her fall under the Female category.

    Again, like Yoshi, I'm talking about the character, not the race.

  • #39 - Captain Falcon

    Gender: Male

    Series: F-Zero

    Status: Not Announced

  • #40 - Kachi

    Gender: Female

    Series: Sin & Punishment

    Status: Not Announced

    Notes: Not the most well known character and she's from a pretty niche series. Both Sin & Punishment games, however, are highlights in Treasures already fantastic gameography and, while I'm usually all for developers keeping the rights to their characters and universes, it helps that Nintendo owns the rights to everything Sin & Punishment.

    Now, there are a lot of badass Sin & Punishment characters, but Kachi is the only character to play a vital role in both games in the series. She has similar capabilities as the rest of the series's playable cast, but also has the strange powers of the Outer Space faction, shown throughout her appearance within the first game, that she can make use of.

    Also, she has a kickass hoverboard.

  • #41 - Ganondorf

    Gender: Male

    Series: Legend of Zelda

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: Hopefully this time they put a little thought into his moveset.

  • #42 - Midna

    Gender: Female

    Series: Legend of Zelda

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: Ever since Melee, three of the main roles of every Zelda game have been filled, but have always missed out on the fourth reoccurring position: the partner that guides the hero. Considering other partners include a boat, a sword, a fairy, and a hat, I kinda understand why.

    Midna, on the other hand, is a character that has unlimited potential within this type of fighting game. She has a ton of abilities within Twilight Princess that aid Link's exploration of Hyrule and combat with its dangerous inhabitants. I know there are a lot of Legend of Zelda characters on this list (and I debated adding even more), but Midna's movelist practically designs itself.

  • #43 - Chrom

    Gender: Male

    Series: Fire Emblem

    Status: Not Announced.

    Note: Pretty easily replaces Ike, though a costume of him would be pretty cool.

  • #44 - Robin

    Gender: Female

    Series: Fire Emblem

    Status: Not Announced.

    Note: Here's where I'm cheating a bit by putting a character that could easily be either male or female as a female character only. Sorry. I couldn't really justify another female Fire Emlbem character (ex. Eirika & Micaiah are too obscure, Lyndis would play too much like Marth, Lissa & Mist don't really work as Smash Bros. characters), but Robin/My Unit/Avatar from Fire Emblem: Awakening would be incredibly interesting. Mixing the brain and brawn aspects of the series, Robin would add an unique magic & sword based combat to Smash Bros. Somewhere between Zelda and Marth, Robin could make an effective, light-weight long range and short range attacker.

  • #45 - Little Mac

    Gender: Male

    Series: Punch-Out!!

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: I think we've all wanted this one for a while. If Street Fighter could make two boxing characters work, I don't see why Smash Bros. couldn't make Little Mac work.

    Also, one of the only new male-only characters on this list.

  • #46 - Sami

    Gender: Female

    Series: Advance Wars

    Status: Not Announced

    Notes: Another character I'm slightly cheating on, as it could easily be Andy instead. I always loved the idea of having a projectile based Advance Wars character kicking butt with their normal attacks and sending out mini units as their special attacks. Think Peacock's bombs from Skullgirls or Strider's animals from Marvel vs. Capcom, except planes, jeeps, tanks, bombers, and infantry. While pretty much any CO could fill this role, Sami is the most recognizable female character from the series.

  • #47 - Shulk

    Gender: Male

    Series: Xenoblade

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: More males with swords, but the unique powers of the Monado gives Shulk a lot of potential.

  • #48 - Calista

    Gender: Female

    Series: The Last Story

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: Another character from the unofficial "Rainfall" trilogy, Calista is kinda interchangeable with the rest of the cast in the game, but she is a lot more recognizable than the two other females. The unique way that magic is used and the acrobatic way combat can play out makes any Last Story character a lot more interesting than just another character with a sword.

  • #49 - Ridley

    Gender: Male

    Series: Metroid

    Status: Not Announced

    Note: One of the most anticipated and asked for characters in the history of Smash Bros, Ridley plays an important role in the Metroid universe and has a history of memorable battles with Samus. Some say he would be too big to be a playable character, but just look at how big Bowser typically is in a Mario game and it becomes silly to think he couldn't be shrunk down. With powerful claws, tail, wings, jaws, and the ability to breathe fire, Ridley all the tools necessary to be a big body, big damage character.

  • #50 - Medusa

    Gender: Female

    Series: Kid Icarus

    Status: Not announced

    Note: Have to admit, I kinda ran out of ideas at the end. I settled on Medusa purely due to Sakurai loving the hell out of his characters and Viridi already being shown as part of a 3DS stage. Phsosphora would be also be cool to see, but a lightning only character is kinda covered by Pikachu being there. But Medusa has a lot of potential as a character. She uses a ton of projectiles, has the ability to turn opponents to stone, and even detach her head from her shoulders and move independent of it ala Ms. Fortune from Skullgirls. Like Ridley, she could be a big body, big damage character, a unique position as compared to the mostly dainty females that have been in Smash Bros. games up until now.

  • BONUS - Miis

    I tried to get Miis on the list so they kick some ass with the skills they've picked up from various Mii-enabled gamess, but I'm mostly just using this as a platform to announce the results:

    20 Male characters.

    20 Female characters.

    10 Other/Both/Genderless/whatever.

    Comment below and tell me how I did! Do you think I got it spot on? If not, who would you swap out to make this list better?