OPINION: The Significance of Cloud in Super Smash Bros.

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

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Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

In one of the most surprising trailers to end a Nintendo Direct, Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII became the latest playable character in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. This is surprising for at least one big reason: outside of appearances in games like Kingdom Hearts on GBA and DS and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy on 3DS, Cloud has never appeared on a Nintendo system in as big a way as this. This unprecedented entry marks the first time a Final Fantasy character (or any Square Enix character, for that matter) has appeared in Super Smash Bros.

While there was plenty of elation, confusion, joy, and a little bit of sorrow at the inclusion of the spiky-haired wonder, I want to try to sum up why this is such a big deal. As most of you know, Final Fantasy VII debuted on the original PlayStation, which marked the first time the series launched on a non-Nintendo game system. Final Fantasy VII would go on to become one of the best-selling games on PlayStation, as well as one of the most popular RPGs of all time.

The Nintendo 64 may have missed out on Final Fantasy VII, but it did birth a new franchise of its own — Super Smash Bros. Featuring 12 of Nintendo’s most revered game characters together for the first time, it launched a series that would grow and evolve into one of gaming’s most beloved crossovers. With Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the floodgates were opened to third-party characters for the first time. With the inclusion of Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid and Sonic the Hedgehog, fans went over the roof at the thought of other, non-Nintendo characters in this beloved franchise.

Mario, Mega Man, Pac-Man, and Sonic

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS is certainly no slouch when it comes to guest characters. The reveal of Mega Man at E3 2014 sent people to the moon and back again. At the time, Capcom had been severely downplaying the Blue Bomber following the departure of Keiji Inafune. Nintendo giving Mega Man some much-needed time in the spotlight was a win for both fans and Smash Bros. players alike. With the eventual inclusion of gaming godfather Pac-Man and fighting game juggernaut Ryu from Street Fighter, it was looking like everyone’s wildest dreams of guest characters in Super Smash Bros. had been fulfilled. Until…

Cloud Storms Into Battle

Cloud’s surprise announcement of appearing in Super Smash Bros. is like a dream come true. It’s something that seemed like such a cool idea, but only that: an idea. As cool as it seemed, Cloud just seemed impossible. Final Fantasy VII was a PlayStation game, and despite ports and re-releases on PS3, PSP, PS Vita, PC, and a PS4 port and the upcoming Remake, the game has yet to grace Nintendo platforms. Yet in the end, none of that really mattered.

Cloud and Link

With Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS apparently being the final series game from director Masahiro Sakurai, he promised that the game’s post-launch content would be about fan service. With Cloud’s inclusion, along with an alternate costume from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, a Midgard stage and music from the games he hails from, I would say Sakurai has delivered. Not only did the trailer show off some cool attacks and flashy specials for Cloud, it had fun with his reveal. We got to see a kooky Chocobo costume, a homage to a familiar scene with Zelda and Cloud, Cloud stealing Wario’s wheels, and even a tribute to Final Fantasy VII’s final battle.

Cloud and Zelda

I know not everyone is unanimously happy about Cloud’s inclusion over any number of Nintendo characters who have yet to grace the franchise or even other third-party characters with presence on Nintendo consoles and even other Square Enix characters, such as those from Bravely Default. That’s understandable. Super Smash Bros. is the quintessential video game crossover series, and each new entry brings hope for someone’s favorite character finally getting in. While Cloud’s inclusion is sure to cause a lot of debate — as well as excitement — it’s a pretty significant inclusion for fans of Super Smash Bros., Final Fantasy VII, fighting games and RPGs alike.

Cloud in Super Smash Bros.

About Andrew Mathieu

My name is Andrew Mathieu. I'm a college student and I work part-time in my home state of Connecticut. I'm working towards being a writing and host three blogs on WordPress about animation, comic books, and video games. I hope to one day be able to write comic books and voice my opinions about my favorite fields of entertainment.

  • Fooey

    Personally, I’m not a huge fan of this. I’m fine with third party characters if they made sense, like Sora because of CoM and DDD, but Cloud I think is just there simply because he’s mega popular. I find it funny that he’s in Smash Bros and not PSABR.

    Off topic, but I still want my Bayonetta in Smash Bros…

    • British_Otaku

      I completely forgot Sora in my list of potential inclusions from Square Enix… I’m sure if each publisher gets a second third party character that none of them will use the same franchise twice.

      Sora from Kingdom Hearts has a really good shot, to the point I could see him being confirmed from December’s direct into next year.

      Snake was also in Smash Bros despite not being in Playstation All Stars, the two series have their own limitations and vetting processes.

      Off topic, I want Wonder Red and Bayonetta.

    • tokotamer

      Sora doesn’t count as a Square Enix rep. He and the rest of the original characters in Kingdom Hearts are solely owned by Disney and getting their approval would likely be a lot more complicated. It’s certainly not impossible, though.

      If SE gets another character in it would most likely hail from Dragon Quest in order to pay homage to the Enix side of the company.

    • Pedro Rosas

      If we are to go by the company’s most popular character then I say Cloud is Square’s most iconic character, not Sora, not Cecil and certainly not Moogle, its Cloud.
      What I see Sakurai doing at this point is including the characters that helped forged gaming to what it is today and I can guarantee Belmont and Snake would be in if it wasn’t for Konami being the bitch it is.
      Now which other 3rd party can we expect? I have no clue but pretty sure Sakurai will deliver (hopefully Hayabuza since KOEI is relevant and is bros with Nintendo)

  • British_Otaku

    Honestly disliked Bravely Default a great deal to the point of it being one of my most hated RPG experiences but even without that, I’d pick Geno (Super Mario RPG), Crono (Chrono Trigger) or someone from FFVI despite finishing none of those games based on their legacy with Nintendo.

    Quality is a bonus for those three. I’m fine with Cloud personally since he reflects the possibility of guys who only have crossover appearances but lots of potential with a great publisher making it in. Perhaps a generic Black Mage might work too but if Cloud could be picked from the FF franchise, take him so we can settle the Link vs Cloud battle properly.

    Those GameFAQs polls didn’t count.

    • TachyonCode

      I think the thing you’re overlooking with your Black Mage suggestion is that the mage characters were never depicted by Squeenix as being action-based characters. Smash Bros is an action-based game, and for the most part, any caster who can’t wield or become a blunt instrument at melee range is unsuitable for Smash Bros’ gameplay. Cloud makes the cut for precisely two reasons: one, that we have seen him in games with action-based gameplay (as opposed to *just* turn-based), and two, we have seen him in action in a major animated 3D film – there’s lots of material to work with.

      As for the other suggestions… Geno was never a main character, and Nintendo and Square never sought to resurrect the setting from which he hailed (no mention of Smithy, or Mallow, or any of the SMRPG-unique characters or setting elements has ever resurfaced in an official game). My guess for why is that this would prove a legal hassle – but if you also consider the fact that Geno’s spread of combat options in his original game was severely limited and we basically never saw him move, this makes him one of the most limited candidates imaginable for inclusion in Smash Bros. (This is also roughly why characters from FFVI don’t make good candidates, too, although *they* at least have already had representation in Dissidia.)

      Crono at least has a bit better representation, as a character from a game with complex animations in combat – but despite this, he never even made it into even Square’s own original fighting game, Ehrgeiz, or any Squeenix crossover game (e.g. Kingdom Hearts).

      You can’t say the same about Cloud, who has been featured in basically *all* of Squeenix’s crossover games. To boot, Cloud is already a long-running *and* official fighting game character, and has made repeat appearances in the Dissidia franchise *recently*. Alongside these appearances, his prominent appearance in Kingdom Hearts means he has the most exposure to worldwide audiences already out of any Squeenix character or franchise.

      It only made sense for them to include Cloud in Smash Bros, if they were going to include *anyone*. But perhaps we’ll see more Squeenix-owned characters make an appearance later on, now that Cloud’s kicked down Nintendo’s door. At least, here’s hoping.

  • Seis Siete

    I honestly don’t like that Cloud was chosen to represent Square Enix because FF VII was not a huge Nintendo title. Granted I’ll still download him so my complaint is voided but it would have been nice to see somebody else get in.

  • To my mind, there might be a sequel. Cloud Strife in SSB might mean the beginning of Cloud Strife or Final Fantasy-related events on Nintendo supports. Will Final Fantasy finally go back home, a home it has left after Final Fantasy VI? Will it be old games (original or remastered)? New games (FF XV)? Will Final Fantasy VII Remake be released on NX?

    • Ragunaxl

      FF VII remake on NX would be great!

  • TrueWiiMaster

    As the first SSB character to never have his game on a Nintendo system, Cloud’s announcement suggests to me (and it might just be optimistic thinking) that the FF7 remake will be coming to a Nintendo system, probably the NX. We do know, after all, that Square Enix has the NX dev kit, and is working on DQX and XI for for release on the NX.

  • ConanThe3rd

    My money is down on the following for Smash Direct Dec.

    Final Non Poll Newcomer – Shovel Knight – Starting Field

    Japanese Poll Rep – Son Goku (if not Cloud) – Budokai Tenkaichi Arena

    US Poll Rep – Shantae (You laugh but WF have pressed that to the high hells even after the furore ended) – Scuttle Town Market

    PAL Poll Rep – Banjo Kazooie (Helped by Spencer’s comments back in Apr) – Grunty’s Castle Top

    Mii Costumes to come with all five new comers

    Final Stage announced; A “Danger Room”. A Battle field format that randomly throws elements from the previous stages. One moment, the mom from wario ware, the next Odin bisecting the stage.

    Custom Music Via USB Stick.

    NX Verison announced with Version Parity for Digital Download though a significant discount (Effectivly works as an paid expansion ala the mario kart dlc)

    Super Pack Annonuced for all the DLC Up to this point.

  • Ragunaxl

    Cloud is a summon of sorts in final fantasy explorers, coming in January. End of tie-in. It’s reasonable now to hope for a cloud amiibo down the line. If it happens good luck finding one. End of any real significance, sorry.

    • Dominick Wheeler

      Cloud amiibo IS coming. Sakurai already said that all Smash Bros fighters get amiibos.