By Andrew Mathieu / November 14th, 2015
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.
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’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.
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.
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 StrifeFinal Fantasy VIINintendoSquare EnixSuper Smash Bros.