This site translates some of Sakurai’s interviews and details his criteria for third-party characters in Smash. Here’s the criteria:
“Manga characters will not join the battle (obviously).
- While it’s true that we’ve added characters from other companies,
It’s not going to be anyone and everyone.
Smash is a game that’s made from everyone’s effort.
- Both companies have to want the character to join the battle.
I need them to let me take charge of the character.
In order to fit the character into the world of Smash, I need them to allow me some artistic license.
- The character must carry game history with them.
Besides that, it might be something like a courtesy to include a character who has the experience of being on a Nintendo platform.
It seems that the only real criteria is that the owners of the character allow Sakurai a good deal of artistic licence (given the sort of game Smash is, that’s reasonable) and that the character needs to carry “history” with them. Given that, I’d say the current 3rd parties in Smash:SonicMegamanPac-ManRyu from Street Fighterand now Cloudall fit those criteria.The artistic licence part is not something to ignore either–given that Sakurai is Japanese game industry veteran, it makes sense that he would have a lot of connections and friends in many notable Japanese game companies. I imagine having those sorts of connections can make the legal and creative parts of getting third-parties into Smash a great deal smoother.I think you’re also ignoring the fact that a lot of Smash fans grew up on Nintendo and Playstation systems, which tended to be dominated by Japanese games. Western games come from a PC tradition. A lot of fans of Japanese games are simply not interested in Western games or characters, and thus don’t request Western characters. And Sakurai does take fan requests seriously. Little Mac, for instance, was added purely due to Western fan requests–the Japanese didn’t even recognize him! That’s what Cloud is–a fan request. He’s been one of the more popular requests since third-parties in Smash became a thing.My point is, I don’t think Cloud being in Smash is some conspiracy to export Japanese culture–it’s just fulfilling a fan request.PS: There actually is Western character in Smash already–Diddy Kong, who was created by Rare.PPS: I actually agree with you that Nintendo is trying to export the current culture of Japan. There’s one point I’d like to make on that regard. When I think of Japanese culture, I think Samurai, bonsai gardens, woodblock prints, Kurosawa films, etc. That sort of stuff has never been particularly popular either, but at least it has value. Modern Japanese culture is completely degenerate–every anime and anime-esque video game from Japan nowadays is practically soft-core porn, and it’s always filled with a really effeminate “cuteness” that’s always more annoying and unnerving than cute. Really, the only way I think Japan can survive is there is a total crackdown on Japanese “culture”.
Your link says: “In Brawl, Sakurai said he hoped to include certain important game characters who had appeared on a Nintendo console as a “courtesy” while still maintaining the freedom to alter said characters for the needs of Smash.” After E3 2006 with the Snake reveal, Sakurai also said in an interview that a criteria for third party characters is that they have a game on the Nintendo console. Snake had Metal Gear with the NES (as well as some games on the Gamecube). Sonic was selling best on Gamecube anyway.
But the actual reason why Snake was added was because Kojima asked Sakurai to do so. These guys are all buddy buddy there. This was not a market decision. This was a ‘my friend wants it, so OK!’
The reason why I point this out is to highlight that they would do the same for their ‘other friends’ in Japan.
Even back when the Wii was released, Iwata defined one of Nintendo’s mission statements to be to export Japanese culture to the world. This ignores the fact that most of Japan’s video game culture was designed in a way to appeal to the West. Donkey Kong comes from a Western movie of King Kong. Space Invaders comes from Star Wars. Mario is a plumber from Brooklyn. Metroid is from Aliens. Etcetera.
PS- Diddy Kong doesn’t count as it is Nintendo’s IP. Miyamoto was a producer on Donkey Kong Country if I remember correctly.
Remember PlayStation All-Stars Battle-Royale? Sony made their own Smash Brothers. Clearly, Sony saw Smash Brothers as a ‘Nintendo character game’ and spent millions to make their own game. Cloud could have come from fan demand, but that still doesn’t make business sense to Nintendo to include him. He comes from Sony’s game. The FF7 Remake is exclusive to PlayStation 4.