About a week ago, during a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct presentation, it was revealed that five more playable fighters will be added to the game’s roster post-launch as paid DLC. Who these fighters will be, however, has yet to be revealed. What we do know is that as of yesterday (November 6), the DLC roster has already been determined, and that all of the DLC fighters have been decided by Nintendo, rather than by fans, as was the case with the DLC fighters for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. Given this information, as well as some other things we already know about the game, we might be able to guess which characters could potentially be added as DLC.
For one thing, it’s probably pretty safe to assume that no character who is currently an Assist Trophy will become playable. While this isn’t a set law of the game or anything, and game director Masahiro Sakurai could certainly make an Assist Trophy character playable if he wanted to, it seems very unlikely that he would make developers Bandai Namco and Sora Ltd. work to make certain characters Assist Trophies, only to end up making them fully playable later. Considering Nintendo won’t be considering fan input this time around and will instead be deciding the DLC fighters themselves, it would appear to be much more probable that they’ll go with characters who aren’t already represented in the game in some way. Again, Assist Trophies not becoming playable characters isn’t a strict rule set by Sakurai or anything, but it does seem very unlikely that a character who is, technically speaking, already in the game would be added as DLC. Assuming for now that this is the case, there are a lot of popular characters who fans would like as fighters that can already be ruled out, such as Golden Sun‘s Isaac, Sonic the Hedgehog‘s Shadow, Fire Emblem‘s Black Knight, Zelda‘s Skull Kid, Shovel Knight‘s Shovel Knight, WarioWare‘s Ashley, ARMS‘ Spring Man, and, of course, Waluigi.
Additionally, it is probably safe to assume that characters represented in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as Spirits will also not become playable fighters in DLC. The reasoning for this is similar to the reasoning for Assist Trophies not becoming playable: Why would the development team spend time creating a way to simulate a battle with a character through Spirits Mode if that character will be actually joining the game later? You could, of course, argue that since the DLC roster wasn’t confirmed until just recently, the development team could have created a Spirit battle for a character not knowing that they would later go on to become actually playable. And you could make the same argument for Assist Trophies. However, there’s also this to be taken into consideration: During the final Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct, Sakurai revealed that a Mii Fighter Costume based on Rex from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 would be available in the game before going on to explain that they decided to add this Costume because all planning for the game (which included the game’s roster) was already finished before Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was announced, making it impossible to add Rex as a playable character that late in development. Theoretically, the DLC roster was already decided during the early planning stages of development, otherwise why not add Rex as DLC instead of making a Mii Costume of him? I can hear the counter argument already: “But we only got word from Sakurai just yesterday that the DLC roster was finished! Surely this means that the DLC wasn’t part of the original planning of the game in 2015-2016!” Not necessarily. If we look at the DLC for Smash 4, we see that a lot of third-party characters were involved. Assuming this will be the case for the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC as well, that would mean there is a lot of legal stuff to work through in terms of acquiring rights and everything. It’s probably most likely that Sakurai and Nintendo did in fact already have a list of DLC characters in mind during the early planning stages, but only recently secured the rights to all of them. Of course, we don’t know this for certain, but once again, if Sakurai and company didn’t decide on the DLC characters until late 2018, then what would have stopped them from making Rex a fully playable character as DLC instead of just a Mii Costume? And you can’t say that Rex still could be DLC since Sakurai outright said that the character won’t be playable, which is why the Mii Costume was added at all. Point is, we obviously can’t know anything for sure, but it seems very likely that Sakurai and Nintendo already knew which characters they wanted to have as playable fighters years ago, so making characters Assist Trophies or Spirits, only to appear later as playable fighters, seems unlikely. Not impossible, but unlikely.
There’s also the matter, however, of fans noticing that some playable characters will be appearing as Spirits, opening the door to the possibility of Spirits becoming playable fighters in DLC. Here’s the thing about that: Strictly speaking, characters that are already playable are NOT Spirits. Let me explain. Some characters that fans have seen represented as Spirits on the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate website include the likes of Kaptain K. Rool, Meta Ridley, and Blood Falcon. But that’s just the thing. We’re not seeing King K. Rool as a Spirit, we’re seeing Kaptain K. Rool. It’s a subtle difference between two characters who are canonically the same person, but what this really means is that different versions of playable characters can appear as Spirits, the the default playable character itself is not a Spirit. Yeah, there might be a Meta Ridley skin you can use while playing as Ridley, but at the end of the day, you’re still technically playing as Ridley. You’re not playing as Blood Falcon; you’re playing as Captain Falcon with a Blood Falcon skin. If we’re going to be super technical about it, you’re not actually playing as Blood Falcon; just a Captain Falcon who is dressed to look like Blood Falcon. Another example fans have seen is the Spirit of the male Wii Fit Trainer, but again, this is a skin, an alternate version, if you will, of the default Wii Fit Trainer, who is female. Again, being super technical about it, you’re not playing as the male Wii Fit Trainer as if he’s his own character; you’re playing as the default, female Wii Fit Trainer, but with a male skin. This is obviously a very, very picky distinction, but it’s a distinction nonetheless. Once again, does this mean for certain that no characters represented as Spirits have a chance at becoming playable in DLC? No, it doesn’t. It is technically possible that a Spirit character could become playable later; there’s no rule against it or anything. But it does seem unlikely that Sakurai would waste his team’s time making simulated Spirit battles with characters who would go on to actually become playable later. So, assuming for now that Spirits likely won’t be playable DLC fighters, we can rule out characters like Donkey Kong Country‘s Dixie Kong, Shantae‘s Shantae, and three of the four Champions from Breath of the Wild (Urbosa, Revali, and Daruk), as well as a plethora of other characters.
So who does this leave? If we’re going to assume that Assist Trophies and Spirits probably won’t make it as DLC fighters, we’re eliminating a ton of possibilities. There are a few characters, however, that might still have a chance.
This character from Super Mario RPG has been a highly requested one for a long time. And Sakurai himself has actually stated in an interview with Nintendo Dream (translated by EventHubs) that he wanted Geno to be a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Also, a Geno Mii Fighter Costume was available in Smash 4. Other characters who got Mii Costumes in Smash 4, such as King K. Rool and Isabelle, ended up becoming playable in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Maybe Geno could be next? Also, like all the characters on this list, Geno has yet to appear as either an Assist Trophy or a Spirit, or even a Mii Costume, in Ultimate. Some fans claim to have seen Geno represented as a Spirit, but an analysis by YouTuber Game5 Smash points out that the screenshot people have seen in which Geno appears to be a Spirit is actually not from Spirits Mode, but rather from the game’s online mode, where players can pick from a large assortment of characters to represent them as avatars. So no, Geno has not appeared as a Spirit. Like all the other characters on this list, I’m not trying to say that I think Geno is 100% confirmed to be a DLC fighter or anything, but between the facts that he isn’t an Assist Trophy, he hasn’t appeared as a Spirit, he has appeared in a previous entry as a Mii Costume, fans have requested him for a long time, and Sakurai himself has expressed interest in including him in the past, Geno seems just as likely as any character to be included as DLC.
2. Bandana Waddle Dee
We’ve seen a normal Waddle Dee represented as a Spirit, and one of King Dedede’s attacks involves throwing Waddle Dees, but Bandana Waddle Dee is a very distinctly different character in the Kirby canon from the multitudes of other Waddle Dees Kirby plows through. Bandana Waddle Dee is another character who has been highly requested for Smash in recent years, and it probably doesn’t hurt that Sakurai has a soft spot for the Kirby franchise, seeing as how he created it and all. Also, with the inclusions of Ridley, King K. Rool, Chrom, Incineroar, and Piranha Plant, Kirby is one of the few really big Nintendo franchises to not receive a newcomer in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate yet. Obviously, all of this doesn’t mean for certain that Bandana Waddle Dee will be playable in DLC, but again, he seems more likely than a lot of other characters at this point.
3. Banjo and Kazooie
This one is certainly more of a stretch considering that Banjo-Kazooie is a property now owned by Microsoft. It’s one thing for Nintendo to get the rights for third-party characters, but to get the rights to a character owned by a major console competitor is another thing entirely. That said, probably no one seriously thought that Sonic and Snake would be getting into Smash before Brawl, as the series was 100% Nintendo characters before that, so who knows? Plus, Nintendo and Microsoft have been getting along pretty well lately, with Xbox boss Phil Spencer even stating within the past year that he’s open to the idea of Banjo and Kazooie appearing in Smash. The counter-argument to this, however, is that if Xbox and Nintendo were really in talks to have Banjo and Kazooie appear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Spencer would be breaching a non-disclosure agreement by stating that he’s open to the characters appearing in the game. That said, if the DLC roster was only recently confirmed, it’s possible that Nintendo and Xbox didn’t start negotiations until after Spencer’s statement, so it’s still possible. Plus, Sakurai is likely very aware that fans have been clamoring for this inclusion since Melee. Even though Nintendo is deciding the DLC roster, Sakurai has proven that he’s been taking fan outcry into account by adding characters like Ridley and King K. Rool, so anything is possible. Banjo and Kazooie may not be the most likely contenders on this list, but it’s a possibility. Let’s just try to not be too upset when it likely doesn’t happen. The Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster is already amazing, after all.
4. Paper Mario
Another highly requested fighter who has yet to appear as either an Assist Trophy or a Spirit is Paper Mario. There are a few reasons why he might not be included as DLC, however. For one thing, Sakurai stated in the last Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct that the five DLC characters will be original characters, not Echo Fighters. Paper Mario obviously shares a lot of similarities with another fighter who is already playable, so if Sakurai thought he’d make more sense as an Echo Fighter, he might not get included as DLC. That said, Paper Mario is pretty different from normal Mario, particularly in how a moveset could be drawn from his various moves in the Paper Mario series, so it could possibly be warranted for Paper Mario to be included as an original fighter. But between Daisy and Piranha Plant, the Mario series is already getting two new fighters in Ultimate, so adding a third while other popular franchises, like Zelda, don’t get any newcomers at all might seem a bit weird. But it’s not impossible. And I guess you could technically make the point for Paper Mario representing the Paper Mario series rather than the Mario series. So it’s possible, probably more possible than characters who are already Assist Trophies or Spirits. But maybe not quite possible enough to make it.
5. Another Third-Party Character
The DLC for Smash 4 included seven playable fighters. Three of these were fighters from previous entries who didn’t make it into the base roster, but were added later as DLC. Of the four completely new characters that were added to the game, three of them were third-party characters. So it’s probably pretty likely that at least one, if not more, of the DLC characters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be a third-party character. Who specifically this could be, however, is very much up in the air. It could be Crash Bandicoot, it could be Rayman, it could be Heihachi from Tekken (who also had a Mii Costume in Smash 4), or it could be one of a million other characters who either have been requested by fans or are characters no one would ever have thought would come to Smash. It’s kind of impossible to guess who specifically it will be, but chances are that there will be at least one third-party character, if not multiple third-party characters, coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate via DLC.