This past weekend news slipped that along with veterans Roy and Lucas, Street Fighter icon Ryu is joining the roster of playable characters in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U & 3DS as a downloadable fighter. This news, while exciting on its own, has implications for the way that Nintendo handles DLC that lead this writer to believe Nintendo is doing DLC better than anyone else right now.
Ryu’s appearance is more likely than not a byproduct of the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot, a program where Nintendo reached out to fans to hear what characters they most wanted to appear as playable in future DLC. The fact this program exists, not to mention the fact we’re seeing it play out through Ryu’s announcement, is huge. In an era of gaming where players are fatigued by downloadable content that to many feels restrictive, unfair, or unnecessary, Nintendo is listening to what you want.
But Ryu isn’t just a quick and easy way for Nintendo to win your heart back. In an interesting twist for the Smash franchise, Ryu is confirmed to play quite differently from other characters who all generally rely on a similar, “button plus direction” control scheme for their moves; using intricate button inputs, Ryu can use and pull off moves exactly as he would in the Street FIghter games.
This has massive implications for future DLC characters, potentially changing the way that Smash is played. And that’s exactly what Nintendo is doing right: reinventing the way you play their games with each DLC update. Earlier this year, Mario Kart 8 released a 200 CC racing mode that boosted speeds and difficulties of every track in the game to insane new heights. This DLC (which was free, might I add!) practically rewrote and reignited the Mario Kart spark nearly a year after the eighth game’s release, and 23 years after the series began.
Not every other company is doing DLC poorly. I’ve had incredible fun with the Batman: Arkham games’ DLC packs and hefty add-on stories like Infamous First Light and The Last of Us – Left Behind, but more often than not I turn the other cheek when games throw add on content my way. But with Nintendo, after seeing what they’ve done with Mario Kart and Smash, I’ll be on the edge of my seat, refreshing the eShop after each new announcement.
E3 is just beginning and we’ll have plenty more to say as the week goes on. Follow us here or on Twitter @ButtonMasherTO for all of our updates!