Throwback Thursday: Ridley’s ‘Smash Bros.’ Debut Is A Long Time Coming (VIDEO)
Nintendo’s nearing release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a momentous occasion for the storied fighting franchise, not only for its release on the Switch, but for the sheer number of new and returning characters making themselves available for battle. One of the most celebrated additions has been Ridley from the Metroid series, a character finally introduced following over a decade of fan demand.
While Ridley hype is arguably at its peak today, its origins stretch back to E3 2001 when Nintendo was hyping the imminent launch of the GameCube. Revealed at the event was an exciting sizzle reel of Super Smash Bros. Melee, showing off several of the game’s base characters such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda’s Link, and Metroid protagonist Samus. It was the latter that included a brief, but memorable cameo from series’ antagonist Ridley, initially convincing gamers the ferocious space dragon would be a playable part of the roster.
Unfortunately, it was quickly established the Metroid villain would largely sit out this bout of brawling, only appearing in-game as a collectible trophy. However, this wouldn’t be enough to stop rumors from suggesting Ridley’s appearance as a secret unlockable fighter; speculation that would eventually turn up to be false. While the absence was crushing for Ridley hopefuls, public interest would continue as the years went on; especially following the announcement of Melee’s successor Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Enthusiasm for a potential Ridley debut had once again become a hot topic of the ‘Smash’ community, to the point where series’ creator Masahiro Sakurai would effectively address the character in a May 2008 edition of Nintendo Power. However, his response would not be the one fans were hoping for, with Sakurai suggesting the character would not fit in with the rest of the ‘Brawl’ roster.
I think that would probably be impossible. [laughs] If we had put our best efforts into it, we may have been able to do it. But he might have been a little slow. Would that have been all right? [laughs]”
This second snub from the series’ head-honcho would seem to thoroughly exclude Ridley from ever getting his due, but Brawl wouldn’t be one to completely ignore the character’s popularity. Ridley appears as an in-game boss during the Subspace Emissary campaign, in both his classic original form as well as the mechanized Meta Ridley from the Metroid Prime series.
While fans would technically get Ridley in a Super Smash Bros. game, a non-playable variety wouldn’t be enough for the clamoring masses. The door was seemingly sealed on the subject, but passionate followers nonetheless continued to call for the character’s inclusion, with Facebook pages, petitions, and even fan-made mods dedicated to finally adding Ridley to the Nintendo crossover.
Demand for Ridley would reach yet another peak leading up to the 2014 launch of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. A new generation of ‘Smash’ would seem to present any number of possibilities for fighters, even the monstrous heights of Metroid’s unkillable behemoth. As it turns out, Nintendo indeed had plans for Ridley, just not as a playable fighter. He would instead act as a dynamic boss character for the Metroid-inspired Pyrosphere stage, much to the disappointment of Ridley supporters.
Following this reveal, Masahiro Sakurai would once again explain the gaping exclusion with IGN, marking the decision as one ultimately favoring character authenticity. Citing a lack of desire to alter Ridley’s size or ferocity, Sakurai felt the best way to incorporate the character in battle was as he’s always been portrayed: a giant unplayable boss character.
I definitely know that Ridley’s a much-anticipated name for fans, but if we made Ridley as a fighter, it wouldn’t be Ridley any longer. It’d have to be shrunk down, or its wings reduced in size, or be unable to fly around freely.”
“Instead of going through a lot of very convoluted hocus-pocus to make Ridley a fighter, I figured it’d be better to keep Ridley as it currently is, the correct way, and have it feel like a truly threatening presence.”
As one might expect, news of the thrice-time omission wasn’t one Ridley enthusiasts would take lightly. Sakurai’s continued insistence on keeping the character in the background led to plenty of frustration among fans, not to mention the creation of a substantial meme centered around Ridley’s perceived size-based discrimination.
Of course, as we discovered this past E3 2018, Ridley would eventually see his place among the Super Smash Bros pantheon, a huge surprise for those who had largely lost hope he’d make the coveted roster. While the event would be a definite cause for celebration, fans nonetheless wondered what had changed in the time span of only a few years. According to Nintendo of America’s Nate Bihldorff (via Nintendo Life), the ‘Ultimate’ inclusion wasn’t exactly a change of heart, but more the result of inspiration.
Bihldorff suggested Masahiro Sakurai found a way to portray Ridley’s monstrous size without completely abandoning canon. He revealed considerable effort was taken in giving the villain a scaled-down redesign akin to his appearance from the original Metroid, with Ridley significantly hunched over to disguise his towering height.
I think he’s got a specific size, but he did put a lot of work into making it look like the NES sprite where he has a hunched back most of the time.”
Now that Ridley is a confirmed fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, it surely seems like the end of an era for the Smash franchise. No more will fans have to campaign for the cosmic dragon’s inclusion, partake in unofficial mods, or create hilarious memes about how he’ll never join the roster. And to think, after years of continuous snubs and partial inclusions, all that needed to happen was to throw back to the classics, a concept warmly appreciated by this particular writer.
What do you think? Was all the Ridley’s eventual debut worth these years of waiting, or should he have been represented in his full gigantic glory? Were you more excited about Ultimate’s historic addition of King K. Rool? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow Don’t Feed the Gamers on Twitter and Facebook to be informed of the latest gaming and entertainment news 24 hours a day! Also, be on the lookout for the next Throwback Thursday where we’ll highlight yet another piece of trivia from gaming past. For entries from previous weeks, check out these next few news stories:
Eric Hall2712 Posts
Phone-browsing Wikipedia in one hand and clutching his trusty controller in the other, the legendary Eric Hall spreads his wealth of knowledge as a writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. Be sure to catch his biweekly "Throwback Thursday" segment for a nostalgic look at trivia from the past.