Why Byleth is in Smash: Masahiro Sakurai’s Fire Emblem Headache

Why Byleth is in Smash: Masahiro Sakurai’s Fire Emblem Headache


Well, surprise surprise. The final fighter in the first wave of Super
Smash Brothers Ultimate DLC comes from Fire Emblem. Despite being arguably the least interesting
character in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, player character Byleth has accepted an invitation
to Smash, and will now be battling alongside the seven Fire Emblem fighters that were already
in the game. Even Masahiro Sakurai himself clearly feels
like Fire Emblem in Smash is a joke by this point, as the Smash Direct that revealed Byleth
features a complaint that there are too many sword fighters in the game! Why then, with so many Fire Emblem characters
in Smash Bros already, has yet another been added to the mix? Well… some characters get added to Smash
because they’d be fun inclusions…and some get added for the sake of Nintendo cross-promotion. Speaking about Fire Emblem characters in Smash
Brothers, Masahiro Sakurai once said: “Industry trends around the time when development
begins is a pretty big factor. I started development on Smash for 3DS/ Wii
U right after I’d wrapped up Kid Icarus: Uprising, and Fire Emblem Awakening was released
one month after Uprising. So what’s popular around the time when I
begin designing the game is important.” The decision to include Byleth in Smash was
taken while Fire Emblem: Three Houses was still in development, and long before Nintendo
knew whether the character would actually resonate with players. The DLC team for Smash needed to know how
Byleth should behave and what Easter Eggs they could include in the Three Houses stage,
so Masahiro was allowed to play an early build of the game to get a vague sense of its world. By his own admission, he really struggled. He said:
“With there being three houses and multiple endings it was really hard to get a feel for
it. And of course, there weren’t any walkthroughs
I could reference. The game has multiple routes and the outcome
of each is very different. Your experience will vary depending on the
route you choose, and many of the characters you meet will adopt different roles in the
story.” Perhaps this is why the team ultimately based
the DLC content around some of the more universal elements of Three Houses, building the game’s
stage around communal areas in Garreg Mach. But if you’re going to include a fighter
from Three Houses, arguably the most interesting characters are the house leaders. Why stick with Byleth instead of featuring
Dimitri, Claude, or especially Edelgard, who arguably has the most influence of the three
over the game’s many branching storylines? Well, everyone at Nintendo knows that there’s
a definite benefit to sticking with the simplest, easiest option – especially when building
a character in a game that hasn’t been released yet. Masahiro has been burned in the past by assuming
that a Fire Emblem game’s plot and characters will remain static throughout development. Byleth was by far the safest choice for a
game that wasn’t yet complete when the team started making plans. All the way back when working on the original
Super Smash Bros for the Nintendo 64, Masahiro had desperately wanted to include one of his
favourite Fire Emblem characters, Marth. He thought, interestingly enough, that there
weren’t enough sword fighters in this first version of Smash. Clearly he’s been over-compensating ever
since. Unfortunately, much of the first Smash Brothers
was thrown together at the last minute, and the four secret fighters were built primarily
out of reused model parts, so there was no time to put Marth into the game. When he started work on Super Smash Bros Melee,
Masahiro decided right from the start that he wanted to include Marth, no matter what. Then, during meetings with Nintendo higher
ups, it was decided that Roy should appear in the game as well. Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade was in development
at the time, and the heads at Nintendo wanted Melee to reference this game. So, having been given instruction to include
Roy in Melee, Masahiro talked with the developers at Intelligent Systems who were making The
Binding Blade. They gave him a description of who Roy was
going to be, and Masahiro used this as the basis for this character in Smash. Then, much to Masahiro’s frustration, plans
for Roy changed. He said:
“When I first heard a description of Roy’s character, I felt he was a bit more energetic,
had a bit more strength inside of him. So, in comparison to Marth, whose sword is
stronger at the tip, I made Roy’s sword stronger near the hilt, which I felt made
them feel very different. But I played Binding Blade, and he’s really
not like that at all! “In terms of personality, he’s mostly
the same as Marth. But in Melee, Roy is expressed as a very strong
character because that’s how I envisioned him during the development phase. I just want to make it clear his representation
in Melee is not because I didn’t understand his character!” Speaking about this many years after the fact,
Masahiro said, “I wasn’t that angry”, but he clearly wasn’t very impressed. Perhaps problems like this are why, when asked
to include Fire Emblem: Three Houses in Smash, Masahiro and his team decided to any element
of the game’s story or characters that might shift in development. Plus, nobody wants spoilers to creep in by
accident. Speaking about the selection of DLC fighters,
Masahiro stated back in November of 2018: “This time the selection was made entirely
by Nintendo. I decide if we can create a fighter based
on their selection, then come up with the plan.” So, from the sounds of it, Nintendo decided
that Smash really needed a fighter from Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Masahiro’s team
at Sora Ltd decided on the safest, broadest possible choice that would make development
as uncomplicated as possible. Sometimes, that’s just how game development
goes. They can’t all be left-field surprises like
Joker. At least six more characters are still on
the horizon!

100 comments on “Why Byleth is in Smash: Masahiro Sakurai’s Fire Emblem Headache

  1. Xavelrie Post author

    Here is my theory. Literally right after the byleth reveal direct… A dlc dropped for three houses. I don't think it happens to be a coincidence…

    Reply
  2. James Towell Post author

    So, we can have over a dozen Mario characters and eight Pokemon, but people are butt-hurt over an eighth Fire Emblem rep?
    You people don't even know what you want…

    Reply
  3. Redmasters Post author

    Somehow i really feel a connection with Byleth more then any other so called avatars in games and in the end she became my fav of the whole game so im happy she is here and she is my personal highlight out of the 5 dlc fighters

    Reply
  4. TheScatmanBros Post author

    All of the DLC are essentially crossover promotional purposes though, same goes for the indies. Only possible exception is Banjo and even then, Banjo's added to strengthen bonds with other companies, and is not quite as interesting as the five other DLC characters we have so far, imo

    Reply
  5. sasaki999pro Post author

    Everyones complaining about byleth and the people complaining about byleth and I'm just thinking
    5:23 Hah! I love that cheeky reference you drew

    Reply
  6. SpiritZero Post author

    Idky but I feel like they had him ready since the gameplay was in november (sure still in development) but I think Terry should had been the last fighter to end it off with a bang

    Reply
  7. The Aussie Nerd Post author

    I honestly think this whole backlash could've been avoided if they pushed him back until the next Fighter's Pass. With the variety and groundbreaking releases of the previous four fighters, having a first party rep of the second most populated, and most homogenized franchise in the game as the final DLC character for Fighter's Pass 1 seems a tad tone deaf.

    Reply
  8. Pasurafu Post author

    Byleth is a good fighter that not released in a ripe time. Normal People will accept her if she's released alongside Ridley and King K Rool. And make Dlc5 someone else

    Reply
  9. ungulatemanalpha Post author

    Another aspect worth mentioning is that the 'overrepresentation' of Fire Emblem characters is blown out a bit by Smash Ultimate declaring that Everyone is Here.

    Marth is a given, Roy is super popular, and Lucina and Chrom are fairly easy to develop since they're so similar to those two. Robin would probably come back just because they're more unique than the others, but Ike and Corrin likely wouldn't have returned if they didn't bring back literally every fighter ever. (Either that or Chrom would 'replace' Ike in the same way Toon Link 'replaced' Young Link, rather than being a Roy echo.) The franchise having three or four reps and one or two echo fighters looks a lot less egregious.
    Also they keep adding anime swordsmen who aren't from Fire Emblem too

    Reply
  10. Androzz Senpai Post author

    Sakurai said that they didn't put Rex because when they knew Xenoblade 2 existed, all fighters were already decided. Why no one finds and issue to this? FE3H is only 7 months old, it's obvious they have favoritism towards Fire Emblem.
    So far I didn't had any issue with the fighters in the pass since they were new franchises in Smash. But then this happened. I love FE3H and I like Byleth, but they have no excuse for not putting Rex now, does his Mii costume deconfirmed him or what?

    Reply
  11. I am ColbyJack Post author

    I believe that this was a character Sakurai wanted because he had no idea that there was going to be a second fighters pass until probably the time of Banjo's release. He wanted this character in but because of the timing of the release of 3H the last slot of the fighters pass was the latest they could put him in. Sakurai wanted to put this guy in but because of how long it can take to develop even one character they had to be put in last because of the recency.

    Reply
  12. elfbeee Post author

    I really hope this is the only time they basically groom a fighter for Smash.

    This is kind of the core of a lot of the disappointment: Here, we've got upwards of 200 potential fighters already created, with interesting personalities, designs, and interaction. Things that are already proven, and in which the base game already has a following. And Nintendo wanted to push Fire Emblem for Ultimate. I can't imagine even the Japanese base is happy with that.

    Reply
  13. V. Ross Post author

    I feel the best way would have had cloude demitri and edgelord to be be one a rotation system similar to Pokémon trainer

    Reply
  14. Creo Post author

    Fire Emblem: Three Houses released (and he knew it was going to), is now conveniently very popular, and Sakurai loves Fire Emblem. . . It's really that simple.

    People need to get over it. Also, subjective, but Byleth looks fun.

    Reply
  15. RageMage 117 Post author

    Roy was technically in Smash before Fire Emblem. Roy is a Smash character and noone can convince me otherwise.

    Reply
  16. Professoar Post author

    I'm always hyped for FE characters, but I've loved the series since I was a wee lad, so I am happily biased xD

    Reply
  17. The Sleeping Dragon DT Post author

    well i thort thay wourd add a Fire emblem Charackter but i thort thay gonne make somting like Pokemon Trainer an add all tree or the head students and make the Down B the Charater switch but o well

    Reply
  18. Da Juiceman Post author

    I’m so confused why people didn’t think Byleth would get in? 3H was a massive hit; obviously Nintendo want to capitalise on that.

    Reply
  19. coolhawk19 Post author

    I never knew the back story on Marth/Roy/Sakuria’s frustration. This…puts a lot in perspective on how Fire Emblem has been represented in Smash.

    Reply
  20. Blake Blurton Post author

    idc even the gameplay stages and everything look super amazing people who can't see that are just being scrubs and don't deserve their opinions

    Reply
  21. mitchell avontuur Post author

    Would be fun if byleth was lik pokemon trainer.
    So that byleth can change the house leaders in battle😂

    Reply
  22. CylonDorado Post author

    This is what people get for wanting a specific character too much. I didn’t really care who came out, so I was just like, “Oh, nice. I liked Three Houses, and it’s not a Marth clone”.

    Reply
  23. CylonDorado Post author

    This is what people get for wanting a specific character too much. I didn’t really care who came out, so I was just like, “Oh, nice. I liked Three Houses, and it’s not a Marth clone”. Plus there’s more characters coming anyway.

    Reply
  24. Yukihime 98 Post author

    I hate that everyone is hating Byleth just cuz he's/she's from Fire Emblem. Like seriously can't they be at least glad that it's the most unique out of all of the FE characters

    Reply
  25. SeaTheAlchemyst Post author

    Byleth i feel is much more dynamic than a lot of the other fire emblem fighters, not to mention that it was a fortunate thing that three houses happened to be the biggest FE game in history, being nominated numerous times and even winning awards at the game awards. The game was massive, and if any fire emblem rep had to be in there it’d ought to be byleth

    Reply
  26. jedimasterpickle3 Post author

    4:52 "Plus, nobody wants spoilers". And yet him saying that it's Rhea fighting in the game's intro is a rather big spoiler. I mean sure, he didn't say who the Flame Emperor was or why Byleth has green hair and eyes, but it's still a plot point from pretty far into the game he just tossed out like that

    Reply
  27. Francis Xavyer Post author

    I'm less angry that yet another Fire Emblem character is in Smash Bros. and more angry that this is a reminder that I have many Fire Emblem games that I have still not even begun, let alone completed, and Byleth reminds me that Three Houses sits on my shelf still sealed. Sigh…

    Reply
  28. Entergaming Post author

    Since Byleth is in the game now

    We have the three houses character which means that there will probably not another fe character until a new games comes out

    Yet here a people crying that there will be 6 more with no logic behind it

    Reply
  29. Drae Shizzle Post author

    We all know it’s a pure marketing ploy. I’m not knocking Byleth at all. I’m a Fire Emblem fan, and I think he’ll be a fun character to play. That said, there are boat loads of first party character and series that could use some more love.

    I think why Byleth in smash truly upsets people is the fact that Fire Emblem Smash presence towers over all other Nintendo series aside from Mario and Pokémon.

    Just imagine if the Byleth reveal was literally any other Nintendo character. A new starfox character, a new Kid Icarus character, a new donkey Kong character, a new Zelda character.
    People’s outlooks would have been completely reversed.

    Reply
  30. Dragoonsoul7878 Post author

    The thing I don't like, is he didn't bring a unique mechanic unlike the other 4 fighters in the pass, he didn't bring unique moves, and lastly without no knowledge of FE Three Houses, I knew it was a FE character being a blue haired sword user. When a series has an effective 5 man echo fighter representation to see someone who once again fails to bring something new isn't fun… nor does it feel like Fire Emblem is being fairly represented. Robin is the only character who really got the series mechanics in… while Byleth fell short.

    All they had to do was the following and Byleth could've been a tactical character:
    Neutral Special switch weapon between speed, range, and power for your attacks.
    Side Special shoots bow in that direction with recoil so you aim DOWN for your recovery.

    But we got Pit, with some Shulk, Joker's Recovery, Walock Punch, and Link's Final Smash. Interestingly enough all characters who use sword or sword like blades… which is to say it feels even worse when they have a spear, bow, and ax but still don't feel unique.

    For reference FE has a 5 man echo fighter group, Marth, Lucina, Roy, Chrom, and Ike all share move pools (Ike use to be unique but with the introduction of Chrom the once 3 man became 5 man.) 4 out of the 5 have blue hair, 5 out of 5 user swords… a strategy that doesn't work that well in FE games resulting in loses.

    Either they are doing a terrible job of representing FE or it is a series of recycled designs and mechanics and Robin/Corrin were flukes.

    Reply
  31. LLRFILMS Post author

    All FE fighters were done for advertisement. Ironically, if people just bought more of the games instead of being annoyed this wouldn’t have ever happened. Welp I guess I’ll give three houses a try.

    Reply
  32. Yoshixandir Post author

    Byleth was probably going to get in anyway. Three houses sold well, it makes sense why he got in.

    Reply
  33. Epiku Win-Sosu エピックウィンソース Post author

    Get this, Fire Emblem has almost as many reps as Mario, Nintendo’s most iconic series

    Reply
  34. Araña Nintendera Post author

    What about the fact Byleth is the main character who you play as in all routes and in-game they can wield Relics without an issue? Honestly this feels more like a biased theory against Byleth. I have no doubt that the higher ups had to include them in the list, but in the end, it was Sakurai who chose from said list.

    Reply
  35. THE DRAGON KNIGHT SLAYER64 Post author

    It answers the Byleth question (and to be honest I knew that trend has been a thing since Melee, still don't like the idea), but I do wonder. How far does a game have to be in development to stop Rex from XB2 from getting in? I'm sorry, you can't make me actively accept him being just a Mii as the same thing. His costume isn't like Sans or Cuphead.

    Rex: Introduced too late to be in the Roster

    Sakurai: We'll make him a Mii Costume.

    Byleth: Introduced later than Rex

    Sakurai: You get the roster pass!

    Sad Salvager and Blade Noises

    At this point I can only hope for another rep that either adds to the heavily underepped franchises or adds a new Franchise.

    Reply
  36. Anduril74871 Post author

    At least Byleth has an interesting design and moveset…and NO COUNTER! Also, if you think Byleth is bad, at least it's not like the situation that DragonBall FighterZ has. FIVE GOKUS. FIVE! Of the SAME CHARACTER.

    Reply
  37. IEienI Post author

    They should just cancel DLC. The toxicity from these "disappointing" reveals are an embarrassment to this "community" I loved the trolling during the reveal. He probably knew people would run with that hand sign he put up.

    Reply
  38. Lord Mango Post author

    We also got Byleth because every new Smash game we get a new FE and Pokémon Character. Ultimate is no exception. We got Incineroar and Byleth for Ultimate

    Reply
  39. The Hero 132 Post author

    0:07 arguably. Its a fact that bylith is the least interesting character in three houses. I should know, I played all the routs

    Reply
  40. SabdierZ Post author

    I'd argue more that you can't have the other house leaders. They aren't pokemon each house you pick drastically changes the story, having one character over the other well, it wouldn't be too great

    Reply
  41. Ananto haryo Pamungkas Post author

    marth
    fire marth
    marth but he is florida man
    marth that uses chromium
    female marth
    female water dragon thing marth
    and marth but why

    Reply
  42. DariusQ Post author

    Fans are getting way too worked up about the inclusion of Byleth because he's essentially an advertisement for 3Houses. While not the most inspired choice, would you really want another left field pick like Ice Climbers? Overall I'm more than pleased with the Wave1 DLC and look forward to more surprises in Wave2.

    Reply
  43. Naqnom Post author

    Hearing him being called Masahiro repeatedly sounded a bit odd, even everyone in the comments are calling him Sakurai.

    Reply
  44. Hero of Time Post author

    I felt like they cancelled a third party character and replaced with byleth because they were already close to being finished with him/she

    Reply
  45. Dino lord Post author

    Claude: “sup edgelord”
    Edelgard: “it’s pronounced edelgard”
    Dimitri: “ I think he was talking to me”
    Lmao best part

    Reply
  46. IllusionMaster17 Dilan Lopez Post author

    The real fault was on us the community.
    We had SO HIGH hopes in the 5th DLC fighter, considering that the first four were all so unexpected newcomers and from 3rd Party games, that never expected the 5th one would be a Fire Emblem character.
    I honestly was dissapointed because of the many reps of FE that already exist in Smash, but hey we only can speculate about things, mostly because all of them were swordsmen and Byleth tries to shine differently using four weapons.
    Even Sakurai said that the Fighter Pass is for those who are sure about it, maybe that hinted about this particular case with Byleth.
    At the end, we can have hope about things, but not so high because if at the end isn't true, we only will feel dissapointed about something we just believed.
    I mean, if it was Dante, although he is a swordman he would be so welcomed by what he represents.

    Reply
  47. Ivan De La Garza Post author

    I'm gonna become a Fire Emblem fan now with all these characters in the game and everyone else hates them. I mean, I already main Lucina, so why not?

    Reply
  48. Cosmic Stars Post author

    Just to add fuel to the fire, I’d rather have Byleth over Geno any day. Geno is just really irrelevant.

    Reply
  49. MagcargoMan Post author

    Byleth is in Smash because Nintendo chose the DLC characters, and they want to shill their new cashcow franchise as much as possible, like they did in the last game.

    Reply
  50. mexican zubat Post author

    This is the video I looked forward to even though I didn't expect it. Thank you for bring a clean and clear explanation to Byleth's inclusion into Smash.

    Reply
  51. theshadowthie1 Post author

    Legit if you just swapped the model for a monster hunter then nobody would be mad, people just mad cuz it has the fire emblem sticker on it, their moveset is not even remotely similar to any other FE characters, hoes truly mad

    Reply
  52. Boshwa Post author

    I'm just wondering where did everyone get idea that Dante was most definitely going to be the last one.

    Reply
  53. OrangeToadGamer 2005 Post author

    I mean it's kinda Nintendo's fault, they are the ones who chose the characters so yeah, if it was Sakurai deciding we probably wouldn't have got a Fire Emblem for DLC

    Reply
  54. Fury of Fawful Post author

    I'm honestly more excited to play as Byleth than I was for Banjo since Byleth's moveset actually looks fun. Banjo has a very basic moveset which made him a little boring to play as IMO.

    Reply
  55. Beastly Drohan Post author

    Also, to add what I said earlier, Super Mario, Pokemon, and Fire Emblem constantly have new characters in the games is because all three franchise have a lot of spin-offs, main canon entries, and re-releases being made every time a new Smash game is made. Super Mario alone takes the top spot since every year there is a new Mario-related project being released either on the consoles or on mobile. Pokemon and Fire Emblem have both joined that mindset with both having games released on mobile alongside new console and mainline entries. New releases mean new potential for characters to be chosen as fighters based on how popular they are with the fanbase (hence why for Mario they chose Rosalina as one of the new Mario reps because of her popularity and ties to the Galaxy games). Animal Crossing is gearing towards that mindset of popularity with its releases but I think we won't get a third rep for AC in a while. Ironically, Zelda has just as many entries in its saga (though not as wide as the others I mentioned), but its reps tend to be alternate versions of the mainline chracters (Link has three in Ultimate, and Zelda was split into two entities, one being her royal self and then Sheik as her ninja form).

    Reply
  56. Megan Payette Post author

    I think Byleth is a nice addition to the roster. I always said that one way the developers of Smash Bros could set Byleth apart from
    the rest of the Fire Emblem cast is by incorporating the other weapons… And you know what? That's exactly what they did!

    Reply
  57. diddykongred Post author

    I say that IS gave permission to only use Byleth in smash since they're the ones who you will be using/seeing the most when you play their games making it perfect for promoting the game or DLC. I'm pretty confident that at this point Sakurai would have added Ephraim or a none main protagonist (but still important to the story) who doesn't use a sword.

    Reply
  58. にゃあエイリアンMeowAlien Post author

    Thank you, it was a really interesting and well put out video, this channel is just so underrated

    Reply
  59. Kyle Graham Post author

    Byleth is not Marth just because their hair is blue doesn’t make them the same person. Byleth is their own person and they Deserve to be here

    Reply
  60. The Kiwi King Post author

    I’m just mad that people want Sakurai fired because he added Byleth. Without Sakurai there is no more Smash

    Reply
  61. GhostTrueCapitalist Post author

    Smash Fans: "Sakurai should be fired!"
    Me: "Cool. That means no more Smash and he'll finally get the break he finally deserves."
    Smash Fans: "No wait."

    Never get overhype with somethin', never believe leaks and rumors and never assume things.

    I'm one of the few who welcomes anyone and everyone who appears in the game with open arms.

    Reply
  62. Kayden 21 Post author

    It doesn’t matter why the character is in what matters is he made the right choice instead of choosing one house leader over the other two. Three houses also resonates largely with fans so even if the smash community is on fire this was still the right call.

    Reply
  63. Roger Cruz León Post author

    Sadly, he/she is not just a mii costume, but well… with Banjo, Terry and Cereza; K. Rool, Ridley and Inkling I can't get mad.

    Reply

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