In desperation over lack of news regarding the fifth downloadable add-on character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, fans are turning to an old fountain of theories: Director Masahiro Sakurai’s funny, amusing, sometimes weird “Pic of the Day” updates. Do these seemingly innocent images contain hidden clues about the 5th Smash Bros Ultimate DLC?
Probably not, but desperate times call for desperate fan theories.
Last week, fans of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate had a meltdown when Nintendo devoted its long-awaited January 2020 Direct (the company’s signature livestream presentations showcasing new games and software) to Pokémon Sword and Shield. For twenty minutes, fans learned all about, and only about, expansions for the current Pokémon games. Not one second of the January 9 Direct was devoted to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
A week later, fans are now keeping themselves occupied by speculating over the identity “Challenger Pack 5,” the final add-on for the game’s “Fighters Pass” DLC, by pouring over in-game photographs shared by Masahiro Sakurai on Twitter.
For the most part, fans believe Sakurai is teasing future downloadable content with these photos. Except fans always believe this, and it’s almost never true.
Since December 26, 2019, Sakurai has regularly shared pictures taken within the gameplay of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. These pictures, Sakurai, says in a Google Translate version of his tweet (Japanese to English), were taken by him and shared internally with his team “once a day” for their daily reports.
“It continues all the time,” Sakurai said in his tweet. “I’d like to upload this image at random once a day for a while.”
At a glance, the photos are sometimes funny, sometimes beautiful, and all the time novel. What’s special about them is that they are taken within the gameplay of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, an infamously chaotic fighting game with entirely too much onscreen stimulation. With these pictures, Sakurai reveals there is also delicate artistry in his game, if players know where to look.
But why fans are paying attention to Sakurai’s photographs for clues originates earlier, on December 6, when the official Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Twitter shared a handful of Sakurai’s photos celebrating the game’s one year anniversary. The last photo in the December 6 tweet shows Mario side-by-side with all of the game’s downloadable guest characters: Piranha Plant, Joker, The Hero, Banjo and Kazooie, and Terry Bogard. Also included randomly is Daisy, the first “Echo Fighter” who uses Princess Peach’s move set.
Daisy’s inclusion in a photo with a distinct motif of DLC characters, has baffled fans who now wonder if Sakurai is featuring hints about the future of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in his pictures. That brings us back to December 26, when Sakurai revealed he’d like to share with the public the photos he’s taken for his team’s internal reports.
With every picture Sakurai shares comes speculation. In the photos, fans have found visual references to other popular games currently not associated with the Super Smash Bros. games. An graphic originating from YouTuber “PapaGenos,” posted to a tweet that currently has 1.3k likes, point out how some of Sakurai’s photos loosely evoke some of the most speculated candidates for Challenger Pack 5 including Ryu Hayabusa (from Ninja Gaiden/Dead or Alive), KOS-MOS (from Xenosaga), and Arle (from Puyo Puyo).
“I feel like I’m stretching more than Wii-Fit Trainer lately…” PapaGenos tweeted. “Sakurai Pic of the Day Theory???”
These theories are, we agree, huge stretches. But also, what if he’s right?
But maybe fans shouldn’t put any money on this theory at all, because fans have been speculating over “Pic of the Day” theories for years. As far back as 2013, before the release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, Sakurai also shared new pictures every day to show off the development of the game. Back then, fans also speculated from those pictures to guess characters like Wonder Red (from the cult game The Wonderful 101) or Isaac from Golden Sun. Neither of those characters — nor others fans thought he was hinting at — are playable in any iteration of Super Smash Bros.
On the flip side, Sakurai’s pictures are fun to look at. They’re well framed, playful, and they all tell a story that doesn’t exist with these characters. The one Sakurai shared on December 26 is my personal favorite; Kirby, having just absorbed The Hero, runs up behind The Hero looking like he is The Hero’s biggest fan. Personally, I could do without actual DLC news for another month so long as Sakurai gives us more of this every day.
The fifth Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC is expected to arrive before the end of February.