Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighter Pass 2 will kick off in June 2020 with a character from Arms, but the other five characters included in the second round of DLC are still up in the air. Recent leaks regarding Nintendo's plans to celebrate the Super Mario Bros. franchise's 35th anniversary in 2020, however, increase the chances for a character from that series to make their way into Nintendo's all-star fighting game.
Video Games Chronicle reported March 31 that Nintendo plans to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Mario with several ports and even a new game. Ports of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Mario 3D World are all in the pipeline and a new Paper Mario might also be announced. The report makes no mention of Smash Ultimate, but you have to wonder if the celebration will carry over into one of the Switch's best selling games.
If Nintendo wanted to truly celebrate Mario's anniversary, it'd make sense for them to add another character from the series to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Byleth's reveal showed that Nintendo is willing to sell characters from already well-represented franchises as DLC and multiple highly requested characters are from different corners of the Mario franchise.
We rarely find out which characters will be making it into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate until Nintendo announces them in Direct presentations. Game Director Masahiro Sakurai admitted during Byleth's reveal that some people within Nintendo don't always know about the DLC character prior to their announcement. Even if their inclusion can't possibly be leaked yet, the Mario 35th anniversary celebration lines up all too well with FIghters Pass 2.
So which Mario characters are the most likely to make their way into Smash Ultimate?
Geno - This party member from the SNES' Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars hasn't appeared in a game since Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga cameo in 2003, but he remains one of the most-requested characters for Smash Ultimate. The most avid Geno fans have been clamoring for his inclusion ever since Brawl, but the most we've gotten is a Mii Fighter Costume in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS.
He does not have a Mii Fighter costume in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate yet, only a Spirit, which has given some players hope that he will come to the game. The rights for Geno seem to be tied up with Super Mario RPG developer Square Enix, but if Nintendo can sort that out, as they did with Cloud from Final Fantasy VII, then the addition of Geno would be another great way to celebrate the Mario series' 35th anniversary.
Waluigi — Perhaps the most memed character in the Mario fandom, Waluigi has also been one of the most frequently requested Nintendo characters for inclusion in Smash Bros. The push to get this purple and lanky mustached man into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a DLC fighter borders on zealotry. Fans were disappointed when he was confirmed to be a trophy, as the jump from assist trophy to fighter has never happened in the same Smash game. This doesn't seem like an official rule in any capacity, but it still feels like a roadblock.
Regardless, if he were added to Smash to celebrate Mario's 35th anniversary, it would elicit some insane reactions from those who actually like the character and from those who just want Waluigi in for the meme factor.
Paper Mario - While this alternate version of Mario doesn't garner the fanfare of Geno or Waluigi, adding Paper Mario would make a lot of sense during this anniversary. Making a DLC character an alternate version of another fighter already in the game (twice) would be a bit boring as DLC, but the precedent does exist in Smash Bros. with fighters like Toon Link, Young Link, and Pichu — and also obviously Doctor Mario.
Paper Mario's flat nature could open up some interesting Mr. Game & Watch-style animations and attacks, and there's a lot of moves from all four games in the series that could be combined to create an interesting moveset. As a new Paper Mario game is reportedly in the pipeline for 2020 as well, adding Paper Mario DLC to Smash Bros. Ultimate would be excellent brand synergy. Adding Byleth felt like strong synergy, so maybe that's something Nintendo is going for these days.
Third-party DLC characters like Joker, Hero, and Banjo & Kazooie tend to be the most exciting, but there are plenty of Nintendo characters, including the aforementioned Mario ones, that also deserve a fighting chance at joining the Smash universe. Based on current timelines, the second character in Fighters Pass 2 probably won't be announced until late August ahead of an early fall release.
Though we won't know if these characters will make it in until they are actually revealed by Nintendo, the Mario 35th anniversary leaks definitely do increase Geno, Waluigi, and Paper Mario's chances of getting added to the best-selling fighting game of all time.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is available now on Nintendo Switch.