Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fans have been patiently waiting for Nintendo to announce the first of the six new characters that will be released with the game’s DLC Fighters Pass 2, but previous plans to further grow Smash Ultimate’s roster might be delayed due to growing COVID-19 concerns.
In a Tuesday interview with games magazine Famitsu, Game Director Masahiro Sakurai revealed that Fighters Pass 2 might face delays because of the global coronavirus outbreak. Sakurai said he had plans to present information about the next Super Smash Bros. Ultimate character to a publisher or publishers, but that their meeting was put on hold due to health anxieties.
Only a portion of Sakurai’s interview was published, and so far the translations have been a bit unclear. A games journalist and translator known as PushDustin on Twitter posted a thread trying to unpack Sakurai’s partial comments based on what appears to be a leaked transcript. Nintendo might still go through with the announcement of the first Fighters Pass 2 character, but development might be halted and its release date delayed indefinitely.
“Sakurai had plans to present information about new fighter(s) to a publisher(s), but that's been put on hold now,” tweeted PushDustin. “There is a possibility that Nintendo will announce the new fighter(s) as planned, but no development work will be done.” Plurals don't translate easily from Japanese to English, so it's unclear if Sakurai was talking about the next fighter or multiple from the Fighters Pass 2.
Their thread warned not to take Sakurai’s incomplete interview as gospel, as the other parts could provide some context that was missing from these leaked comments. However, COVID-19 has impacted the workflow and supply chains for companies around the world so a setback for Fighters Pass 2 wouldn’t be completely unexpected.
Here’s a translation of Sakurai’s comments to Famitsu that was generated using Google Translate:
"I plan to present a plan for a new fighter and give a presentation to the publisher, but the people concerned are not gathering and it is postponed indefinitely. If an infected person is found in the office, the entire building will be completely closed and development will be stopped altogether. Even if we announce a new fighter, there is a possibility that development will not proceed as expected."
Before the COVID-19 crisis Nintendo stated that all six of the new fighters coming with Fighters Pass 2 would arrive by the end of 2021. With no clear timeline of when the disease might be contained, delays for the multi-part DLC pack seem more than likely.
Nintendo held an Indie World presentation on Tuesday revealing a roster of indie titles due out in the coming months, but there are rumors indicating that Fighters Pass 2 details may have been planned for a Nintendo Direct held next week. Fans, leaks, and rumors have been speculating about what characters could end up on the rosters, even if original plans for a late-March reveal may have been stalled.
The company has long used its ionic fighting game to cross-promote its biggest franchise, the release of Byleth from Fire Emblem: Three Houses as the most recent example. That could mean that a character from Pokémon Sword and Shield (Sirfetch’d or one of the three starters) or even Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Tom Nook or Celeste) seem likely.
Nintendo has not disappointed with the wildcard releases either as we’ve seen with the release of Terry Bogard from the Fatal Fury series. That means characters like Geno from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars or Travis Touchdown from the No More Heroes series are still on the table.
It'll probably be quite some time before Nintendo updates gamers on the development of characters from Fighters Pass 2, and it also seems possible that announcements might have to come in some way that doesn't involve a Nintendo Direct.