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Friday, July 26, 2013

Steer Clear of Egalitarian Approaches

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Franchises are not created equal.

Recently, I came across a Miiverse post that wished for at least four characters from every represented franchise in Super Smash Bros. 4. To review, there are 19 different franchises represented in Super Smash Bros. Brawl alone, which means just to cover Brawl, we'd need 76 characters. Add 12 more with the new Animal Crossing, Mega Man, and Wii Fit franchises that must be represented, and we have a roster that can't even fit on one character select screen.

While the topic creator for that post literally suggested that the Polar Bear from Ice Climber should be a playable character in order to meet his egalitarian goals, many people on Miiverse eviscerated both Polar Bear and the topic creator. While those like Al Gore may find comfort in defending both Polar Bears and egalitarianism, it seems that the Silent Majority still resists these destructive ways of thinking.

We ought to celebrate the fact that every videogame franchise is inherently different. Some, like Pokémon, have literally hundreds of viable Smash 4 candidates, while Metroid has Samus and that's all anyone really cares about. I think if you're fodder in the GameFAQs Character Contests, no one cares about you. Same goes for characters that are already in a Super Smash Bros. game that derive all their voting power from that series instead of their own games, such as Captain Olimar. No one actually cares about Captain Olimar. People just like Pikmin and wanted a representative from that into Super Smash Bros. Brawl, especially considering Nintendo's failure to produce new major IPs that are on the same playing field as Mario or Donkey Kong.

It is those differences that different franchises truly shine. If every franchise were equal, it'd be boring. Not every franchise is successfully character-driven franchise. Take F-Zero, for instance. As I discussed in an earlier article, F-Zero GX has tons of great, but underutilized characters. Does it have the potential to be character-driven? Yes. IS IT? Puns aside, absolutely not. It is a complete failure in that regard, and it's unfortunate. Should we treat F-Zero the same way we do Pokémon, which celebrates its characters constantly? Should we reward unequal efforts equally?

No. Pokémon should be rewarded with many more character slots than F-Zero, which should be punished by just having Captain Falcon until that franchise gets its act together. ...If it ever will. Pokémon should be recognized for its character-based merits!

There are some other strands of the egalitarian argument that ought to be addressed. Obviously, due to budget, scope, and release dates, Super Smash Bros. 4 can only have so much content in it. Character space is limited. But what about diversity? If we make the roster more diverse, why, then that has to be a good thing, right? But what about if the need for diversity...means someone else who really deserves to get in can't, because they don't fit the target demographic?

Affirmative action is the result of the egalitarian mindset. Again, instead of being based on merit — merit being the unequal differences between people in terms of ability or competence — we somehow must provide features or shape the character roster based on "There needs to be more women in Smash!" So we get characters like Wii Fit Trainer. Who only exists to troll us. I'm not saying I don't like her, but she's the end product of feminists clamoring for decades that women should be treated the same way as men.

So fine, let Wii Fit Trainer get the shit beaten out of her the same way I'd beat the crap out of that mustached menace.

But don't get SO affirmative action-oriented that you start calling for Baby Mario and Baby Luigi to become playable characters. For one, while Yoshi's Island is certainly amazing, Yoshi's games as a whole are undeserving of representatives that aren't named Yoshi. ...I'd be fine with Kamek, though.

Feminists may have been calling for equal rights and therefore equal treatment (hah, yeah right, they're a bunch of hypocrites. They don't REALLY want all the bad stuff men get, only the good stuff) for this time, but don't bring little babies into this!

Granted, Mario may be a savage barbarian that beats up children and little toddlers, but don't force Captain Falcon to send a Falcon Punch into the way of little Baby Luigi! I don't care if he fits the coveted 1-4 year old white male demographic! Masahiro Sakurai should not lower his standards to fit the egalitarians!
Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga Lemmy Koopa child abuse crying
The Mario Brothers are caught here invading Prince Lemmy Koopa's own room and
viciously assaulting him with sledgehammers, causing the young Koopaling to cry.

Another result of taking an egalitarian approach to Super Smash Bros. is exactly the sad state that happened with Super Smash Bros. Brawl and its single-player mode. Even though all of the characters are created differently, for the first time in the series, they all have identical Target Tests. Instead of truly testing each character's unique mechanics and fleshing those out, we have five boring, generic stages for everyone to go to. And since no one is allowed to be better than anyone else because everyone must be "equal", there are no character-specific skills. So that means you're clearing the same five stages thirty-five times each in the same way. All in the name of equality.

When equality is enforced and made the rule of law, no one benefits. The adroit in society are handicapped, and the incapable in society have nothing to aspire to. No higher source of inspiration. No motivation. There is no richer, more successful version of myself I can become, because the people who should be the society's celebrated champions, for all the good that they've done, are treated the same way I am. So why bother bettering myself? Society as a whole stagnates.

Every game developer wants their franchise to be represented well in a big game like Super Smash Bros. 4. You cannot grant the wishes of everyone, treating all of their requests as though they are all equals. Only the best of the best may enter, and the rest? Work harder. Competition, the free market, and the motivation of reward, unhampered by calls for egalitarianism and redistribution, is how the world flourishes in every conceivable aspect of life. Including the Smash 4 roster.

As to not embarass the original Miiverse poster who inspired the creation of this article, Ludwig chose not to link him or his post. Others may not be so fortunate in the future. Ludwig is watching you in the Super Smash Bros. community on Miiverse! Watch HIM by Following him at NNID PrinceOfKoopas.

Be warned of people telling you that you must have diversity.

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