I pay a lot of attention to Super Smash Brothers Brawl, and anyone else who pays as much attention as I do will probably have seen at one time or another a thread concerning a character someone wants to be in the game. These threads are incredible slugfests between fans who seem to think that allowing any other character than their favorite into Brawl will somehow jeopardize their favorite's chance.
Do I have news for them.
What follows is an overly thorough explanation as to who's in and who's out in Brawl.
There are two major attributes with two values that each character in Brawl may have. They can be a veteren or a newcomer, and be from a previously featured franchise or an unfeatured franchise. For the sake of this analysis we will start with featured franchises and extend them as far as seems feasible.
It is important to note that Sakurai Masahiro, the director of the game, has stated he is aiming for a roster 40 fighters strong, with 3 (hopefully) being third party.
Beginning with the obvious, we have the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom. Officially, we already have four of them confirmed, Mario, Yoshi, Bowser and Wario. Ignoring Dr. Mario as a clone, we have Luigi and Peach from past games who will very likely reappear. The question becomes, will anyone else new appear from this franchise?
The answer is "probably" but there's only one that comes to mind, Toad. Outside of him, the number of appealing candidates is very thin. The various basic Mario baddies would universally be long stretches, Waluigi has never been in his own game or featured his own moveset, and Wart's crew also doesn't have much room to expand upon. So, we turn up the following list for Mario:
Confirmed: Mario, Yoshi, Bowser, Wario
Sure Bets: Luigi, Peach
Moving on we reach Donkey Kong. He's been confirmed, but looking at his series he's the major star. It's possible they could expand his frachise's presence with Diddy and Daisy Kong, but beyond that everything's a stretch. I'd be surprised if they didn't do something to expand there, it's just a hard question of what. So, for Donkey Kong:
Confirmed: Donkey Kong
Maybe: Diddy Kong, Daisy Kong
Iffy: Cranky Kong
Next is Captain Falcon. He is all but confirmed for the game, as we've seen stages and items relating to him. Still, official is offical and for now he's only a Sure Bet. Expanding on his series, however, is somewhat confusing. The character many thought was an obvious shoe in, Samurai Goroh, turned into an assist trophy. Almost all of the other racers are completely forgettable, or at least not popular enough to make an appearance as a fighter. This only leaves the villains as likely candidates, Black Shadow and perhaps Deathborn, but it seems tenuous. So, for Captain Falcon:
Sure Bets: Captain Falcon
Maybe: Black Shadow
We have now reached the Zelda series. Link and Zelda have already been confirmed. Ignoring Young Link as a clone, that leaves Sheik (Zelda's alterego) and Ganondorf (not ignored for his importance) as unconfirmed but extremely likely combatants. Ganondorf is, however, extremely likely to see a moveset remake. It is unlikely we will see him featuring moves that mirror Captain Falcon.
As far as expanding the Zelda series showing in Brawl, there aren't a lot of options availible. You could bring in Windwaker Link, but it would take a fair amount of work to differentiate him from Link. More likely might be a Wolf Link/Midna pairing, but even that is questionable. Chances are, we might not see much more from the Zelda series at all.
Confirmed: Link, Zelda
Sure Bets: Sheik, Ganondorf
Maybe: Wolf Link/Midna
Iffy: Windwaker Link
The Metroid series, for only having one character, doesn't have much room for expansion. Beyond Samus and Zero-Suit Samus, the only plausible options are Dark Samus (tough to not make a clone) and Ridley (a rather popular option). Motherbrain and Kraid are simply too big, immobile and uninteresting.
Confirmed: Samus, Zero-Suit Samus
Maybe: Dark Samus
Kirby and his Dreamland, sadly, don't have much to offer either. Following Meta-Knight the only other consistant (and plausible) character is King Dedede. Still, we could have a good three from Kirby.
Confirmed: Kirby, Meta-Knight
Probable: King Dedede
I'll hit on a few series without any expansion possibility. Ice-Climbers and Mr. Game & Watch don't bring with them any possibility of expansion. However, in order to hit the 37 Nintendo characters we will likely see them returning.
Probable: Ice Climbers, Mr. Game & Watch
Now we reach Earthbound. Of all the series currently featured, this one has the highest growth potential. Beyond the possible additions of Jeff and Poo from Earthbound, there are more potential characters from it's Japan-Only sequel. Sadly, most of Paula's abilities were stolen by Ness, and I find it unlikely Ness will be revamped to allow room for her.
Sure Bets: Ness
Probable: Jeff, Poo
Maybe: Mother 3 Characters
Not Happening: Paula
Star Fox has some interesting possibilities. Beyond Fox being confirmed, Falco is popular enough of a character that he will likely return in some heavily modified form. In addition to those two, there have been a number of calls for Star Wolf to be playable, and a nigh torrent for Krystal. I find the latter more likely than the former.
Sure Bets: Krystal, Falco
500+ Pokemon, and I can't think of any that are obvious choices to be added to the game. Pikachu, Jigglypuff and Mewtwo all had significance in that they were critical characters in the anime series. I have long since stopped watching that series. If any new pokemon is to appear as a playable character, they are going to be related to the anime.
Sure Bets: Jigglypuff, Mewtwo
Probable: Another Pokemon
Not Happening: Pichu
Lastly we reach Fire Emblem. To tell you straight, I don't expect either Marth or Roy to return. Roy is a clone, and Marth's series is both old and largely unknown in the US. Chances are we'll see Marth replaced by a nearly identical Ike, accompanied by characters from his recent entries into the series.
Sure Bets: Ike
Probable: Titania, Soren
Not Happening: Marth, Roy
Lets take a quick census here.
Sure Bets: 10
Gasp! What's going on? That's more than 37!
It is, and this means that not everyone seen here is going to make an appearance. We can expect at best one of the Iffy characters to be playable although that's very unlikely, we'll see one or two Maybe characters, most of the Probables, and if I have to tell you whether or not Sure Bets and Confirmed characters will be in or not you need more sleep. That means approximately 33 accounted for.
Who are the remaining 4? Good question. There could always be a few more from the Maybe category, but from frachises ot featured we could have some of the following:
Probable: Captain Olimar
Maybe: Something from Custom Robo
Iffy: Paper Mario
As for Third Parties
Confirmed: Solid Snake
Probable: Mega Man, Belmont, Arucard
Not Happening: Sonic
Yes, no Sonic. Mario and Sonic at the Olympics is a title lauded for being their first meeting in friendly competition. Having them meet in a violent brawl beforehand takes the wind out of the sails.
So there you have it. My predictions regarding Brawl. December 3rd can't come quickly enough.