There was little to no regard for Sakurai in the west in the afternoon. I remember there was a popular webseries of SSB pieces made from spritework and there was an whole joke of Ridley, Geno, Mega man, and a few different characters becoming mad they weren't from the match and Geno only fireblasting all Japan for this. It had been just like, in retrospect, incredibly fucked up
You are correct that there was a lot of hate and disrespect towards Sakurai, but Smash Kingdom was all in great fun and normally featured a lot of dark humor. You have to dig deep into the archives of Smashboards, GameFAQs and NeoGAF (if that is even possible with the latter) to find the true vitriol.
Yeah there are some straight up death dangers in there. Same would be said today here, but it would get downvoted into oblivion.
That said I do want Skull Kid was at the same quantity of demand today as he was then. Zelda still has gotten no longer meaningful representation, and Skull Kid remains the best choice to give the franchise it is much deserved new fighter--and he's been mostly forgotten in talks about new characters. Skull Kid will forever be my number one pick. I'd honestly be very happy with Midna or Tetra as well. Just SOMEONE to represent Zelda that isn't a Triforce Trio incarnation.
I have a feeling that we are going to get BOTW Zelda, and while I really do believe that could be cool I would be disappointed if Zelda's just meaningful representation because freaking MELEE are yet another Zelda.
I knew someone was gonna say this, but basically in my mind she is different enough from Zelda to where I'd be fine with it. Hell she isn't even really"Zelda" before the last third of the game, and even at the end she moves straight back to her pirate roots. She feels different from Zelda is basically what I am getting at. Personality wise, design wise, everything is more Tetra compared to Zelda. Zelda is radically underrepresented, and that may be partly due to a scarcity of recurring characters which are not among those three, but between Skull Kid, Impa, and Midna, there's definitely room for another new character from the collection.
I doubt it is true, but I'd be legit mad if this turned out to be the rationale. Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy swap out their entire cast of figures every match (with only the occasional direct sequel), however they're still allowed multiple repetitions in the same game. Zelda has sooooo many one-game-only characters which will still fit great into Smash, just look at the roster of both Hyrule Warriors games.
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