Super Smash Bros. is known for being one of the most loved fighting game franchises on the face of the planet. This Nintendo crossover fighting fest did away with the classic fighting game conventions of life bars and instead focused the game on simple controls coupled with an interesting gravity-scaling-based death condition. However, as casual as the game may have seemed, the pro gaming community took Smash Bros. and formed a hardcore competitive scene around it all the same. When Brawl came out, Smash director Masahiro Sakurai said the series was finished, but now, with the arrival of the Wii U and the 3DS, the series is getting yet another chance to impress us all. What will this new Smash Bros. game be like?
Well, the best way to predict the future is by looking to the past, and a key figure in the past of Smash is Sakurai himself. Sakurai is both a blessing and a curse to this series. In one aspect, he's a gigantic fanboy, and everyone knows it. If it weren't for his efforts, we probably wouldn't have seen characters like Solid Snake, Sonic, Pit, and Olimar in Brawl. He has a habit of listening to the fans and attempting to give them what they want, at least aesthetically.
However, Sakurai has pretty much proven to be anti-hardcore gaming in the past. He has admitted on numerous occasions that Smash was meant to be a casual experience for him, a party game rather than a fighting game. The changes he made to the gameplay engine of brawl make this abundantly clear. Random tripping added unneeded variance into the game, sometimes punishing people for smart gameplay. The removal of a directional dash got rid of wave dashing, wave landing, and many tricks that were used to increase character recovery abilities. The game was designed in a way that explicitly discouraged competitive play.
Then, of course, there's the problem with character balance. Brawl was one of the few fighting games in existence that had a character so especially broken that it needed to be banned (albeit temporarily) in tournament play. The gaps in the Brawl tier list are so incredibly large you can drive a truck through them, so large, in fact, that you rarely see any low or even mid-tier characters in tournaments. Is this just another function of Sakurai's anti-hardcore gaming philosophy? Likely not, but this still seems a bit irresponsible when it comes to marketing the game to a hardcore crowd.
In fact, Brawl was so poorly balanced, there are no less than four fan-built mods of the game purporting to be more balanced. Brawl+, Brawl-, Balanced Brawl, and Project: M can all be played without modding your Wii, and they all vastly improve on the game experience.
Luckily, it appears as if Nintendo has taken notice of this in some way. While Sakurai is still on the project, his studio, Hal Laboratories, is not. Instead, NAMCO Bandai will be responsible for development, a studio that has a lot of experience with many different types of fighting games. NAMCO Bandai is responsible for Tekken and SoulCalibur. They also create many anime fighting games, such as the Naruto series, and have developed the Tales RPG series, which has a fighting game-style battle system complete with cancels and combos.