Terry Bogard is a pretty cool character. Debuting in the 1991 arcade fighter, Fatal Fury: King of Fighters, the American entered the fighting tournament to get revenge on the criminal Geese Howard for killing his father. Soon after, the character’s popularity began to rocket – Created to be the ‘absolute American’, Japanese audiences fell in love with the affable machismo Terry offered. His mix of general martial-arts and a form of chi created a quick, brawler battle style that audiences got to experience in dozens of games. He’s represented SNK as its mascot for almost three decades.
I’ll admit, I never played King of Fighters. I never grew up with Terry, and, going off Smash fan reactions, neither did a lot of people. But his ‘obscurity’ to some isn’t at all a reason to exclude him. If it were, the West would never have gotten Marth and Roy.
But what Terry seems to offer Smash is just more of the same – I look at him, and I can’t help of think ‘faster Ken with a ponytail’. Watching gameplay videos of him, aside from shouting ‘Are you ok?’, I don’t see anything terribly unique. It’s a ‘yet another Fire Emblem character’ sort of scenario to me – We have plenty of martial artists in the game, using similar combat styles. Fighting games are well represented. So why are we adding another rep?
Terry is the SNK mascot after all, so perhaps that is it. But Terry’s already been in heaps of titles – 86 of them, infact. From dating sims, pachinko machines, and even genderbending into a female only fighting game, Terry’s at a level of over-exposure that’d even make Darkstalker’s Morrigan blush.
Given this, and the ‘What even is SNK?’ memes circulating, you would be forgiven for thinking the company only had King of Fighters in its arsenal. But they very much don’t, and that is where the real kicker comes in: SNK’s other franchises not only offer a chance to represent themselves, but in a way that makes them stand out a heck of a lot better.
Take Samurai Showdown, an arcade fighter that relies heavily on taking advantage of opponents openings. Amongst its combatants, it features Nakoruru, a girl who uses nature magic, a kodachi, and a hawk in fighting; the ronin Jubei, who utilises his blades and is known for his parrying-techniques; Tam Tam, a tribal fighter who stays low to the ground and uses fire and fast sword jabs to fight his foes. There’s a lot of characters with unique and interesting combat styles in that series, and with Samurai Showdown 2019 released, Smash would have been a great promotional tool.
But, as Samurai Shodown’s main character, Haohmaru, is already crossing over with Soul Calibur later this year, perhaps Smash would have been too much. Fair enough. In which case; why not Metal Slug? Can you imagine Marco and Tarma using the game’s various weapons in a mix between Snake and Mega Man’s playstyles? Their stage being a comedic war in the background, with POWs giving the players items/food when touched and ‘rescued’? Their final smash being calling down the Metal Slug and you driving around in it, shooting everyone to bits? It sounds amazing, doesn’t it? It would have been different, creative, and represent the arcade shooter genre – A genre that, right now, has no-one in Smash.
Even in King of Fighters, there’s more interesting fighters, at least, gameplay wise: Iori uses fists and purple flames; Mai utilises speed, weapons, in addition to fire…
…Yet, we ended up getting Terry. A character that’s the company go-to for crossovers, with heaps of exposure already. A character whose reveal was largely ignored in favour of Banjo’s release, and Sans as a Mii Gunner costume. A character who, despite his apparent popularity, I can’t find even placing on any ‘desired character’ polls for Smash online. And I’ve seen bloody Sora several times.
Don’t get me wrong: Terry is an alright pick. But considering the characters and playstyles we could have gotten from SNK, ‘alright’ is about all I can think. Hopefully I’m wrong, and Terry turns out to be awesome. I guess we’ll see.Become a Patron!