Dixie Kong's chances of joining Super Smash Bros. Ultimate may have just increased dramatically with Isabelle's inclusion

One of the biggest characters of the Donkey Kong series has been heavily debated since the game's announcement, but with notable conflict

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • September 14, 2018 at 8:01 p.m. PDT

Yesterday, we finally got to see the Nintendo Direct which had been delayed a week because of the earthquake that hit Hokkaido, Japan the week before.

In said Direct, Nintendo announced a few new titles, showed new footage of several titles we knew of, brought out a bunch of remakes and remasters, and ended it on a very high note with a Smash Bros. reveal and announcement for one of their biggest franchises.

Yes, the Direct ended with a new Animal Crossing game being confirmed for next year, and one of that series most popular characters since her debut in Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the 3DS, Isabelle, joining the battle.

In Super Smash Bros. discussions, Isabelle had generally been viewed as something of a shoo-in, with people always saying she was a locked character and there's no way she would miss the cut.

However, the majority's assumption was that she would be an Echo Fighter of Animal Crossing's current playable character, Villager, which was not the case.

In fact, while Isabelle seems to have some moves that are similar to Villager's, her situation seems much more similar to that of Lucas or Toon Link from the Super Smash Bros. Brawl days than any sort of Echo Fighter, and this is great news for my personal most wanted character of all the ones not already in, Dixie Kong of Donkey Kong Country fame.

If you're wondering how Isabelle relates to Dixie in this regard, I'd be more than happy to explain it to you. Just continue below to be enlightened.

The resurgence of the Donkey Kong Country franchise

During the SNES era, Donkey Kong Country was one of the most massive franchises in the video game world. It was huge even by Nintendo standards, though obviously not at the level of Super Mario or Pokémon.

But it was definitely huge, and this continued for as long as Rareware, the developers behind the reminagining of Nintendo's classic icon Donkey Kong, stayed with Nintendo.

A few years after the release of Donkey Kong 64, however, Rareware were sold off to Microsoft instead, meaning that Nintendo lost the rights to many of the characters people associated with their hardware, including the Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark series.

Donkey Kong was of course entirely unaffected by this as far as rights went — any character created within the Donkey Kong franchise (Diddy Kong Racing not quite withstanding, since Banjo and Conker both originated there) was 100% owned by Nintendo, but this was something a lot of people didn't realize since Nintendo kind of stopped using any Rare-developed characters very much for a while.

The first Donkey Kong title in a long while, Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat on the Nintendo GameCube, saw no sign of characters like Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong or King K. Rool, and was instead focused solely on Donkey Kong himself and a bunch of brand new enemies.

Even though Nintendo had full rights to all Donkey Kong Country-originating characters, this absence of them in Nintendo titles caused fans to become confused about their status, especially since Donkey Kong was still the lone representative of series in Super Smash Bros. Melee despite the massive popularity the series had seen (and Melee was even during the time Rareware were still owned by Nintendo).

These doubts were dissuaded largely once Diddy Kong joined the Super Smash Bros. roster in Super Smash Bros. Brawl in 2008, though the Donkey Kong franchise itself was still largely absent from Nintendo's lineup.

This all changed in 2010 with the release of Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii, and it was a roaring success thanks to developers Retro Games, famous for the Metroid Prime series.

Despite the decade-long absence of the Country series, Returns saw sales on par with the SNES titles, and was a gigantic win for Nintendo and Donkey Kong fans everywhere, garnering some extra revenue on top with a 3DS port later on.

On the less financially successful Wii U, we saw the sequel Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which reintroduced Dixie Kong as a playable character and brought Cranky Kong into the fray as a playable character in the main franchise for the first time, which did quite well given the console it was on.

It has since received an enhanced port on the Nintendo Switch this year which is selling even better than the original title did back in 2014.

In short, Donkey Kong as a franchise is back to its former glory in a big way, and is as heavy of a hitter as it ever was, right back in Nintendo's A-List where it belongs.

This is definitely a big factor for Nintendo when it comes to whether it should have an increased presence in Super Smash Bros. or not, because this brawler is definitely a good marketing opportunity, and they know it.

The iconic status of Dixie as a character

With Donkey Kong being such a major player for Nintendo, and the Country series having a life of its own both in the '90s and now again today, it's impossible to ignore what a big part of that franchise Dixie Kong is.

The most favorably received games of each of the two Country series — Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze — have Dixie as a playable character, and she even headlined two games in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie's Double Trouble on the SNES and Donkey Kong Land 3 on the GameBoy.

Dixie Kong has been an enduring presence in the Donkey Kong series whenever it's been active since her inception, and she has a lot of personality and abilities that set her apart from her compatriots, such as her ability to fight with her hair, her ability to float through the air and her wicked electrical guitar skills (though it must be noted Diddy showed in Donkey Kong 64 that he's no scrub on the strings, either).

As far as Nintendo characters go, probably the only character more recognizable and popular than Dixie Kong who isn't already playable in Super Smash Bros. at this point is Toad from the Mario series, who seems to have been relegated to a part of Peach's moveset since Melee, but even then Toad is pretty far from being the third or fourth most notable character in the Mario series like Dixie is to hers.

It's also worth noting that Sakurai noted on one of his Miiverse posts during Super Smash Bros. 4's development how nice it was to have so many new female fighters this time around.

Looking back, there was indeed a heavy emphasis on bringing women into the fray, partly with characters like Robin, Wii Fit Trainer and Villager where you could choose either male or female versions, but also with established female characters like Rosalina & Luma, Palutena and Lucina.

Before the official reveal of Isabelle, you'd often see the two of them listed as definite locks for Echo Fighters (of Villager and Diddy Kong, respectively) because of their high relevance, popularity and iconic stature, even though a Diddy moveset doesn't make much sense for a character like Dixie Kong.

Now, with the inclusion of Isabelle as a unique fighter in her own slot, Dixie's chances are looking stronger than ever... But we'll get back to that in a second.

The arrival of King K. Rool in Smash Ultimate

Ever since Diddy Kong didn't make the cut back in Super Smash Bros. Melee, the status of Donkey Kong as a franchise has always been a little bit awkward in Super Smash Bros., in where it feels underrepresented relative to its popularity and fame.

This definitely didn't change in Super Smash Bros. 4 when, even after the hugely successful renaissance of the Donkey Kong series, we still only had Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong as playable representatives.

However, there's a big difference between the development of Super Smash Bros. 4 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — the Smash Ballot, where players sent in votes for the characters they most wanted to see.

It's pretty obvious that Sakurai and his team are paying quite a bit of attention to popular requests now that they've heard loud and clear who people want, with us already seeing long-clamored for additions like Ridley, Samus Aran's nemesis from Metroid and the main subject of this part of the article, the devious King K. Rool who has been a thorn in the Kong family's side since 1994.

With King K. Rool finally joining the Super Smash Bros. roster, the supposed barrier of entry for the Donkey Kong franchise has been broken, probably because of the Smash Ballot sending a very clear message that reflects how popular this franchise is worldwide.

Now, normally, you might think that a character joining Smash Bros. from a franchise would lessen the chances of other characters from the same franchise, but in this case, I'd argue that is not the case.

The big difference between King K. Rool and Dixie Kong is that Dixie simply does not have any of the obstacles that K. Rool had for inclusion. King K. Rool hasn't been in any game for over 10 years (his last appearance being in Super Mario Sluggers in 2008) and has been completely absent from the grand revival the Donkey Kong Country series has seen in the last decade.

Dixie, on the other hand, was a key player and prominent character in Tropical Freeze, the latest game in the series which was out well before Super Smash Bros. Ultimate started development, and is actively a part of the DK family. Not only that, but she was part of the mythical Forbidden Seven, characters who were considered for Super Smash Bros. Brawl but eventually cut, as part of a duo fighter with Diddy Kong where they would tag out with eachother like in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest.

While King K. Rool probably placed higher than Dixie Kong in the Smash Ballot, given his long-time status as one of the characters people want in the game the most as well as him being such a memorable Nintendo villain, Dixie Kong has pretty much every single other factor going for her over him. And after Isabelle's reveal, she has one more huge thing which supports her inclusion...

Isabelle's inclusion and non-Echo state solving the "Dixie moveset debate"

The biggest debate when it came to Dixie Kong joining Super Smash Bros. Ultimate wasn't as much whether she would make the cut — most people saw her as a guarantee — but instead what form she would be joining the roster in.

A majority subscribed to the idea that she would simply be a Diddy Kong echo, despite his moves not really making much sense on her, and being a waste of potential for a character built around fighting with her golden locks of hair as her main weapon. This became even more prominent after Fire Emblem: Awakening's Chrom broke the rules we thought we knew about Echo Fighters.

Others, however, including myself, maintained that Dixie Kong is far too iconic and popular of a character to simply be a clone of someone she doesn't even fight similar to and just shares a body type and franchise with, and that she would either be in as a unique fighter or be absent from the game all-together.

There really wasn't much progress in any of the debates, with two rigid camps set in their ways, but with the arrival of Isabelle, a middle ground seems like the most likely option of all.

Isabelle's inclusion is very reminiscent of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where we had popular characters who were still very similar to others in the game — the most notable two being Lucas relative to Ness and Toon Link relative to Link — and when they were first added, a lot of people said they were simply clones of the other character.

Once you actually sat down with them, however, it was obvious that the majority of their moveset was actually quite different, even though they had some basic similarities. In both cases, practically every single A move at their disposal was entirely unique, while their B moves were similar in looks, but different in function.

In Super Smash Bros. 4, however, no such characters were anywhere to be found among the newcomers. Every new character added was either an Echo Fighter, more similar to their base fighter than any other supposed clone throughout series history (perhaps barring Luigi in the original Super Smash Bros. 64), or entirely unique fighters who shared nothing with previous combatants.

With Isabelle being a derivative character of Villager but not an echo, the door is suddenly open for more Brawl-esque character additions, which is where Dixie Kong fits in perfectly. While she definitely doesn't make sense with Diddy Kong's moveset, having a few of his moves but the majority being unique is a setup that would work perfectly well on her.

You could have some moves being similar or even identical, like changing the Peanut Popguns for Dixie's Bubble Gum Pop Gun and have the banana peel throw stay the same, while giving her a moveset based heavily around swinging her hair and bashing her opponents with much more range and finesse than her boyfriend Diddy would.

In my mind, the reveal of Isabelle and just how she functions in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has given my current most wanted character Dixie Kong (since most of my previous wanted fighters have already made the cut) a huge boost in her chances of joining the game, and will likely do so in a form that wouldn't upset any fans.

At this point, it seems much more likely that Echo Fighters are solidly characters that wouldn't have made the cut in any other form, and both Isabelle and Dixie Kong are far too popular and iconic to be shoved under such a label.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the article. With any luck, we can enjoy some Smash games together later this year, preferrably with Dixie Kong as part of the roster. 4-player Donkey Kong Country brawls, anyone?

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