DK, Pit, Wario, Pikachu, Samus, Link and Mario art from Super Smash Bros Brawl DK, Pit, Wario, Pikachu, Samus, Link and Mario art from Super Smash Bros Brawl

2013 is set to be chock-full of news and hype for the fourth installment of Super Smash Bros. What do smash fans have to look forward to as they wait for more news from Nintendo?

Can you believe it’s almost been seven years since Nintendo unveiled Super Smash Bros. Brawl at E3 2006? I know I can’t; It seems like just yesterday I was huddled over my laptop in my dorm when that magical trailer gave Smash fans our first glimpse of Wario, Meta Knight, Pit and Zero Suit Samus. The clip notoriously closed with the revelation that Solid Snake would be joining the Brawl, opening the flood gates for speculation as to what other characters might make it into Nintendo’s mascot fighter.

In the months that followed the announcement, forums were ablaze with the hopes and dreams of Smash fans from all over the world. Detailed move sets were imagined for favorite characters regardless of their affiliation with Nintendo. In the end, Solid Snake and Sonic The Hedgehog would be the only third-party characters to make the roster. Of course, that’s more than anybody might have guessed prior to the 2006 reveal trailer.

Fast forward to 2013 and we find ourselves once again on the cusp of some major Smash Bros. announcements. January 23rd’s Nintendo Direct confirmed that we’d be seeing both the Wii U and 3DS versions of forthcoming Smash titles. What can we expect from this exhibition? At the very least, screenshots depicting the graphical style and a few character confirmations. In response to this week’s Nintendo Direct, Smash Bros. visionary Masahiro Sakurai tweeted, “<Wii U and 3DS versions — I would like to show you both. Other games have had visuals shown, but you still have to wait for Smash Bros. But we’ll be able to release something better.>” What exactly this means is anybody’s guess, but considering Melee and Brawl were both officially revealed through lengthy cinematic trailers, it  follows that we might receive something similar from the Wii U version’s unveiling.

Currently, almost nothing is known about the upcoming 3DS and Wii U Smash games, but that makes it an exciting time for fans of the series. We don’t even have a confirmation on the name, though a supposedly leaked document suggests a working title of Super Smash Bros. Universe. This name will most likely be scrapped before E3 in favor of another synonym for “fight,” ala Melee and Brawl. Super Smash Bros. Fracas is a popular name among speculators; it follows the series’ naming conventions and strikes a good balance between sounding serious and silly, just like the game itself.

More importantly, little has been said on the subject of how the game will actually play. In August 2012, Sakurai noted that, “The game system itself is complete, so we don’t want to make it 3D or introduce complicated controls just for the sake of it. However, I am thinking of ways we can introduce a slightly different, fun experience all the while keeping the usual frantic game play.” It would be  safe to bet that we’ll be looking at a 2D, king-of-the-hill style game just as in previous Smash games. Even so, these upcoming Smash games will be the first of their kind to have access to a touch screen and it will be interesting to see what the development team does with the new technology. According to Sakurai, “The GameCube controller is not the only way to control Smash Bros., so we will look into ways that fits the Wii U.” This might be sobering news for long-time Smashers, as most of them have been using the Gamecube controller to play the game for almost a decade now. At this time, the Wii U doesn’t support the Gamecube in any way, controllers or otherwise. At least Gamecube fans can take solace in the Wii U Pro Controller, which should provide the closest facsimile to the classic control scheme.

Of course, the most popular subject for speculation is, as ever, the character roster. As mentioned above, Sonic and Snake having made their way into Brawl means that fans are expecting more by way of third-party characters. However, Sakurai seems reluctant to open the gates to any old character–even Namco Bandai properties like Tekken. “I think Snake and Sonic joining were fantastic,” says Sakurai. “It made many fans happy, and it broadened the Smash Bros arena. However, introducing more non-Nintendo characters willy-nilly will lose the focus of the game, so I also recognize the need to narrow it down.” Frankly, this statement is nonsense. I doubt that there are many out there that would argue against including as many characters as possible. Thankfully, the prominence of downloadable content lends to the notion that we might eventually wind up with more characters than those found on the disk. This way, if the fans are really clamoring for a character that didn’t make the initial cut, Nintendo can offer that character as DLC.

We still have a long way to go before E3 and even longer before the release of the game. In the interim, keep your imaginations alive and be vocal about what you’d like to see in the new Smash Bros. Nintendo looks at the internet, too, and it is my fondest hope that they acknowledge how many people are clamoring to see Mega Man finally duke it out with Samus.

Who would you like to see make it into the next Smash Bros? Sound off in the comments below, or join in the discussion on our awesome message boards!