Characters you didn't know were cut from Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the biggest Smash Bros. game yet, with 103 stages to fight on and every single character in series history making a return appearance — every single character that's actually managed to make Super Smash Bros. roster, that is. As it turns out, that's harder than it sounds. Over the past two decades, lots of classic Nintendo characters were considered for inclusion in Smash Bros. as playable characters. Many of them didn't make the cut.

Thankfully, Super Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai isn't shy when it comes to discussing who did and who didn't survive until the games' final cuts, while websites like Source Gaming are dedicated to translating his interviews. There's no question that each and every one of the following characters deserves a shot at Super Smash Bros. fame. For a variety of reasons, however, none of them managed to make it to the finish line. Here's why.

Clear as Krystal

Krystal wasn't supposed to join the Star Fox team. Originally, she was the star of Dinosaur Planet, a Diddy Kong Racing and adventure game mash-up that Rare Limited was making for the Nintendo 64. But then, Shigeru Miyamoto got involved. Noting that Dinosaur Planet's co-lead looked a lot like ace pilot Fox McCloud, the venerated game designer convinced Rare that Dinosaur Planet would work better as part of the Star Fox universe. The game was renamed Star Fox Adventures, development moved from the N64 to the Nintendo GameCube, Krystal got sexed up, and the blue vixen has been part of the squad ever since.

Krystal was, however, supposed to appear in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. That didn't go according to plan, either. In an interview with Nintendo Dream, Masahiro Sakurai admits that he considered putting Krystal in the game's roster but decided to go with Fox McCloud's arch-rival Wolf O'Donnell instead.

Don't blame Wolf. Blame deadlines. Sakurai says that Brawl's third and final Star Fox character was a last-minute addition, and Krystal didn't make the cut because she was too much work. With Wolf, the Super Smash Bros. team could reuse some of what they'd already made for Fox and Falco. Krystal, on the other hand, would've needed to be a totally new character. Given the limited timeframe, Sakurai and company decided to go with the easier, faster option, and Krystal's been stuck on the sidelines ever since.

Just say Geno

Geno was a fan-favorite character from the moment that he debuted in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars back in the '90s. He's remained one ever since, despite not having a significant presence in any other game. It's easy to see why: Geno is a spiritual warrior trapped inside of a doll who uses his cosmic powers to fight for good. He's basically Chucky, except with a lower body count, a cooler costume, and a whole lot more magic. What's not to love?

It's not just Mario fans who love Geno, either. Sakurai does, too. In fact, Sakurai wanted to make Geno a playable character all the way back in 2008, when Super Smash Bros. Brawl brought Nintendo's premiere fighting franchise to the Wii. "He has a gun for a hand," Sakurai says, "and I think he fits in really well with Smash." Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to get Geno on the roster. Sakurai won't say what happened, simply noting that "in the end it didn't become a reality."

Sakurai threw long-suffering Geno fans a bone in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, which feature a Geno costume for the game's Mii fighters. Is that as good as having Geno himself join the game? Of course not. But Geno's history is complicated — both Nintendo and Square Enix have legitimate claims to the character, making the rights confusing — and hey, a Geno-themed outfit is better than nothing, right? Right?!

Saturday night's alright for Balloon Fighting, but Smash Bros. isn't

When it came time to make the first Super Smash Bros. sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Masahiro Sakurai wanted pay tribute to the original Famicom by adding characters plucked from one of the system's early titles. But which one? Clu Clu Land's spherical hero, Bubbles, was one possibility, but Sakurai couldn't figure out how she'd actually fight. The anonymous Urban Champion, who starred in Nintendo's very first 2D fighting game, was eliminated due to his limited moveset. Excitebike's racer would've required the Melee team to build ramps for him to jump, Sakurai jokes, which would've been too much work.

Ultimately, the spot went to the Ice Climbers, who offered Smash players a new way to play as a team of two separate characters. Nana and Popo weren't guaranteed stars, however. The Balloon Fighter, who appeared in Nintendo's Joust-like Balloon Fight, almost got the spotlight. However, Sakurai decided that the character gets pretty boring once all of his balloons get popped and decided to go with the mallet-wielding, parka-clad heroes instead.

Still, while the Balloon Fighter didn't make the final cut, the Super Smash Bros. games are full of references to his adventures. The Ice Climbers' stage in Super Smash Bros. Brawl houses Balloon Fight's man-eating piranha. The Animal Crossing villager wears the Balloon Fighter's helmet. Later Smash games have an entire level based on Balloon Fight's NES debut. When it comes to the Balloon Fighter, Smash's approach seems clear: gone, perhaps, but hardly forgotten.

Nancy Drew, eat your heart out

A 15-year-old Japanese schoolgirl who solves murders? Yeah, that's got cult hero written all over it. If Ayumi Tachibana had appeared in a Smash game as originally planned, we've got little doubt that she would've become a celebrity like Marth, Lucas, and all those other Japanese-only characters that Super Smash Bros. transformed into global superstars.

But alas, it wasn't to be. According to Sakurai, who discussed Ayumi on the Japanese video site NicoNico (and whose comments were helpfully translated by Source Gaming), the teenage sleuth was too obscure for international audiences. Ayumi's debut title, Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir, is a text-based adventure game that was exclusive to the Famicom Disk System, a floppy-disk-based add-on that never made it to the West. The same goes for Famicom Detective Club Part 2: The Girl Who Stands Behind, a prequel that tells Ayumi's origin story. BS Detective Club: Lost Memories in the Snow, which elevated Ayumi to a starring role, was only available as an episodic download on Nintendo's Satellaview service.

That's too bad, and while Sakurai included Ayumi as one of Melee's collectible trophies, it's not exactly a fitting tribute. See, Ms. Tachibana's trophy write-up is full of errors. Ayumi solved her friend's murder in the first Famicom Detective Club game, not the second. She didn't form her own detective agency, either. She joined Famicom Detective Club's agency as an assistant. Ayumi might not be a household name, but she deserves more respect than that. C'mon, Nintendo. Make it right.

From the King of Iron Fist to Smash Bros. reject

It took a long time for Pac-Man to make his Super Smash Bros. debut, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. Reportedly, Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto suggested that the plucky yellow gobbler might be a good fit for Smash back in the mid-'00s, when Super Smash Bros. Brawl was still in development. Eight years later, history proved him right. Pac-Man made his Super Smash Bros. debut in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U (known to fans as Smash 4) and the Smash world hasn't been the same since.

But Pac-Man isn't the only famous character in Bandai Namco's stable. As Namco, the company made a whole slew of classic arcade games, including Galaga, Dig Dug, and Rolling Thunder. Many of the heroes of those games would make excellent additions to Super Smash Bros. Apparently, however, Sakurai is happy to have Pac-Man represent the entire Bandai Namco line-up, with one exception: he'd really, really like to have Tekken's Heihachi join the fray.

In fact, Sakurai and the Super Smash Bros. team strongly considered putting the powerful, elderly anti-hero in Smash 4, which makes sense when you remember that Bandai Namco helped develop the game. So, why didn't Heihachi make the final list? The way he moves simply wouldn't translate well to Smash's unique battle system. That doesn't mean that Heihachi won't appear in a future Smash game, of course, although if he does, don't expect to see him in his ultra-revealing fundoshi. Super Smash Bros. already got in trouble with CERO, Japan's ratings board, once. Sakurai isn't eager to do so again.

Whistling Dixie

For the most part, the extended Donkey Kong Country family is pretty well represented in Super Smash Bros. Donkey Kong has been the second character on Smash's roster since the very beginning. When Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U hit, Donkey's little buddy Diddy was so powerful that he upended the entire Smash meta. Donkey Kong Country big bad King K. Rool is making his Smash Bros. debut in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, while Cranky, Funky, and Candy Kong have all been immortalized as trophies.

But what about Dixie? Oh, sure, Diddy Kong's ponytailed girlfriend has been a part of Smash since Melee, but only as a collectible. But Dixie has headlined her very own game, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! Surely she deserves a spot as a playable character, right? Sakurai thinks so. In fact, the Smash Bros. maestro wanted Dixie to appear in Super Smash Bros. Brawl alongside Diddy. As Sakurai told Famitsu, Diddy and Dixie were originally two halves of an Ice Climbers-like team. Players would switch between the duo "instantly with every touch."

Unfortunately, as development continued, "various difficult parts" emerged and the plan was scrapped. Diddy went on to join Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a solo act, and Dixie's been relegated to the sidelines ever since. Still, she's fared better than Kiddy Kong, Dixie's Donkey Kong Country 3 co-star, who hasn't appeared in any Smash game before Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — not even as a dinky little trophy.

Strike the harp and join the Chorus Kids

Not every cut Super Smash Bros. character is revealed via Sakurai. Sometimes, fans need to take matters into their own hands. That's what happened back in 2013, at least, when Gematsu editor Sal Romano posted a series of potential roster leaks for the then-upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U lineup. The latest edition of Super Smash Bros., Romano said, would include Mega Man, the Animal Crossing villager, the Wii Fit Trainer, Punch-Out!! hero Little Mac, Miis, Pac-Man, Xenoblade Chronicles' Shulk, Kid Icarus goddess Palutena, Chrom from Fire Emblem, a Pokémon X and Y character, and the Chorus Kids (or Chorus Men) from Rhythm Heaven.

Most of those predictions came true. A few didn't, but that doesn't mean that Romano was wrong. When Smash 4 came out, the staff over at Source Gaming delved into the Wii U edition of the game for some good, old-fashioned data-mining. They found some interesting stuff. Not only does it look like a Dr. Mario-themed stage was in development, but the list of fighters contains references to someone or something known as "rhythm."

Fans quickly assumed that the label referred to the Chorus Kids, and the evidence is pretty compelling. Besides, Rhythm Heaven is the kind of quirky, second-tier Nintendo franchise that Super Smash Bros. fans go crazy for. So far, it looks like the Chorus Kids are going to miss out on the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate party, but don't give up hope just yet. With five DLC fighters still on the way, anything is still possible.

The Mysterious Murasame Castle is a little too mysterious

Even die-hard Nintendo fans haven't heard of The Mysterious Murasame Castle, and with good reason. The top-down adventure game, which came out in 1986, wasn't released outside of Japan until 2014. During its initial launch, the game was a Famicom Disk System exclusive. While The Mysterious Murasame Castle's star, Takamaru, popped up in the Wii U's Nintendo Land minigame collection and is a featured character in Captain Rainbow, an ode to long-forgotten Nintendo characters, the game has never received a direct sequel.

In other words, The Mysterious Murasame Castle is about as obscure as a first-party Nintendo game can get. That hasn't stopped Masahiro Sakurai from trying to cram Takamaru into Super Smash Bros. at least twice. According to a reader Q&A on the official Nintendo website, Sakurai floated Takamaru as a possibility for Super Smash Bros. Melee, before dismissing the swordsman's appearance as unlikely. Years later, Takamaru was a serious contender for Smash 4. He was axed, however, because Nintendo decided that The Mysterious Murasame Castle was a little too niche for international fans.

Super Smash Bros. still manages to pay tribute to Takamaru and his sole starring appearance, of course. The character is an assist trophy in Smash 4, his theme song can be heard in the Duck Hunt stage, and if you want to shell out for DLC, you can dress your Mii Fighter like Takamaru, too. Just don't expect to see Takamaru join the list of Super Smash Bros. characters proper. When it comes to name value, Takamaru simply doesn't have any.

Blastoise just isn't a natural selection

Super Smash Bros. veterans know that the Pokémon Trainer isn't a regular character; he's not just one fighter, he's actually a trio. During a match, the Trainer can open up his Pokeballs and switch between three different Pokémon characters — Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard — each of whom have their own movesets, strengths, and weaknesses. Savvy Pokémon fans will recognize that that's not a random line-up, either: those are the three original starting Pokémon from Pokémon Red and Blue, albeit in a couple of evolved forms.

That wasn't the original lineup, though, at least not exactly. Instead of Squirtle, the Pokémon Trainer almost used a Blastoise instead. Like Squirtle, Blastoise sports a thick, turtle-like shell. Unlike Squirtle, Blastoise also has high-powered water guns attached to his back, which its official Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire profile claims can hit empty cans with pinpoint accuracy from 160 feet away.

Ultimately, Sakurai went with Squirtle instead. As Sakurai told Famitsu (translated, as always, by Source Gaming), variety was the deciding factor. "I thought having balance with the sizes and stages of evolution would be good," Sakurai says. See, most Pokémon go through three separate stages. Ivysaur is Bulbasaur's second evolution. Charizard is Charmander's third. By including Squirtle, which is the Pokémon's first form, the Pokémon Trainer's stable represents all three starters and all three evolutionary stages. As far as fan service goes, that's better than a pair of squirt guns — and at the end of the day, fan service is what Smash Bros. is really all about.