Note: This is not a particularly timely or serious topic. It's just a look a a single facet of the Smash Bros series: the age of the playable fighters upon their Smash debut.
Since the original Super Smash Bros on the N64, there have been characters who have been long-running veterans of video gaming mixed together with relatively youthful mascots, still fresh from their debut. Or in Roy's case, still preparing for a debut. This OP will take a quick look at some of the extremes from both ends of the spectrum, looking at the newcomers from each new release.
Super Smash Bros (1999)
The original Super Smash Bros had a total of 12 fighters, first starring in games as early as 1981 and as late as 1996. Technically, characters were about 9 or 10 years old on average, but no characters were actually very close to this figure. After Samus, who had a 1986 debut, it would be over four years until F-Zero and Super Mario World introduced Captain Falcon and Yoshi. The roster actually focused around two main eras, 1981 to 1986 and 1992 to 1996, each of which had five representatives.
On both ends, there were two fighters who shared a common debut. Mario and Donkey Kong were already over 17 years old by this point, and still share the third earliest debut behind G&W and Pac-Man. On the other end, pikachu and Jigglypuff first appeared in Pokemon Green/Red, which was under three years old at the time. Luigi was a solid third place in terms of age, while Ness was the youngest besides the two Pocket Monsters. This is interesting seeing as how Luigi is obviously a Mario series character and Ness's Earthbound was developed by Ape Inc, lster known as Creatures Inc.
Super Smash Bros Melee (2001)
Melee had a total of 13 newcomers, or 14 if counting Zelda and Sheik as separate entities. Either way, this was more than double the original. Interestingly, these newcomers largely filled holes around the two main periods represented in the first game, with six newcomers 1985 to the Super Famicom launch and four or five from after Pokemon Green/Red.
The oldest fighter introduced in Melee was Mr Game & Watch, whose April 1980 debut predated Melee by over 21 years. In distant second place were the Ice Climbers, followed by Peach and Bowser from 1985's Super Mario Bros. These 1985 characters were already over 16 years old. On the flip side, the youngest newcomer in Melee, as well as the entire series, was Roy. His true debut, Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade for the GBA, was not released for a few months. Discounting him, the most recent debut was Pichu, as Pokemon Gold/Silver was released exactly two years prior to Melee, on November 21. Ocarina of Time, yet another November 21st release, introduced a at least two fighters in 1998: Ganondorf, Young Link, and arguably Sheik.
The oddball series in Melee was the Zelda series. Jumping from one to four or five representatives (Sheik is Odd), it included both characters from the 1986 original, from over 15 years earlier, while Ocarina of Time was exactly 3 years old. Sheik, depending on whether they're considered a distinct character or not, could be considered either one of the younger or older members of this wave of newcomers.
Super Smash Bros Brawl (2008)
Brawl brought another wave of newcomers, who were starting to get older on average. Brawl's latecomers included three characters over 20 years old: ROB, Pit, and Snake. However, these three were the only new characters to debut in the 80's. Instead, the emphasis was on characters from the early 90's and those from the 21st century. Early 90's representatives included both Dedede and Meta Knight of the Kirby series, Sonic, Wario, and Diddy Kong.
On the younger side, five or six characters from 21st century games were added, again depending on whether Zero Suit Samus is counted. The youngest of these was Lucario and Lucas, both of whom first appeared in handheld games during 2006. Ike was also less than three years old at the time.
One point of interest is that Brawl was the first Smash Bros entry to remove fighters from its roster. Four of the five youngest fighters from Melee were removed, including Roy, Pichu, Young Link, and Mewtwo. Later, in the fourth entry, more fighters would be removed from Brawl's roster prior to DLC. Unlike in the Melee to Brawl transfer though, this one took fighters from a wider range of periods, including the Snake and Ice Climbers from the 80's, Wolf and Pokemon Trainer from the 90's, and Lucas from the 00's.
Super Smash Bros 4 3DS/Wii U (2014)
SSB4 introduced characters from across the ages, but mostly focused on the ancient characters introduced prior to the SNES and young fighters familiar to those who started gaming with the Wii. The oldest newcomers in the series came in SSB4, with five characters being over 25 years old. These included the ancient Pac-Man, who is both the second oldest fighter in series history and had to wait the longest for a debut, over 34 years. Another pair of newcomers, Little Mac and Duck Hunt, were also over 30 years old. However, though the 80's and 21st century were well represented, the 90's saw no entirely new fighters introduced. The main exceptions were Charizard and Sheik, who were fleshed out from existing fighters.
With seven characters that had their debut after the launch of the Wii, it featured young fighters from five series, even though two, Dark Pit and Lucina of them were clones. Greninja was by far the youngest, first appearing in Pokemon X/Y less than a year before the 3DS version was released. Other younger fighters included Robin from Fire Emblem: Awakening and the two clones. Interestingly, all of these newest fighters were from 3DS games, rather than console games. However, though the Game Boy and GBA were partially represented by Charizard and Zero Suit Samus becoming distinct fighters, the DS was mostly overlooked. Conversely, three distinct characters not counting Mii Fighters were introduced on the Wii, while no fighters appeared first on the Wii U.
- Pokemon constantly features young newcomers. Pikachu, Jigglypiuff, Pichu, Lucario, and Greninja were all less than three years old when appearing in their first Smash Bros. This is balanced by the frequent loss of characters, with two characters lost in the transition from Melee to Brawl and another two from Brawl to SSB4.
Fire Emblem also features young characters across many games. Of the franchise's five fighters, only Marth was over 3 years old in his Smash debut.
- The Earthbound/Mother series seems to be the only one with playable fighters not to feature a fighter from its debut game. This started with the N64 original, and remains true to this day. It sucks to be Ninten.
- Kid Icarus has been oddly represented. Two of its fighters, Pit and Palutena, were already over 12 years old when the original Suer Smash Bros was released. However, other than a trophy or two in Melee, the series was unrepresented until Brawl, and SSB4 brought another large boost of representation. This was despite only having one game released during the Super Smash Bros series began.
Love and tolerate.