Sakurai did say that somewhere. He writes a lot of editorials in Japanese magazines and apparently plays a ton of different games. Here is what he saw in the third party that got in.
The biggest name in stealth games (at the time brawl released)
A huge revolutionary title for PS1 and GameCube.
Huge fan base and demand.
Mascot of Sega.
Was Mario and Nintendo’s rival in marketing and sales for years.
Sega does what Nintendon’t.
Is considered the mascot of Capcom, one of the biggest and most revolutionary Japanese developer.
Was often compared to Mario as “the harder alternative to platforming.”
second most popular requested 3rd party next to sonic since 64 and melee.
mascot of Namco Bandai.
Personally requested by Miyamoto back in the brawl dev days.
Miyamoto’s all time favorite video game character.
The very first video game character ever made.
A literal house hold name.
The most iconic Arcade Hero ever made, or you could call Mario “Mr. Platformer” and Pac-Man “Mr. Arcade.”
Every fighting game character ever is based on him or uses him as a base on “what a fighting game character should be.”
Main character of the most revolutionary fighting game ever, Street Fighter II.
The most iconic fighting game character ever, you could call him, “Mr. Fighting Game.”
Considered to be the third or fourth most requested third party under Sonic, Megaman, and potentially Geno.
Main character of one of the most iconic and revolutionary JRPGs ever made.
FF7 popularized JRPGs outside of Japan and made them slightly less niche.
In the PS1 days Cloud was seen as a rival to link, similar how Sonic and Crash Bandicoot rivaled Mario.
FF7 launched the same year as Ocarina of Time and they are both considered and somewhat compete for “the best game ever made” by many people.
Cloud is the most iconic JRPG character or you could say that he is “Mr. JRPG.”
A lot of people claim that Cloud opens floodgates and I personally disagree. What kept him from getting in was that he was owned by Square Enix.
Winner of the Smash Ballot.
Most voted in Europe, which has a higher population than America and Japan combined.
Revolutionized Action Games.
Created by one of the most influential game designers in Japan.
Sakurai played the game, loved it and thought “why can’t I make a game this good?”
And considering this logic my personal thoughts on who may be picked are the following. Starting from the most likely to the least.
1. Steve from MineCraft.
2. Crash Bandicoot.
3. Solaire from Dark Souls.
4. Shovel Knight.
5. Dovakin or Dragonborn from Elder Scrolls Skyrim.
The only thing really keeping those 5 is that they are not Japanese made.
pop quiz, do you know the only two smash characters not created by Japanese Developers?