Super Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai justifies the inclusion of "clone" characters his latest game, claiming that they more or less arose by accident.
Many Super Smash Bros. fans were dismayed to discover that some of the game's more interesting and unique characters, such as Snake and the Ice Climbers, had been cut, yet several new "clone" characters, such as Dr. Mario and Dark Pit, had been added instead. Game director Masahiro Sakurai recently spoke to Famitsu about this issue, stating that the clone characters were like a "free dessert" that kind of arose by accident, and telling fans to please "leave it to me" to select the characters who get added.
"There are 3 fighters [Lucina, Dark Pit, and Doctor Mario] that are alternate models (clones) in the game," explained Sakurai. "Each was originally a color variation, but during development, they were given balanced characteristics. Since their functionality had differences, forms were separated from each other. However, it was vital that this didn't increase the required man-hours. Some relative tuning was sufficient as it wasn't necessary to create balancing from scratch."
"This is like a free dessert after a luxurious meal that was prepared free of charge. In a restaurant with this type of service, I don't think there's anybody who would say, 'Change this to a meat dish!!'"
Furthermore, he dismisses complaints about new character choices for the new game, stating that "a lot of [the complainers] are children" and implores fans to "please leave it to me to select [characters] with man-hours and costs in mind."
"However you look at it, the game is a great bargain buy as a result," he added.
I guess when you look at the clone characters as more of a "happy accident" than something they dedicated a lot of resources to, it makes a lot of sense. It is still a shame that some cooler characters were cut, but going by the fact that Mario Kart 8 is getting DLC, I think it's safe to assume we'll have new fighters added in the future.