25 officially announced characters) are nothing new, but with the game's Japanese release nearing, such rumors seem to be reaching a fever pitch. The latest fuel for the fire is the above picture, which purports to show a final roster of 44 characters from the Japanese version of the game. The screen has been floated on a number of sites with varying degrees of credulity -- it was even included at the beginning of a very official-looking GameTrailers video introducing moves for three of the confirmed new characters in the game.
So is this the holy grail of Brawl information? As much as we'd like to believe it so, we just can't. For one thing, the background seems to be taken directly from this official image of a much smaller select screen. Everything matches a little too perfectly, from the transparent background image to the floating cursor in the bottom left corner. For another thing, the images many of the "newly revealed" characters are 2D drawings that don't match up well with the 3D renderings for the officially revealed characters. Even for those that are renders, a closely matching source image can usually be found with a quick Google image search, suggesting an overzealous photoshopper.
Still, we'd be more than happy to be wrong on this one and to be able to play with this impressive list of Nintendo favorites come March 9. For those who want to cover their ears and hold out a shred of hope, check out a full list of the supposedly "revealed" characters below the jump.
[Thanks to everyone who sent this in, whether they believed it or not]