The year is 1999, right before the turn of the millennium when Nintendo would release a game that would change the industry forever. Though, let’s be honest. How often doesn’t that happen with Nintendo? This time happened to be extra special because they would delve into the fighting genre, after their other multi-player successes like Super Mario Kart and Mario Party. The main hook of the original Super Smash Bros. (and the rest of the series for that matter) is the inclusion of iconic video game stars from across the company’s many franchises, probably taking after the popular Marvel vs. Capcom arcade games.
What makes the game stand out over all others in the genre though is the multi-dimensional aspect to the stages and combat. We’re not talking about the lateral 3-D plain in Tekken either. With the inclusion of multiple levels, complex architecture, and PLATFORMS in the various stages, new depth was breathed into the 2-D fighting genre. Also, the focus on knocking your opponent off of the stage, rather than reducing a set HP gauge, probably sounded incredibly gimmicky at the time. Well, it works extremely well and adds a ton of variability to each match. With the the inclusion of a multitude of famous items, like the Fireflower, Star Rod, and the Heart Container, along with the ability to have up to 4 players, Super Smash Bros. becomes the perfect party game. Not only that, but the learning curve is easy too.
The game featured 8 starting characters, with 4 unlockable characters. Being 7 years old at the time of the game’s release, Super Smash Bros. is actually how I got exposed to many of these now familiar faces. I’m almost certain that the only characters I knew at that time were Mario, Luigi, Pikachu, Jigglypuff, and Link. Most people, like me, were mostly likely bamboozled by the inclusion of mysterious PSI-boy Ness. As Earthbound glazed over most people’s heads 4 years prior, Super Smash Bros. has kept not only this game alive in people’s memories, but other series like F-Zero. Super Smash Bros. functioned more than just a great game; it was a great marketing strategy as well. It provided a way for people who didn’t own all of the franchise games to become familiar with their star characters. This way, they might become interested in buying those games in the future. If it weren’t for this game, I probably would never know who Captain Falcon, Ness, or even Fox McCloud were.
The first time I played this game was at a friend’s house, and she recommended that I play Kirby first since he was the easy to learn how to use. I had no idea who he was at the time, but I went with it. Now, it’s become a tradition for me to use Kirby first for each new game in the series. I have so many good old memories associated with this game, like me, my sister, and my friend teaming up on a poor computer every day. We played by score not stock, so sometimes we even managed to lose to the computer! We pretty much taught ourselves how to play the game, even figuring out how to taunt, backthrow, and use the Homerun Bat by ourselves. I guess we never learned how to read the manual.
One rather odd thing I really miss from the original game is the sound when you hit an enemy. It’s so loud and hollow and just sounds very rewarding, especially if you pull off hits in rapid succession. As the series progressed, the sounds went from being like “bang!” to “thump!” and then to “wham!” (these onomatopoeia make little sense).
Super Smash Bros. is the game that pulled some very unlikely characters spanning across different universes onto one battlefield. No other game has as many familiar icons, from the stages, the music, and the items. To this day, Super Smash Bros. continues to be immensely popular and isn’t afraid to change up its formula either. Each of the three games feels distinctly different. It all started with the original, which began with very simple yet fast-paced combat that still feels fun to play today.
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