Gaming Column: 20th Anniversary of Super Smash Bros.
NOTE: Gaming posts are usually posted on Saturdays. This post was published on a later date to accommodate the subject being discussed.
Welcome to the third edition of the Gaming Column of Rebel News Media, where topics related to gaming are discussed weekly. This week’s topic is about the Super Smash Bros. franchise turning 20 years old today. The post will have a brief history behind each game, a summary & view of each title, and more.
To Be Different from the Rest
Masahiro Sakurai (a video game director & designer; creator of the Kirby franchise) loved fighting games and wanted to create one of his own with a new approach and style to differentiate it from popular successes such as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. With the help of Satoru Iwata (a video game programmer and businessman), Sakurai’s idea was to send the opponent off the stage and into blast zones after accumulating damage instead of depleting his/her health bar like the two mentioned games, along with the concept of four-player matches instead of just the standard two.
Sakurai also decided to include popular Nintendo characters for players to better connect with the game. When the prototype was first shown to Shigeru Miyamoto, it was rejected but after more revisions and reworkings, the project was approved and thus, Super Smash Bros. was born.
Super Smash Bros. 64 was first released in Japan on January 21st, 1999, until later reaching North America and Europe in the same year. Becoming an immediate success and being the fifth best-selling game on the Nintendo 64, the franchise’s popularity would take it even further with the release of Super Smash Bros. Melee for the GameCube.
Also, look at this video. This is the reason why Smash is so big.
To Create Something Bigger
Nintendo wasted little time to get a new sequel out for its next console, the GameCube. Super Smash Bros. Melee, the second game of the franchise (which came out on November 21st, 2001), would have a total of 25 characters compared to the first game’s total of 12.
One new addition was “trophies”, which would have a variety of characters as well as accessories and other items, which would all have background information discussing its lore and things akin.
The game would break critical and commercial expectations, along with being a staple in the fighting gaming community since its release. Selling more than 7 million copies, Melee became the highest-selling game for the GameCube. It’s also renowned for its fast-paced gameplay and is considered the most competitive of the series.
To Expand Beyond Nintendo
At Nintendo’s pre-E3 press conference in 2005, Iwata, who had become Nintendo’s president, announced the next game of the Super Smash Bros. franchise would come soon to the Nintendo Wii. Prior to the announcement, Iwata had told Sakurai that if there was ever going to be another Smash Bros. game, he would be consulted and given the opportunity to be a part of it. Sakurai was shocked as he was given no warning or message beforehand, but helped in the development with many game studios.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl, released January 31st, 2008, once again expanded the character roster to a total of 39, two of which being third-party characters—Solid Snake from the Metal Gear franchise and Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega’s mascot. Some big additions of Brawl included an online mode over the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection and a campaign called The Subspace Emissary, a new Adventure mode that featured unique storylines and numerous levels and bosses along with cutscenes to showcase the interactions of and between the characters. There was also a stage builder mode that enabled players to create stages with pre-built platforms, somewhat similar to Super Mario Maker but on a smaller scale.
Brawl became the fastest-selling Nintendo video game in Nintendo of America’s history and sold more than 13 million copies worldwide.
To Open the Door for More
After Sakurai was done with Kid Icarus: Uprising in March 2012, the Wii U and 3DS versions of the new entry to the series were being developed by Sakurai’s Sora Ltd., along with Bandai Namco Games. The gameplay was made to feel as similar as possible between the two versions. This iteration of Smash was the first to have downloadable content for more fighters (some of which being third-party characters) and the first in which Sakurai asked other developers for help in balancing the game. Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS has a total of 58 characters.
As of September 2018, the two versions of the game sold (in total) more than 14 million copies.
To Celebrate It All
Once Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS was released, Sakurai’s next project had already begun. That project would become the next installment to the franchise, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which released on December 7th, 2018 for the Nintendo Switch. To live up to the name, the newest entry would include every veteran fighter from past games along with highly-requested newcomers (over 70 fighters; as well as upcoming DLC in the future), the most popular items and stages, along with roughly 900 tracks of music.
In order to create the “ultimate” experience, the gameplay was designed to be much faster than the previous installment to satisfy seasoned and/or competitive players (although not as fast as Melee) while still being enjoyable for casual players.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate features a single-player mode called World of Light, having a few similarities to Brawl‘s Subspace Emissary. The game also allows players to collect “spirits”, replacements of trophies from previous entries.
Ultimate toppled Brawl as the fastest-selling game in the series, selling more than 3 million copies in the first 11 days.
The Biggest Crossover in History
The Super Smash Bros. franchise is truly something special—something that is and was a part of many childhoods, and something that many are passionate about and take pride in. Each installment is a bigger crossover than the last and greatly takes the idea of iconic gaming franchises joining together into effect. Each game proves to be a masterpiece and embodies the dedication and effort that was put into them. They all provide different experiences and it’s monumental that game studios and companies can collaborate in such massive celebrations of gaming. It’s no wonder why a small side-project based on an idea became a significant series and one of Nintendo’s biggest IPs; it’s something anyone can truly enjoy.
Now this franchise is 20 years old, and although it’s continually aging like anything else, I’m certain it’ll remain timeless.
What’s on the horizon next?