Ranking Top 5 Super Smash Bros. Games

Super Smash Bros Academy: 103

Since the game’s initial conception in 1999 with the release of Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64, the Smash franchise has become one of the world’s biggest fighting games. Millions around the globe play Smash, with the franchise’s most recent installment, Ultimate, selling more copies than any other fighting game in history. For this installment of my Smash Bros. Academy series, I’m going to be ranking and discussing all five games in the series. All games in the series gained critical acclaim upon release, but some versions of Smash were more influential than others. With that being said, let’s get this list started.

1. Melee


Credit: Nintendo

One could make the case that Ultimate deserves the top spot on this list, but I had to give the edge to Melee. It is easily the most influential of all the Smash games and holds special meaning to me as it was one of the first video games I ever played. Melee was released on November 21, 2001, in North America by Nintendo and developer HAL Laboratory. There are 25 playable characters in Melee, a significant jump from the 12 playable characters in the 1st game. The game’s mechanics were much more refined compared to Smash 64, making the game more practical for tournaments and competitive play. This game marked the beginning of competitive Super Smash Bros. play, which has grown into one of the largest fighting game communities in the world. Tournaments began to pop up across the globe, and Melee quickly became one of the biggest eSports games of the 2000s. Despite being nearly 19 years old, the game is still widely played in the competitive circuit and won’t seem to die.

NameConsoleRelease YearUnits Sold
MeleeGameCube20017 million

2. Ultimate


Credit: Nintendo

In terms of pure gameplay experience, I believe that Ultimate is the best of the series by far. Masahiro Sakurai, the Super Smash Bros. franchise creator, wanted to deliver fans the best Smash experience yet with the game. There are currently 76 playable characters in Ultimate, with every character that has ever been in a Smash game available to be played. With so much variety in the game, possibilities for different matchups are seemingly endless. The game’s mechanics also run very smoothly, making it very popular amongst the competitive Smash community. The gameplay is more similar to Melee than any other Smash game, popularizing it within the competitive community. Since its release in December of 2018, Ultimate has sold roughly 18 million copies worldwide, making it the highest-selling fighting game of all time.

NameConsoleRelease YearUnits Sold
UltimateSwitch201818 million

3. 64

Smash 64

Credit: Nintendo

The original game in the Smash series, commonly referred to as Smash 64, was released in 1999 by Nintendo and HAL Laboratory. While the gameplay experience with this game cannot compare to more recent iterations of the franchise, Smash 64 deserves a high ranking on this list due to its impact on the fighting game genre. Rather than using a health bar like most fighting games, Smash was the first game to use a damage percentage meter. The game was revolutionary because it was one of the first games to crossover various franchises. Smash 64 had 12 different playable characters, those being Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Link, Pikachu, Jigglypuff, Captain Falcon, Fox, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Samus, and Ness. The game wasn’t played widely on the competitive circuit as Melee, but it sparked the beginning of one of the best fighting game franchises of all time.

NameConsoleRelease YearUnits Sold
Super Smash Bros.Nintendo 6419995.5 million

4. Brawl

Smash Brawl

Credit: Nintendo

By no means was Brawl a lousy game, but it takes home the 4th place ranking thanks to three other great Smash games ahead of it. Brawl was one of the highest-selling games for the Nintendo Wii, the company’s best-selling home console of all time. The game is considered one of the best home party games of all time, but it doesn’t hold high acclaim in the eyes of the competitive Smash community. There were also several broken in this game, which made competitive play often a struggle. Meta Knight in this game is considered the most broken Smash character of all time, so much so that he was banned from use in most tournaments around the world. There also was an infinite chain grab combo with Ice Climbers, which proved very difficult to stop once initiated. Overall, this was a solid game but is not considered top tier in terms of competitive play.

NameConsoleRelease YearUnits Sold
BrawlWii200813.3 million

5. Smash 4

Smash 4

Credit: Nintendo

Although this game took the last spot on my top five list, it still contributed to the franchise. Smash 4 introduced eight-player Smash, making it a top-rated party game. However, since this game was for the Wii U console, it is not remembered by casual fans of the franchise. The game introduced many characters that would later return in Smash Ultimate, such as Bayonetta, Cloud, and Duck Hunt. Smash 4 was able to bring in several characters from franchises not owned by Nintendo, establishing the precedent of non-Nintendo characters appearing in Smash games. Unfortunately, the combination of this game being released on the unpopular Wii U, along with the poor attempt the emulate the older games’ feel leaves Smash 4 with a small audience, having the casual and competitive scene leave the game behind.

NameConsoleRelease YearUnits Sold
Super Smash Bros. for Wii UWii U20145 million
I am a rising junior at Butler University with a Sports Media major and a minor in Strategic Communication. I was born and raised in Bethesda, MD right outside Washington DC, and I’ve been a huge DC sports fan my whole life. I’ve been lucky enough to see both the Nats and Caps win titles in my lifetime, however I have a feeling that my Redskins and Wizards won’t be joining them as champions anytime soon.

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