Super Smash Bros Academy: 101
Super Smash Bros. is a crossover fighting video game series published by Nintendo. The game features many different playable characters from Nintendo game franchises such as Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Fire Emblem. The game was created by Masahiro Sakurai back in 1999 with the original release of Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64. Since then, Sakurai has directed every game in the series and has built one of the most successful fighting game franchises today.
The game was first brought into development in 1998 by Sakurai in conjunction with HAL Laboratory, a second-party Nintendo developer. Sakurai wanted to create a four-player fighting game and eventually came up with the idea to use Nintendo characters, despite not having approval from the company at the time. Regardless, Sakurai and HAL went on and began developing the game. The game would be released on January 21st, 1999 in Japan and on April 26th, 1999 in North America. There were twelve playable characters in the first game: Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Link, Samus, Captain Falcon, Ness, Yoshi, Kirby, Fox, Pikachu, and Jigglypuff.
The game would go on to be a massive success, selling over five million copies worldwide. The game highly acclaimed for its multiplayer gameplay, simplicity to learn to play, and the game’s soundtrack. The only knock on the game from critics was the single-player mode, which was perceived as being too short and “won’t exactly last a long time.” Nonetheless, Smash 64 marked the beginning of a game franchise that would become one of the most popular fighting games on the market.
In 2001, Nintendo and HAL Laboratory would release Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube. This game was even more well-received than the first, selling over seven million copies by 2008. Melee kept all 12 original characters as well as added many others, including characters from the then exclusively Japanese franchise Fire Emblem. The game featured a more extensive single-player mode and three separate game modes that a player can play through. However, the most critical aspect of this game was its gameplay improvements. Melee’s multiplayer mode was so popular that tournaments and professional-level play began to pop up around the world. This would give rise to professional Smash gameplay, which would help push the game to heights that Sakurai never imagined.
Post HAL Laboratory
Following the release of Melee, Sakurai would eventually part ways with HAL Laboratory in 2003. In anticipation of their next console, the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo wanted to create a new installment in the franchise. However, they did not inform Sakurai of this, and it was not until he met with Nintendo President Satoru Iwata that the game would officially go into production. Super Smash Bros. Brawl was released in Japan on January 31st, 2008, and in North America on March 9th, 2008. This installment in the Super Smash Bros. franchise would receive high acclaim and sell millions of copies worldwide. The game was again popular amongst the competitive Smash community; however, a modded version of the game titled Project M would be created to have the game’s gameplay resemble more closely to Melee. Top professional players raised some complaints about the difference in the game’s mechanics, which was a huge reason why Project M was created.
After Brawl, Nintendo developed installments of the Super Smash Bros. franchise for their two newest game systems: the Wii U and the 3DS. Although these two consoles were not Nintendo’s best-selling or most popular consoles, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U (commonly referred to as Smash 4) was quickly one of the most successful and popular games released on both systems. The game featured 17 new playable characters, including characters from non-Nintendo created franchises such as Pac-Man and Mega Man. The game enjoyed a successful run amongst competitive players and fans of the series but unfortunately is often forgotten about by casual fans thanks to the failure of the Wii U console.
In December of 2018, Nintendo would release its biggest Super Smash Bros. game yet. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was released for the Nintendo Switch and instantly became a classic. Not only is it the highest selling game in the Smash series of all time, but it is also the highest-selling fighting game on any console of all time. As of March 2020, Ultimate has sold over 18 million copies worldwide, and that number will continue to rise. The game features every character that has ever been playable in the Smash franchise’s history as well as numerous new and downloadable characters. Ultimate has been acclaimed by many critics as perhaps the best Smash game thus far and has been a massive hit amongst fans in the Smash community. The game was so popular that it prompted many people to buy Switch consoles to play the game. Ultimate is the current iteration of the game and will be for at least the next couple of years.
Super Smash Bros. differs significantly from most other fighting games on the market. Generally, fighting games consist of two players going at it in an enclosed stage with the goal of depleting the opponent’s health bar to 0. However, the goal in Smash games is different. Rather than there being a health bar, the goal is to knock your opponent off the stage. The more hits you put on an opponent, the higher their damage will rise, which is tallied on a percentage basis. The greater damage you have, the easier it is for you to be knocked off the stage. This style of fighting game was very successful for Super Smash Bros., as it allows an easier way to play a fighting game with more than two participants.
Before playing, players must choose their character, stage, and ruleset for the match. Rules can be altered before entering character selection, with the player being able to change whether the match is based on stocks (lives) or be decided after a time limit. Items can be turned on or off and can be used in battle, including Pokeballs, mushrooms, and other items from Nintendo games. Next, players choose whatever character they’d like to play as well as an option to change the outfit that the character is wearing. Finally, players can choose from numerous stages based on various Nintendo games, including Hyrule Temple from Zelda and Dreamland from the Kirby series.
From a casual player’s standpoint, the game is generally pretty easy to play. Each character has various move sets that all follow the same button presses, unlike other fighting games where different combinations of button presses are needed to perform moves. Each character has their attack moves (A button) and special attacks (B button), and different moves can be used from each of these buttons by moving the stick in conjunction with the button. For example, going up and using your special will often result in a jumping attack move, but move sets vary based on character. In addition to attack and specials, grabbing, shielding, rolling, and tilting are essential elements of the game, but I’ll discuss all of those more in-depth in a future article. Overall, the gameplay in the Smash series is excellent, as both casual and hardcore fans of the game can play and enjoy the game their own way.
The various game modes in the Smash franchise have changed over the years from game to game, but generally, they have stayed the same. The game’s most popular mode is, of course, classic multiplayer. Regular exhibition games, tournament mode, and online play are all available to be played. Whether you want to sit back and play Smash for hours with your buddies or hop online to test your skills, the multiplayer option is undoubtedly the most common way to enjoy the game.
Smash games offer single-player options as well. Each Smash game has had different single-player modes, including Classic mode and Adventure mode. The titles of each game mode have changed, but the goals have stayed relatively the same. Different campaign modes have been created since Brawl, starting with the solo campaign titled “The Subspace Emissary.” Several training modes can be used to sharpen one’s skills, including Stadium mode. In Stadium mode, players can choose from several game modes, including break the targets and home-run blast. While these game modes vary from game to game, each iteration of Smash has its own fun and unique single-player options available.
Future of Smash Bros.
With Smash Ultimate being as popular as it is, the Super Smash Bros. franchise’s future seems to be promising. More copies of Smash Ultimate have been sold than any other fighting game in existence. EVO, one of the biggest gaming tournaments in the world, included Ultimate in their last tournament, with the Top 8 receiving over 279,000 viewers. The Smash World Tour also announced back in February that there would be tournaments held for both Melee and Ultimate with the prize money totaling over $250,000. Unfortunately, the tournament has since been postponed due to COVID-19.
There has also been some talk in regards to a sixth installment in the Smash series, that would be set to release on the Nintendo Switch in 2022. Although there is currently not much information on the game, it has been said that “Smash 6” would be the final installment in the franchise. Whether or not this is true, we can be sure that fans of the Super Smash Bros. series will have Ultimate and maybe another game to enjoy in the foreseeable future.