17 years later, I still can’t believe that a game like the Super Smash Bros. games exists, let alone it’s been existing for almost two full decades now. A game where characters from multiple franchises fight each other?! That’s the stuff we as kids growing up dreamed of and argued amongst each other. Who would win in a fight? Link or Mario? Fox or Samus? Yoshi or Pikachu? And when the first game in the series was released for the Nintendo 64 in 1999, we got our first chance in finding out the answers to those questions.
I was lucky enough to get this game, one of very few major Nintendo titles I got to own, as most of my N64 collection was smaller, lesser known games, I didn’t own Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 64, Donkey Kong 64, games of that level. I was lucky to have Goldeneye, Pokemon Stadium and of course, Smash Bros. When I first started playing Smash, I couldn’t believe what I was playing. As a kid of course, it was just super cool to play as Pikachu and somehow kick the crap out of Donkey Kong, or float around the stage as Kirby while the AI opponent didn’t have a clue what to do. But looking back on the game now, it’s amazing to think of how solid a game we got back in 1999, Smash was a fantastically put together game, one that I can confidently say that today still stands up (minus the graphics and even that can be argued) and is still a strong game in terms of mechanics.
Fast forward to Super Smash Bros. Melee in 2001. If you want an example of game standing the test of time, there you go. There are two newer versions of the game, but when it comes to tournament play, Melee is the choice of all gamers. That’s crazy when you think about it, how many fighting games are there that don’t use the most recent installment in major tournaments? For example, how many games do you think fell into that category at this year’s EVO tournament? Just one and that was Melee. Street Fighter, Guilty Gear, Mortal Kombat, even Marvel vs Capcom, a game people remember for its MvC2 version on classic arcade machines, EVO played the most recent version instead.
But when Smash truly started breaking the fabric of what we knew as gamers was when Brawl came out in 2008. After a seven year wait, we finally got a new Smash game. We were all excited to see all our favourites back, along with a few new characters and–HOLY SHIT, SONIC’S IN THIS GAME?! Not only that, but Solid Snake as well?! It was crazy enough to us as kids having Link and Mario face off, now we were getting the ultimate matchup of all-time, in Mario vs Sonic?! That was unheard of to us and something we all believed would never happen unless one company bought out the other!
Things only got crazier with the newest game recently released in 2014 where we also added characters like Pac-Man and FUCKING MEGA MAN!!! And then for DLC we also got Ryu from Street Fighter?! Bayonetta?! AND CLOUD FROM FF7?!!! Seriously, if you told me in 1999 when I first started playing Super Smash Bros. and told me that Sonic, Pac-Man, Mega Man, Ryu and even Cloud would be in these games in the future, I’d tell you to get the fuck out of here…and who the fuck is Cloud? I…I skipped PlayStation, so I missed 7-9 until I got my PS2 many years later.
It’s insane in this day and age to also note that this game is playable on a portable device as well and in a decent form. I think we all knew one day Smash would have to be on a Nintendo handheld device, we all just though the first addition would be quite scaled down in size. But Nintendo still found a way to make it work and work well, showing that while they’re making bad decisions with their consoles (in my opinion), they’re still capable of making better games arguably than any other developer in the world right now, at least when Nintendo is trying their hardest.
I could talk forever about the gameplay in this article, but honestly for me the reason I’m spotlighting this game has nothing to do with the gameplay at all, we all know that the series has always been very smooth to play, always a ton of fun, great for causing shouting matches at parties and breaking friendships. But the Smash series has always meant one thing to me: a series where the impossible becomes possible.
All these characters, all these games coming together in perfect harmony. Matchups we always dreamed of that were supposed to never be possible, we continue to have the opportunity to see more of these amazing things to happen in the future. Maybe one day Master Chief will be pistol whipping Mario, maybe Sora from Kingdom Hearts will face off with Link and see who’s the better swordsman, maybe the games even go beyond the gaming spectrum, Star Wars, Marvel/DC and many other franchises, one day we might see them join the ever-climbing ranks of the Super Smash Bros. cast of characters.