Simply Smashing!

Why the Super Smash Bros. Series is Perfect for People Who Don’t Like Fighting Games

 

In my earliest years as a gamer on consoles, fighting games were almost exclusively my bread and butter. Because I didn’t own any consoles of my own (and would play mostly at friends’ houses), games like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Clay Fighter, and Killer Instinct (plus plenty of random ones that I can’t remember) were what I gravitated towards.

Yet as I grew older, gained my own consoles, was exposed to more genres (particularly RPGs), and so on, I lost interest in most fighting games. Instead, single player titles became my go to when I wanted to play.

But in 1999, a friend exposed me to a new Nintendo 64 game imported from Japan: Super Smash Bros. I didn’t play myself on that day; I just watched. But a few months later, I had the opportunity to play on another friend’s N64 (after it was released in the U.S.) and fell in love. Today, I can easily say that the Super Smash Bros. series is the perfect fighting game for people who don’t like fighting games.

The box art for the original Super Smash Bros. in the U.S.

The box art for the original Super Smash Bros. in the U.S.

Super Smash Bros : Fighting Games :: Mario Kart : Racing Games

It’s no secret that the Mario Kart is the most popular non-simulation racing game out there. Between the various characters from the Mario games, the plethora of items to use on opponents, the unique tracks, and new play mechanics introduced with each game, it provides fun for people of all ages and brings out a competitive spirit that results more in laughter than anger. It’s light-hearted, easy to learn, and yet still has enough depth and skill involved to reward players willing to put in the extra time and effort.

The Super Smash Bros. series takes what makes the Mario Kart series so successful and uses many of the same hooks to put its own spin on fighting games to make them just as enjoyable. Below are some of the many ways Smash sets itself apart from other fighting games.

1. Mascots and Stages from Numerous Nintendo Franchises

If you’ve played any games from Nintendo’s 30+ years of franchises, there’s a good chance at least one mascot from that game (along with stages based in the original games’ locations) will appear in some form or another within Smash Bros. The biggest franchises, in fact, have at least one, if not two, three, or more characters representing them and in some cases, two or three dramatically different stages on which to battle. For many people, the ability to have characters from different franchises fight against one another alone is enough to draw them in and the stages are icing on the cake. Of course, if you’ve never played a mainline Nintendo game franchise, exposure to new characters could interest you in playing the games from which those characters came.

 

64roster meleeroster Brawl roster

The roster grows with every installment. The upcoming 3DS/Wii U versions are not represented as they are incomplete.

 

For me, that’s exactly what happened. The first time I played Smash Bros. on N64, I was unfamiliar with the vast majority of characters available. The only games I had ever played amongst them were Mario and Pokemon. I knew Link was from Zelda, Fox was from Star Fox, and Donkey Kong was in the Donkey Kong Country games, but I had never played any of them and the characters Samus, Captain Falcon, Ness, and Kirby were completely unfamiliar to me. Smash Bros. introduced me to a bunch of now beloved games and characters, which has led me to enjoy the games even more.

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2. Items, Trophies, and Music Galore

Much like the Mario Kart series has pulled numerous items from the Mario games, Smash Bros. has pulled items for use from all of the franchises represented (and many more). There are weapons to hold (like the Beam Sword, which is similar to a lightsaber from Star Wars), items to throw (like Pokeballs, which bring out a random Pokemon to attack your opponents), healing items (ranging from healing a small portion of your health to fully restoring it), trap items (like a proximity mine, which explodes when your opponents get near it), and items that give your character an advantage (like increased speed and jump height from the Bunny Hood). Then there are Assist Trophies (a more recent addition), which act much like Pokeballs, except that they bring in miscellaneous characters from many Nintendo games not necessarily represented in the roster. All of these items can help to even the playing field.

There are also literally hundreds (possibly thousands by now) of unique trophies you can obtain that showcase detailed models of characters, items, etc. from Nintendo games, each with detailed descriptions including who/what they are and from what game they originate. Music enthusiasts can also obtain dozens of songs from various Nintendo games throughout the years, both in the original and stellar remixed forms.

Trophy

This is just a small portion of the trophies you can obtain, first introduced in Super Smash Bros. Melee.

3. No Complicated Combos to Learn

In most fighting games, each character has different button combinations required in order to perform specific attacks. The Smash Bros. series simplifies it to A = regular attacks, B = special attacks, R/L = block, Z = grab/throw, X/Y (or any of the C buttons on N64) = jump. Add in a direction (down, left/right, or up) and you get different moves. This makes it significantly easier to experiment with different characters because you can just apply the same type of button presses to any character and know you’ll get a result.

Of course, as with any fighting game, there are plenty more advanced techniques you can learn, ranging from Smash attacks (both standard and charged) to dodging (both on the ground and in the air) and ways to recover from falling off a stage. But none of the latter techniques are required to play the game; they’re simply things you can learn as you go along.

4. Four Players at a Time w/Teams Optional

Unlike most fighting games where the battles are one on one, Smash Bros. gives the option to have up to four players at a time, meaning that if you happen to be new at the game you can avoid the players who are more experienced. You can also play on teams so that you cannot hurt/be hurt by your teammates, which can help even the most inexperienced player to still have fun.

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5. Newbie-Friendly Damage System

In most fighting games, players have a set amount of health and as such, fight until one person’s health is depleted (often with 2 or 3 rounds to determine the overall winner). In Smash Bros., the damage meter is represented by rising percentages, i.e. as the percentage rises, it becomes easier for a person to be knocked off the stage and/or off the screen. While there is the option to play with a set amount of health or lives (HP mode and Stock mode, respectively), the default setting is based on time – the player with the highest number of knock outs is the winner.

This makes it more friendly for people who don’t play/like fighting games as they have more opportunity to take out opponents, especially when it’s more than just one on one. It’s possible to let your opponent get their percentage raised by whittling away at them little by little and then hitting them with a special or throwing an item at them when their percentage is high enough. And because (at least in Time Battle) the number of lives is not limited, there are plenty of opportunities to get even (regardless of whether you win or not) and to get better as a ¬†player.

6. It’s Fun, Funny, and Family Friendly

Try to say that five times fast.

Where many fighting games are ultra-violent and have both blood and guts, Smash Bros. maintains the fun, light-heartedness of Nintendo’s first party franchises by keeping it free of vulgarity. The wide variety of items, Nintendo characters, and unique (sometimes humorous) attacks makes it both fun and a perfect fit for both adults and little kids to play. And because it’s most focused on couch multiplayer, it is a fun way to bring people together.

Then there’s the humor that results from it all. Much like in Mario Kart, a single item usage can completely change the results. You or your opponents can be sent flying off screen–sometimes even fading off into the distance with a little twinkle and “ding” or flying towards the TV screen and bouncing off or sliding down it. There are taunts, Final Smashes, and all sorts of different things that can bring joy and laughter to people playing or watching.

SSB mario little mac

One of the many hilarious K.O. animations, as seen in the upcoming Wii U version.

Conclusion

The Super Smash Bros. series is one of the most enjoyable games just about anyone can play. Whether a novice or an expert, the fun factor, humor, and simple to learn mechanics (with more advanced aspects for those who want to learn them) make Super Smash Bros. the perfect fighting game (especially) for people who don’t play fighting games.

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS will be available in stores and digitally on October 3rd, 2014; for Wii U it will be available Holiday 2014.

BONUS!

Here’s the original Super Smash Bros. N64 commercial in all of its glory

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