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Super Smash Bros. – Nintendo 64

Super Smash Bros. – Nintendo 64

smash bros featuredPlatform: Nintendo 64

Developer: Hal Laboratories

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): April 26, 1999

Genre: Fighting

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Finally. The day is here. After years of school bus arguments over who would win in a fight between Mario and Pikachu, Kirby and Yoshi, or Donkey Kong and Link, Nintendo fanboys now have answers to those questions. So, what is the answer? Who would win in those fights? The answer is simple: YOU! Nintendo paired up with Hal Laboratories of Kirby fame to let you, the gamer and avid fan, be the deciding factor in those age-old brawler dreams. You get to decide who would win if the Mario brothers duked it out. You get to carry those bragging rights on the school bus all week until your next big sleepover! Super Smash Bros. was brilliant. It was exciting. It was awe-inspiring. But best of all… It was legendary, and it still is.

super smash bros 2On the exterior, Super Smash Bros. is a such a novel concept, you can easily say “hey, I thought of this idea way before Nintendo!” And you probably did. But once you dig past the explosive box art and unveil tight, rigid, and addicting gameplay unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, you will cede and bow at Nintendo’s feet. Nintendo is a company that needs no introduction. In fact, the word “Nintendo” was once synonymous with the word “video game” as unknowing adults would use the 2 interchangeably with complete understanding from the peers. Nintendo houses numerous mascots, not just Mario, and they found a way to garner mass appeal by putting their biggest hitters in the ultimate fighting game.

The concept of including multiple big name characters in one game had already been done before… by Nintendo! So this wasn’t their first foray into that market. Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64 saw the inclusion of numerous characters from the Mario universe. Other than the obvious difference where one is a racing game and the other is a fighting game, how is this any different? Instead of including Mario universe characters only, Super Smash Bros. is the ultimate crossover game, or at least it was at its time, with characters from completely different games and wildly unique game series. Anything from the Legend of Zelda lineage doesn’t fit in a Pokemon game, or vice versa. Kirby and Samus Aran playing on the same team just doesn’t quite mesh. And something about Donkey Kong and Fox McCloud is just weird. But no matter how odd or weird or “unlikely” this all sounded before the game’s release, it was quickly forgotten the instant you turned on your Nintendo 64 with 4 young teenage boys all jacked up on Mountain Dew crowded around a cathode-ray tube television on a Friday night. Friday nights at my house consisted of everyone yelling at each other for being cheap and cheating. I tell ya, we invented many “house rules” to even the playing field. What a bunch of babies we were.

The funny thing about Super Smash Bros. and its concept of including characters from different games is that this isn’t even the first time it has been super smash bros 4done, and it sure as hell wasn’t the last! Before this, we had X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, Marvel vs. Street Fighter, and so on. Hell, even DC Comics discovered the keys to success with their classic character mash-up dating all the way back to 1960 with the introduction of The Justice League! So other than the obvious (the obvious being that Nintendo was the biggest name in video gaming for all of the 1980s and most the 1990s, and its characters are very lovable), why was Super Smash Bros. so successful when the concept was anything but original? Like I mentioned before, all that anyone needed to do was get past the cardboard exterior and they would discover a fighting game unlike anything they’d ever experienced before.

Part of Nintendo’s lasting fame is due to their mass appeal. Their games are almost always child friendly yet somehow still appeal to all ages. Super Smash Bros. is no exception, and that’s how they found a way to be successful in the face of such competition. Instead of trying to go head-to-head with fighting giants SNK, Capcom, SEGA, Namco, or Midway Games, they forged their own path with an entirely new approach. “How do you making fighting not feel violent?” That was probably the biggest question imposed on the development team. Well, Hal Laboratories and Nintendo found a solution with their insanely innovative and creative super smash bros 1approach to the “health meter” that you see in 99% of fighting games before and after Super Smash Bros. The overall objective is to knock your opponent off the stage, which is more often than not a floating island of sorts. Sounds easy right? It sort of is, but it’s more complicated than that. Instead of your traditional health meter or health bar that depletes as you take on damage, players are now represented by a percentage of damage that increases with each hit they take. Sounds strange, I know. So let me break it down. The more damage you take, the higher your percentage total reaches. The more damage percentage you take, the easier it is for you to be knocked around. For example, if your opponent has 25% damage, he might fall back only a couple feet with a jab punch. But at 150%+, your opponent is likely to fly all over the screen with that same jab punch.

So you can see just how differently they approached this fighting game when discussing violence and such. The idea of a “life bar” represents death, but that’s not all they excluded. Super Smash Bros. opted to not include anything that would make the game feel violent. Somehow you get to beat the hell out of each other without feeling any sort of violence whatsoever. I can only speculate, but I reckon the cutesy graphics, the classic and fun Nintendo soundtrack, and the animated stages make it feel less realistic and more like a cartoon.

Super Smash Bros. was a revelation of a video game, not just a fighting game. But the game’s impact on the gaming community’s perception of super smash bros 6what a fighting game CAN be shifted drastically. An example… My friends and I loved Tekken when it first came out on the PlayStation. Sure, we played the Street Fighters, the Virtua Fighters, the Mortal Kombats, etc. But Tekken was the hot new game, and far superb to the previous 3D fighting games of the time. The only problem with Tekken? We struggled mightily to memorize the myriad button combinations required to unleash each fighter’s potential, so the game turned into more of a button-mashing fighting game. We played it anyway. Why? Because the graphics were amazing and the action was intense. Tekken 2 and Tekken 3 were insanely great and improved upon the first one tremendously, but there was a different game on our radar in early 1999. That game was Super Smash Bros. Upon its release and upon my persistent begging and house-chore work to get my parents to buy the game, we soon discovered that Super Smash Bros. was the best fighting game of its time. Each character had the exact same button configuration, albeit with some slightly different maneuvers depending on the character. No longer did we need to memorize 57 button combos to pull off a move that you end up missing anyway! This made the game accessible to anybody, and you could easily win battles with a quick finger and knowing your opponent’s tendencies.

For all of Super Smash Bros.‘s success, it wouldn’t take long to become entirely antiquated and outdated as Nintendo released the smash-hit follow up only 2 years later with Super Smash Bros. Melee. A vastly improved, wildly superior game on a markedly stronger and better gaming system. In my opinion, Melee is still the creme-de-la-creme of the series, besting Brawl and the most recent Wii U/3DS releases by a slim margin, but that’s a story for a different time. Like many successful games of the era, we were oblivious to the game’s shortcomings. While it does feature a large cast of super smash bros 5characters, I feel like a larger variety of stages would have added so much to the game. Also, there are many moments when the barrage of fighters on the screen severely limits the hardware drastically slowing down the frame-rate. These certainly are not knocks against the game or the development team as I feel they did everything they could. It’s easy to look back and compare a game to its better sequels.

Overall, Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64 is still one hell of a fun and exciting game. In fact, in 2014, I found myself at an NC State Rugby party with my name on a wait list to join some 4-player battling mayhem for THIS game! Yes, that is a true story! That night we played all the major N64 party favorites: Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye 007, and Super Smash Bros. to name a few. For Smash, the rules were simple: 3rd and 4th place get replaced by whoever is next on the wait list. This night marked one of my proudest gaming moments as I held my place within the top 2 of each match for over 15 consecutive matches before finally being bested by a couple newcomers at the party. I blame it on fatigue! But anyway, you can see where I’m getting with this. Super Smash Bros. has a lasting legacy and is a much cherished and loved game by many folks. Sure, it’s not as good as its successors, but what it accomplished in its time can not be overlooked. If you’re interested in adding this game to your collection, you’ll have to pay a pretty penny. While millions of copies were sold, it is still a pricey item due to its legacy and that whole supply and demand thingy they taught us in school. I can’t remember what the teacher said though because I was too busy doodling Super Smash Bros. stuff in my notebook.

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Written by Nerdberry


What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

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