Super Smash Bros.: A Retrospective

Not being much of a gamer outside of platformers and RPGs, I didn't have much interest in the bulk of E3 this year, with a lot of focus from companies being on shooters and horror titles, such as The Evil Within and Battlefield: Hardline. While they do look very promising, there isn't much to truly interest me, purely down to gaming genre preference. Which is why I mainly waited for the Nintendo conferences, as I grew up with their franchises. E3 2014 was perhaps the saving grace for Nintendo and the troubled Wii U, which hasn't been as popular since its release, but started gaining momentum in 2014 with fantastic first party releases, particularly Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Mario Kart 8. However, since its big reveal at E3 2013, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS has arguably generated the greatest interest amongst upcoming titles, primarily down to the game's director, Masuhiro Sakurai, posting daily pictures of the game in development to Miiverse, and occasionally hosting a Nintendo Direct to highlight new mechanics and reveal trailers for newcomer fighters.

So, what is Super Smash Bros.? For the two of you who haven't heard of it, this series of fighting games pits popular Nintendo characters, such as Mario and Pikachu, against each other in a battle royale of up to four, with characters across multiple franchises and even some appearances from third party characters, such as Sonic the Hedgehog. The aim of the battle is to defeat your opponents, which is done by increasing their damage percentage by attacking them, and if they leave the stage boundaries, they lose a life or point and return to the battle. The higher your percentage, the faster and further you will be launched by attacks. It is an interesting mechanic that adds a spontaneous element to battling, since nobody knows how soon someone will be defeated or how long they can hold their own. Players battle on stages and arenas based on locations within the Nintendo universe, such as the Mushroom Kingdom or the Battleship Halberd. As you progress, you unlock more playable characters and stages, and collect trophies of characters and objects throughout Nintendo's history. Long story short, Super Smash Bros. is a love letter to all fans of Nintendo.

The first instalment was, of course, Super Smash Bros., released for the Nintendo 64. It was originally intended to feature original characters otherwise not associated with Nintendo. However, game director Masuhiro Sakurai felt the game would succeed and feel more approachable if Nintendo characters would fight, eventually being cemented as the core concept after demonstrating a prototype for the game. Featuring 8 iconic characters and 4 secret, unlockable characters, the game was met with huge success in Japan, and eventually overseas. I have never played the original game myself, but I have watched enough videos to see that this would be the basis for the increasingly grand entries in the series.

Super Smash Bros. Melee is one of those games that everybody has played or heard of at some point. Released as a launch title for the Gamecube, it was the highest selling game of the console, selling over 7 million copies. It was first announced through an FMV at Nintendo's E3 conference in 2001, which was created to pay homage to and showcase the graphical capabilities of the Gamecube, and remains one of the greatest cinematic trailers ever created. Many more characters were added to the mix, with all the original cast returning, and the mechanics were tweaked and enhanced. The stages felt grand in comparison to the previous entry, probably due to better graphical capability.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl was released for the Wii in 2008, and further increased the roster, dropping some characters from Melee in favour of fresher newcomers, such as Meta Knight and King Dedede from the Kirby series. This was the first entry in the series to support online play, in addition to multiple controller options, including the Gamecube controller or the Wii Remote with or without nunchuk. Along with the obligatory new characters, stages and modes, came a fully fledged story mode, The Subspace Emissary, set within the Smash universe, following multiple story lines and seeing them all connect as the stories progress, with heroes and villains clashing and friends searching for each other, and so on.

And, coming at the end of 2014, is Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS. Unimaginative title aside, I don't believe I have been this excited for a game since Pokemon X and Y last year. Perhaps this is due to the sheer quality of the characters and stages, but I think most of my excitement comes from the roster itself, with newcomers ranging from Mega Man to Little Mac of Punch Out fame or Rosalina from the Mario series. Recent announcements at E3 have even thrown Kid Icarus' Palutena and Pac-Man into the fray. Recent changes to mechanics, including the removal of move set transformations mid battle, are also very intriguing to explore further, since veteran fighters Zelda and Sheik have now been made separate characters. 
The feeling of excitement intensifies whenever a character is revealed, with a cinematic trailer for each newcomer, before showing them in action within the game to highlight their abilities. Most recently this was also the case at the end of Nintendo's E3 Digital Event, which showcased many upcoming titles for the Wii U in particular, such as Bayonetta 2 and Yoshi's Woolly World. The final sneak peak came in the form of a short anime, introducing Palutena, the Goddess of Light in Kid Icarus and likely to be my future main, unless other characters seriously impress me. The care and attention to detail that the developers show all of these characters in their trailers is evident and heart warming, and also hint at just how powerful and unique all of these characters are.

Personally, I have always adored the Super Smash Bros. series, and it even introduced me to universes I wasn't previously aware of, such as Kid Icarus and Kirby. It has clearly revolutionised the fighting genre, with emphasis being more on the accessibility than the necessity to learn all of the combos and button input orders for special attacks like in Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. Tied in with characters and locations you know and adore from elsewhere, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will be just as heart warming as before, with just as much ignition of a warrior's fiery spirit in the heat of battle, if not greater.

Do you have fond memories of the Super Smash Bros. games? Are you looking forward to the upcoming Wii U and 3DS games? Let us know in the comments section below, via our Twitter or via our Facebook page.

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