Super Smash Bros. 15th Anniversary Retrospective

Fight!

Before there was Super Smash Bros., there was Dragon King: The Fighting Game, a joint project between Smash Bros. (and Kirby) creator Masahiro Sakurai and current president and CEO of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, who was then the head of Nintendo's second-party studio, HAL Laboratory. Sakurai's plan was to create a "four-player battle royale" fighting game for home consoles that would stand out from the prevailing one-on-one fighting game model of the day. He brought his idea to Iwata, who was hungry to develop a game that took advantage of the Nintendo 64's joystick. He enthusiastically agreed to support Sakurai's plan, going so far as to offer to program the game during his weekends.

The original Super Smash Bros. roster.

The two worked during weekends to bring the concept to life. At first, it was built around generic character models fighting in settings derived from photos taken outside of HAL Laboratory's office. But, for Sakurai at least, it was important that their game offer more than just solid fighting mechanics. Because it was designed with the home console audience in mind, he wanted to create a world and setting that would envelop players' imaginations, something that Dragon King's faceless fighters didn't deliver.

The duo approached Nintendo, reportedly with an unauthorized build of the game using Nintendo characters, and to their surprise, they were given the go-ahead to create the Nintendo brawler of Sakurai's dreams. Dragon King was dead, and Super Smash Bros. was born.

The game drew inspiration from Nintendo's most notable franchises, using characters and settings from such series as Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, and, of course, Kirby. It was originally planned as a Japanese-exclusive release, but its success at home encouraged Nintendo to release it overseas. The rest, as they say, is history. Since its release in 1999, Super Smash Bros. has received two sequels and developed a rabidly devoted fan base, and its roster of a dozen characters grew to 35 for the most recently released sequel, Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii.

Fifteen years after Super Smash Bros. cartridges found their way into Nintendo 64s around the world, Sakurai and Iwata now plan on shipping two new Super Smash Bros. games in 2014--one for the 3DS and another for the Wii U. As excited as some of us are for these next Super Smash Bros. games, we're also fondly recalling our experiences with past games in the series.

Randolph Ramsay

As someone who grew up playing far too much of the Street Fighter and Tekken series, I thought Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64 seemed like a fighting game for babies. Cute Nintendo mascots? Simple controls with only a few buttons and combos? And what was this malarkey about knocking someone out of an arena to win? What about the good old-fashioned KO?

Super Smash Bros. was a fighting game that truly anyone could play.

But as I was soon to discover, beneath its cutesy, seemingly casual exterior, Super Smash Bros. had significant depth. Sure, it didn't require you to master complex motions with a joystick/pad in tandem with six attack buttons, but Super Smash Bros. still asked you to have quick reactions, in-depth knowledge of your character's moveset, and familiarity with the possible attacks of every other character in the roster. Its accessibility was perhaps its greatest asset. With fighting games back in the late 1990s (and even to this day), the barrier of entry for new players was extremely high. Super Smash Bros. was a fighting game that truly anyone could play.

And that was exemplified with one of my first memories playing Super Smash Bros. I invited a friend over for a night of gaming and suggested Smash Bros. as something we could play. My friend wasn't into fighters, but he reluctantly gave it a try. Within a few matches, he was having a ball, and we were soon yelling and cursing at each other (in a good-natured manner, of course) as our competition became more intense. After an hour or so, our downstairs neighbor came upstairs and complained about all the noise we were making. "I don't even mind the yelling," he said, "but all the high-pitched squealing is getting on my nerves." It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, but also one of the best gaming memories I have.

Peter Brown

Working in a movie and video game rental shop during the summer as a teenager was something I romanticized, especially given that it wasn't under the umbrella of a massive corporation like Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. It probably helped that I worked with a bunch of 20-somethings who acted like they had less to lose than I did, and the setting--a Cape Cod beach town with a surfing lean--created the perfect backdrop for their "anything goes" way of life. Even though I was roughly a decade younger and far less boisterous than my tattoo-sleeved manager who wore Rollerblades during his shifts, I was welcomed into the fold with open arms. Granted, I couldn't always join them on adventures, especially if my parents were wise enough to realize what I was getting into, but my friends weren't always looking for trouble. Sometimes, they played Super Smash Bros. after hours.

Video games have always been a great equalizer, so I wasn't surprised to see my coworkers rally like a band of excitable children around the cast of Nintendo characters in Super Smash Bros., but I appreciated that it leveled the social playing field, so to speak. Our age and personality differences mattered even less than usual, and even though none of us were particularly skilled at the game, we were good at having fun with it regardless. It was a summer to remember for a lot of reasons, but because video games are such a big part of my life anyway, I can't help but count Super Smash Bros. among the highlights.

Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U, coming later this year.

Chris Watters

As a college freshman taking Japanese classes early in the morning, every morning, I spent a lot of time walking back through the hallways of my dorm while other students hadn't yet left for class. One fateful morning, I passed a door that was ajar and heard intriguing sounds emanating from within. The unmistakable sounds of a game console in action mingled with the muttered curses and shouts of triumph of two people battling it out. I had no idea who was inside, but I knew I wanted to get in on the action. I knocked, entered, and met two guys who would become two of my best friends--and hated enemies.

The game was Super Smash Bros., and the competition was fierce. After dabbling with a few different characters, I followed in my newfound friends' footsteps; to their Captain Falcon and Fox McCloud, I added my Pikachu. We rarely switched characters and were soon joined by a devilish Kirby, a hapless Yoshi, and our lone polygamist, a Samus/Donkey Kong. Our regular sessions doubled as rigorous training as we constantly sought to outdo each other with sharper reflexes and unexpected tactics. It was my first experience with diving deep into a fighting game (such as it was), learning the precise range of all my moves and the exact dimensions of my opponents' hitboxes. During a good match, I felt at one with that little electric rodent, like I had finally achieved the head-to-head mastery I'd longed for throughout years of parental prohibition of fighting games.

But Smash skills weren't the only thing I forged in the crucible of cartoon combat. With every "Screw you, Fox!" and "Die in a thousand fires, Kirby!" I was making friends that I am still close with over a decade later. It sounds a bit sappy, I guess, though there were certainly times when we didn't leave a session on good terms. But those Smash-fueled memories are some of my most cherished from that time, and we even managed to befriend a few of the many hall mates we tormented with our vitriolic exclamations. To me, Super Smash Bros. is a shining example of the social power of games, and how the bonds formed around gaming can change the course of lives for the better.

Are you a fan of smashing brothers? Do you even wave dash? Let us know in the comments below.

See more coverage of VGHM 2014

Written By

Randolph is the managing editor of GameSpot, and needs more time to play games.

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Discussion

52 comments
Andy639_basic
Andy639_basic

I remember when I first learned of the game's existence. I was at a pizza restaurant. Eleven years old. There was a big-ass TV in the corner and then that commercial came on. Mario, Pikachu Yoshi and Donkey Kong, 'so happy together' playing as they frolicked together... and then they started beating the shit out of each other.

I was sold instantly. I didn't question it. I loved Nintendo games, I loved fighting games. How could it not be great?

DarthLod
DarthLod

This has always been a boring fighter. Never cared for any of them.

lordquasar
lordquasar

Why do they keep adding and removing characters each game release? I loved Dr Mario. 

Flyin3lvl
Flyin3lvl

the only game were bowser beat Mario for once ....

DoomglooM
DoomglooM

Melee was my favorite and me and my sis poured hundreds of hours into that game...we unlocked most of the characters just having fun

widdowson91
widdowson91

I love the series, even if I suck at the games. They're just super fun. I remember trying to beat the 100-man melee in Super Smash Bros. Melee four hours with my friends, just so we could unlock Falco. Good times, and great memories.

lightning_kf
lightning_kf

Ah I love this series.


The original was the first game I owned on the N64 and my biggest regret was NOT owning a GameCube.  I missed Melee, got Brawl on the Wii and the rest was history.  Can't wait to get a Wii-U for Smash Bros. 4

seven7swords
seven7swords

All I can say is I love this series and I love the Smash Community. So glad Nintendo is finally recognize the competitive scene and can't wait for these new games. I will be getting both and staying strong with my LoZ mains Link, Sheik, and Zelda. :)

PyreofKoL
PyreofKoL

God, this series holds so many memories. I played the original a handful of times on my cousin's N64, but didn't own a Smash game until Melee. Early in my freshman year of high school I played a demo of Melee and instantly knew that I wanted the game. As fate would have it, my dad had a job lined up for me the following summer at the printing press he worked at (and still does to this day). I saved a few paychecks  and bought myself a GameCube, a couple controllers and a copy of Melee. My two younger brothers and I played religiously. Every Friday night back packs were tossed aside and Smash Bros was fired up. My brothers and I regularly stayed up until 3 AM on Saturday mornings playing Smash. By that point we weren't even half trying to play the game competitively and were instead doing things so ridiculous that we were laughing ourselves to tears. Since high school I've hosted and otherwise been part of a number of gaming parties, and I have yet to see one that doesn't feature a copy of Brawl. Call of Duty and Halo are always popular and usually take a good bit of the night, but a Smash tourney is inevitable and creates more laughter and enjoyment than any other game in the rotation. This new Smash will be a great addition to game night rotations and a great new way to make memories with friends and family.

hystavito
hystavito

I have never played any Smash Bros. game, but I might get the WiiU and/or 3DS ones.

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

I'm gonna say it now, this game and Mario Kart 8 will help save the WiiU.  Maybe not completely, but they'll revitalize sales of the system.  And I feel that Nintendo will reveal some major titles around E3, which will probably generate some interest again.


Everyone was saying that games don't revitalize systems in the recent story, but certain Nintendo games sell endlessly as opposed to almost every other game out there which works on a similar kind of schedule like movies in theaters do.  Most games sell great at first, and sell well for a while then sales drop off.  Several key Nintendo titles just sell constantly as long as their systems continue selling.  Smash Brothers for Gamecube was that game for that system.


It'll happen.  Nintendo will come back and everyone who doubted will be surprised once again that they are bigger than ever, and like has happened ever since the days of the N64, I will just stand back and say, "I told you so."

Takeno456
Takeno456

Smash Bros. is one of my favourite series ever. I have played in a few hard core tournaments and in countless casual matches with friends and I find that Smash Bros is one of those games that is just down right fun to play.

bj91x
bj91x

I love the Smash series. One of my favorites all-time. Unfortunately, with every Smash that gets released now, I have to ponder if I should purchase yet another underpowered Nintendo system just for one game. Grr...

molenator7
molenator7

yes but this coming Tuesday Nintendo is closing all there all online services. The only Nintendo proximal be able to use online services are the Wii you and 2ds and 3ds so lame 


BranKetra
BranKetra moderator moderator

Super Smash Bros. is a special video game franchise. It is easy to learn and easy to master, but there is surprising depth to it. I have enjoyed every SSB to date and I intend to continue that unbroken tradition of mine with the new one.

gameroutlawzz
gameroutlawzz

SSB Brawl with Project M ­> every smash games ever created.

DrKill09
DrKill09

I never understood the appeal of this series.  Played Smash Bros on the Wii, and hated it.  The game was unbalanced to the point of being broken, and the camera pulled back too damn far.  I couldn't tell what the hell was going on.


I'd much rather play MK9, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Tekken 6, Virtua Fighter 2, Bloody Roar, SFIII...

Coren_Larken
Coren_Larken

My high school buddies and I were playing SSB Melee one morning before I left for college. My sister, 10 at the time, came downstairs and asked to play with us. The guys didn't want her on their team, so they laughed and said she could play on mine. The match started, and she, with Kirby, completely demolished them in a ridiculously short amount of time. I quietly sat back and watched, with pride, as the pride of my friends crumbled.

BrunoBRS
BrunoBRS

"do you even wave dash?" i lol'd :P

Jay2528
Jay2528

I have never been very good at fighting games, but man did I enjoy playing the original Smash Bros. It did not matter if I played solo or with friends and family, I always seemed to have fun.

WllDan7
WllDan7

Definitely my favorite gaming series. I am going to be getting both of these as they come out this summer and hopefully this winter.

spuriousgeorge
spuriousgeorge

Some of my best gaming moments are from the super smash series. It's success goes to show how good same-screen multiplayer can be... Sigh... I miss the days when multiplayer involved four controllers hooked up to the same machine.

StarsiderSajun
StarsiderSajun

Probably the game series that I've played the most over the years. Playing the Project M mod now while I wait for the next one. So much fun. =)

arrow2thekneeXD
arrow2thekneeXD

My favorite game series of all time. I don't want it to be ruined by Micro-transactions and or dlc.

arrow2thekneeXD
arrow2thekneeXD

Please don't have DLC or Micro-transactions or NFC use in the new smash bros. As a big Nintendo fan and a huge smash bros. Fan. These things will ruin it.

DoomglooM
DoomglooM

@DarthLod did you try turning the system on? no but you are full of it and obviously a wolf in sheep's clothing...go bother another nintendo thread why don't you and Never return lol

DoomglooM
DoomglooM

first game I got with the Gamecube and probably the most Time I spent with any game honestly....I always wanted the original but missed it until after Melee...and I just can't play it....Brawl is good too but it seems they slowed it down a bit and the random slipping is complete bullshit!....I could see with the banana peels, that's ok...but just randomly is stupid and kinda ruins the experience here and there Idk

BranKetra
BranKetra moderator moderator

@gameroutlawzz I looked up a video of Project M because I did not know about it until you mentioned it and found a video of 3.0. It looks like fun.

doc-brown
doc-brown moderator staff

@gameroutlawzz  Project M is fantastic! Also, a true testament to the love fans have for the series. It's one of the most impressive community hacks I've ever seen.

SacredVega
SacredVega

@DrKill09  That's because you played Brawl, big mistake, you should have played Melee for gamecube, that one is way better in game play and balance, and some people don't want to accept that

oChampion
oChampion

@Coren_Larken  My younger sister's pretty good at brawl as well..

AttackOfTheCat
AttackOfTheCat

@spuriousgeorge Wii U all the way so! I played more 5-player multiplayer then 4-player which is class. Nintendoland is an underrated gem, particularly great for friends that don't play video games

SacredVega
SacredVega

@arrow2thekneeXD  not micro-transhit but I do go DLC, more characters dude! remenber C. falcon won't be on this one so if they decide to put DLC then he could return there, I'm willing to pay for it.

eelektrik
eelektrik

@arrow2thekneeXDPeople always want more characters, and there is only so much development time prior to release that a lot of the more obscure characters might never even get considered, but with DLC post launch they could actually have a chance. As long as the main release has at least as many characters as Brawl, I would welcome post launch DLC/NFC character unlocks.


I'm still waiting for someone from Golden Sun to be playable.

DoomglooM
DoomglooM

I was going to get an Xbox actually cause I played Halo on it....but then I played Melee at a Media Play store and changed ma mind heeheeheee

Ejotei
Ejotei

@ragnarok160 @Jedilink109  Yeah because you can buy Mario Kart 8 on the 3ds right? and the 3ds version of ssb will only make its adopters crave a full game with more stages and on 1080p and 60fps

that_weird_dude
that_weird_dude

 @DrKill09  How is it unbalanced (save meta knight). I can do good with any character on Brawl, you just have to know how they work. And to me, brawl is just more fun than melee. The controls in Melee, after going back from brawl, felt clunky and i could not get marth to do what i wanted him to do like in Brawl. Also you should try Brawl minus. makes the game do much more fun.

Ejotei
Ejotei

@SacredVega @arrow2thekneeXD  The problem would be Online, what if someone owns a character that I dont and it gives him more options and therefore and advantage? And I do think C. Falcon is back btw just not announced yet, he is one of the originals after all. I would welcome skins for characters though! kind of like buying shadow but he is a alternative color for sonic!