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Saturday, December 20, 2014

8 Reasons Why I Love Super Smash Bros.

Fifteen years ago, Super Smash Bros. hit the Nintendo 64. The game had a low budget and not too much in the way of advertising or hype for its release (the one TV is still hilarious, though) but it was one of the system's best titles and has now gone on to be a cash cow franchise for Nintendo.

I freaking LOVE the Super Smash Bros. games. I fell in love with this series on day one all those years ago and the series has just kept getting bigger and improving ever since. We've seen the release of the fourth game in the series on the 3DS and Wii U and I've been investing ample play time in both entries. With my mind focusing heavily on Super Smash Bros., I thought I'd present to you my reasons why this crossover series is so near and dear to me.

01. Characters

Let's not beat around the bush. Mario, Link, Pikachi, Samus, Peach, Captian Falcon and Zelda to name a fraction of them. Nintendo has some of the the most loved and most recognizable characters in the video game medium. Super Smash Bros. is the only series where you can have Mario give Peach a well-deserved punch to the face for all the times she's been kidnapped. Not the biggest Pokemon fan in spite of the series throngs of fans? Give Jiggly Puff a beating. 

The first two Super Smash Bros, games were exclusive to Nintendo characters. But when Super Smash Bros. Brawl was revealed, the floodgates were opened for third party characters and Solid Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog joined Nintendo Legends. At long last, Sonic and Mario could settle their old rivalry in style. That right there was cranking things up to eleven. For the 3DS and Wii U versions of Super Smash Bros, the hype meter was cranked so high that any attempt to measure it in numerical format would result in an exploding scouter. The fourth edition of Super Smash Bros. was history in the making as it not only stared Mario and Sonic, but also Mega Man and Pac-Man, four of the biggest names in gaming were all in the same game. And then you've got all the other new comers like Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, and Bowser Jr. Is it any wonder Super Smash Bros. is the greatest gaming crossover series?

02. The Stages

More often than not, fighting arenas are nothing more than background imagery for you to take in as you beat down your opponent. Occasionally you'll find you can bash your adversary against part of the scenery, but little else. This is not the case for Super Smash Bros. If you're fighting on a Mario Kart stage or Mute City, you'd better pay close attention to the race going on. The Shy Guy and F-Zero racers could care less about your fight and will turn you into road kill without giving it a second thought. The dragon that appears in the Find Mii stage will give you stat increases or decreases depending on the mood he's in. Want to opt for a more serious-looking battle ground? Take it to the Boxing Ring. You can even jump off the ropes. Wanna bring down those lights that totally aren't just for show on unsuspecting players? Go nuts. Living Room may seem innocent enough with the dog playing in the background, but the falling blocks can hurt almost as much as the Smash Attacks opponents unleash.

On the default settings, the arenas in Smash keep things plenty lively. Of course if you just want to worry about fighting your opponents and not contend with stage hazards, the Wii U and 3DS versions of Smash introduce an Omega, setting, which turns each level into a flat playing field, perfect for more competitive Smash play. No more going to Final Destination for the millionth time.

03. Remembering What Was Forgotten

Mario, Zelda and Donkey are still getting plenty of attention these days so they'll never be out of the spotlight. But I'm willing to bet that most people had forgotten all about or had zero knowledge of the Game & Watch series, which predated the Game Boy as Nintendo's first portable gaming device. They were reminded of them when the warning siren went off announcing an approaching fighter and were staring at a diminutive, flat figure with limited animation, making very primitive sounds with every move and attack. 

Ice Climber was one of my favorite early NES games when I was a kid so I lit up like a Christmas tree when I saw Popo and Nana in the game's opening cut scene. I hadn't thought of these two in eons, and Super Smash Bros. Melee brought them back to my attention.

Our hopes of a new Duck Hunt game on the Wii were sadly dashed. The motion controls made it a perfect choice to resurrect the dog so we could shoots some ducks down and fire a few rounds off at the pooch in the process. 3DS and Wii U Smash brought the dog and duck duo, make that trio, back in the form of Duck Hunt. Duck Hunt's very play style seems like they were design to anger those on the receiving end of his exploding cans and make you loose friends. One of his taunts is that stupid laugh from the NES Duck Hunt game, which is sure to make the blood of anyone Duck Hunt KOs boil. 

Ever play a game called Wrecking Crew? It was an early puzzle game and a Mario spin-off that only had one sequel with Wrecking Crew '98 on the Super Famicom. The Wii U version of Smash has a level based on Wrecking Crew so if you know how those games work, you've already got a leg up on the competition on how to use the level to dish out additional pain. 

04. Taking Pictures

Being able to rotate and zoom the camera when a match is paused may not seem like a big deal to outsiders but to any long-time Smash player, the possibilities are endless. During the development of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Sakurai began sharing photos of the game each day. These photos would reveal items, characters, stages, or just some hilarious craziness that they happened to snap a picture of at the time, that last one happens to be a big draw to the picture snapping functionality of Smash. I can tell by all the picture a day posts Sakurai has done that he and his team had a blast taking all sorts of photos. Suffice to say, he wants us to do the same and Miiverse makings share photos easier than ever.

05. So Much to Do

The original Super Smash Bros game had an extended slot life in the N64 because it allowed up to four players to slug it out. From Super Smash Bros. Melee onward, the doors were blown off for the sheer amount of content it offered for those playing alone. Event mode has you fighting under set conditions such as putting some hyper kids to sleep with Jiggly Puff's Sleep ability or taking down the insanely powerful pair of Dr. Mario and Peach. Homerun-Contest lets you see how far you can send Sandbag flying. Want to test your endurance? Multi-Man Smash has various mini modes, one even letting you see how long you can last against an endless wave of fighters. All-Star mode has you fighting the entire fight roster with one life and a limited supply of recovery items with battles getting progressively tougher. If your friends aren't available, this series offers plenty to do for solo Smashers. 

06. Trophies

The opening of Super Smash Bros. Melee shows a child taking hold of a Mario figure that would become an all import part of the Smash series. Trophies can be found lying on the ground, collected as rewards from victory or purchased with your hard earned coins. These cool-looking collectibles can be viewed up close, far away and spun around. They even come with their own bio for you to read, filling you in for the trophies of lesser known characters. Whoever wrote the bios for the 3DS/Wii U trophies is my hero. I've lost count of how many times I've chuckled or laughed out loud. Ever since the Melee days I've yearned for Smash trophies and amiibos are basically just that except each one can be turned into a digital fighting machine in Wii U Smash.

07. Multiplayer

The majority of fighting games are two player affairs. But as it was already established when Super Smash Bros. was released way back in 1999, Smash wasn't like most fighting games. Four controller ports meant up to four players could pound the virtual crap out of each other. To anyone not in the know that takes a look at Smash, the four player brawler will more than likely been seen as a screen of pure uncontrolled chaos. To the resident Smash fan? Business as usual. It's the kind of madness that brings a smile to one's face and reminds of the glory days of blowing up my friends in the numerous Bomberman games.

Four players is manic enough. The Wii U version of Smash 4 can hold up to eight players for local smashing. You'll need at least one GameCube controller adapter to do this along with some GameCube controllers and it may be a little too much for some, but this video of Max and the gang having a blast was all I need to see to convince me that I need to give 8 player Smash a try at some point.

08. Music

Super Smash Bros. on the N64 was packed with arrangements of classic themes from the likes of Super Mario Bros. Kirby Super Star, Metroid and the like. Melee was for all intents and purposes a bigger and better game and brought forth an expansive soundtracks. Some themes could only be heard when you held the L or R shoulder buttons as you selected a stage.

Saying Brawl's soundtrack was massive would be an understatement. The game boasted over 300 tracks of original themes and remixes with tons of composers being brought in to write the music like Nobuo Uematsu and Masafumi Takada. From time to time, CDs would randomly drop and you could pick them up to add them to your music collection. Doing so meant you could listen to tunes such as Molgera, Dragon Roost Island (The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker) Castle / Boss Fortress (Super Mario World / Super Mario Bros. 3) as you battled it out in their respective stages. Like Melee, Brawl also payed tribute to lesser known titles in in the form of music. It's pretty unlikely that most of the Smash fanbase ever played the Game Boy Japan exclusive X, and yet there was an incredible remix of the Tunnel Scene theme that could be heard on Lylat Cruise. Even Panel de Pon got some love with a sick arrangement of Lip's Theme. With so much music, one might fear that they'd never be able to hear it all. The My Music feature Brawl introduced lets you toggle the frequency at which songs play on every battle stage. Have a song you really like? Crank it up so you can hear it regularly. A piece you aren't particularly fond of? Turn if off all together.

The Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. has over 430 themes of new music, arrangements and returning themes from Smash 64, Melee and Brawl. The composer talent is across the board for Smash 4 with some of my favorites Kenji Ito, Manabu Namiki, and ACE pitching in to name very few. The My Music feature that Brawl added makes a return and with even more tunes than ever before, you could spend hours just listening to and selecting themes.

I'm very pleased some of my old favorites from Brawl made a return but the plethora of new remixes is insane. Full Steam Ahead (The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks), Wrecking Crew Medley (Wrecking Crew), Dark Lord (Find Mii), Bubblegum K.K. (Animal Crossing: New Leaf), Love Theme (Mother 3) are already making Smash 4 one of my favorite video game soundtracks. As great as the gameplay to this series is, the music has been every bit as good. 

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