Around the turn of the previous century, I, as a nine year old, had a choice to make: which new gaming console should I ask for as a Christmas gift? There was the sleek and exciting Playstation 2, the mysterious and unknown Xbox, and the oddly shaped and oddly colored Gamecube. It was the first time I’d ever had to make a decision like this. I had an N64, which I played religiously, but that was given to me by my parents as a previous Christmas gift and I had no idea that it was coming. That served as my introduction to gaming, and now it was time for me to make my own well thought out and researched decision. In spite of that longing to make a real and educated choice, out of sheer brand loyalty, I opted for the Gamecube. The N64 had given me miraculously wonderful memories of The Ocarina of Time, Donkey Kong 64, and Mario Kart 64. One game surpassed all of those games, however, in the sheer amount of joy I extracted from it: Super Smash Bros. With OoT the Water Temple could make you ragequit. Donkey Kong simply wasn’t as much fun as Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart could end friendships faster than stealing your best friend’s holographic Dark Charizard. Believe me, I know (sorry David!). But the biggest factor in my deciding to ask for a Gamecube was that I knew that there would be a new Super Smash Bros. and I knew that I couldn’t miss out on that experience. And when Melee was released, I knew I had made the right decision.
Super Smash Bros. was different than any other game than I had ever played, and remains so to this day. It is still a totally unique experience. It creates incredibly in-depth combat without ever becoming ludicrously complex. It’s easy to pick up and learn and nearly impossible to master, which makes it accessible and fun for everyone. Even its premise is equally simple and enjoyable. Put a bunch of Nintendo’s finest in a game and watch them all beat the tar out of one another! No story, no background, no real context, just simple, dumb fun! Plus how can you not love this trailer?
When Melee was released Nintendo had truly outdone themselves. With Melee, Nintendo had managed to improve upon the depth of the game in all the best ways. There were more stages and characters, of course. The campaign mode was interluded with mini-games that enhanced the experience rather than taking the player out of it. The mini-games were fun and didn’t feel like exercises in monotony. Collecting trophies was a truly rewarding and gratifying sensation. Even during the end credits of the game, you got to shoot at all the names whizzing by à la Star Fox! And for whatever reason, when I played with my friends, that sense of toxic animosity felt during Mario Kart matches was completely absent. We may have been playing against one another but we were never upset about the outcome because the game itself was just so much damn fun to play. We were having such a good time that we couldn’t be bothered to care about whether we won or lost. Nintendo had truly made something special. Super Smash Bros. is remarkable because it’s easy to pick up and play, it’s astoundingly fun, and it has something for everyone. Pitting Marth against Falco or (my favorite) Ganondorf against Mario is simple absurdity and it’s magnificent in its results.
The upcoming Super Smash Bros. looks to be more of the same from Nintendo and that couldn’t be better news. They always manage to put just the right amount of new twists and additions to gameplay in order to keep the game fresh without ever deviating from the original material that makes the game so amazing. Now if only I didn’t have to buy a Wii U to play it…