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Is Super Smash Bros. Obsolete?

25th December 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

A few exceptions aside, I typically do not fancy fighting games. But after all these years,
Super Smash Bros. is one fighter I still feel comfortable playing. While other gamers have since moved on from the allegedly dated nature of the original, why do I continue coming back to it?

Although designed as a multiplayer game, I always found playing by myself a lot of fun -- which is more than I can say for other fighters I've tried. This was much better explored in Super Smash Bros. Brawl with The Subspace Emissary, but I always loved facing off Giant DK and the Fighting Polygon Team in the single-player experience. The bonus stages were enjoyable as well, even though it took a long time before I could actually clear them properly. Along with that, finding out about advanced techniques with the combo system was always exciting, including how to execute a more powerful swing of a sword or the home run bat using the hard presses of the Analog Stick. Then of course, you also had some pretty fun levels like Planet Zebes from the Metroid series which, again were developed further in the later two games. So yes, there was a lot to like back then, and even now, it's still good fun. However, my appreciation for Super Smash Bros. runs deeper than just the mechanics.

Something I still appreciate about this game is the fact that it didn't dabble in having unnecessary character slots. If I were to compare how I felt unlocking characters in Brawl versus the original, the excitement was still there, but in the original it actually felt like something special. Well, once you moved past Jigglypuff of course. But unlocking everything in the game felt like an accomplishment in itself with the difficulty settings you were required to play on to unlock additional figures for play. The original
Super Smash Bros. didn't feel like it was trying to cater to way too many people -- something I observed with Brawl's final character roster. The character selection was clean and concise with each character feeling unique in their abilities and the strategies you had to employ to master them.

Another reason why I'll always have a soft spot for Super Smash Bros. goes beyond the mere nostalgic appeal. From my experience, in playing Melee and Brawl with others and watching others play, people became a lot more serious in the way they played. Many times, it would reach a point where it became a matter of pummeling "friends" into the ground as a means of asserting your worth as a gamer or to prove you were better than everybody else. Compare this with the original which honestly had a more fun-loving aesthetic to it, and although it still had a competitive edge, it didn't produce in players such a serious must-win-at-all-costs spirit. Just Brawl in its entirety was too serious for my tastes, and although there was a period when I was addicted to it, deep down it rubbed me the wrong way.

Even just the "plot" of the game feels very Toy Story-esque, with the characters featured in the game represented as toys that come to life when the figurative lights go out. This was always reinforced whenever you lost all your lives and hit the Game Over screen. Your character would revert back to its toy state and fall to the ground like a forgotten plush toy. This "toy box" feeling is honestly what makes me feel like a kid again whenever I play. There's just something oh-so-innocent about everything that's presented therein and with this in mind, I always felt invited to come back and play again (even on my own). And this is something that's definitely missing from future iterations.

On a related note, there's little denying that the final battle against Master Hand in the single-player mode always felt exhilarating. Next to discovering the Rainbow Road shortcut in Mario Kart 64 on my own, it was probably one of the most epic moments I had as a kid with my Nintendo 64. Even now, it still gets my heart racing! Something I came to appreciate about this final boss later on in life was that there was nothing overtly magical or flamboyant about it. Instead, it carried those same feelings I just spoke about and felt harmonious with the game's underlying premise.

I don't have a vendetta against its successors, and I'm certainly not denying that there were critical improvements in future iterations. I also know lots of people out there view the original in a negative light when stacked up against
Melee and Brawl, and certain gamers will defend the superiority of those games to the ground. However, for me personally, the original Super Smash Bros. is still a classic game, and as explained above, I still derive much enjoyment from playing it. More than that, as I return to it again and again, I am continually reminded of my later childhood years, which were marked by the very same themes this game carries: simplicity, happiness and innocence. Its for these reasons that I can say that Super Smash Bros. has not been made obsolete by its successors.

Feature by KnucklesSonic8