Nintendo makes awesome games. Also, the company produces great hardware. Each new console is a chance for them to release a new game in their multiple franchises. And this is a process of constant improvement - the devices become better, so the games can offer even more advanced playing experience.
This pattern has been successfully implemented for arguably the funniest and the most colorful fighting game series - Super Smash Bros. Starting from Nintendo 64, each major Nintendo console has its installment of Smash Brothers. And each time it’s a brilliant boost in quality and excitement.
Guys, what about glancing at the glorious past of the Super Smash Bros. series? We did something similar with the Tekken community quite recently - a throwback article A Story of Success: How Tekken Burst into the Industry.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 64
In the late 1990s, Nintendo was eager to follow the trend of 3D games. Sony released their first PlayStation in 1994 in Japan and in 1995 Worldwide. The new gaming device was filled with awesome 3D adventures, innovative for that time. Nintendo answered with the Nintendo 64 in 1996-97. Players got the first ever 3D Mario games: Mario Kart 64 and Super Mario 64. A bit later, the company added 3D Zelda and Donkey Kong games to the library - and the first installment of Nintendo fighting, a new experimental franchise Super Smash Bros.
It started with a project of Masahiro Sakurai, named Dragon King: The Fighting Game. Sakurai wanted to make a multiplayer fighting game for the Nintendo 64 and pitched this idea to Satoru Iwata. First, it had no famous characters - only basic 3D human figures. Then, Sakurai decided to make this game unique and allow it to stand out from the crowd of other fighting games (for example, Street Fighter III: New Generation, released in 1997, or Tekken 3, the best Tekken game, released in 1997-98). Mr. Sakurai added the most recognisable personalities in the gaming culture - secretly, without permission from the company. Only when the game was nicely balanced, he presented it to the Nintendo management. They played, they liked it, and they approved the release.
The deep idea of Super Smash Bros. is to make fighting games easily accessible to absolute beginners to the genre. Even small children should take the controller and enjoy the process. Such an attitude would be disastrous if the game couldn’t offer any depth of tricky mechanics and interesting strategies. The more you play Super Smash Bros., the better your skills become. And this process is almost endless.
Super Smash Bros. looks like a typical game of the Nintendo 64 era. It is amazing for gamers of that time but a bit clumsy for the modern eyes. Of course, you have all those famous characters, familiar stages, and great soundtracks - we will meet this recipe in all the following games of the series.
To make the playing process even more family-friendly, Mr. Sakurai removed the traditional health bar, so players do not feel how they take life power from the fighters. The competitors have a growing percentage of damage. And they do not die - losers are thrown off the platform and the screen (no fatalities or something of that sort).
The controlling is quite straightforward. Players don’t need to memorize long combinations of buttons - just smash your opponent. The variety of the fighting experience comes from different abilities of characters.
The first game Super Smash Bros. contains only 12 fighters:
- Captain Falcon (F-Zero)
- Donkey Kong (Donkey Kong)
- Fox (Star Fox)
- Jigglypuff (Pokémon)
- Kirby (Kirby)
- Link (The Legend of Zelda)
- Luigi (Mario)
- Mario (Mario)
- Ness (EarthBound)
- Pikachu (Pokémon)
- Samus (Metroid)
- Yoshi (Yoshi)
There are four single-player modes: 1P Game (a campaign), Training, and mini-games Break the Targets and Board the Platforms. The multiplayer Versus Mode is the primary one - up to four players fight on one of nine stages.
The original Super Smash Bros. was developed by the 2nd-party developer HAL Laboratory, Inc. and released in 1999. As for 2001, Nintendo sold around 5 M copies.
Super Smash Bros. (64) Openning
Super Smash Bros. Openning
Super Smash Bros. Melee for GameCube
However experimental was the first game in the series, it brought quite a success to the development team - and also, new responsibilities. The management of Nintendo wanted to repeat this achievement on a new level. The sequence had to be of much better quality to bring an even bigger audience.
Super Smash Bros. Melee was one of the earliest games for the GameCube, so the company connected its release with the device sales. The fighting had to prove the graphical capabilities of the console, and this created significant pressure on Masahiro Sakurai. Another key person for this game was Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario and The Legend of Zelda, who became a co-producer.
The addition of many new characters was a significant update for this game. And also, this is a tremendous amount of work! Who to choose from the huge Nintendo library? How to make them unique and then balance the fighting?
The result was phenomenal! Critics praised the exceptional quality and creativity of Super Smash Bros. Melee - especially the expanded gameplay mechanics. Players enjoyed the competitive aspect so much that even after around 20 years from the release, the game has some dedicated esports tournaments. Many fans still prefer using the GameCube controller while playing SSBU on the Switch.
In addition to 12 players from the first game, Super Smash Bros. Melee got 14 new fighters:
- Princess Peach (Mario)
- Bowser (Mario)
- Dr. Mario (Mario)
- Zelda (The Legend of Zelda)
- Sheik, a transformation of Zelda (The Legend of Zelda)
- Young Link (The Legend of Zelda)
- Ganondorf (The Legend of Zelda)
- Falco (Star Fox)
- Pichu (Pokémon)
- Mewtwo (Pokémon)
- Ice Climbers (Ice Climber)
- Marth (Fire Emblem)
- Roy (Fire Emblem)
- Mr. Game & Watch (Game & Watch)
The variety of modes is significantly bigger. For single-player matches, they are Classic (similar to the campaign), Adventure, All-Star, Event, Stadium, and Training. For multiplayer experience, gamers can choose Versus, Special, and Tournament. The game offers 29 stages for the Versus mode.
Super Smash Bros. Melee was released in 2001. The developer is HAL Laboratory, Inc. again. By 2008, Nintendo sold more than 7 M copies, so the game became the best selling title on the GameCube.
Super Smash Bros. Melee Openning
Super Smash Bros. Melee Openning
Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii
After the success of Melee, the next release was inevitable. In 2005 Satoru Iwata announced a new Super Smash Bros. game for a new Nintendo console, which should be a launch title for the device. Mr. Sakurai left HAL Laboratory, Inc., so the development process moved to another team, with Sakurai as a director. He even formed the company Sora Co. Ltd., which is a legal entity to proceed with the contracts of Sakurai and his wife - still, it is mentioned as a developer alongside Nintendo.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl has quite a few innovations in comparison to the predecessor. First, it’s meant to support various controllers - players can use the GameCube gamepad or a few controllers for Wii. Also, it’s the first-ever Smash game with online matches - that’s quite a technical challenge for that time.
The game got a significant boost in graphics, its soundtrack is amazing, and the gameplay continues the best traditions of the series.
After quite a few delays, Super Smash Bros. Brawl was released in 2008. It contains new characters, but five fighters from Melee were removed: Young Link, Mewtwo, Pichu, Roy, and Dr. Mario.
The game has 18 new fighters, including first non-Nintendo heroes (Solid Snake and Sonic):
- Diddy Kong (Donkey Kong)
- Meta Knight (Kirby)
- King Dedede (Kirby)
- Toon Link (The Legend of Zelda)
- Zero Suit Samus (Metroid)
- Wolf (Star Fox)
- Pokémon Trainer with Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard (Pokémon)
- Lucario (Pokémon)
- Lucas (EarthBound)
- Ike (Fire Emblem)
- Pit (Kid Icarus)
- Wario (Mario)
- Olimar (Pikmin)
- R.O.B. (R.O.B.)
- Snake (Metal Gear)
- Sonic (Sonic)
The single-player modes have a story Subspace Emissary and the previous 1-P modes are here as well. The multiplayer modes are different: Brawl, Special Brawl, Rotation, and Tourney. One very interesting addition to the game is the Stage Builder mode, where players can create their own stages. The overall number of stages for multiplayer fights is 41.
Even more people purchased Brawl - around 13 M copies were sold. Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the eighth best-selling game for Wii.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl Openning
Super Smash Bros. Brawl Openning
Super Smash Bros. 4 for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U
For the first time, Nintendo released a Super Smash Bros. game for two different consoles (almost) simultaneously: classic and portable. In the community, it is called Super Smash Bros. 4 - two versions are very similar to each other, so they are considered to be one installment. Also for the first time, the development was entrusted to Bandai Namco, the company behind the Tekken game series.
Super Smash Bros. 4 tries to please both types of audiences: casual and competitive, so its gameplay is not so fast as of Melee and not so slow as of Brawl.
In 2011, Masahiro Sakurai worked on the project Kid Icarus: Uprising, so the development process started only in 2012. During the promotion period, the developers shared cinematic trailers as an alternative to cutscenes of the story mode, which was excluded from this installment.
The Wii U version looks gorgeous. The 3DS game is limited in the quality of visuals due to technical specs of the device, and still, the feeling of having smash on a portable console is awesome.
With the addition of DLC, the number of characters in this game is 58. Five fighters were removed in comparison to Brawl: Pokemon Trainer with Squirtle and Ivysaur, Wolf, Snake, and Ice Climbers.
There are 21 new characters in Super Smash Bros. 4:
The addition of customizable Mii fighters is an answer to all the requests to add specific new characters - players can use costumes and hairstyles to turn the basic model into someone else without changing their in-fight characteristics. It is possible to use Mii fighters only in matches with friends.
Game modes for Wii U and 3DS versions are a bit different. Single-player modes include traditional Classic, All-Star, Event (Wii U) and, Training, but also quite a lot of new ones: Trophy Rush, Target Blast, Multi-Man, StreetSmash (3DS), Special Orders (Wii U), and Trophy Box (Wii U). Among the multiplayer modes, you can find only one common for both devices (Versus), one exclusive for 3DS (Smash Run), and four exclusives for Wii U (8 Player Smash, Special Smash, Tournament Moe, and Smash Tour). Fights of eight players on one stage are very fun, but they are available only locally, on one Wii U console.
Both versions of Super Smash Bros. 4 were released in 2014. And both are quite successful: around 5 M copies were sold for Wii U and 9 M for 3DS.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Openning
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Openning
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch
This is the biggest and the most ambitious game in the series. “Everyone is here” - this advertising slogan says everything. The developers decided to add all the characters from all the previous games. They did this and then moved beyond! The roster of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is incredibly big.
SSBU is developed by Bandai Namco and published by Nintendo. The development process started right after the release of DLC for Super Smash Bros. 4 - in 2015. Mr. Sakurai said that releasing a game of this series for the Nintendo Switch was a request of Satoru Iwata before his death, so making this project on the best possible level was quite significant for him.
The challenge of creating this game is enormous. All the characters should be perfectly balanced to not ruin the playing experience. Also, licenses on many fighters belong to 3rd-party companies and cannot be added without their permission. Despite the shorter production period, Mr. Sakurai and the team managed to release an exceptional product. Everyone is really here, with so much content that it is hard to imagine how the upcoming games of this franchise can surpass this achievement.
The visuals are beautiful. The music recreates the atmosphere of different gaming universes. A huge number of modes offer almost endless entertainment. The game is very good for casual players and also it is a great esports discipline, one of the most popular competitive fighting games in the world.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has 82 fighters (after the addition of Min Min) and even more will be available after the release of all the DLCs. Check out the full list of SSBU characters here.
23 characters are newcomers to the Super Smash Bros. series:
- Daisy (Mario)
- Piranha Plant (Mario)
- King K. Rool (Donkey Kong)
- Ridley (Metroid)
- Dark Samus (Metroid)
- Incineroar (Pokémon)
- Chrom (Fire Emblem)
- Byleth (Fire Emblem)
- Isabelle (Animal Crossing)
- Inkling (Splatoon)
- Min Min (ARMS)
- Ken (Street Fighter)
- Simon (Castlevania)
- Richter (Castlevania)
- Joker (Persona)
- Hero (Dragon Quest)
- Banjo & Kazooie (Banjo-Kazooie)
- Terry (Fatal Fury)
The game has a story campaign - World of Light (Adventure Mode). For single-player fights, you can choose Training, Classic Mode, or absolutely new Spirit Board. Multilayer battles happen in Smash, Special Smash, Squad Strike, Tourney, and Mob Smash. There are 103 (!) stages in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
This installment is the best in the series, and the selling results only prove this - as for the early 2020, Nintendo sold almost 19 M copies. And this is only 2 years after the release in 2018.
However good the game is for newcomers, some info on the basic gameplay may still be super helpful. Check out our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate guide for beginners and boost your progress in Nintendo fighting!
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Openning
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Openning
Best Smash Bros. Games Ranked
The whole series has only five games, and the owners of the current Nintendo console don’t have much choice but to play Smash Ultimate — only it is available on the Switch.
Still, it’s somehow so thrilling to rank all of the iterations to see whether we play the best version and which older game is a masterpiece worthy even of buying old hardware.
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
The game is nicely balanced and has so many awesome characters. It’s great for casual players and for hardcore competitors.
2. Super Smash Bros. Melee
This game reached amazing heights of competitive fighting. Even after many years of being rather retro, people organize professional Melee tournaments and consider it the best Smash esports title. For the casual players, who just want to have fun, the game can’t offer the same variety of characters as Ultimate.
3. Super Smash Bros. 4
This was a pretty solid entry to the series, appealing to so many different players. The 3DS version is obviously limited to the capabilities of this handheld console — it’s mostly for fun. The Wii U version had more to offer for the competitive audience, but the hardware failed in sales. Nintendo jumped to the Switch, and SSB4 never managed to reach the same level as Melee or Ultimate
4. Super Smash Bros. (64)
The original game may not have modern visuals and the impressive roster of Ultimate, and still, it brought the idea of Smash to life and started the great tradition. It might be interesting to experience this game for educational purposes / out of curiosity.
5. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
It’s hard to put any Smash game to the end of this list, and Brawl is not actually the worst among them all. It looks much better than the original one and even Melee. It feels ok, and you might have a fun time playing it. Still, there is not much reason to return to this title now. Like many other Wii games, this one did not age well. It’s outdated and doesn’t have such attractive features as being the first one in the series or the most competitive one.
The Super Smash Bros. series is unique. It is fighting, but it smashes all the canons of the genre. It is a popular esports discipline, but even small kids can enjoy it. It is one game, but it contains heroes, music, and worlds from so many other gaming universes.
Do you like Smash fighting? Then stay tuned to DashFight on Facebook, Twitter, and DIscord- we share news and tutorials on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and (eventually) future games in the series!