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Super Smash Bros. – Review

Dale Weir's picture

Stubborn as they are, Nintendo just would not deliver the hardcore fighter that fans of the genre demanded for the Nintendo 64. They fell back to their corporate policy of making games that were fun to play for the entire family. Instead of a hardcore brawler, Nintendo produced a hybrid. A game that plays as much like a platform title as it does a fighting game. The mixing of genres was not the only risk taken with the game. Nintendo avoided using the generic cast of muscle-bound men and women or mutants and animals and instead went in a totally different direction. In Super Smash Bros., you get to control any of your favorite mascots from the Nintendo game library. The object of the game is simple: pummel your opponents and knock them off the stage until you're the only one left.

Visually and aurally, Super Smash Bros. is very well done. All the requisite squeals and catch phrases we associate with each mascot are here; from Mario's "Hoo Hoo!" to the strangely serene lullaby of Jiggly Puff. The music, generally from game levels of our favorite oldies, is catchy and offers a welcome sense of nostalgia. Stages are simply designed and detailed; certainly recognized from their respective games, they lack the flash and depth that would really make them stand out. The fighters themselves are rendered with a very low polygon count, giving them a primitive, angular look. This could be a turn-off to some players, but after you start playing, youll quickly realize that none of that matters.

From the start of the game until the end, everyone gets hit hard and often. It's normal to be taking on more than one character at a time so youll have to have quick reflexes and fighters that respond quickly. The creators obviously had this in mind because it shows in the attention paid to the control of the characters. Even during the most furious exchanges, punches, kicks, spin attacks, or you name it are executed without any lag. Control is pretty intuitive with most moves (consisting of one or two-button combinations). This makes it easier to get into the game and really speeds things up. It's amazing how fast everything is and it should be noted that it wouldn't have been possible if the game was endowed with more complex graphics and sound.

Super Smash Bros., however, is not without its faults. At no point during a game should you have to stop the action to ask the following: " Am I winning?" or "Am I still in the game?" Characters are constantly flying off-screen and even though the game zooms out to keep all the characters on-screen, it's not always enough. Sometimes you are off-screen and not sure if you've been knocked off the stage or are just standing off in a corner where you can't be seen. The other problem is the scoring system. During such fast-paced action, if someone wants to check his status, a simple and obvious scoring system is crucially necessary. It's ridiculous that the number of times you and your opponents are thrown off-stage are not tallied for you and on-screen so you to see. To check on your health, you must look to the bottom of the screen and decipher a percentage score; meanwhile the action continues and you stand to lose serious ground while doing so. In fact you have no real idea how you fared until the very end when the winner is declared.

Super Smash Bros. was a great idea by Nintendo that has obvious appeal. Who wouldn't want to see Samus battle Mario or Link take on Kirby? Pitting marketable properties against each other is not new, but the way Nintendo went about it is certainly fresh. Super Smash Bros. is the first multiplayer fighting game on the market that allows all the fighters and the action -- no matter how hectic -- to be remain on screen at once. And yes, the fast pace sheds light on some of the flaws inherent when dealing with this type of a game. It's very plausible that you will lose your character's whereabouts in the inevitable pileup of mascots. There is little in the way of strategy and the single player mode is pretty boring. And yet I still enjoyed the game. Why? Because once a buddy or two or three show up and the trash talking begins, the flaws become less apparent. It'll never be confused with Street Fighter or Tekken, but then again it was never meant to. Nevertheless, its the most original fighting game on the market and possibly the best multiplayer game on any system. Rating: 8.0 out of 10

Category Tags
Platform(s): Nintendo 64  
Developer(s): Hal Laboratories  
Publisher: Nintendo  
Genre(s): Fighting   Online/Multiplayer  
ESRB Rating: Everyone  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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