The team from Zelda Universe put together an expert panel to talk the whole Super Smash Bros. franchise.
Panel discussions were a highlight at this year’s PAX Australia. We were lucky enough to attend PAX Aus and grab some juicy content. One panel in particular caught the attention of Super Smash Bros. fans. With Super Smash Bros. Ultimate coming out soon, the Zelda Universe team thought they’d talk about the whole series.
Smash: an unlikely series
An interesting point to bring up was the fact that Super Smash Bros. almost didn’t get made. Nintendo has always been known as a very family-orientated studio, with light-hearted series like Pokémon and Mario Kart. A fighting game with an emphasis on violence hardly fit into the environment Nintendo built. As David Johnson from Zelda Universe explained, it almost didn’t make it out of Japan:
… unlikely game as a series… Smash Bros. actually barely got made and then barely got out of Japan.
The game went ahead as its small release sold a bunch of copies. Nintendo saw the financial benefit and released the game worldwide. Fast forward to today and we have a multitude of Smash games with a vast array of Nintendo characters. The panel explained why the game was so popular.
The popularity of Smash Bros.
Super Smash Bros. is a popular game for a number of reasons. Pro players Joshua “Sora” Lyas and Nick “Extra” McKenzie put it down to nostalgia and the ease of the game. They told us how anyone of any age can pick up the game and have fun with it. The experts commented on the number of different game modes too. This makes the game appeal to all skill levels. It means that anyone can win at any time given the right circumstances.
When the game was released, one of the tag lines was something along the lines of “all your favorite Nintendo characters in one place, and you can beat each other up.” Some of the panel members thought this was the coolest thing ever and rushed to buy the game on release.
Unlike other fighting games
Whilst Super Smash Bros. is one of the most popular fighting games out there, it isn’t the only one. There’s a reason however that Smash is so much more widespread than the others. The panel gave us their insights. One of the key reasons is the combo sequences. They are very easy to grasp, unlike in other fighters. Yes, this can sometimes reduce the game to button mashing. But it’s much easier to play than a series of complicated buttons just to get an ultimate hit. This is the “magic” of Super Smash Bros. It’s a low barrier to entry so that age isn’t a limiting factor.
The other reason for its popularity is that it’s a game that changed the genre entirely. Platform fighters were a new thing when Nintendo released Super Smash Bros. The level of precision required to develop the game was on another level. We look back at the original game now and see blockiness, but at the time it was revolutionary — the way characters floated in air, accelerated, and decelerated; how some characters had faster moves than others. Jack “Pudge” Gorman explained it like this:
There’s a core misunderstanding of what Smash is. Small details that people don’t think about. That’s the charm of Smash… the game controls well, it feels good… characters feel as you’d imagine them.
Many indie developers seem to get this wrong according to Pudge. He said that lots of developers don’t think about the way a character behaves in the game. One must understand mechanics in order to make a game feel natural. It seems Super Smash Bros. has done this and continued to develop the gameplay further. We’re sure to see even better mechanics with the new Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Creating a love for the franchise
One critical thing the Smash games have done is increase the affection for Nintendo characters across the organization. Games like Kid Icarus and Fire Emblem may not have seen as much success if it weren’t for Super Smash Bros. Before Kid Icarus: Uprising, the only places we saw Pit were in two NES games. It’s thanks to Smash that a new generation found value in Kid Icarus and that Western demand for Fire Emblem could grow.
It seems Nintendo has perfected the formula for success with the Super Smash Bros. franchise. Playing on the nostalgia of older gamers and bringing in new players with its fun colors and easy mechanics, the games have achieved worldwide prosperity. They have continued to bring love to fans all around the world.
We were lucky enough to get the chance to play some Super Smash Bros. Ultimate at PAX Aus. As long-time fans of the series, we’re very excited about the new game. Ultimate comes out this December, just in time for Christmas. All characters will be playable, and we can say with confidence that the mechanics and graphics are on point!
While you’re waiting for the new game, check out the below highlights video from the Smash panel. Keep an eye out for more Nintendo news from PAX Australia!
Michelle is a Content Producer in the realms of innovation and technology. Known as the “Hackathon Queen”, you’ll often find her on stage MC’ing or speaking on a range of topics from artificial intelligence, to business, community engagement, the future of work, esports, and gaming. With a background in both science and arts, Michelle writes extensively on a range of topics including innovation, startups, corporate culture, esports, business development, and more. She has a passion for gaming and combines this with her experience in a range of industries. Michelle brings a unique insight into gaming world and draws on many of her research areas.