Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. was a huge hit after it was released in 1999. But the idea of iconic Nintendo characters coming together to brawl almost didn’t happen. Fighting games are not unusual in the gaming world and juggernauts like Street Fighter, Tekken, and Dead or Alive have proven that when given the option gamers will happily challenge their friends to a fight in the virtual world.
In 1998 Masahiro Sakurai set out to make a fighting game but was unsure if the market in Japan would pick up on his game. With the competition amongst fighting games intense, he decided a brawling game without a unique concept would not succeed. With this in mind, Sakurai set about making a simple game that bent the rules of typical console fighting games. By using iconic Nintendo characters, Sakurai set out to make a game that would chip into gamer’s sense of nostalgia and seal the deal with developers.
As most game designers are aware, dreaming of games with classic characters is simple but paying to use these characters can be a nightmare. Sakurai chose to instead design a pilot for his prototype Smash idea that including several famed Nintendo characters taken out of their comfort zone and into the arena. His idea was tentatively approved and given limited promotion and budget.
Most gamers would consider Nintendo’s move to mildly support Sakurai’s attempt at what would become one of Nintendo’s best selling games for the N64 absolutely outrageous. Still, Nintendo’s decision to limit their commitment to the project was a wise one. The idea of pairing characters in a series and battling them had occurred frequently in the Street Fighter universe but Nintendo characters had remained relatively confined to their separate worlds.
Fortunately, Nintendo hit a gold mine when they released Super Smash Brothers on the N64 in 1999. Gamers would now have the opportunity to pit some of their favorite characters against each other in a 4-person free-style melee battle. The amount of playable characters increased from Sakurai’s original 4 (Fox, Donkey Kong, Mario, and Samus) to 12 characters.
Newer releases of the hit series have expanded on the Smash Brother’s melee combat elements. With the release of Nintendo’s new WiiU, fans of Smash Brothers are excited to see what new characters will join the series. Sakurai even noted that characters outside of the Nintendo world could possibly appear in the next installment of Smash Brothers but their introduction would be dependent on how well they fit the current universe.
So far, the Nintendo universe has some gems the previous Smash Brothers titles have yet to touch. Let’s hope the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS installments of this hit series won’t disappoint.