Smash Bros. may have a large, rabid fanbase now, but it essentially started as the hobby project of a couple bored Nintendo employees. Here are a few things you might not know about the little game that would spawn one of Nintendo’s biggest blockbuster franchises…
1) Super Smash Bros. started as a Super Nintendo game. Much like Super Mario 64, Super Smash Bros. was conceived back in the SNES days and intended to be a Super FX chip powered game ala Star Fox. Thankfully the guys behind Smash Bros. quickly realized that while the Super FX chip can do triangular spaceships pretty well, it probably wouldn’t be able to handle more complex models like Mario or Donkey Kong.
2) A team of two guys developed Smash Bros. initially. In it’s earliest stages, Smash Bros. was essentially the after-work hobby project of Masahiro Sakurai (the creator of the Kirby series) and Soturu Iwata. Yes, that Iwata — the guy who’s now Nintendo’s banana contemplating president.
Keep staring buddy — maybe the answer to “What will make the Wii U sell?” is in there somewhere.
Sakurai would design the game after work, then send his ideas to Iwata who programmed the game himself. Slowly but surely over the span of many months, a primitive version of Smash Bros. began to come together.
3) Early versions of the game didn’t feature Nintendo characters. And I mean it when I say “primitive”. Early versions of the game didn’t even feature Nintendo characters! Yup, the ultimate crossover game didn’t even start as a crossover.
Originally the game was supposed to be an original IP with the hilariously generic/cheesy title Dragon King: The Fighting Game. This early version of the game only featured generic dummy characters, which made the game kind of confusing — one guy looked the same as the next, so it was easy to lose track of your character. Nintendo would never greenlight this confusing mess! Ah, but then Sakurai had an idea! What if he inserted Nintendo characters into the game? It would be easy to communicate what he wanted the game to be if he had Mario and Donkey Kong in there, and once he’d sold the concept he could go back to original characters later. Or, uh, never.
I hope green pants guy returns in a future Smash Bros. Yellow diaper guy can go to hell though.
4) All of Captain Falcon’s moves are recycled from Dragon King. Captain Falcon is kind of a weird character to include in the game, isn’t he? He was the nominal star of the not terribly popular F-Zero series who had never been seen outside of his car until Smash Bros. Well, turns out Captain Falcon is basically the Dragon King leftovers fighter — he’s about the same size and build as the generic characters from Dragon King, and all the unused moves from this early version of Smash Bros. were given to Captain Falcon. I mean, you couldn’t give Mario the Falcon Punch, but nobody had ever seen Captain Falcon in action before! Who’s to say he doesn’t like screaming his own name while throwing fire punches?
5) Mario, Donkey Kong, Samus and Fox were the game’s first fighters. These were the four characters Sakurai decided to add when it came time to sell the game to the higher ups. Perhaps not so coincidentally those four were always my faves in the original Smash Bros. Well, them and Jigglypuff.
6) Bowser, King Dedede, Mewtwo and Meowth were intended to be in the game. While no traces of them can be found on the cart, Nintendo has outright said these characters were meant to be in the game. Bowser, King Dedede and Mewtwo would make it into later instalments in the series, but sadly the series seems to have permanently passed Meowth by.
Don’t think Meowth won’t f–k you up.
7) Characters appear on the select screen in the order they were created. So, in the upper left you have Mario and Donkey Kong (1981) and you work your way up to Fox (1993) and Pikachu (1996). Now, the unlockable characters seemingly screw this up, but they’re actually in order too — Luigi (1983) in the top left, Captain Falcon (1990) top right, Ness (1994) bottom left, then finally Jigglypuff (1996) bottom right.