This week Nintendo unveiled their 2014 E3 plans, which include hosting a Smash Bros. Wii U tournament, and letting the gamers try out the game for themselves at Best Buy. Obviously this is going to be the year of Smash Bros. for Nintendo, so why don’t we take a look back at the original Super Smash Bros.?
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.
8) Smash Bros. was supposed to be a Japanese exclusive. Amazingly Nintendo didn’t think this game featuring all their star characters was going to be a hit, so they barely advertised it and weren’t going to release it outside of Japan. To be fair though, the original Smash Bros. was a quirky, low-budget passion project — to some degree it was understandable that Nintendo didn’t bet big on it. But hey, once it sold over a million copies in Japan, Nintendo was suddenly very eager to release it overseas.
9) Final Smashes were going to be a part of the game. Final Smashes, the over-the-top finishing moves activated by grabbing a Smash Ball in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, were actually conceived of back in the N64 days, but it took nearly a decade for Sakurai to get his hands on hardware that could make them happen.
10) The American and Japanese versions have different sound effects. In Japan Smash Bros. uses fairly traditional kung-fu movie sound effects, which were toned down significantly for western audiences. In our version of the game punches and kicks have a weird metallic quality that makes it sound like you’re attacking an old shopping cart. Also, in Japan the beam sword is much more of a blatant lightsaber ripoff, featuring sound effects seemingly lifted directly from the Star Wars movies.
11) Mario and Luigi’s heads are also slightly smaller in the American version. Why? Who knows! Maybe it’s a subtle knock on the intelligence of American gamers? Yeah, that must be it! Masahiro Sakurai hates Americans! Spread the word! (Actually, please don’t spread the word).
12) Mario’s voice actor is miscredited. Charles Martinee? It’s hard to imagine an error like that making it onto later Nintendo-trivia obsessed entries in the series.
13) The game has connections to the James Bond universe. So what’s with the motion-sensor bomb found in every Smash Bros. game? What Nintendo game would have an item like that? Well, it’s actually from GoldenEye 007. Later games in the series kind of had to dance around where the weapon came from, claiming it originated in a TOP SECRET game, or pretending the Smash Bros. series invented it.
Another interesting Bond-related tidbit — shortly after the success of Smash Bros. in Japan, Nintendo put out a poll asking gamers who they’d want in a future Smash Bros. game. On that list? James Bond, who was one of the top vote getters. So, it seems likely Nintendo was at least considering ol’ 007 for Smash Bros. at some point.
14) Smash Bros. lets you play “How you weigh?” with Nintendo characters. Want to know whether Donkey Kong weighs more than Samus? Or if Mario weighs more than Fox? All the characters in the game do have specific weights and you can compare them using the hanging platforms in the middle of the unlockable Mushroom Kingdom stage.
That glutton Yoshi wants nothing to do with the scale.
15) The TV ad for the original Smash Bros. is the best Nintendo commercial ever.
I pretty much ran to the store the same day when I saw this ad.
So, what are some of your favorite quirks and memories of Super Smash Bros.? Come on, I know you have some — hit the comments and share.
Thanks as always to Joel Stice for lending me the Fascinating Facts format!