Chances are that if you had a Nintendo and a childhood, you at one point played a Super Smash Bros. game. Miyamoto took an unbelievably simple concept and hit a home run; people want to see their favorite characters duel it out. It's the novel logic that has pioneered some true fan favorites, such as X-men: Mutant Academy and Marvel vs. Capcom.
Despite the fact that almost everyone and their mother has a soft spot in their heart for Super Smash Bros, when's the last time you've seen it in the discussion for best fighting game? I'm not talking about on the Wii, I'm talking about a cross console contest. It seems as though Super Smash Bros. is always forgotten when people are too busy talking about Street Fighter or Tekken.
Well I'm going to make a bold statement: Super Smash Bros. is the best fighting game series ever made. I'm not saying it's the most famous, or the personal favorite of critics, but it's the best. Let me tell you why.
The mark of a balanced game has always been "Easy to Learn, Hard to Master", and this is where 99% of fighting games fall flat.
Fighting games have permeated popular culture far more than shooters or sports games; how many people who don't even play video games have yelled "FATALITY!" after accidentally belting their friend in the face with a soccer ball? Yet fighting games, which essentially EMBODY man to man competition, are nowhere near the most played online games. Why?
Think about the play-style of games such as Black Ops and FIFA. Want to get better at Black Ops? A good part of it is simply memorizing where people like to walk, and working on your grenade throws. FIFA? Control your passes and time your shots. A lot of it simply comes down to timing and polishing the skill-set you already have.
The problem has always lain in the actual mechanics of a fighting game. The combo system itself relies in inputting the next attack before your first attack ends. Now in a fighting game in which you have to change levels, different rotations of the thumb-stick, and complex movements such as the infamous "Z" input . . . how many people do you think reach the elite level?
In other games, you can just grind out your pre-existing skill-set until you manage to compete with the next echelon in players. In fighting games, you have to pick up a completely new set of skills.
1) You learn how to do basic attacks. Then you learn how to do special attacks. Cool.
2) Then you learn how to input those attacks at the speed reserved for meth-addicted chimps and Bruce Lee. Now my hand is cramping up
3) THEN you have to learn about hit-boxes, priority, combo-potential, cancelling into your overpowered hyper combos, etc. Oh dear.
Now Super Smash Bros. is very, VERY simple to learn. All of your attacks only have one directional input, and they cannot be input until the next attack has cleared. This removes an unholy amount of confusion from learning the advanced mechanics of the game. Furthermore, Super Smash Bros. really emphasized freedom of movement. Jumping and dashing is so constrained and one dimensional in most fighting games; it feels almost robotic. Smash Bros. made jumping a breeze, the length and direction of the jumps were incredibly fluid.
Reducing movement and attacks to pure intuition instead of a PhD in button mashing? Sign me up! Does everyone remember how easy it was to pick the game up and get good at it? How easy it was to time life-ending smash attacks, or team up with a friend to pummel some old time rivals by combining a projectile character with a tank?
Now one of the biggest criticisms I've heard about Smash is that it's too kiddy; that its simplicity keeps it from being a top tier fighting game. To those critics I say: Go suck on a cattle prod.
Anyone who doubts the Smash games' depth needs to go to http://super-smash-bros.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page and just surf around. Learn about DACUS, edge-hogging, and wave-dashing. Go to youtube and look up professional matches between Sephiroth Ken, Mew2King, and Ally. I promise you your jaw will drop.
I have nothing against traditional fighting games at all; they are respectable in their own right. In fact, I believe that people who play Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom on the professional level are an echelon over people who play Madden or Modern Warfare professionally due to the complexity of the game (That's just an opinion though).
Super Smash Bros. is probably one of the only games in its class; it's simple, it's popular, and it's fun. Everyone and their mom (literally, my mom plays as Lucario) can pick this game up and have a ball with it. And when a group of those players wants to put their big boy pants on, turn off items, and put on flat levels to go pro . . . Smash is more than happy to accommodate them with an astounding metagame that's deceiving of its cartoony nature.
If you can't see the appeal of Mario and Luigi settling their sibling rivalry with baseball bats, then you better check your pulse.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!