I want you to let that title sink in for a moment. Truly think about it, and what it means. Ok? Good.
I’ll admit, it didn’t really occur to me at first, but as I thought about Day 2 of E3 (which should be known as “The Day Nintendo Ruled the World!”) I couldn’t help but think about the fact that Super Smash Bros. really is a game that celebrates the different gaming generations that play it.
Obviously, it didn’t start out like that. The original Super Smash Bros. was a celebration of Nintendo’s classic characters: Mario, Link, Yoshi, Samus, Pikachu, Luigi, Captain Falcon, Kirby, Ness, Jigglypuff, Star Fox and Donkey Kong. All worthy of the spots given to them for one reason or another. Again, a true celebration of Nintendo. Yet with the sequels, the purpose I believe slowly began to change…
Melee widened the roster, adding a lot of great characters, including some you wouldn’t expect to see in a fighting game. Peach, Zelda, Ice Climbers, etc. And some welcome additions as well. Bowser, Ganon, Marth, etc.
It is with Melee that we start to see the beginning of the “Celebrating Generations” concept. Why? Because of two characters: The Ice Climbers, and Mr. Game & Watch. Both of these characters are curious additions to the Smash Bros. roster.
The Ice Climbers (outside of Smash Bros.) have only appeared in a handful of games. Mainly Ice Climber for the NES. An alternate version was released later on, and themes from the game have been used in franchises since, yet they never were a large Nintendo presence.
The Game & Watch series on the other hand, was the forefather to the Game Boy in just about every respect. Created by legendary game maker Gunpei Yokoi, the series had 60 games to it’s name. Yet none had been made since the arrival of the Game Boy, so why put him in the game?
Was this simply another way of celebrating the greatness of Nintendo? Or was it something more? After all, this was 2001 when Melee was released. 15 years since the release of the final Game & Watch title and longer since the release of Ice Climber.
Then, came Brawl, a title that was so hyped it almost couldn’t live up to it all…thankfully, it did! The biggest parts of the hype no doubt were the inclusions of two third-party characters: Sonic and Snake. A HUGE addition to the series, and yet one that made sense. As both characters had appeared on Nintendo systems multiple times in their lifetimes.
Sonic especially represents this concept I’m explaining. Because Sonic has two different meanings for two different generations. To people of my age, Sonic was the arch-rival of Nintendo. The first true console war starred Mario vs. Sonic. And it was epic! Yet soon, Sonic and Sega bowed out of the hardware market, and soon became software. Which leads to the recent generations, who may see Sonic as a universal character, as he’s been on virtually every platform there is. There’s no wrong answer to who you see, it’s just about when you grew up.
What might be lost in meaning due to those characters being included, can be found in many of the other new characters. Each showing in their own way why this is a celebration of generations of gamers.
The best examples are Ike, Olimar, and R.O.B. Why them? Well…
While the Fire Emblem series was already represented by Marth and Roy in Melee, it’s questionable how many gamers actually knew who they were. Fire Emblem has always been popular in Japan, in the US and Europe…not so much. The release of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (and it’s sequel Radiant Dawn) sought to change that, and it did.
Which makes the inclusion of Ike very important. Cause while past generations may have known of Marth (and to a lesser degree Roy), it was Ike that brought many into the world of Fire Emblem. Including yours truly. No, seriously. Path of Radiance brought me into the series, and after playing it, I sought out past titles including Sacred Stones and the “original” Fire Emblem starring Eliwood, Hector, and Lyn. And when Shadow Dragon came out I bought that too. Fire Emblem is now one of my favorite Nintendo series, yet it wouldn’t have happened without Ike.
Let’s move on Olimar. Pikmin (created the LEGENDARY Shigeru Miyamoto) is one of the newest Nintendo IP’s. It started on Gamecube, which is still a recent generation console (it’s not even 15 yet!), and got two sequels. Pikmin’s creative gameplay, charm, and style allowed it to warm gamers hearts, so it’s no wonder he was included. But what meaning does Olimar have to those who haven’t played it? Say, the older generation who only play the “classic” characters? It is here that the generations debate grows. Which brings us to…
R.O.B.! Easily the biggest surprise in Brawl character wise. Yes, even more than Sonic and Snake. Why? Because he technically isn’t a game character! He’s a literal robot. He was paired with the NES to show how it’s more than just a video game system (this was after the crash of 83, people were tense then). He didn’t even last long in reality. Yet something about him endured.
He was given a BUNCH of cameos in later titles. Yet the fact remains, if young gamers didn’t know much about the NES, would they know about R.O.B?
The seed is clearly planted now. You can’t deny the coincidences. Smash Bros. is clearly not about just having popular video game characters fight, it’s so much more than that, and the recent E3 proved that.
Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U is easily one of the biggest games coming out both this (3DS) and next (Wii U most likely…) year. It is here though, that the real crux of my argument into play. Because in this game, more than any that come before it, shows how Smash Bros. celebrates generations of gamers.
Where would you like to start? With Villager and Wii Fit trainer perhaps? Animal Crossing and the Wii Fit series are both recent franchise. Animal Crossing started on the Gamecube similar to Pikmin. Wii Fit started on the…well the Wii, and both continued on from there. To younger gamers, Animal Crossing is an addicting title that they can play for days/weeks/months. To older gamers (and some young ones let’s be honest!) Wii Fit was a great way to exercise WITHOUT having to go to the gym every day. Yet give the game to the opposite generation and it may not mean anything to them.
How about Rosalina an Luma? Super Mario Galaxy is a testament to what great gameplay and level design can be like. However, the inclusion of Rosalina and her Luma’s opened the door that honest been opened in a while. A door to new and interesting Mario characters. She may have looked like Peach, but soon that was all washed away. She was her own lady, and we responded to that, thus (after a while) she made her way to Smash Bros.
Ah, Little Mac! Easily a character that crosses generations. He once fought Mike Tyson, was an arcade sensation, and returned to the Wii to show he hadn’t missed a step. While gamers can play “realistic” sports games anytime they want, Punch Out showed sometimes it’s just fun to be the little guy. And whether you remember his past, or his recent present, we all have memories of him.
Pokémon is a franchise that almost cannot be stopped. The reintroduction of Charizard, now as a solo character impressed many, yet the inclusion of Greninja shocked many. A character that hadn’t been out for a year was now in Smash Bros.? That’s impact, and one that can be thanked by both past and present Pokémon trainers.
If you wish for further proof of why Smash Bros. is a generational celebration, look at the three characters revealed at E3.
The Mii’s. So cute, so personal, yet something that could not be done in the past. Those from past generations may not understand Mii’s, but Wii…I mean we, do. They’re our little avatars, to shape and mold and enjoy however we want. It can be argued that the Mii is one of the reasons the Wii worked. It shaped how we played, cause now it wasn’t just shadow characters, or random avatars playing these games, it was us!
Palutena is a welcome addition. And alongside Pit (you thought I forgot him didn’t you!) prove this point effortlessly. Pit was at one time a BIG part of the Nintendo roster, yet he slowly faded away…until Sakurai got him of course! His inclusion in Brawl rocketed him back into the publics eye, and soon brought Kid Icarus: Uprising to our handhelds. A key inclusion in the rebirth was the remaking of Palutena, who was merely a background character before. Both shined in the game, and now both will shine on Smash Bros. together.
So whether you remember the past games in 2D, or the hilarity and hand cramping of the 3DS version, any who know them can find joy in seeing them.
And finally, Pac-Man and Megaman…YES I KNOW MEGAMAN WAS INTRODUCED AT LAST YEARS E3!!! GO WITH ME ON THIS!!!
The inclusion of these two characters, along with everyone who is in the game now, show’s just what Smash Bros. is. We now officially have some of the biggest gaming icons from 4 generations of gaming. In truth, as many are noting, it can all boil down to these four: Pac-Man, Mario, Sonic, MegaMan. They’re all in Smash.
The 80’s, the 90’s, the 00’s, and even the 10’s, they’re all represented in Smash Bros. Past, present, and future. It’s all here.
Heck, Mega Man ALONE shows the love for generations, as his Final Smash has all five Mega Man incarnations teaming up for an epic mega-buster blast!
No one, and I mean no one, in the video gaming industry would be around without the gamers themselves. They are what moves games, buys them, talks about them, promotes them, tells developers what works and what doesn’t. To me, no one appreciates the gamers quite like Nintendo. Do they frustrate us? Absolutely! (Wii Music anyone?) But do they deliver when it counts? I like to think they hit WAY more than they miss. (Other M anyone?)
When I look at Smash Bros., especially with the recent installment, I don’t see just another fighting game. I see a tribute, a tribute to not just great franchises, or to great characters, but a tribute to the gamers that helped Nintendo get this far.
For every gamer that loved hitting the top of the flag pole back then in the original Mario Bros., there is a gamer who loves it just as much now in Super Mario 3D world. For every gamer who loves spending hours in Animal Crossing, there was a gamer spending time trying to defeat Mike Tyson with Little Mac.
Pokémon trainers from the Red and Blue days, and Pokémon trainers from now with X & Y, both share the same passion for Pokémon, it doesn’t stop with one generation, it endures. Gamers endure, even if they don’t play the games anymore, they’ll remember, and I think Nintendo knows that.
If we got together a group of gamers, from all these generations, and showed them this version of Smash Bros. I truly believe you would hear stories about their favorite characters that are in the roster. Cause they matter to them, and they remember them, and that’s why it’s a celebration, cause everyone has that moment in gaming they remember.
Smash Bros. was not supposed to work, everyone on the project knew that, that’s why it was only meant to be a Japan-only release. Yet as it succeeded, and time went on, it became something so much more. What started as a showcase of Nintendo characters, became a testament to the loyalty of gamers. Whether you helped in the beginning, or are helping out now, Nintendo appreciates you. That’s why I believe they continue. Money is good, fame is nice, but to know, that you are bringing joy to people, and honoring those who got you where you are today. That’s priceless. And that’s Nintendo. And that’s Smash Bros.