Super Smash Bros. (known in Japan as Nintendo All Star! Dairantō Smash Brothers, translated to “Nintendo All-Star! Great Melee Smash Brothers”) is a 2.5D crossover platformer-fighting game developed by HAL and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 in Japan on January 21, 1999, in North America on April 26, 1999, and in Europe on November 19, 1999.
Made by the studio behind the Kirby series, Super Smash Bros. features characters, items, and locales from popular Nintendo franchises (including Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon) as up to four players take part in arena battles using a unique open-movement fighting game system. Along with unique stage layouts, numerous usable pickups, aerial combat, and a simplified control scheme (with only two attack buttons), the game is best known for its unique vitality system (where instead of depleting a health counter, players must physically knock others out of the arena after weakening their knock-back resistance using attacks).
The game received numerous sequels, each for different Nintendo consoles and each adding a variety of new content (including characters, stages, items, and abilities). Its concept and gameplay style was also adopted for other game franchise crossovers, such as Jump Super Stars (based on numerous Shonen Jump series) and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (based on numerous Sony series).
The game introduced the fighting system that would later become stable for the entire series, with newer variants increasing the speed and versatility of combat rather than adjusting the underlying gameplay.
Physics-Oriented Health System
Rather than ensuing the usual method and dynamics of fighting games, Super Smash Bros. involves a player trying to knock the
other players off a stage. Each stage has boundaries, which vary from one another in length and height, that allow players to eliminate others by sending them off the stage in one of 4 different directions in most cases. In order to increase the likelihood of a player sending another off the stage, that player can perform a variety of attacks on the other which will inflict damage as represented by a percentile level at the bottom of the screen. As the percentage goes up, each attack you perform will send the opponent further than before, thus making it easier to knock them off the stage. The attacking moves available differ from character to character, much like other fighting games, as each character will have their own unique move set. However, unlike most other fighting games, there are no combos involved and most of the moves are easy to pull off. In addition to the standard attacking moves, each character will also have their own distinctive grappling move which will throw your opponent far distances if their damage percentage is relatively high, as well as the name-sake “smash” attack which can be done by tapping the joystick while preforming a move.
Freedom of Motion
To complement the combat objective of knocking opponents off the stage to win, Super Smash Bros. maps have a significant degree of verticality built into their layouts (the notable exception being Final Destination, a flat and uneventful battlefield popular on tournament scene for its lack of environmental hazards). Platforms can be located above and below the main ground, they can move around, and they can potentially injure the player. These extra obstacles and paths lend themselves to a combination of ground and aerial combat, both of which the game encourages. The game also gives each player 2 jumps–a ground jump and a mid-air jump–in addition to a final up B recovery move for most characters to increase the viability of air combat as well as improve the chance of off screen recovery by characters not knocked far enough away from the stage to fall to their death.
Ground vs. Air Combat
Air attacks tend to be faster and have less knock back than ground attacks, making the earlier game about racking up damage quickly with lighter, faster aerial strikes. Once the opponent is sufficiently damaged, the smash attacks available to characters on the ground will serve as a final blow to send their targets flying off the side of the stage. Combatants on the ground also get the ability to grab opponents and either punch them while they are helpless or throw them in the hopes of flinging far enough to finish them off. Like all other moves, the throws vary in animation and strength by character and certain throws are more powerful than others depending entirely on which character is used.
Assisting a player during battles are items that were primarily made famous by previous Nintendo titles. During a battle, items will randomly be placed in various locations inside the stage, with each item being different than another in terms of its effects which range from healing health to helping inflict damage and, at times, even deliver a knock-out blow to an opponent. Items can be delivered in numerous forms, as they can either appear by itself, within a capsule, or within a box or a barrel, with boxes and barrels carrying multiple items the majority of the time when opened. However, capsules, boxes, and barrels are best to be thrown at an opponent or on the ground first to open them as some of them self-destruct upon contact.
Modes of Play
Super Smash Bros. consists of two game play modes, a one player progressional mode with a number of stages a player must complete, and a multi-player mode which supports up to 4 players either fighting individually or as teams.
1P Mode features 14 stages (3 of which are mini-games, and the last one being a boss battle), with each stage ultimately getting harder as you near the final stage. A player will have the ability to choose the difficulty of the opponents from one of five settings, set how many lives the selected character will have, and indicate whether or not the stages should be timed. As each stage is completed, the character will receive a score which is calculated by how much time is remaining and how much damage the opponent inflicted, and additionally any bonuses the character may have achieved during the stage, such as throwing the opponent off the stage or performing a taunt at the very last moment before the stage is over.
Versus Mode is where the multi-player component of the game is kept. This mode supports between two and four players battling, either individually or as teams, on either a stage selected by a player or a random stage. There are two different m
ethods to choose from in regards to how to determine a winner, having a timed battle or a battle with a fixed set of lives. Timed battles count down from a set time and whoever has the greater kill-to-death ratio (how many players you’ve knocked off the stage vs. how many times you have been sent off the stage) wins. Stock battles are not timed as every player enters a battle with an equal set of lives, and the last person standing wins (each time a player gets knocked off the stage, they lose a live).
The Bonus Modes within the game are more intended to act as mini-games and are categorized into 2 games, Break the Targets and Board the Platforms. The Break the Targets mini-game involves a character to maneuver around a stage and hitting 10 targets without falling out of the stage in order to complete the mini-game. The Board the Platforms mini-game is fairly similar, characters must maneuver around a stage and land on 10 platforms without falling out of the stage. Each of the characters within the game have their own unique stage for both of the mini-games, and each of them are timed. If a player doesn’t complete the stage, the highest number of targets or platforms a player successfully makes will appear at the character selection screen, but if they complete it, the quickest time it took to complete it will be shown instead.
Training Mode is available to those primarily who are new to the game or to some players who want to experiment or refine their play with a character. Training Mode has a large set of options available to a player during play, including changing the game speed, spawning any item, and setting the playing style of the optional computer player.
Super Smash Bros. features a total of 12 playable characters, 4 of which must be unlocked (mostly by defeating 1P Mode under a certain criteria).
Mario (Mario, based on his Super Mario 64 appearance) – Special attacks include the Fireball projectile, the multi-hit Super Jump Punch, and the Mario Tornado. In 1P Mode, players fight against a tougher version of him as a sub-boss (Metal Mario).
Donkey Kong (Donkey Kong) – Special attacks include the Giant Punch (which can be charged up for more power), the multi-hit Spinning Kong (which sacrifices vertical recovery for horizontal distance), and the Hand Slap. In 1P Mode, players fight against a tougher version of him as a sub-boss (Giant Donkey Kong).
Link (The Legend of Zelda, based on his The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time appearance) – Special attacks include the Boomerang projectile (which can be buffed using the Control Stick), the multi-hit Spin Attack (which sacrifices recovery for damage), and the Bomb (which he equips as an pickup).
Samus (Metroid) – Special attacks include the Charge Shot (which can be charged up for more power), the multi-hit Screw Attack, and the Bomb.
Yoshi (Yoshi) – Special attacks include the Egg Lay (which traps an opponent in a Yoshi Egg for a short time), the Egg Throw, and the Yoshi Bomb.
Kirby (Kirby) – Special attacks include the Vacuum (which allows him to either copy an opponent’s ability or spit them out as a projectile), the Final Cutter, and the Stone transformation (allowing him to become immobile while impervious to damage).
Fox (Star Fox, based on his appearance in Star Fox 64) – Special attacks include the Blaster projectile, the Fire Fox charge, and the Reflector shield (which reflects projectiles).
Pikachu (Pokémon) – Special attacks include the Thunder Jolt projectile (which wrap around corners), the Quick Attack charge (which deals no damage, but has great recovery options), and Thunder.
Luigi (Mario) – Hidden unlockable. Special attacks include the Fireball projectile (which is not affected by gravity), the Super Jump Punch (which is not multi-hit, but has a chance to become a powerful Fire Jump Punch), and the Luigi Cyclone.
Captain Falcon (F-Zero) – Hidden unlockable. Special attacks include the Falcon Punch, the Falcon Dive (which can be used as a grab), and the Falcon Kick.
Ness (EarthBound) – Hidden unlockable. Special attacks include the PK Fire projectile, the PK Thunder projectile (which is controlled directly and can be used for recovery), and the PSI Magnet (which deals no damage and instead restores damage if hit by energy or electricity).
Jigglypuff (Pokémon) – Known as Purin in the Japanese version. Hidden unlockable. Special attacks include Pound, Sing (which immobilizes nearby opponents), and Rest (which immobilizes her, but has a chance to deal a powerful knockback strike on opponents close enough).
Polygon Fighting Team (original) – Sub-boss of 1P Mode. Based on the models for all the above characters and do not use their special moves. Unplayable.
Master Hand (original) – Final boss of 1P Mode. A large floating combatant who cannot be knocked out and requires players to deplete its vitality using attacks. Unplayable.
The game includes 12 playable battlefields, 1 of which must be unlocked beforehand and 3 of which are only played in 1P Mode. Each of the 8 main stages correspond to each of the 8 starting characters.
Along with unique music (most of which are arrangements of themes from each stage’s franchise) and theming, all stages have unique sizes, platform layouts, and stage hazards. The only thing common between them is their use of both standard and floating platforms (with the latter being able to jump through) and their out-of-stage boundaries.
Peach’s Castle (Mario) – Known as In the Sky of Castle Peach in the Japanese version. While the base platform is small, this stage features a large floating platform above it, a moving block that shifts through the base platform, and two angled blocks at the left and right that move up-and-down. Hazards include a floating moving bumper, which can damage and knock players back. The stage theme is based on the Ground Theme from Super Mario Bros.
Congo Jungle (Donkey Kong) – Known retroactively as Kongo Jungle. A stage with a sloped main platform, two stationary floating platforms, and two smaller moving floating platforms. Hazards include a spinning Barrel Cannon moving across the bottom of the battlefield, which can launch players in any direction (either aiding recovery or throwing them off the screen). The stage theme is based on DK Island Swing from Donkey Kong Country.
Hyrule Castle (The Legend of Zelda) – Known as Castle of Hyrule in the Japanese version. A large stage set on top of the castle itself, with three different terrain levels for the main platform (one of which has a unique enclose structure) and three floating platforms above it. Hazards include tornadoes that randomly appear at certain parts of the stage, throwing characters upward. The stage theme is based on the Overworld Theme from The Legend of Zelda.
Planet Zebes (Metroid) – A stage with a sloped central platform, three floating platforms, and a floating moving platform on the right of the stage. Hazards include a sea of dangerous acid that occasionally rises up and submerges most of the stage. The stage theme is based on the Brinstar theme from Metroid.
Yoshi’s Island (Yoshi) – Known retroactively as Super Happy Tree. A stage resembling a storybook, with a V-shaped central platform, three floating platforms, and a cloud platform on both the far left and right. Hazards include the cloud platforms themselves, which temporarily dissolve after standing on it. The stage theme is based on a mix of two tracks from Yoshi’s Story: Yoshi’s Song and Yoshi’s Story.
Dream Land (Kirby) – Known as Pupupu Land in the Japanese version. A completely-flat stage with three identical floating platforms (one each on the left and right side in a symmetrical fashion and one above in the center). Hazards include Whispy Woods, who pushes all players on the stage with large gusts of wind. The stage theme is based on the Gourmet Race theme from Kirby Super Star.
Sector Z (Star Fox) – Also known as Sector Z: Aboard a Great Fox in the Japanese version. A large stage taking place on the hull of the Great Fox, having three different terrain levels on the sole main platform (one on the wing, one on the engines, and one on the main guns). Hazards include Arwings that fly near the top of the battlefield, occasionally firing at the players and acting as a platform (which can barrel roll to knock player characters off of them). The stage theme is based on the main theme from Star Fox 64.
Saffron City (Pokémon) – Known as Yamabuki City in the Japanese version. A large stage taking part on three skyscrapers (one large and two small, none of which can be traversed under) and two floating moving platforms. Hazards include Pokémon that randomly appear on the central doorway (Chansey, Charmander, Electrode, Porygon, and Venusaur). The stage theme is based on the main theme from Pokémon Red / Pokemon Blue.
Mushroom Kingdom (Mario, hidden unlockable) – Known as Classic Mushroom Kingdom and Inishie no Oukoku in the Japanese version. A large deliberately-retro stage (using assets from Super Mario Bros.) unique for being predominantly-flat with the left and right boundaries able to be walked off of. In addition, two pipes can be used to warp players between (although players have a chance to end up at an exit pipe over the chasm). Hazards include Piranha Plants (that come out of the pipes) and a POW Block (in which attacking it inflicts great damage and knockback to all other players). The stage theme is a near-perfect recreation of the Ground Theme from Super Mario Bros., is unique for using the “Hurry Up” version when 30 seconds remain on the timer (or on Sudden Death), and is not used in 1P Mode.
Meta Crystal (1P Mode only) – A stage with a small floating platform at the center and a raised edge on the right. No hazards are used. It is used for the fight against Metal Mario.
Duel Zone (1P Mode only) – Known retroactively as Battlefield. Similar to Dream Land, this stage is completely flat with three identical floating platforms (one each on the left and right side in a symmetrical fashion and one above in the center). No hazards are used. It is used for the fight against Fighting Polygon Team.
Endpoint (1P Mode only) – Known retroactively as Final Destination. A large stage that is completely flat, with no alternate platforms or hazards. It is used for the fight against Master Hand.
Beam Sword (original) – Melee weapon. Strongest normal damage and longest range of all melee weapons.
Fan (original) – Known as Harisen in the Japanese version. Melee weapon. While it deals incredibly weak damage per hit, it has a very fast attacking speed and unique knockback (where it pulls opponents closer to the wielder). Throwing it at enemies also has the unique property of sending them straight up (rather than away).
Fire Flower (Mario) – Ranged weapon. Normal attacks instead unleashes a short-ranged fiery blast, provided it still has power. Each Fire Flower is charged with around 7 seconds of power.
Homerun Bat (original) – Melee weapon. Performing a forward-smash causes the character to slowly wind up for a large swing with significant knockback (capable of KO’ing opponents regardless of damage).
Ray Gun (original) – Known as Lay Gun in the Japanese version. Ranged weapon. Normal attacks instead fires a damaging long-ranged electric blast, provided it still has charges left. Each Ray Gun is equipped with 16 charges.
Star Rod (Kirby) – Melee weapon. Normal attacks deal slightly more damage than the Homerun Bat, although it deals less damage when thrown (instead knocking opponents sideways, with no vertical momentum). Performing a forward-smash can launch a star projectile for long-distance attacks, provided it still has charges left. Each Star Rod is equipped with 16 charges.
Bob-omb (Mario) – Known as Bomb Trooper in the Japanese version. Explodes on impact, dealing great damage and knockback. It can also be detonated either by attacking it directly or by striking an enemy who is carrying it. If nobody picks it up after a certain amount of time, it stands up and begins walking back-and-forth on the platform, detonating after either some time has passed or if it touches a combatant.
Bumper (original) – Lays on the ground. Any combatant who touches it gets significantly knocked back. Disappears after some time has passed.
Motion Sensor Bomb (original) – Sticks to any surface on impact and arms itself. When an enemy gets too close to an armed Bomb, it explodes and deals great damage and knockback.
Pokéball (Pokémon) – Known as Monster Ball in the Japanese version. Releases one of 13 Pokémon at random, each with a different effect. See the Pokémon section below.
Shell (Mario) – Deals great damage and knockback on impact. If it is thrown on the ground, attacked directly, or jumped on, it slides across the ground (dealing damage and knockback, proportional to its speed, on all enemies it hits). Players can stop its sliding by jumping on it. There are two types of Shells that spawn: Green (which slides in one direction) and Red (which slides back-and-forth on the platform, homing in on the nearest combatant).
Hammer (Donkey Kong) – Picking it up puts the character in a unique temporary state where they constantly swing the hammer (reminiscent of the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong). While it limits their mobility (making them unable to perform mid-air jumps) and restricts their attacking and ability usage, striking an opponent with the hammer deals very high damage with very high knockback.
Heart (The Legend of Zelda) – Picking it up fully recovers the character’s damage percentage. Unlike the Maxim Tomato, Hearts appear in the air and slowly drifts towards the ground.
Maxim Tomato (Kirby) – Picking it up recovers up to 100% of the character’s damage percentage.
Star (Mario) – Bounces along the battlefield. Bumping into it grants temporary invincibility to the character.
These items cannot be individually turned off in the unlockable Item Switch menu and cannot be spawned in Training Mode. All of them have a 1/8 chance of releasing an explosion instead, dealing great damage and knockback on all nearby combatants.
Barrel (original) – Releases up to three non-Container items on impact (or after attacking it with a strong attack). Players who wield the Barrel are unable to attack and cannot move (with the exception of Donkey Kong) or jump. If the barrel is hit with a weak attack or is thrown on a sloped surface, it instead rolls across the ground. Rolling barrels break either after attacking it with a strong attack or after it hits a combatant (knocking them back).
Capsule (original) – Releases one non-Container item on impact (or after attacking it directly).
Crate (original) – Releases up to three non-Container items on impact (or after attacking it with multiple attacks). Players who wield the Crate are unable to attack and cannot move (with the exception of Donkey Kong) or jump.
Egg (original) – Releases one non-Container item on impact (or after attacking it directly).
There are 13 different Pokemon that may randomly appear out when a Pokeball is thrown in Super Smash Bros. Pokemon will not harm the player who summoned it.
Beedrill will use Poison Sting attack. It will fly off the screen and then a flock of Beedrill will fly across the screen attacking your enemies.
Blastoise uses Hydro Pump attack. It fires several blasts of water out of its cannons and pushes back anyone it hits doing decent damage.
Chansey uses Softboiled attack. It throws eggs out on the stage with items inside them.
Charizard uses Flamethrower attack. It will turn its head left and right and breathe fire out either side.
Clefairy uses Metronome attack. This attack will use the random attack of one of the games 12 other pokemon.
Goldeen will use Splash attack. Goldeen will flop around on the stage and will do no damage to any of the players.
Hitmonlee uses Hi-Jump Attack. Hitmonlee will choose a random target and attack it with a jumping kick, this attack does heavy damage and knock-back.
Koffing uses Poison Gas attack. Gas shoots out and traps whoever it touches doing light damage.
Meowth uses Pay Day attack. Meowth will jump in the air and shoot coins in all directions, it is possible to get caught in the barrage.
Mew is the only Pokemon that does not attack, it has a 1-in-151 chance of appearing. The first time Mew appears the character will unlock Mew Catcher and get 10,000 points.
Onix uses Rock Throw attack. Onix will jump in the air and drop rocks down on your opponents within a certain area.
Snorlax uses Body Slam attack. Snorlax will jump up in the air, inflate in size and slam down on the screen dealing heavy damage to those below them.
Starmie uses Swift attack. Starmie will fly around the screen until it finds a random target, it will then freeze in position and shoot multiple stars at its target.