Flashback to the year 2000. I’ve had my kickass new N64 for about a year now and have only collected a few games. Things like Majora’s Mask and Pokemon Stadium have entertained me but nothing about them really had me coming back for more. What’s worse, nothing about them made me want to play them when I was with friends (despite the Pokemon Stadium minigames being superb).
One day, I pick up a game called Super Smash Bros. that I had played at a friend’s house. I remembered how good it felt to zoom around the screen as Pikachu (a character I already had a relationship with from the Pokemon series) and decided that I wanted to have access to that feeling 24/7. Almost fifteen years later and, after an extremely long break from the series, I’m starting to get that feeling back.
“Blasting folks with lasers from across the stage or getting that tricky reflection at just the right moment…satisfying.”
My experience with SSB on N64 centered a lot around the social aspect of the game (although trying desperately to beat Master Hand at the highest difficulty took up a lot of my solo play time). Every time my friends and I would get together to play video games, most of that time would inevitably be spent playing Smash.
I got good. I mean, I wasn’t always coming out on top, but I could consistently vie for the top spot among my friends every time we played. My annoying up+specials with Samus drove a lot of people to avoid coming at me from above (the speed of that spin move in the 64 version was absurd) but eventually people learned that my ground game wasn’t anything special and took advantage of that instead.
I eventually switched over to Fox, a character that didn’t pack a lot of punch but was speedy as hell, something I came to appreciate over time. Blasting folks with lasers from across the stage or getting that tricky reflection at just the right moment…satisfying.
Over time, I stopped playing. The Gamecube version came out and I played that a bit but I never bought it and, frankly, I was distracted by life: university, relationships, etc, none of these things were conducive to staying up all night smashing CPUs at level 9 to up my game.
Then, more than ten years later, I see a link on reddit for a documentary about the competitive Smash Bros. scene. What competitive Smash Bros scene? As I sat through all ten episodes in one sitting, I realized that there had been an underground world revolving around Smash Bros. for years that I was only now becoming aware of. Tournaments, giant dedicated message boards, STRATEGY GUIDES?
Having watched the documentary a couple times over and gotten a feel for the major players and even a few of the basic strategies for approaching the game again, I tried to find a way back into that world. Unfortunately, emulators weren’t really an option on my PC and I couldn’t find a decent way to get ahold of a Gamecube and the game so, disheartened, I just gave up.
“It’s a fun trip down memory lane.”
I downloaded the game last week, a few days after it came out. I set my 3DS on the coffee table in front of me as I watched TV so I’d know exactly when the download finished. As soon as the little software gift thing showed up on my Home screen I paused Netflix and got to work on cracking open this thing.
I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed at first. The game was slower, especially when recovering from a jump. You had to plan things out in advance and it was extremely hard to catch up with someone that you’d just launched into the air. A lot of the complaints people had about Brawl being too slow were coming to mind.
But I soldiered on. “Smash Run”? I’ll try that. Wow, this is pretty fun. “Trophy Rush”? Man, there’s a lot of collectibles in this game. “Custom Fighters”? Whaaat. Maybe this isn’t so bad. Greninja is kinda fast, and Little Mac is a beast on the ground.
I’m not sure if the new generation of Smash Bros. is what I’m looking for or if anything really can be what I’m looking for considering how long it’s been since I was really into the series. Still, it’s a fun trip down memory lane, and now that I’m old enough to really start THINKING about how I’m playing instead of going on instinct, I think the whole thing’s going to be a lot more enjoyable.