By: Jac Bakley, Staff Writer
My sister, even with not being that much of a gamer,enjoyed playing a few select games. These games included, Super Mario Land on Game Boy and Donkey Kong Country 3 on Super Nintendo. In her honor, I’m going to take a look at her favorite Nintendo 64 game: Super Smash Bros.
Super Smash Bros. was released for the N64 in 1999, under the direction of beloved Nintendo designer Masahiro Sakurai. The game was a huge success in the United States, and would go on to spawn three sequels and create one of the most popular fighting franchises of all time.
We get a rather intriguing introduction that showcases all of the fighters in the game. After the introduction, we are given five different gameplay options: single-player, VS battle, training mode, and two bonus levels.
You’ll be allowed to select your fighter for each mode. The eight fighters in the roster are Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Samus, Yoshi, Kirby, Fox, and Pikachu. There are also four unlockable characters: Jigglypuff, Luigi, Ness, and Captain Falcon. Each character has different types of fighting moves, as well their own unique set of special fighting moves. They also each have their own signature taunts, if you’re feeling cocky enough to use them. Also, as an added bonus, each character has four different costume color schemes, which represent other characters or costumes from their original games. For example, Link’s blue palette represents his Zora Tunic from Ocarina of Time, and Captain Falcon’s purple and pink palette represent Blood Falcon from F-Zero X.
The gameplay is unlike any one-on-one fighting game. If I discuss every character’s unique fighting abilities, I’ll be here all day, so I’m just going to address my three favorites. The control stick jumps in this game, and if you can also double-jump by hitting the control stick while in mid-air. You press the A button to perform regular attacks against your foes, and if you press it three times in a row, you can perform a different type of combo for each character. Link uses his sword, Captain Falcon punches his enemies, and Samus punches and kicks.The B button is used to perform special moves, and a different one can be pulled off depending on which direction the control stick is held. For Link, B alone will throw a boomerang, B and up will perform a spinning sword attack, and B and down will have him take out a bomb to throw at enemies. For Captain Falcon, B alone will be a very slow but powerful punch (use at your own risk), B and up with perform a diving jump that can actually damage any enemy it contacts, and B and down will have him perform a fiery kick. For Samus, B alone will charge up a laser cannon, which will be more powerful the longer it is charged up. B and up will perform an electric spinning jump attack, and B and down will have her curl into a ball and released bombs that will damage enemies that are close to them. All B-up attacks, (except for Yoshi’s), are also great methods of recovering from being launched off the arena and avoiding death. This type of gameplay is very unique for a fighting game, as it allows more distance for characters to perform long-range attacks, as well as more platforming to avoid stronger enemy attacks. The graphics are pretty good for the N64. The models of the characters greatly capture the models they had in their original games. However, Donkey Kong, Samus, Yoshi, Kirby, and Captain Falcon all have original models, because they were never in 3D in previous games.
The character models look good, but the same can’t be said for the stages. All of the stages are based off of areas from games they derive from, but most of them don’t represent them well. They mostly just look like cardboard platforms with different themes and backgrounds. The only stages that really truly represent their games well are Hyrule Castle, Sector Z, Saffron City, and Mushroom Kingdom. Everything else is just a platform with a different paint job for each. I know I’m nitpicking, but it’s just disappointing to play on a stage that only represents its respective game by how it’s decorated.
In 1P mode, you fight a chain of opponents, with different stages for each. The enemy’s strength depends on the difficulty level you select, from Very Easy to Very Hard. Most opponents are single, but Yoshi and Kirby are fought in teams, Mario and Luigi are both fought at the same time, and Donkey Kong is larger in size and more durable to attacks. There are also other opponents that are not playable in the game: a metallic Mario, purple polygon figures, and a giant white hand known as Master Hand. The order of the opponents you fight never changes, and it always ends fighting Master Hand. No matter which difficulty level you select, the difficulty still feels a little unbalanced. Some are pretty easy, but others are a little tougher, and will often always cost you at least one life playing
For the bonus levels, every 1P round, you will play three different bonus games. These games include destroying targets, jumping on platforms, and getting to the end of a level before time runs out. The race level is the same for every character, but the target and platform games have different layouts for each character, complementing their unique moveset. Target smashing and platform boarding are available as free-play levels outside of 1P mode, but racing to the finish is not. You don’t have to complete them to advance, but you’ll want to rack up points for 1P Mode, and complete them in the shortest amount of time possible to try and break the world record.
VS Mode is a 1-4 player gameplay mode where you can fight against computer opponents, or your friends (if you have any). You can choose to fight in a timed free-for-all, or with a certain number of lives for each character. If the time runs out and a fighter has the most KOs, or if the fighter is the last one standing in a stock match, that fighter is the winner. Simple as that: fight for your life.
There! That’s Super Smash Bros. for the N64. The sequels on the next home consoles had the same gameplay formula, but they had new features to make them feel more fresh than their predecessor.
Jordyn, if you’re reading this, thanks for being an awesome sister. I’ll always remember the times you picked on me for sucking at your favorite games, I’ll always think of you whenever I play those games.