Nintendo characters Luigi, Yoshi and Mario. (Photo: Pexels)

20 years of Super Smash Bros.

20 years. Five instalments. Over 40 million copies sold worldwide. Hatch’s Thomas Tobler gives you a rundown on the history of the game, and why gamers love it so much. 

Super Smash Bros. is a crossover fighting series first developed by Nintendo in 1999, consisting of characters from all over the Nintendo universe and beyond, battling it out on different stages.

The game started with humble beginnings but soon went on to become one of Nintendo’s most popular games ever, with four versions of the game being released.

The fifth installment, Super Smash Bros. – Ultimate, is set for release later this year.

With any popular video game, you will find a large group of passionate gamers who have spent countless hours playing it. Super Smash Bros. is no exception, with a fan base that enjoys the game in several different ways, from playing at home with friends to playing competitively at local or even international tournaments.

I conducted a survey of members from the r/supersmashbros subreddit and the Super Smash Bros. Discussion Group on Facebook to find out more information about their experiences with the game.

A bar graph of the age that gamers were first introduced to Super Smash Bros.

The original Super Smash Bros. games were marketed towards young kids, who fully embraced the game as they were familiar with the existing characters. The continued release of different versions of the game kept existing fans engaged as they got older while also bringing in a new wave of young fans each time, culminating in the diverse fan base that exists today

A graph showing how long gamers have been playing the Super Smash Bros. franchise for.

Although the earlier games in the franchise were of a high quality, it’s clear that fans of SSB. prefer the latest game that was released on the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U separately in 2014. SSB. 4 is a fan favourite due to its large roster of characters and maps, online capabilities, high quality graphics plus the ability to play with eight of your friends at the same time.

A graph showing the first instalment of Super Smash Bros. that gamers played.

”I prefer Super Smash Bros. 4. I like that it has the most extensive list of characters and stages, and the game runs smoothly.”

”SSB. 4 is my favourite. It has the perfect balance between Melee’s breakneck competitive speed, and Brawl’s slow, clunky, but graphically impressive design.”

A graph of gamers preferred instalment of the Super Smash Bros. franchise.

Nostalgia and friendship are common themes that are associated with SSB. by its users. Older gamers are reminded of wholesome childhood memories when they play the original, and almost all users have memories of countless hours of fun with their friends, all centred around this one game.

”I love playing SSB. I remember playing as a kid. I didn’t have many friends growing up and the game was never as fun by myself. I got a new perspective on the game after playing the original with my friend Danny. He kicked my ass, but reminded me about how fun it is to play game with friends.”

”I am now 30 and my friends and I still get together to play this game. It’s something we’ve grown an attachment to and has become a contribution to our friendships.”

I interviewed one user who had played each game as they were released, from the original in 1999 up to SSB. 4 in 2014. Although feelings of nostalgia and memories of friendship are common among gamers, the reasons for enjoying their preferred instalment differ.

“I think Smash Bros. 64 is my favourite, only because I’ve played it for years and love the classic (Nintendo) 64. I know the graphics are the worst out of all of them, but I’m the best at that one and have more fun playing it. My friends who got into it a bit later than I did prefer the newer ones, probably for the same reasons, also because they can play anywhere on their 3DS’s. I don’t have a 3DS so that’s a bit harder for me, but when we play together we like to mix up which one we play, it keeps it fair and exciting.”

Super Smash Bros. format makes it a staple for gaming tournaments all around the world. SSB. – Melee and SSB. for Wii U are a part of the official game lineup of the Evolution Championship Series (EVO), which is the largest fighting game tournament in the world, held annually in Las Vegas.

EVO 2016 currently holds the record for the biggest Super Smash Bros. tournament in history, with over four thousand unique players participating between both games.

Super Smash Bros. even has its own yearly convention. Super Smash Con started in 2015 and is held in Virginia each year. The event attracted over two thousand fans last year. The tournament side of the convention is extremely popular, with the Super Smash Con event in 2017 holding the record for the third largest SSB. for Wii U tournament, behind the EVO event.

Tournaments are held all around the world: in the US, the UK, Japan, Canada, Sweden, Mexico, France, as well as here in Australia. In May of this year, Melbourne played host to the largest Super Smash Bros. event in the southern hemisphere.

The event, Battle Arena Melbourne, saw Aussie gamers face off against each other and international competitors. Currently Australia is ranked 10th in the world for SSB. on Wii U and 12th for SSB. – Melee.

With the release of SSB. – Ultimate on December 7th of this year, the Super Smash Bros. series is set to continue its run as one of the most widely enjoyed games on earth.