Ohhh boy. Getting into some real opinionated stuff right here.
Now, I’d like to start this off by saying, no, I am not dissing the other fighting games in the world- more traditional, Street Fighter-esque, health-bar based fighting games. Rather, this is just me venting about a video game series I personally love. It’s a series that has given me countless hours of entertainment and created great memories, and so, I am absolutely, totally biased here, but hey, I think there’s at least a bit of substance to it.
That said: let me present my argument, if you’d like to hear it, as to why the Super Smash Bros series is the best fighting game series in the history of gaming- or at least, why it’s my favorite.
A Self-Sustaining Community
Communities grow around similar interests. Anime, games, manga, whatever you can think of, there’s a multitude of fandoms, communities, to be found. The same goes for Smash, showing through Facebook groups, tournaments, character specific chats, and a plethora of well made creator content, that its community is certainly here to stay. Beyond that, it is inclusive: relatively welcoming of new members, due to the fact that honestly, everyone’s playing for the love of the game.
Beyond this, however, the unique nature of the Smash Bros community has received special attention by members of the Fighting Game Community as a whole, as being self-contained, and self-sustaining. It can exist independently of other fighting game communities, and to boot, hosts huge tournaments with gigantic stakes, with no developer support. Nintendo doesn’t acknowledge it as a legitimate growing community, yet international tournaments, streams that garner hundreds of thousands of viewers, and numerous small, local gatherings show that the Smash community isn’t just surviving without support-it’s thriving.
I’m kind of a nerd here- so, when I see an expertly designed story, or music that’s done just right, or animation that does something new and different, I end up LOVING that kind of stuff. You know, I’m a guy who loves a good story. But with Smash, that kind of technical desire manifests in something different: the gameplay.
There are two elements of the gameplay that combine to make, in my mind, a hugely satisfying and fun experience. The first, is how Smash handles movement and control. In most standard fighting games, you need to memorize or learn specific inputs for different characters, in order to pull off unique moves. However, in Smash, there’s no need for that- any move in the game can be done in the same way for virtually every character. Side-b, forward air, down smash- these attacks are universal, and therefore, easy to control. Because of this simplicity, you can experiment, and find ways to merge different attacks together, in a way that feels extremely fluid. I’d argue that because of this, the Smash series gives a player complete control, in a way that is simply uncontested.
Regardless of which Smash Bros game you choose, they all have the same core elements. The whole point is to knock your opponents off of the stage, using whatever means necessary. This is achieved by hitting your opponents with whatever moves you’ve got, increasing the amount of damage they take. That damage, notated by higher percent, signifies that they will go farther when you hit them, so that at a high enough percent, even a weaker hit will knock them off the level, and take one of their lives, or “stocks” away. Eliminate all their stocks, and you win.
These are relatively simple concepts, but one they lead to hugely complex gameplay. With the freedom of movement that the game has, Smash feels expressive in the way you play. One player’s kind of “aggressive” is worlds different from another player’s “aggressive,” and really, there’s just huge amounts of room for creating your own playstyle. Not to say that other fighting games don’t have this, but it simply feels like Smash has so much more freedom- more ability to do whatever action you want, instead of being limited to shorter, more precise movements. Because of this, there’s so much complexity that goes into higher levels of the game, while at the same time, being completely different. No game is the same- and that’s great!
Every match is unique, and people are constantly discovering new combos, new mechanics, and new tricks- in the case of the most technical game, Melee, it’s been 16 years and people are still learning! Yet still, almost paradoxically, it remains a fighting game that is immensely popular, even from a casual standpoint. Smash has lots of potential any way you look at it, and I love that diversity that the game exhibits.
Tl;dr, Smash has some of the simplest, yet most complex and deep gameplay mechanics around, and it’s pretty awesome.
Fun For Literally Anyone
I know this is a pretty obvious thing to end on, but man, Smash is just a fun game. I mean, it was designed to be- Sakurai, creator of the series, specifically wanted the games to be experienced by players of all skill levels, and he did all great job of ensuring that. With intuitive controls, tons of unique stages, items that mix up the battle for everyone involved, you can bet that, even for beginners, the game is a ton of fun.
Anyone can pick up a controller and have a good time, regardless of their level of experience, which I think is an awesome thing that most fighting games lack. Perhaps there is a bit of bias here, from memories that I’ve had with my friends with the Smash Bros series, but hey, that’s gotta count for something right?