Portraits in Pixel
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Portraits in Pixel

Great Games: Super Smash Bros.

Photo by AntMan3001. Some rights reserved. Source: Flickr

NOTE: When this piece was originally written, Super Smash Bros. Brawl was the latest entry. Though I haven’t played much of the new versions, I imagine that what I’ve written here still holds true.

The Super Smash Bros. series, whatever iteration you’ve played, serves as more than just a fighting game, but as a tribute to all that Nintendo has accomplished thus far. Nintendo is to video games what Disney is to animation. Both excel at crafting revolutionary entertainment for audiences of all ages, with reputations of high quality and satisfaction. The characters brought about by these companies have also entered the public consciousness of storytelling and art. Many need no introduction, but I can think of the perfect one to give them:

“I’ve heard legends of that man,
Alone he rushed into his enemies,
How he saved his homeland,


I’ve heard legends of that man,
He ran the breadth of the land,

Ruining all he touched to rubble,

I’ve heard legends of that man,
I’ve heard legends of that man,

Revered by many, I too, revere him,
Feared by many, I too, fear him,


Now, that man,
Is near to me,


Now, that man,
Stands by me,


Now, friends are with me,
Some, once heroes,
Some, mortal enemies,

And as we face one another in battle,
We shine ever brighter.”

The lyrics you’ve just read belong to the theme of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, a version of the series for the Nintendo Wii. The song was composed by the ineffable Nobuo Uematsu of Final Fantasy, whose lyricism has graced “Aria di Mezzo Caraterre”, “The One-Winged Angel”, and “Liberi Fatali.” His theme brings a rather mature and exalted mood to the game. The roster of Nintendo characters aren’t simply ones who have been made up on the spot, but world-famous icons who’s feats have entered the annals of video game history: Mario, Luigi, Kirby, Link, Samus, Pikachu, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Fox McCloud, Bowser, Pit, Peach, Marth, Ganondorf, Mewtwo, and even R.O.B. The Robot. The song is reminding players that they are fighting with and against the characters who’ve helped to craft video games as we understand them. That is something to be both honored and feared. Manaav Goyal of Always Nintendo, has spoken on the variety of interpretations in these lyrics,

“The story behind the song is one that can be interpreted in many ways. A clear one is that the lyrics are in the point of view of one of the fighters in the game, stating how these are noble heroes, who I am willing to fight with and against. Another interpretation could be that the song is about the fierceness of the fighters in the game. The song is in E major, which as stated by Austrian composer Anoton Bruckner, “is frequently associated with contemplation.” This statement mirrors the song well, as the story does follow a man observing his relationship towards the champions, and what they truly are to him.”

As far as fighting games go, and I’ve played my share, the Super Smash Bros. series is something special. For one, there is no bar of HP that determines how many hits one can take. Rather, each hit you take racks up a percentage, the higher your percentage, the more likely you are to be thrown out of the arena. The battle is won by the person who can throw his opponents out of the area x number of times (depending on the number of lives one has). So the game becomes a strategy of knocking the others out of the arena as fast as possible. This can helped or stalled by the various arenas, which include the Mushroom Kingdom, Pokemon Stadium, and Hyrule Castle. Numerous items can also be picked up or thrown, from Pokeballs, to Fire Flowers, to Hammers, to Ray Guns. Pokeballs being my personal favorite, if only for their random variety. Though what truly makes Super Smash Bros. worthwhile, and arguably one of the finest fighting games out there, is the multiplayer option. Games can devolve into a four way battle royal, in which it can be difficult to tell who is hitting what and where. This chaos can allow for a number of things to happen, and at times, the winner won’t always be clear cut. I have to admit that I usually button mash when I play, which can be fun at times, but strategy is what will save you in the long stretch.

Super Smash Bros comes from the mind of Masahiro Sakurai, who also directed the Kirby series. Satoru Iwata, the current director of Nintendo, reflected on the creation of the series with Sakurai in an interview. The prototype was initially called Dragon King: The Fighting Game, and the concept of using Nintendo characters came when Sakurai realized that a degree of character development was needed for the new 64 console. Since Nintendo already had a set of popular characters, Sakurai thought it expedient to select from them instead of making new ones from scratch. The usage of Nintendo characters was initially met with resistance by fans, since making these beloved heroes fight one another didn’t sound very appealing. History has proven otherwise. Even non-Nintendo characters who have appeared on Nintendo systems were later added to the roster, Sonic, Mega-Man, Solid Snake, and Pac-Man. Sakurai has emphasized how Super Smash Bros is supposed to resemble a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a game that changes every time you play it, “The appeal of Smash Bros. lies in the fact that it offers ever-changing entertainment born of chance and player improvisation…”

Nintendo has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1889 as a company that sold hanafuda playing cards. With their leap into video games during the 1970’s, well, you know: Donkey Kong, NES, Super Mario Bros, Nintendo Power, Duck Hunt, Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Punch-Out, SNES, Super Mario Bros. 3, StarFox, Game Boy, Pokemon Red and Blue, Nintendo 64, Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, GameCube, Fire Emblem, Game Boy Color, Super Metroid, Pokemon Silver and Gold, Game Boy Advance, Final Fantasy VI, Nintendo DS, Mario Kart, Chrono Trigger, Nintendo Wii, Twilight Princess, et cetera, et cetera.

It is also said that the word “nintendo” means “leave luck to heaven”, well, maybe there’s something to that.

More Great Games

Tetris

Pac-Man

Super Mario Bros.

The Legend Of Zelda

Final Fantasy IV

Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VII

Chrono Trigger

Metal Gear Solid

Persona 3

Persona 4

Persona 5

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts II

Danganronpa

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

The Last Of Us

Doki Doki Literature Club

Originally published at http://sansuthecat.blogspot.com on June 5th, 2015, which some slight revisions for clarity.

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Sansu the Cat

Sansu the Cat

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I write about art, life, and humanity. M.A. Japanese Literature. B.A. Spanish & Japanese. email: sansuthecat@yahoo.com