I’ve put a great deal of thought into whether or not, given the choice, I would live in the world of Smash Bros. For while living in that most unique and bizarre of environments would provide many interesting advantages, such as owning five different colored versions of one outfit or getting to perpetually fanboy all over Link, it would also come with pretty steep drawbacks.
Some of these would include being repeatedly thrown to your death in a bottomless chasm, being stuck in mid-air for periods in excess of twenty minutes anytime you try to fight someone with dial-up and even running the risk of having your character box next to The Ice Climbers’. *shudder*
But none of these negatives would stop me from taking the very big decision of moving to a fictitious place. With towering cities, distant lands, island getaways and Arctic expeditions, the Smash Bros. universe is nearly the perfect destination. There’s just one thing that’s stopping me from packing up and moving to a precarious cottage on top of an F-Zero racer or wiling away my mid-20s on a leafy terrace in the outskirts of Hanenbow: items.
Power-ups, weaponry, sustenance, explosives and even that logic-defying creature known only as Mr. Saturn rain down from the sky in the world of Smash Bros., just waiting for the opportune moment to materialize mid-air and collide with your noggin in a comedic fashion. And since I have enough problems with precipitation that doesn’t crack my head open, I’m officially postponing my relocation to the Smash Bros. universe until I can figure out how to switch the items off.
Luckily the indigenous residents of the Smash Bros world don’t share my soft-headed sensitivity, and so one of the loopiest fighting franchises was born in a swirl of nostalgia and unpredictability. Branching out from the logical foundations of fighters that came before, the Smash Bros. series embraced an illogical and volatile gameplay style based on a cornucopia of objects collected from Nintendo’s past.
For awhile it’s obvious that the world of Smash Bros. draws from Nintendo’s history to inspire its characters and stages; it might be easier to forget that the series’ collection of items are equally nostalgic. Ranging from instantly recognisable crossovers such as the Super Mushroom and Warp Star, players can also wield far more obscure weaponry, including the flower-shaped battering rod known as Lip’s Stick, a weapon that originates from the Japan-only puzzle game Panel de Pon, or the Franklin Badge, a defensive aid that originates from the elusive Earthbound series.
But when you’re looking to score a string of KOs against your adversaries, you need to start scouting around for the equipment that can deliver some serious Smash punishment. Items such as the infamous Golden Hammer and Smart Bomb will offer you immense power but may prove too volatile to control, whereas more advanced weaponry, such as the Home Run Bat or the hair-tearing-multi-part-rage-machine better known as the three piece Dragoon, require a fair bit of luck and skill and to pull off successfully, but offer the ripe chance of victory for those who can master them.
At least until a new item that premiered in the latest edition to the series, 2008’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl on Wii, eclipsed all those that came before with its fearsome power and elusiveness. The Smash Ball, a glowing rainbow orb that frustratingly floats inches above the heads of players, grants those lucky enough to crack it open a single monstrous onslaught against their enemies officially dubbed a Final Smash. Final Smashes are unique to each character and vary from bursts of light and flames to turning into a giant octopus, demonic beast or even Giga Bowser.
However many players are likely to opt for Samus Aran’s Final Smash because of its unique side effect. Following a ferocious laser beam that envelops most of the stage, a far less bulky Samus steps out the light to reveal the lighter and far more feminine Zero Suit Samus. And a whole new generation of teenagers fell in love.
While it may be easy to get sidetracked with the light shows and explosions of Smash Bros.’ showier items, we shouldn’t forget the more common items that help win tussles on a day-to-day basis. Items such as the Ray Gun, Fire Flower, Banana Peel and good ol’ reliable Bob-omb are the bread and butter of Smash fans’ survival.
And if you’re feeling outnumbered on the field, the Smash Bros. universe is there with its own take on summoning to lend a hand. In a move designed not only to deepen the gameplay but also to pad out the character roster without cloning Fox again, players have the opportunity to call on both popular and little-known Nintendo characters to aid them with the use of Poké Balls and Assist Trophies.
Although supporting characters include Groudon, Lugia and Weavile from the Pokémon franchise, Sin and Punishment’s protagonist Saki Amamiya and even the parent-from-hell, Mother Brain, fans of the series are far more likely to remember the less useful summons that ended up causing more trouble than good.
The quiet yet ever present letdown of a harmless, flopping Goldeen or flailing Wobuffet emerging from an erupting Poké Ball (instead of a fearsome Legendary Pokémon) helps remind us that while Smash Bros. may not be the fairest or most logical game in the world, it never fails to stay interesting.
Although would it really hurt for Goldeen to at least do something?