Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Revisited

In preparation for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate I'm playing some older Smash games. For the most part this means playing Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, but I've also been looking into the first game lately, finally completing it on the Wii Virtual Console.

My entry into the Smash Bros. series came with Super Smash Bros. Brawl in 2008, when I opened this blog. At the time I also was a fresh Metroid fan and gained a greater appreciation for other Nintendo series that weren't Zelda. But I also got quickly used to the fully customizable controls of Brawl, where I had a hard time going back to the previous two Smash games.

Sadly, Super Smash Bros. never made it to the Wii U Virtual Console for some reason, because otherwise I could have made use of the control options there. But the main issue is and always will be pressing up to jump. I hate this behavior and I immediately turned it off in Brawl, because in a Nintendo game with Mario, Kirby, Samus and side-scrolling Link it felt unnatural to jump without a dedicated button press. I'm also used to pressing in the direction of a jump shortly before the jump, which in classic Smash results in accidentally performing two jumps quickly one after another... Ugh.

So, I will probably never get used to this, but the original Super Smash Bros. isn't an extensive game with tons of hardcore challenges like Melee. So, I thought that I should at least try to complete it and that way honor the origins of Smash.

When the game was released nine years ago, I already unlocked three of the characters (Jigglypuff, Captain Falcon and Ness), but I was still missing the following:

  • Luigi
  • Mushroom Kingdom stage
  • Item Switch
  • Sound Test

For Luigi you have to beat "Break the Targets" with the eight original characters and this is where I probably gave up at the time due to the controls. But with some practice it's doable.

For the Mushroom Kingdom stage, which I wanted to check out for my research about classic stages, you have to beat Classic Mode with all eight original characters. I've already done three for the other unlockable characters, but I had to do the other five, which felt very dull. I'm happy that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will have different scenarios for all the characters or else it would be extremely boring.

To unlock the Item Switch you "simply" have to play 100 Versus matches with any settings. I've set them to 1 minute, but even then it felt like it took forever and got boring quickly with only ten characters and nine stages to choose from... In Ultimate you would meet this requirement by trying all stages alone. Not that you would have to unlock the Item Switch with such arbitrary requirements there... But I guess it was okay at the time, where you had nothing else to play and this option was a nice change of play.

Last and least, the Sound Test requires you to beat both "Break the Targets" and "Board the Platforms" with all ten characters... This was the most challenging part with my aversion against the controls, especially since some of the courses followed Nintendo's level design patent for frustration. None of it is Champion's Road level of bad, but some can be quite infuriating, like for example Jigglypuff's "Board the Platform" course. It wouldn't have been too bad on the Wii U Virtual Console, where you could use Restore Points to spare yourself the pain of near-endless repetition.

But it's also the most interesting part, because you really master the characters this way and learn quite a few tricks while you're at it. For example I never knew that you could just hold the jump button for Kirby's float jumps. Nonetheless, I still wouldn't miss these modes in Ultimate at all. It's a one-time completion thing for me. But going through this mess of randomness and bumpers again and again just to give that final jump for the final platform another try certainly ground my gears.

Anyway, overall it was nice to see, how it all started. Despite having a Nintendo 64 and remembering the odd commercials at the time, I never got the original game myself, so it wasn't a part of my childhood. But still I gained a certain appreciation for the "originals", characters and stages alike. Except for "Board the Platforms".

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