Perhaps the most overlooked entry in the series; it’s finally time to look at the final game in this Smash Bros. feature. Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64 is the first in what is now one of the most popular and competitive fighting game series of all time. And as an added bonus it finally brought all of Nintendo’s long running franchises together, in a crossover that many could only have dreamed about. Yet despite the legacy it’s left behind, there’s not really very much to hold our attention here.
First released in 1999, Super Smash Bros. for N64 takes a fresh approach to the fighting genre; rather than having players deplete health bars to win each fight, we had to knock them off the screen entirely. Up to four players at once had to damage their opponents to accumulate a damage percentage, which as it grew made it easier to launch our opponents’ sky high. Once that happened they’d either lose a life or we’d gain a point (depending on battle settings). This helped Smash 64 stand out against its contemporaries, giving it that party game vibe that many other fighters lacked. It proved to be a game which was easy and fun to pick up but held so much depth for dedicated fighter fans. Despite the relatively small roster of fighters and stages, there remains much gameplay to master in this title.
Albeit, it cannot be avoided, the game is very small. With 12 fighters, 9 stages and only one mode besides versus, it doesn’t take long to complete Smash 64 at surface level, meaning most of the enjoyment to be had here will come from playing with friends. What makes things further difficult for Smash 64 is that it doesn’t necessarily offer anything that its successors don’t have. From stages and gameplay modes to the very special and throw moves that each character can use, everything can be found alongside a plethora of extras within Super Smash Bros. Melee and beyond. With the advent of huge fighting games that have a dizzying number of features, it makes this little title difficult to hold our attention very long. Playing Smash 64 is for the novelty of playing the original title, more so than anything else.
What it is does have however is an interesting premise whereby the fighters cast as toys . The opening credits show a hand playing with their toys within a bedroom, the same hand supposedly that us players face-off against at the end of the main campaign. While this has no effect on the gameplay itself it does give the overall product a lovely aesthetic that is gives it pehraps a greater niche to stand on. It can be seen through the character’s animations, as their bodies move with the fluidity of toy dolls that have come to live of their own accord. It’s almost as if Toy Story was being applied to Nintendo. It may be a largely insignificant aspect of the game but it is one that we can at least appreciate, separate from the remainder of the series.
Check this tournament level fight to see the animations in action. Of course the easiest way to see for ourselves is just to pick up and play.
Ultimately, Smash 64 is a praiseworthy title; it’s still a great game to play despite it’s limited features. Yet it’s hard to recommend it to anybody who isn’t a die-hard Super Smash Bros. fan, as everything we can get out of this title can be found in its sequels. It’s more of a collector’s item than anything else, but at least its remains a darn good one to play.