Super Smash Bros. is a fighting video game developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 home video game console. It was released in Japan on January 21, 1999; in North America on April 26, 1999; and in Europe on November 19, 1999. Super Smash Bros. is the first game in the Super Smash Bros. series; its successor, Super Smash Bros. Melee, was released for the GameCube in 2001.
The game is a crossover between many different Nintendo franchises, including Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Mother, F-Zero, Yoshi, Kirby, Star Fox and Pokémon. It received mostly positive reviews from the media and was commercially successful, selling over 5 million copies worldwide by 2001, with 2.93 million sold in the United States and 1.97 million copies sold in Japan.
The Super Smash Bros. series is a departure from many fighting games; instead of winning by depleting an opponent's life bar, Smash Bros. players seek to knock opposing characters off a stage. Each player has a damage total, represented by a percentage, which rises as damage is taken and can exceed 100%, with a maximum damage of 999%. As this percentage rises, the character can be knocked progressively farther by an opponent's attacks. To KO an opponent, the player must send that character flying off the edge of the stage, which is not an enclosed arena but rather an area with open boundaries, many suspended in an otherwise empty space. When knocked off the stage, a character may use jumping moves in an attempt to return; some characters have longer-ranged jumps and may have an easier time "recovering" than others. Additionally, characters have different weights, making it harder for heavier opponents to be knocked off the edge, but reciprocally harder for them to recover once sent flying.
While games such as Street Fighter and Tekken require players to memorize relatively lengthy and complicated button-input combinations often specific to only a particular character, Super Smash Bros. uses the same control combinations to access all moves for all characters. Characters are additionally not limited to only facing opponents, instead being allowed to run around freely on the stage. The game focuses more on aerial and platforming skills than other fighting games, with relatively larger, more-dynamic stages rather than a simple flat platform. Smash Bros. also implements blocking and dodging mechanics. Grabbing and throwing other characters is also possible.
Various weapons and power-ups can be used in battle to inflict damage, recover health, or dispense additional items. They fall randomly onto the stage in the form of items from Nintendo franchises, such as Koopa shells, hammers, and Poké Balls. The nine multiplayer stages are locations taken from or in the style of Nintendo franchises, such as Planet Zebes from Metroid and Sector Z from Star Fox. Although stages are rendered in three dimensions, players can only move within a two-dimensional plane. Stages are dynamic, ranging from simple moving platforms to dramatic alterations of the entire stage. Each stage offers unique gameplay and strategic motives, making the chosen stage an additional factor in the fight.
In the game's single-player mode, the player chooses a character with which to battle a series of computer-controlled opponents in a specific order, attempting to defeat them with a limited number of lives in a limited amount of time per challenger. While the player can determine the difficulty level and number of lives, the same series of opponents are always fought. If the player loses all of their lives or runs out of time, they have the option to continue at the cost of a considerable sum of their overall points. This mode is referred to as Classic Mode in sequels. The single-player mode also includes two minigames, "Break the Targets" and "Board the Platforms", in which the objective is to break each target or board multiple special platforms, respectively. The goal must be achieved without falling off each character-specific stage. A "Training Mode" is also available in which players can manipulate the environment and experiment against computer opponents without the restrictions of a standard match.
Up to four people can play in multiplayer mode, which has specific rules predetermined by the players. Stock and timed matches are two of the multiplayer modes of play. This gives each player a certain number of lives or a selected time limit, before beginning the match. Free for all or team battles are also a choice during matches using stock or time. A winner is declared once time runs out, or if all players except one or a team has lost all of their lives. A multiplayer game may also end in a tie if two or more players have the same score when time expires, which causes the round to end in sudden death.
The game includes twelve playable characters originating from popular Nintendo franchises. Characters have a symbol appearing behind their damage meter corresponding to the series to which they belong, such as a Triforce behind Link's and a Poké Ball emblem behind Pikachu's. Furthermore, characters have recognizable moves derived from their original series, such as Samus's charged blasters and Link's arsenal of weapons. Eight characters are playable from the beginning of the game and the remaining four characters can then be unlocked by completing different tasks within the game.
The character art featured on the game's box art and instruction manual is in the style of a comic book, and the characters are portrayed as toy dolls that come to life to fight. This presentational style has since been omitted in the sequels, which feature trophies instead of dolls and in-game models rather than hand-drawn art.
Super Smash Bros. was developed by HAL Laboratory, a Nintendo second-party developer, during 1998. Masahiro Sakurai was interested in making a fighting game for four players. As he did not yet have any original ideas, his first designs were of simple base characters. He made a presentation of what was then called Kakuto-Geemu Ryuoh (Dragon King: The Fighting Game) to co-worker Satoru Iwata, who helped him continue. Sakurai understood that many fighting games did not sell well and that he had to think of a way to make his game original. His first idea was to include famous Nintendo characters and put them in a fight. Knowing he would not get permission, Sakurai made a prototype of the game without sanction from Nintendo and did not inform them until he was sure the game was well-balanced. The prototype he presented featured Mario, Donkey Kong, Samus and Fox as playable characters. The idea was later approved.
Super Smash Bros. features music from some of Nintendo's popular gaming franchises. While many are newly arranged for the game, some pieces are taken directly from their sources. The music for Super Smash Bros. was composed by Hirokazu Ando, who later returned as sound and music director for Super Smash Bros. Melee. A complete soundtrack was released on CD in Japan through Teichiku Records in 2000.
Super Smash Bros. received mostly positive reviews, with criticism mostly directed towards the game's single-player mode. GameSpot's former editorial director, Jeff Gerstmann, noted the single-player game "won't exactly last a long time". Instead, he praised the multi-player portion of the game, saying that it is "extremely simple to learn". He called the game's music "amazing". IGN's Peer Schneider agreed, calling the multiplayer mode "the game's main selling point", while GameCritics.com's Dale Weir described Super Smash Bros. as "the most original fighting game on the market and possibly the best multiplayer game on any system". Brad Penniment of Allgame said the game was designed for multiplayer battles, praising the simplicity of the controls and the fun element of the game. There were criticisms, however, such as the game's scoring being difficult to follow. In addition, the single-player mode was criticized for its perceived difficulty and lack of features. Schneider called Super Smash Bros. "an excellent choice for gamers looking for a worthy multiplayer smash 'em-up". Another IGN editor Matt Casamassina called it an incredibly addictive multiplayer game, but criticized the single-player mode for not offering much of a challenge. It was given an Editors' Choice award from IGN.
Super Smash Bros. was commercially successful, and became a Nintendo 64 Player's Choice title. In Japan, 1.97 million copies were sold, and 2.93 million have been sold in the United States as of 2008.
The first sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee, was released for the GameCube two years after the original. Melee retains nearly all the gameplay features of its predecessor while also expanding upon them, as well as expanding the fighter lineup. It also features three unlockable stages from the original game. As of March 2008, 7.09 million copies of Super Smash Bros. Melee had been sold worldwide.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii was released in 2008. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata requested Super Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai direct Brawl after it was announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2006's pre-conference. Brawl retains most of the gameplay of its predecessors while featuring major gameplay additions—such as a more substantial single-player mode and online play via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection—and a further-expanded lineup. Unlike its predecessors, the game has four methods of control, including the use of the Wii Remote (with or without the Nunchuk), GameCube controller, and the Classic Controller. Like Melee, Brawl makes references to other Nintendo games and franchises, but also features third-party characters, a first for the series. As of March 2013, a total of 11.49 million copies were sold, making it the 9th best selling Wii game in history.
Super Smash Bros. was released for the Wii Virtual Consoles in Japan, North America, and Europe throughout 2009. It was noted by Nintendo as their 500th Virtual Console offering in North America. In July 2013, the game was offered as one of several Virtual Console games which "Elite Status" members of the North America Club Nintendo could redeem as a free gift.
Nintendo announced at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011 that they would be releasing two new Super Smash Bros. games, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, making it the first cross-platform and first portable release in the series. Cross-compatibility between the Wii U and 3DS versions was also confirmed, allowing players to customize their characters and transfer them between versions. While development had begun, Sakurai stated that the early announcement was made public in order to attract developers needed for the game. The titles are also the first games to utilize Nintendo's Amiibo platform. The new Super Smash Bros. titles were released in late 2014.