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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Retro Review: Super Smash Bros. (Virtual Console)

Super Smash Bros for the Nintendo 64 sold nearly five million copies worldwide back in its day and even spawned two sequels that both broke various records. After years of waiting, the title that started the craze was finally made available for download on Nintendo’s Virtual Console service. Does the game still warrant a purchase years after its release or is it appallingly archaic?

What the heck is Yoshi doing?


The concept of Super Smash Bros. defies the structure of any typical game in the fighting genre. Instead of memorizing huge lists of moves and trying to punch your opponent into unconsciousness, you focus on simply knocking your opponents out of the arena. Whenever you successfully assault your opponent, their damage percentage increases and they’ll suffer from recoil. After being sufficiently thrashed, your foes will be soaring around the stage from the mildest blow. Should they fall off the stage or get knocked off, they lose a life. 

Each character has their own set of attacks that are derived from whatever franchise they originate from. Donkey Kong slams his fists with tremendous force, Samus utilises her charge beam for racking up damage, and Link slashes at his foes with the Master Sword. Aside from this, there are items in the stage with their own individual uses. The stages themselves are also more influential towards gameplay than the majority of fighting games, for if you encounter an exploding Electrode in the Saffron City stage, you’re going to pay heftily. All of these unique mechanics combine magnificently and form quite a distinct experience. The roster is a tad petite at only 12 fighters (including unlockable ones) and a more diverse roster would have been nice. A few characters feel slightly unbalanced, but for the most part the game gives off a vibe that anything can happen.

You just know Donkey Kong is about to crack some brains open

The single player mode lacks lasting value since there is but one main mode. You merely progress through a few rounds and special stages against mostly pre-determined opponents until you reach the climactic final battle. Unlocking all four of the bonus characters, getting a hidden stage, and completing the ‘storyline’ with all of them will not demand more time than two days. Instead, the game’s value is derived from the multiplayer mode. Up to four players can duke it out in battles of skill, luck, and genuine fun.

Super Smash Bros. does nothing particularly spectacular in the graphics department, looking a smidge more polygonal and unnatural than other Nintendo 64 titles. The stages are fairly impressive however, still capturing the worlds of their characters with about as much depth feasible on the 64. Music-wise, most songs are modified versions of themes from whatever game the corresponding character is from. The soundtrack isn’t massive, nor is it original, but it covers all the bases nicely.

This unlockable 'bonus' level was the best of the lot

If you’ve got some mates around, Super Smash Bros. serves up a feisty competition. Unfortunately, lone players are likely going to tire of the game rather hastily due the lack of more single player modes. Furthermore, the later releases in the series improve on the formula so drastically it is difficult to go back to the game when it is so primitive in comparison. If you want to take a trip down memory lane, it won’t fail you, but it won’t last long and the latter two titles are recommended more so due to their vast upgrades in mechanics. Still, it’s hard to go wrong at a price of 1000 Wii Points.

- Clark A


Retro Review: Super Smash Bros. (Virtual Console)
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