SUPER SMASH BROS. / Nintendo / Nintendo 64

Super Smash is exactly what haute snob gaming nerds criticized it for being when it came out -- mindless brawling of a very button-mashy bent (unless you get into serious competitive tournament play, anyway). I never really saw why this was a problem. It's meant to be an accessible, chaotic, fun party game and that's exactly what it is, with that Nintendo first-party polish to boot.

It does kinda suck in single-player, though, which maybe drove some of the backlash. The whole series is weighted heavily toward multiplayer, but none more so than this first one. The only thing for a solo player to do is play the same repetitive series of battles over and over, trying to meet the somehwat obnoxious criteria to unlock Ness, Luigi, Jigglypuff and Cap'n Falcon. The only mini-games are these REALLY obnoxious target-breaking levels that I usually suicide dive out of immediately because they're so unfun. There's also a certain level of intentional imprecision in movement and jumping that actually enhances the chaotic fun in multiplayer but makes playing against the robotically precise computer a chore sometimes.

Smash was also a risky property to introduce, at least from the perspective of insular corporate marketing. All of us out here in reality know that people aren't going to start regarding Mario as a psychotic murderer if you make a side game where he can huck Pikachu off the top of Hyrule Castle, but the decision-makers at these big companies are always at least somewhat removed from everyday street-level life and I imagine people in suits at Nintendy were nervously biting their nails about what the game would do to the "brand image" before this shipped. Winning gamble for them, though. Sales were so good they even let you beat up women in the next installment.

Smash Bros. is one of those initial series entries that gets rendered obsolete by the sequels, which do everything it did but bigger and better. If you're putting together an N64 collection, however, this is basically a requisite party game to have on hand. Just don't expect to get much solo time out of it other than a couple cumulative hours of unlocking the hidden characters.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video