Super Smash Bros is the first game that I ever became competitive in. I was 12 at the time (2006) and came across some MLG videos while looking for ways to improve my game against some friends. Ever since then, I have been a fan of both the original Super Smash Bros. and its sequel Super Smash Bros. Melee. In 2011, I started to get bored of Smash and decided to convert to traditional fighters so I could play a game that developers actually support and play online since I live in an area where competitive gaming doesn’t necessarily exist well in a large form.
But this article isn’t about me, it’s about Super Smash Bros. in general and why I believe it is underrated by the Fighting Game Community. In this article, I will take some negative quotes that I commonly see used against smash and explain in my point of view why they’re biased. Before I begin, I will be using Melee as my primary example because I believe Brawl makes the series look bad for plenty of reasons and Super Smash Bros. 64 isn’t popular enough to even bother using as an example.
1. Super Smash Bros. is not a fighting game, it’s a party game.
A. This one is one of my favorites because it’s all based on opinion. Most people like to insult Smash because of its cover. Yes, Nintendo is geared towards children more than mature audiences, but is that really enough to instantly dismiss it as a fighting game? Not at all. Let’s pretend that Smash wasn’t developed by Nintendo and all of the characters were original and not from previous Nintendo games. Now, looking at the gameplay of Smash, it follows most definitions of fighting games, which is to control a character and engage in close combat. Yes, I understand that many of the game’s aspects make it a party game like their wacky stages and ridiculous items, but party game or not, the game can still be taken seriously because we can restrict stages and turn items off. Just because Smash doesn’t involve commands like quarter circle forwards, shoryukens, 360’s, etc. etc. doesn’t make it not a fighting game. Just because Smash doesn’t use a traditional health bar doesn’t not make it a fighting game. Just because Smash has different stages rather than one stage with different visuals doesn’t not make it a fighting game. These are all aspects that make the game a unique fighting game rather than following Street Fighter with its traditional 2D fighting.
2. Super Smash Bros. is a 2 button game.
A. This is a true statement, but can cause many people to misunderstand it so I believe I should clear it up. Smash includes 2 primary buttons. Normal Attacks (A) and Special Attacks (B). Out of these attack buttons, you are able to form many different types of attacks depending on the which direction you are holding the control stick. Think of it as unique attacks in Street Fighter, but with every attack. If you add up all of the different attacks you can perform in Smash, it ends up being close to traditional fighters.
3. Having to alter the rule set in order to make the game competitive isn’t worth it, is stupid, takes too much time, etc.
A. Halo is a perfect example of a competitive game that heavily alters the rule set in order to make it as balanced as possible. Just because the default rule set has no stocks, all items and stages on, and so on, doesn’t automatically rule it out as a competitive game. As a matter of fact, these rule sets are normally set up on all stations before a tournament starts and are ready for the entire tournament. Button checks in traditional fighters take much more time than setting up a rule set once before everybody even starts playing. On top of that, having the freedom to alter rule sets allow us to take balance into our own hands. We all know about the many complaints in Street Fighter x Tekken about its timer. That’s a perfect example of why having a giant customizable rule set helps instead of hurts the community.
4. Smash was never meant to be competitive so therefore, it shouldn’t.
A. This is often said by those who haven’t done any sort of research. I’ll give a brief history lesson. Before Smash was created as it is on the N64, it was originally planned to be titled “Dragon King: The Fighting Game.” Somewhere along the line, they believed that adding Nintendo characters in replace of unique characters would help sell the game, which it did. We will never know if the wacky stages or ridiculous items were part of the original game plan, but from beta images it seems that those things were never implemented until after the fact that someone told Sakurai (the game’s director) that it should be Nintendo based instead of something unique. Either way, that didn’t stop Sakurai from adding competitive aspects to the game. L-Canceling (sometimes known as Z-Canceling) is a technique where you press your shield button a few frames after performing an aerial attack to cancel the lag completely in SSB64 or by half in Melee. Many people believe this was a glitch since there’s no mention of it in the game or its manual, but if you browse the original Japanese website of Super Smash Bros. 64, they discuss L-Canceling and how it’s performed. Wavedashing in Melee is something that is also believed to be a glitch. Sakurai has confirmed himself in an issue of Nintendo Power that he was aware of wavedashing during the development of Melee and decided to leave it in, probably for us to experiment with. The only reason they took it out was because they saw the movement advantages it gave advanced players and they wanted to shorten the gap between the casual players and the competitive players. It wasn’t until the development of brawl that they wanted to shorten this gap and basically destroy the competitive scene that we in the smash community all knew and loved.
5. The Smash scene wants approval from the Fighting Game Community.
A: I've only heard this here at Shoryuken. There are a few of us that play both games and will try to convince those who bash smash to rethink their statements, but that doesn't mean the smash scene wants approval from the Fighting Game Community. As a matter of fact, the smash scene has their own home at Smashboards.com and if you browse there regularly, you would see that the smash community is doing great at surviving on their own and no where is it mentioned that we want to merge with the FGC or Shoryuken in order to survive or gain popularity. The smash scene is perfectly fine with being their own independent community and by doing so, it works out much better in the long run.
6. The Smash scene is full of immature pre-teens and teenagers.
A: I can't speak on the behalf of Brawl as much as I can for Melee, but most of the Melee tournaments that I attend (some tournaments host Brawl and Melee), I am usually the youngest at 18. This statement about everybody being teenagers may have came a long time ago during the start of Smash, but everybody is pretty much grown up now and those who are getting into competitive Melee aren't younger kids because they have no interest in playing a 10 year old game. I would bet that if there was a survey done on the age groups that attend Smash tournaments, it would strongly center around the early twenties and late teens.
I plan on adding more to this thread when I start to notice more commonly used biased statements. The intention of this thread was not to convince those who bash the game that it's good, but rather inform those who are unaware about the game and avoid only having the biased people as a reference. If you haven’t given smash a try and are interested in trying something vastly different, I strongly suggest Melee if you like faster paced games or SSB64 if you like games with powerful, devastating combos, but keep in mind that due to not having support from developers, there is no ULTIMATE, TURBO, CHAMPION EDITION type expansions for these games and they aren’t necessarily the most balanced. That being said, the game is always evolving and characters that were once known as bad a few years ago have become good. It’s quite interesting how games can end up balancing themselves out. Experimenting with rule sets and stage bans also help keep the game fresh and help balance it.
If you have any questions about smash, I believe I have enough experience to answer whatever you would like to know. Try to keep this thread civilized with mature questions and responses. Those who post material that serves no contribution to the discussion will be reported. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope this article has helped those understand the game who didn't understand it before.