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Super Smash Bros.

Developer: HAL Labs | Publisher: Nintendo
Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 04/26/99 | Genre: Fighting

Have you ever wanted to see all of your favorite Nintendo characters go head-to-head in an all out melee? Well now you can with Super Smash Brothers! The intro cinematic scene looks magnificent (like the kind you would see in an arcade machine), though I do admit the storyline is a little confusing, plus their symbol at the start screen seems to be copied from Half-Life's Team Fortress Classic.

Accidentally trashed the manual? No problem! After the intro, there is a tutorial for you to watch and learn the basic functions of the game, including a few tips for winning. There is also a practice mode where you can control everything (from the opponent AI, to what items you want appeared, to the speed of the game). It takes about less than an hour to learn how to play. There is also information on all fighters and the games they starred in (a good way to study each character's strength and weaknesses).

The graphics and the frame rate in the game are incredible, proving that you can have arcade quality gaming without a RAM expander. What's different about this game compared to other fighting games is that they don't use a health meter, where you would normally pound the opponent until their health drops to nothing. Instead, Smash Brothers use a percentage system where each fighter starts off with 0%, but the percentage increases as they are being hit. The higher the percentage, the more likely they'll lose control and fly off the arena when they're hit again. This system works since the object of the game is to smash your opponent off the arena (thus the name Smash Brothers), and either make them fly off into the sky or make them smack into the ground. The only exception to this is the last level where your opponent starts off with 300%, and you must beat your opponent down to 0% (the last boss can not be knocked off the arena). The best part of the game is that you can't be cheap and just block all day. While blocking (using a special force field) prevents all damage from any attack, it shrinks as each second passes (shrinks even faster if the force field is under attack), and if the force field disappears, the unfortunate fighter faints. When the fighter gets back up it will be dizzy for a while, making the fighter helpless and completely vulnerable.

The arenas in the game are quite interesting as it corresponds to each fighter (Mario has Peach's Castle for example), and each arena has something special to contribute for the battle (like the moving bridge, bumpers, and ramps in Peach's Castle). The music is excellent, taking all of the old Nintendo game songs, and improving them dramatically. The sound effects should also be noted, because the commentary, fighting sounds, and the spectators cheering gives it a "tournament" feel to the game. The items in the game are lots of fun to toy with, such as the hammer from Donkey Kong (music for this weapon is included for all you Donkey Kong fans).

The points system is also worth mentioning. While you gain points for defeating an opponent, there are also extra points for the way you defeat your opponent. However, you lose points for continuing the game after you lost all of your extra lives, or if you were being cheap in the battle. The only flaw I can see in Smash Brothers is that it could use more levels, but there are many other things that keep the game fun, such as different battle modes in the single player portion (2 on 2, 3 on 1, 1 on 16, 1 on 30, etc.). There are also different battle modes in the multiplayer portion (Free for all, or Team Battle). And to top it off, there are bonus challenge levels and secret characters to get. This fast-paced fighting game is perfect for people of all ages, since there is no blood or gore. So who says a clean game can't be fun?

By Will Chiu - 08/20/99
ESRB Details: Animated Violence
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Screenshots for Super Smash Bros.

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