I was in seventh grade when the first Super Smash Bros. game came out for the Nintendo 64. I had two best friends and two N64 controllers. We first bonded over Pokémon, and they came over to my house almost every Friday night. We stayed up late playing Pokémon on our separate screens and occasionally rotated controllers to play Mario Kart.
Then I got Super Smash Bros. and a third controller and everything changed. We were first drawn in by our love of the Pokémon characters, but quickly realized how much depth the game had. Unlike Mario Kart, this was the first time you could select from a cast of characters both in and outside of the Mario Bros. world.
We loved finding characters that represented our personalities and favourite games, and then switching them up for entirely new experiences. We learned about new franchises and marvelled at the ability to control a Pokémon directly without the barrier of a trainer. I loved mastering Fox and Link, two of my favourite Nintendo characters.
Then I got good with Ness, who I’d never heard of and had crazy controls and abilities. Once I’d mastered that challenge, I moved on to Jigglypuff and just punched the crap out of my opponents. Once I’d gotten good with all the characters, I started practicing fringe strategies like swallowing an enemy as Kirby and jumping off the edge or picking them up as Donkey Kong and hurling them off the screen. The possibilities felt endless, and that’s what kept me playing and playing.
Reviewers have called Smash Bros. Ultimate a love letter to video games, as it’s expanded the pool of characters and franchises tenfold, feeling truly limitless. But the original Super Smash Bros. is the true magic that started it all. It broke the impossible barriers between franchises and let us see that games could be so much bigger and varied than we ever thought possible. To my seventh grade self and my friends, it truly was limitless.
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