You know those video games you can play over and over? For me it’s usually a game with a good storyline. I could play Telltale’s The Walking Dead until my thumbs bleed or Pokemon Mystery Dungeon over and over until my eyes fall out of their sockets.
Then there’s Super Smash Brothers, where the biggest story is probably the mystery of how all the characters aren’t immediately rushed to the nearest emergency room. No, there’s almost no story to speak of (let’s just not talk about the weird single player mode in the days of Brawl), but I would play Smash both until my thumbs bled and my eyes were falling out of their sockets and I’d still be like that little kid in the swimming pool – mom, just five more minutes?
This was the game of my childhood. From N64 to Gamecube to Wii, I would set myself up against three level nine computers and go to town. After a few rounds – maybe more than a few, ok – it’d be time for an all Pokeball round, then time for me as Princess Peach versus three Bowsers, then seeing how long I could survive on a stage even when the bombs start to fall from the sky, then countless matches on Final Destination against my brother.
From N64, to Gamecube, to Wii, to Wii U. A few days ago, I played Smash Brothers, the game of my childhood, on the Wii U for the first time (I know, I’m way behind the times). And I was kind of nervous.
But I sat down on the couch, plopped my token down on my main man Luigi, and 3,2,1, the verdict was in.
In fact, I almost forgot I was playing a different game, besides the Wii Fit Trainer kicking an overpowered green soccer ball around and the Villager’s incessant upcropping of trees.
And I was perfectly ok with that.
Like my grandma used to say – ok, not mine, but somebody’s grandma out there – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The old Smashes weren’t broke, for the most part. Cough cough, Meta Knight. So trying to add anything too revolutionary to the games wouldn’t have made sense to me.
I would be lying, though, if I said some of the choices of new characters didn’t baffle me.
Duck Hunt: My favorite of all the new characters, I would also be lying if I said I had any idea what his down B that makes the little man appear does. Or that I could stop myself from thinking of terrible animal abuse jokes when I was playing him.
Mega-Man: Ok, this one I understand. The fan base behind him was probably the biggest and seems to be a logical choice.
Pac-Man: I understand this choice too, I guess, but I was not too excited about it. Pac-Man to me was never really anything more than a hungry wheel of cheese perpetually chased by cheese-hungry monsters. And a game that can now be played on Google Maps. Really, try it. It’s nifty.
Little Mac: Little Mac, who are you?
Shulk: Sorry Shulk, I don’t know who you are either but you sound like something someone does when they aren’t in the mood for talking.
Lucina: I have similarly no clue about the origins or even the existence of this character. I think I skipped right over her when looking over new characters to play.
Palutena: Sorry pal, same story as Lucina.
Robin: Maybe Lucina, Palutena, and Robin were all hanging out somewhere else when I was playing. Signs point to the fact that they didn’t make a huge impact.
Greninja: Greninja is a super cool dragon ninja Pokemon that I was absolutely terrible with.
Charizard: See above statement. (Pokemon Trainer, where did you go? What did Wii Fit Trainer do to you?)
Wii Fit Trainer: Speaking of her/him, it’s another choice that leaves me scratching my head. I’m not sure why anyone thought this was a great idea – it’s not like he/she has a huge fanbase that would get people hyped for having them in the game.
Bowser Jr.: Wasn’t Bowser Sr. enough?
Dark Pit: …wasn’t Pit enough?
Villager: all I really wanted to do when I played Villager was plant a forest.
After maining Luigi on every previous console, I wasn’t disappointed with the Wii U’s version. I do miss his final smash – it seems he stopped dabbling in psychedelic drugs and busted out his Poltergust 5000 instead, perhaps to clean his mansion later. (I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that the only way Luigi could have gotten his own mansion is that he might or might not be a drug trafficker on the black market – Nintendo, can we talk a game and copyright deal here?) But I didn’t detect much dabbling in his overall playability, except that maybe the rate of misfire for over B is more frequent.
The most blatant upgrade to the game for me was the eight player capacity. Indeed, there was a large amount of general chaos and frantic comments along the lines of, “Where am I? Where am I? Oh, I jumped off.” Yet these were basically the exact same comments my friends and I would make when playing with four people, the comments were just multiplied by two. The more the merrier, in my opinion.
So my hands picked up that controller for the first time that day – the same hands that picked up the N64 controller for the first time when I was eight or nine – and I was not at all disappointed. There’s something about these games that transcends time. I could be that same annoying sister arguing with my brother that he’s playing cheap on either the N64 or the Wii U, and it would have felt the same. My hands on the controller might have been a little smaller or a little bigger, but in the end the result was that we’d have hours of battling back and forth on our fingertips and smiles on our faces. And that’s what these games are really all about. Well, ok, they’re also really all about beating each other mercilessly until you go flying off the screen. But besides that, as I’ve watched Luigi’s 3d model grow more refined over time (and myself grow more refined, too), I realized the sense of bonding that can happen over a really great round of Smash.
Super Smash Brothers Wii U, you’re not that different from your older brothers. But hey, like someone’s grandma used to say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.