It’s finally here! It seems as if we have been waiting for Super Smash Brothers: Ultimate for years. The first trailer for the game released in March, and the hype has continued to build as subsequent announcements have trickled out over the months.
Don’t tell me you don’t remember Super Smash Brothers! The original game was released in 1999 (with this classic trailer) and quickly became a way to settle the playground debates over who would win in a fight among classic Nintendo characters like Mario vs. Link, or Kirby vs. Donkey Kong.
I played the original game, but my interaction with the series hit its peak with the second entry 1. My brother and I would spend countless hours playing the game. We wanted to unlock every character, stage, and secret the game had to hold.
When its sequel released during my high school years, I was saddened to learn that some of my favorite characters were cut. (How could they leave out Roy?) But I accepted the losses and still enjoyed the game.
Well, good news! One of the main announcements about the newest release is that: “Everyone is here!” And, for those of us with a connection to this series, that is a welcome proclamation. Every character from the previous four games in the series 2 is playable. That makes 63 returning fighters (how many can you come up with?), including those who were not available in the previous game.
So what gives? Why include of all these characters? Are they just tapping into our nostalgia for previous characters to rope us in for another round of the series?
We can be blinded by our nostalgia. Something about the memory of times past touches us and brings us back to another time and place, which is usually an idealized version of the reality. It gives us a little boost for a moment, and then we move on with our lives.
It’s fair to ask if the inclusion of so many past characters is an attempt to take advantage of our nostalgia. Given the meticulous care series director Masahiro Sakurai puts into these games, I sincerely doubt that this is just nostalgia-pandering to sell more copies. Nostalgia certainly is a factor, but it is not the only selling point they have.
This game is not just a remake of the original with all the characters thrown together. No- it is a chance to bring together past and present and create a new experience. Everyone who has played the game has their favorites: whether you first played fifteen years ago or five. Now more people can come together and engage their favorites on the same stage.
After all, these characters (even the non-Nintendo ones) mean something to us. Maybe you first loved Pac-Man or Donkey Kong at a local arcade. Maybe you remember childhood games of Street Fighter or Star Fox 64. Or maybe you grew up entranced with Sonic games.
Rather than take advantage of our nostalgia, I think this game is meant to celebrate everything that has contributed to the legacy of the franchise. Each character has helped to making the series what it is today.
In much the same way, when we look back on our lives, so many people have been influential in shaping us and making us into the person we are today. How great is it when we have the opportunity to bring many of those people together for a shared experience, like a wedding or a reunion? Sure, we tell stories about the past and recall times gone by. But we also make new experiences in the present, celebrating all that we have shared.
It is important to take that time to recognize the past, celebrate it, and, when all else fails…throw down against your best friend, because Wario is going down! So let’s enjoy the new game and have the ultimate experience.
Cover image courtesy of FlickrCC user Farley Santos.