One of the biggest smash hits of the N64 era - and still a popular multiplayer romp today - is the original Super Smash Bros. The game's captivated fans since its wacky '99 TV spot - which showed 4 live-action Nintendo mascots cheerfully skipping through a garden before wailing on eachother. Since then, this mammoth party-fighter has only ballooned in popularity, and the franchise is still going strong on the Switch.
The game certainly comes with some interesting factoids - as you might expect for such an off-the-wall fighter from Nintendo and HAL Laboratory. The history surrounding this iconic brawler proves as rich and unique as the Nintendo lore injected into the game itself.
With that said, let's trace this smashing fighter back to its simpler, humbler beginnings as we examine 10 things you never knew about the original Smash Bros.
10 A Sequential Character Selection Screen
When looking at the history of Smash, one finds a great deal of thought, effort, and decision making went into the project - even the placement of the fighters on the selection screen!
Each of the game's original 8 characters are all listed (from left to right) in the order that they made their debut on the gaming scene. Mario and Donkey Kong are, of course, the oldest Nintendo characters, debuting in 1981. Then you have 1986's Link and Samus, Yoshi in 1990, Kirby in '91, Fox in '93, and the two Pokémon in 1999.
The unlockable characters are also listed in relative order amongst themselves. Luigi was created in '83, Captain Falcom in '90, and Ness in '94.
9 Exclusive Samus And Ness Appearances On N64
Despite largely being considered one of Nintendo's "Big 3" franchises, the Metroid series went through a bit of a hiatus during the N64 era. As a matter of fact, there was a planned game featuring Nintendo's famous space bounty hunter for the 64-bit era. However, the plans dissolved citing a "lack of ideas" on Nintendo's part. Thus, Smash Bros is the one and only instance in which Samus appears on the N64.
Slightly less surprising given the obscurity of his franchise (but no less disappointing), this is also the only game where you can find Ness on Nintendo's 64-bit machine.
8 Avoiding A Lightsaber Lawsuit
Fans of both Nintendo and Star Wars might have noticed an uncanny similarity when it comes to one of Smash's most famed weapons; the Beam Sword. Its resemblance to the iconic Jedi weapon - the Lightsaber - seems rather obvious.
But as it so happens, this laser sword in Smash Bros had, at least in the Japanese version of the game, even further resembled the item with a similar humming sound. Given that the release of Smash wasn't far off from that of The Phantom Menace, Nintendo and HAL tweaked the sound effects when swinging this weapon to be more distinct. After all, the company didn't want to be on the receiving end of a lawsuit from one of the largest movie studios in existence.
7 Almost Didn't Make It To The West
During the weeks of the game's release in Japan, Nintendo actually didn't plan for this smash hit to span past their shores. Thanks to an emphatic statement by the market, which gobbled the game up in droves, the company opted for an international version, after making a few tweaks to better fit Western sensibilities.
It's odd to think that Nintendo had reservations about widely distributing what's become one of their biggest gaming franchises. Yet, looking through the lens of the late 90's, when Nintendo games were even more kid-friendly than they are now? It makes some sense that they'd be hesitant to release a game featuring their flagship characters beating each other up.
6 The Only Kid-Friendly Smash Bros.
Ok, so the Smash Bros. series is no Mortal Kombat in terms of its gratuitous violence. Though, comparatively speaking, each of the Smash entries that followed the N64 original was deemed unsuitable for all ages - at least according to the ESRB.
The first Smash Bros. game is actually the one and only title to be stamped with an all-encompassing "E" rating. The latest two games for Wii U and Switch earned an "E10+" mark - though the original likely would have earned this as well, had the rating existed in '99. Meanwhile, the apparently more edgy Melee and Brawl got slapped with a "T."
5 Original Credit Sequence Inspired By A Disney Ride
You might find the interactive shooting credit scene that follows a completion of Smash's solo mode to be a unique take on end credit rolls. But supposedly, game developer Masahiro Sakurai wanted to make this even more chaotic and interactive. He was actually looking to somewhat mimic - of all things - Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.
The goal was to have a similar on-rails experience where various characters would pop out, after which the credit names would emerge and exploded when shot. After pondering this creative decision, Nintendo decided that blowing up the names behind Smash Bros' creation could come off the wrong way. Thus, they dialed back this concept, leading to the SCHMUP-like sequence that made the final cut.
Though, you can still see a touch of this influence - with the fluid, ongoing movement of the names in a 3D space.
4 Nintendo's Ex-President Worked On The Game
You may know the legendary Satoru Iwata as Nintendo's influential president during much of the 2000s, and one of the driving forces behind the DS and Wii phenomena.
Yet, he was also a lead developer at HAL Laboratories; the studio behind the Smash Bros. mega-hit. Not only this - but Iwata, along with Sakurai, had been one of only 3 creators that developed the original Smash in its early stages. It's not surprising why he'd be asked to take the reigns of Nintendo, given the monumental success that his endeavors often led to.
3 Miyamoto Was Not Amused
Iwata certainly deserves credit in more ways than one. Not only did he help spearhead one of Nintendo's most lucrative gaming IPs - but his drive and corporate defiance might be the reason it even exists.
The designer of the kid-friendly properties that make up Smash Bros' roster, Shigeru Miyamoto, was none too thrilled about his creations punching each other. But Sakurai and Iwata were determined, and secretly went ahead with the project. After showcasing the game's potential by cranking out a popular demo, Miyamoto and Nintendo wisely reconsidered and released the project.
2 Choice Of Characters Largely Because Of Restraints
It's amusing to look back on this series' simple origins and its meager 12 characters - given Smash Bros. Ultimate's monstrous 70-plus player roster.
However, the conditions surrounding the making of the first Smash proved far more limiting in terms of time and resources. This is the reason we're given such a slim and relatively simple lineup of fighters in the final build. Most characters - like Kirby and Mario - were used from recycled assets. Meanwhile, Samus and Captain Falcon share similar mechanics and were modeled off fighters used in an early build.
In fact, additional characters like Marth, Bowser, and King Dedede were also planned but had to be scrapped because of these limitations.
1 Pepsi Man-equins
Sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction...
What eventually evolved into Smash Bros. was, at one point, slapped with the tag "Pepsi Man." What's the relation between this prominent cola brand and a Nintendo-based fighter?
Well, early builds of the game actually featured silver, ambiguous looking figures rather than Nintendo characters (not unlike the Fighting Polygon Team; but smoother). These featureless fill-in fighters resembled the Japanese mascot for Pepsi, "Pepsi Man." This metallic-looking figure was the face (or lack of a face) for the beverage in the Land of the Rising Sun, and was featured in various commercials.