MDb Review: Smash Bros.: by TJ

Although we never got a Metroid game on the Nintendo 64, at least Samus did make an appearance on the console. Along with all of Nintendo's other superstars -- Mario, Link, Kirby, Pikachu, et al -- Samus entered an all-star battle royale and made her fighting game debut.

HAL (the second-party developer of Smash Bros. and its sequel) did a good job of capturing the vibe of each character's respective game series. Each stage is a location from the one of the characters' games, with appropriate musical accompaniment. Certain levels present added challenges -- the Zebes level features rising lava which can definitely mess up your strategy should you get caught in it.

Characters' attacks are likewise either straight out of the games (Samus' bombs, Kirby's vacuum breath) or punch-and-kick attacks which exploit a characters' strength or weakness (eg, Donkey Kong has strong physical attacks, yet Kirby has a short reach). The control in the game is fair; it's typical limited fighting-game control, so don't expect Super Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time-type command of your character. Pulling off certain types of attacks consistantly takes quite a bit of practice, as it does with any fighting game. However, I have a problem with the use of the N64's analog or 3D stick for this type of game. I don't like the stick much in the first place (it always felt chintzy and fragile to me), and in my opinion, it's not an appropriate tool for a fighter. I realize others disagree greatly, but my thumb wouldn't lie to me.

Graphically, Smash Bros. delivers an average production. Characters like Mario, Link and Pikachu look much the same as they do in Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, and Pokemon Stadium/Pokemon Snap, respectively. What's interesting is that this is the only place to see N64 renditions of characters such as Samus and Ness (of Earthbound/Mother fame), since games in their series were never released on the system. Stage graphics are pretty well done, but with considerable fuzziness in the backgrounds, simultaneously giving illusions of both depth and glaucoma.

For a system with a limited number of truly good games, Smash Bros. is a definite must-have for any Nintendo 64 owner. However, the game is basically only a warm-up for its sequel, Smash Bros. Melee (DX), which is superior in every way.