Debate of the Day: Why Aren’t There More Smash Bros. Style Fighting Games?

When Super Smash Bros. came out over a decade ago for Nintendo 64, I thought it had completely revolutionized fighting games. Gone were lifebars, and all that mattered was hurting your opponent enough to knock them off the side of the screen, or preventing them from reaching a ledge.

It was a perfect system because it was accessible for new players but tough for veterans as well. There were no traditional “combos” which would require a series of elaborate button presses to execute a single complex move, rather everything was just up, down, left, right B and A. But for advanced players, there was a way of stringing all these moves together in incredibly complex ways to beat your opponent into submission.

As the next two games came out, and became the best selling, most played games on their respective systems, I wondered why no one else was following Nintendo’s lead. Every new fighting game released stuck to the same old lifebar/super combo style, and I can’t recall seeing another title with Nintendo’s edge-guard type philosophy.

Surely this concept can’t be copyrighted, and I have absolutely no idea why Sony and Microsoft haven’t at least attempted to craft a similarly styled sort of fighting game with their own exclusive characters. I’m picturing Master Chief vs. Marcus Fenix vs. Johanna Dark vs. the Fable hero. Or perhaps in Sony’s case, Kratos vs. Sackboy vs. Cole McGrath vs. Nathan Drake. Guess appearances by Big Daddy, Ezio, Nico Bellic, Chell and Lara Croft.

Now, getting all those properties together would be a chore, but undoubtedly such a title would be a HUGE seller, and licensing aside, I still don’t understand why ANY fighting game hasn’t at least attempted to mirror the Smash Bros. style of play. Can you?

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  1. I guess it’s just a lot harder for other companies to get the rights to use the characters in any way they want. I mean, look at what a huge deal it was for Nintendo to have Snake & Sonic and the hassle that must have been. Now imagine having that problem acquiring every character on the roster without the benefit of two excellent games to convince them.

  2. Actually, a few other games have tried it. Power Stone for Dreamcast was one of the better ones, and it’s probably only Sega’s console death and subsequent friendship with Nintendo that’s prevented it from having a current generation iteration.

    I think a lot of the reason for no new games like this is the market. Like it or not, the CoD crowd is Sony and Microsoft’s current market. Fighting games in general are a very hard market to get success with since the fans of those genres tend to be pretty picky about game quality and mechanics. Even if you have a stellar title (for example, MvC3 or SF4), the sales number for those games would still be minimal compared to if they just slapped together some new skins and released CoD19: Even Modernerer. Nintendo pretty much has the market base to begin with (more casual gamers as well as nostalgia gamers with memories of SSB 64), and they have no reason to release anything that would compete with their first party title.

  3. This is a good question. As much as I like traditional fighting games (which is a lot), they still don’t hold a candle to smash bros in terms of fun. And I fully endorse items and weird gimmicky stages and playing as people other than the 3 iterations of Fox. I was a master with Pichu back in the day

    I think this could work if one game company took their own characters and made this game, rather than Microsoft or Sony making it, like a Marvel vs Capcom but with a different fighting system. Or just Marvel or DC characters could work (I know they sort of tried this with their Imperfects whatever, but they could try again)

    And also now that I think about it, a Smash Bros ripoff would be an awesome way to bring back the Darkstalkers series. Everyone is supernatural enough to justify all the Smash Bros weirdness

  4. I think Super Smash Bros has a unique formula that other games couldn’t copy even if they wanted to. Nintendo is known to appeal most to children, which is mainly due to their characters and light-hearted games. The fighting style of SSB works specificially because of the characters ytou play with. It wouldn’t feel right to have gameplay like that with, say, the characters from Tekken or Soul Calibur.

  5. This is something I’ve always wondered myself. SSB’s unique formula definitely makes the series stand apart from (and ahead of) other fighting franchises. I’m amazed other companies haven’t tried to imitate it.

    Even more important than the damage percentage/edge guarding dynamic is the awesome level of control that SSB offers players compared to other games. Unlike virtually every other fighter, SSB allows its players to move freely in an interactive environment filled with obstacles and dangers that can be taken advantage of. Don’t get me wrong, I love games like Soul Calibur, Mortal Kombat, and Marvel vs. Capcom, but they lack that interesting level of strategy because lateral movement in those games is so restricted.

    As far as the complications in making an all-star character mashup are concerned, McTimm makes a good point about why some companies probably haven’t attempted it. Acquiring many licenses would be a pain to do. While I agree that an ‘XBox Smash Bros.” or a “Playstation Smash Bros.” would be almost impossible, I think there are plenty of successful third-party developers out there that could make successful mashups with their own library of characters (Capcom is a good example). Mashups are always a good idea because they can convince fans of one series to check out another. For example, I had never considered looking into the Metroid games until I bought SSB64 based on my love of Mario, Star Fox, and Zelda. I soon found out how cool Samus is, and a new Metroid fan was born.

    I also agree with Jim in that trying to apply the SSB formula to existing franchises would be blasphemous. MK, SC, Street Fighter, MvC, and Tekken have all found ways to shine in their minimalistic environments and gameplay centered on attack buttons. Watching Chun-Li jump along the roof of a train or Yoshimitsu tricking Ivy into getting run over by a car just seems…wrong. That doesn’t mean, however, that new franchises couldn’t be created with SSB as their template.

  6. There are two games that are quite similar that I’ve tried… One is Ninja Turtles Mash-up (or something like that), and Onimusha Buraiden… But not as good as Smash Bros!

  7. Off the top of my head there were the digimon ones on PS1/2, the powestone games, the Ninja Turtles one from a couple of years back, and the Shonen Jump one wich is a Smash Bros type fighter featuring all the characters from Shonen Jump Mangas (Naruto, DBZ, One Piece, YuYu Hakusho) the Shone Jump one is massively popular but we’re never going to see it in the west due to licensing.

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