Saturday, February 22, 2014

Super Smash Bros: Nintendo's Undercover PR Machine

You love Super Smash Bros. I love Super Smash Bros. Even people who don't like video games love Super Smash Bros! Everyone loves seeing their favorite Italian plumber and pointy-eared adventurer duke it out. But it's not just the big names like Mario and Link in SSB. The first time many of us played the game, we had no idea who Ness or Captain Falcon were. Heck, some first-time SSB players back when the original was released in 1999 didn't even know Samus was a chick. But those characters have earned a place in our hearts, and their games have gone on to become popular in their own right.

When EarthBound was finally released on the Wii U Virtual Console last year, it was a huge deal. Some of it was due to the game's cult status, but most people rejoicing had never touched the game before. Most players' familiarity with the game and its characters comes from Super Smash Bros. Nintendo, master of nostalgia, has this sneaky way of using Super Smash Bros. to make us nostalgic for games we never even played.

Super Smash Bros. hooks us in with its big-name characters, but it uses the game to introduce the company's more obscure and dormant series. Fire Emblem had never seen a Western release before Marth and Roy showed up in Super Smash Bros. Melee, but once the characters found a devoted fanbase in Melee, suddenly we got a whole slew of Fire Emblem titles released outside Japan. There hadn't been a new Kid Icarus game in over two decades, but once its protagonist Pit appeared in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, his popularity prompted Nintendo to create Kid Icarus: Uprising for the 3DS in 2012.

Super Smash Bros. is, along with Mario Kart, by far the most commercially successful crossover Nintendo franchise. It appeals to both hardcore gamers and the casual crowd. It's a love letter to Nintendo games, with its trophies and extras effectively serving as a Nintendo encyclopedia. But in many ways, Super Smash Bros. is simply a marketing vehicle for Nintendo's B- and C-list franchises. That's not a bad thing. Tons of creative new games have come to fruition due to characters' popularity garnered in SSB.

We're all dying to learn which characters will join the lineup of the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U. I'm excited for the game itself, but I'm even more excited about what the new SSB lineup means for Nintendo's lesser-known series. Little Mac from Punch-Out!! has already been revealed; what other characters from less famous series would you like to see in the new Super Smash Bros?

No comments:

Post a Comment