Jon Gracey's

Games That Rocked…Tom Livingstone’s World – #22: Super Smash Bros

In N64, Virtual Console on January 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Today’s article is by Tom Livingstone:


Title: Super Smash Bros

Format: N64, Virtual Console

Released: 19th November, 1999

As a child I was often alone. I recall a small dark room with no food or water…  I remember screaming.


Dramatic right?

Fear not intrepid game-blog reader, you haven’t stumbled upon a rough draft of ‘A Child Called It’ or some sweepy-fringed emo poetry. I’m merely setting the scene of my first memories as a gamer. I was alone because I would suffer no distractions. It was dark because I would do anything to avoid reflections on the screen. I was without food or water because my mother operated a strict no-snacks-upstairs policy. “You’ll only get Ribena everywhere,” she would insist. It was probably for the best; It wasn’t like I had time to eat or drink! Alex Kidd wasn’t going to save Miracle World on his own!

Many happy hours were spent avoiding pterodactyls, ploughing through frogs on my motorbike and screaming blue murder at the TOTALLY RANDOM(!) rock/paper/scissors boss battles. Always without food, always in the dark, and always alone.


As I grew up, things changed. I got a TV in my own room and managed to set it up so the window wouldn’t reflect onto the screen; thus my gaming sessions were bathed in light. I was eventually trusted to take snacks upstairs so I could now play with a sticky Ribena coated controller. And of course…the games got better. Sonic The Hedgehog II, Final Fantasy VII, Super Mario 64! I still gamed alone.

I discovered multiplayer slowly. Goldeneye… A race or two on Mario Kart… A link up Pokémon battle… But the game that changed everything was Super Smash Bros.


I got it for Christmas. Out of the blue. Normally my parents only got me the games I asked for to avoid a reoccurrence of ‘Nagano-Winter-Olympics-98-gate’ but they surprised me with this and I was excited.

On Boxing Day I rushed to my friend Dave’s house, the only other kid in the village with an N64. On my way there I bumped into another guy from the village, Ben – He was two years above me at school but we’d known each other for quite a while so it wasn’t too weird when I excitedly announced where I was going and waved the box in his general direction. “Can I come?” was all he said. A coincidence…

We arrived. After a quick catch up, Dave’s younger brother James appeared and asked if he could join in too! James had never showed any interest in gaming with Dave and I before. Another coincidence…

“Of course,” I said. “We’ll just have to take it in turns as we only have two controllers.”

“No,” said Dave. “I got a new controller for Christmas.”

Three controllers? Could it be? This was no coincidence. This was fate.

“And,” said Dave.


“Si left his spare one here last time so we have…”

FOUR CONTROLLERS. This was no ordinary fate… This was divine intervention – by Shigeru Miyamoto himself.

The next few minutes are a hazy blur to me but it came to pass (am I getting too epic here?) that the four of us were sat round Dave’s TV in his room, each of us clutching our own controller as Super Smash Bros. loaded up.

The menu options appeared – Single-Player or Multi-Player. It was the first time in my gaming life that I had not clicked on Single-Player first. This was a Multi-Player experience.


The game is simplicity itself. Take Nintendo’s eight most beloved characters (and four less beloved and therefore unlockable characters), stick them on one of Nintendo’s eight most beloved landscapes and have them kick seven shades of shit out of each other until there’s only one man, woman, fox, mouse, monkey or pink blob standing…

That first night was filled with a lot of laughter and bucket loads of those magic moments that multiplayer gaming is all about: Mario drop-kicking Pikachu off Hyrule castle. Fox McCloud taking pot shots at Donkey Kong across Saffron City. Link repeatedly stabbing Jigglypuff in the face with a sword. Glorious.

Time flew, as time tends to do on nights like that, but it wasn’t long before all four of us were back and playing again. And again. And again. Dave bought his own copy of Super Smash Bros. so he and James could train at home. Ben went out and bought a second-hand N64 just so he could practice.

Time rolled on and we began to master our characters of choice. Dave was Fox McCloud and could deflect almost any projectile with that godforsaken forcefield. Ben was Pikachu and could seemingly escape from any fall with his double zip jump (practically cheating, if you ask me). James was Kirby and liked to swallow people whole and commit suicide just to deny them victory. I was Link; deadly from above – There were discussions that my leaping strike, dubbed, by me, the ‘cleaver of courage’, should be banned. Eventually they just banned me shouting ‘cleaver of courage’ every time I used it.


We developed a language for the game: Shanking, skanking and drilling all mean things to the four of us that no one else could hope to understand, and I don’t say this to be obscure, I say this to try and convey some sense of the community that the four of us built up around this game.

By the end of the year we had spread our gaming wings and the four of us would play every multiplayer game under the sun, but we would always go back to Super Smash Bros. It’s what started it all.

I still enjoy being alone in a dark room saving the world on my own, but Super Smash Bros introduced me to something wonderful: Community gaming at its purest.

Today’s post was by Tom Livingstone, of the UK’s premier improv comedy troupe The Noise Next Door. @YellowNextDoor on twitter. He’s great.
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