Super Smash Bros: The Accidental Party Game

ESPORTSREPORTER.COM / FRANK FILIPPAZZO – STAFF WRITER / JULY 20TH, 2021 /

In life, sometimes things don’t always go as planned. When they don’t it can be quite a disappointment, however not all the time. The inventor of play-do-oh planned for it to be a cleaning supply. However, when it wasn’t selling, it was rebranded and dyed as a child’s toy. Super Smash Bros Melee was quite like that in that regard. Japanese game designer and the creator of the Smash series, Masahiro Sakurai stated that Super Smash was intended “to be a party game” between friends and family who just want to play casually.

When the first Smash game, Super Smash Bros (1999) was released there were no competitive tournaments to play. For the most part, it was a casual game for people who didn’t use a lot of skill to play. Tournaments didn’t start until the second installment of the series, Super Smash Bros Melee (2001). The birth of the tournament scene started with the Tournament Go (TG) series in 2002. Later MLG, EVO, and Apex would add Melee to its lineup in the competitive video game scene.

What drove these tournaments forward was the competitive nature of pure skill versus pure skill. It’s fun to watch pros duke it out who are on top of their game. Super Smash Bros or Smash was only intended to be a party game between friends, never an international competitive competition that it has now become. The party game, turned-competitive-eSport, was a huge success.

Although Sakurai hoped it would be a party game, he wasn’t wrong for doing so. A party game means being inclusive to everyone, no matter their skill level. Whenever there is competitiveness added to something fun it becomes less fun and more tense, ruthless, and stressful. However, with a party game, there is none of that because there are no high stakes on the line. Since its release, Sakurai always wanted the game to be more accessible to casual players. Sakurai always knew of its competitive side but was hoping there could be a more playful side. Although it did not turn out a party game completely, there are still moments of party-game-like qualities. Qualities that show fun, friendly competitiveness, most times.

Skill differences

In Mario Kart and Mario Party, there are little skill differences that separate the pros from the newbies, however, in Smash Bros it is more clear who has the edge in terms of skill. 

TI is less fun for the casual player when a competitive side is added to it. For instance, say a competitive player versus a casual player. From the start, it is clear that the two are at very different skill levels. The casual player can not even land a hit on the competitive player’s falcon. After a while of playing it becomes boring and a turn-off for the casual player. Sakurai was hoping this could be avoided by not making it so competitive. Competitiveness makes things less fun and more tense. What makes games like Mario Kart and Mario Party fun is the lack of skill differences and competitiveness these games require. That is not to say it is in video games alone. Party games like; scrabble, beer pong, charades, dominos require little skill, which can be more inclusive for people with low-level skills.

But sometimes competitiveness makes things more interesting.

Armada & Mango

One of Super Smash Bros biggest rivalries, Armada vs Mango. The two’s semiotic relationship lasted nearly a decade long, kicking off from 2009 to 2018 when Armada retired. Mango was seen as a representation of the US and Armada, Norway. Fans from both sides would hype up their games even more than the average competition. Their rivalry started when Armada, completely unknown, came from Europe and beat this already established pro figure, Mango, in their first match. In their second match, Mango would avenge himself, beating Armada, then the two would continue to go back and forth until, In their last match at EVO 2018, Armada beat Mango, ending a decade-old rivalry in style. Their back and forth rivalry made the game much more fun to watch for the viewers.

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