Genre: Fighting
Year: 2008
Developed by: Sora Ltd.
Published by: Nintendo
Platforms: Wii
Feeling Like: Franchise of Brotherly Love

It’s unsurprising that it took 295 entries to finally get to a Smash Brothers title on the 500. If I had to pick a single franchise as my favorite multiplayer entity, it’s Smash.

I’ve always been lucky to be surrounded by like-minded friends. Most weren’t as nerdy as me when it came to video games, but a select few were close enough to engage in several marathon sessions a year. When it came to Eric, Dobbo, Kasim, Aslam, Fuzz, Randy and Dave, they were almost always on board. There really is nothing like a four player (or eight player in future iterations…) Smash session.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl was the weird in-the-middle child of the Smash series. The N64 version was the disruptive innovator, Melee improved upon every aspect and is still the preference for many professional players even today. The Wii U and Switch versions seem to have absolutely everything in addition to being in High Definition. Brawl is just sort of there.

I followed the development of Brawl with great interest, in particular the soundtrack. Every few days or so, they’d tease a new remix they’d created and promised a mammoth amount of music. They weren’t kidding; the entire soundtrack is nearly eight and a half hours long and a dream come true for any kind of video game enthusiast.

This might be my favorite version of Stickerbush Symphony.

The fact that you could customize the frequency in which songs would play on specific stages tapped into my OCD, hard. I knew my fellow players wouldn’t notice the difference at all.

But I would.

I remember the reveal of Solid Snake, from the Metal Gear Solid series, being the biggest surprise. The cast of characters was large, sure, but this was the first time we really saw a character that wasn’t known for being a Nintendonian in Smash. Not only was it exciting and funny to see Snake duke it out with the likes of Kirby (my boy!) and Pikachu, but it meant down the road we might see other surprise inclusions.

Sonic was also a massive, welcomed surprise. It feels natural now, aren’t Mario and Sonic destined to be rivals as much as Mario and Bowser? Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games broke the mold, but now we had what we really wanted; the blue hedgehog vs the Italian plumber, anytime we wanted. To even conceive of Sonic not being in future Smash titles seems as nonsensical as leaving Yoshi or Donkey Kong out.

We’ll go into the fundamentals of the series a little bit later on, and I can get away with that because the core gameplay has remained largely untouched. Presentation and bells and whistles have vastly improved, but somebody who has only played Super Smash Bros. Melee could easily pick up Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and not miss a beat. I like that kind of consistency.

More stages, more characters and an expanded soundtrack means this probably should be higher on the 500 but other Smash’s were newer, or I played more. Plus, this one had a tripping mechanic which, everybody agreed, is total bullshit. Thankfully it wouldn’t stick around for future Smashes.

It also came at a time after I’d graduated, so I didn’t have the advantage of having all my high-school and university friends at arm’s reach. Organizing Smash nights was fun and doable, but it was starting to become more of an effort and less frequent. Such are the downsides of growing up, but it did mean that when we did get a full party, it felt like something special.

Especially when the boys came to visit my first apartment in 2009. It truly felt like a reunion; we did our fair share of eating, drinking and lounging, but nights were reserved for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. We weren’t exactly nightclub type fellas, so getting some drinks and Smashing each other like we used to do in Sackville until 4am was the perfect reminder that this is one of the best party/fighting games ever made.

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