Do you remember the first time you saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit? After enjoying the cartoons of Disney and Warner Bros. your entire life, you knew two things:
- Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny will never appear on screen at the same time.
- It’s not ok to be sexually attracted to a cartoon.
Roger Rabbit blew both of those unbreakable rules clear out of the water by putting all of our favorite cartoons --and a few new ones like Jessica Rabbit *me-ow*-- on the same silver screen.
Unfortunately the feelings of nostalgic euphoria elicited by Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, could never be duplicated by a video game. With the many developers, publishers and companies involved with the release of even just a single game, the amounts of legal bullcrap a game company would have to go through to include characters from several companies in one game is ridiculous. Why, we’d have to have a game company that’s existed for over a century and practically invented what we think of a video game today. It would have to be a company so ubiquitous in the video game world that its history includes all of the classic game franchises and characters of our youth. A company that has triumphed over every single other game company for generation upon generation putting out classic after classic and practically building the foundation of what many gamers have grown to be as human beings. Thankfully Sony is finally putting out the long awaited PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale to accomplish just this!
WAIT NO, DON’T LEAVE I’M KIDDING!
I’m of course talking about the Super Smash Bros. series. Just like when I saw the scene in Roger Rabbit where Donald and Daffy Duck (no relation) battle on stage during a rendition of the Second Hungarian Rhapsody by Franz Liszt, I lost my mind the first time Mario threw a Pokeball. The most important and influential video game company in existence put out a series of games that exists solely as a celebration of its past. While a solid fighting/party game, Smash Bros.’s real draw is in the little touches. And it’s a game franchise entirely made up of little touches. Nods and references pervade the series making it the biggest piece of fanservice ever released in any medium. Some make you drop the control and exclaim “I remember that!" and others just elicit a nod and a “hmm. Nice touch.” Here are some of our favorite little touches and Easter Eggs in the Smash Bros. series.
10. Alternate Color Palette
Like most fighting games, the Smash Bros. series allows players to swap their characters’ colors to another predefined pallette for a bit of customization. Some of these are just random other sets of colors, but others sort of become hidden characters of their own. For instance Mario’s yellow suit turns him into an ersatz Wario, who wouldn’t be playable til Brawl. Kirby can be swapped to the black and white version just like his first appearance on the Game Boy. All of the Yoshi colors resemble actual playable versions of the dino from Super Mario World and Yoshi’s Island. Mario has a couple more like the red and white fireflower costume and the red/blue swapped suit just like he appears on the cover of Mario 2 on the NES and in some early promotional material.
9. Mario 128
In addition to the campaign and multiplayer modes, Melee introduced challenge missions to extend gameplay. Some replicated iconic Nintendo scenes like Mario and Peach vs. Bowser or Link vs. Ganon. Others just featured objectives that ranged in difficulty. One of them was called Mario 128 in which you fought 128 Marios in one round. You may remember Mario 128 as the unproduced Super Mario 64 sequel that eventually became Super Mario Sunshine. All we ever saw of it was the above video. Though in some people’s eyes Sunshine was too much of a departure from the Mario formula and doesn’t count as a true sequel. To those people I say shut the hell up.
8. Sonic and Snake Voice Actor In-joke
This one actually makes no sense in America. Two characters we never expected to see in a Smash Bros. game were Sonic the Hedgehog and Solid Snake. By some cosmic gift to nerds both of these iconic game protagonists were featured in Brawl. In Japan Snake is voiced by Akio Otsuka. Otsuka’s father, Chikao Otsuka, voices Dr. Eggman and Big Boss from the Sonic and Metal Gear franchises respectively. When Snake calls Otacon while fighting Sonic he mentions that something about Sonic doesn’t sit right with him. This is a fun joke in Japan, but is lost on American players.
And this leads us to our next entry.
7. Including Sonic and Snake
Sonic made a bit of sense at the time. Despite a decade of console wars still fresh in our minds, Sonic and his friends were now basically property of Nintendo. After Sega imploded after several console failures Nintendo helped to put them back on their feet. That’s why there were suddenly Sonic games all over the Gamecube. Before that a Sega game on a Nintendo console was nigh unheard of. But Snake’s Nintendo connection had become tenuous at best. The original Metal Gear was ported to the NES, as was the fake sequel that series creator Hideo Kojima had nothing to do with. Ports of Metal Gear appeared on the Gameboy Color and Gamecube, but Nintendo didn’t own the character. But in response to fan outcry, both of these characters made it to Brawl showing how open-minded Nintendo was about the series and the lengths they’ll go to to please fans. And it gives us a glimmer of hope for Mega Man.
6. Motion-Sensor Bomb Trophy
If a trophy in Melee or Brawl is taken from an existing Nintendo game, credit will be given where it’s due. But the Motion-Sensor Bomb trophy simply states its parent franchise as “TOP SECRET.” Obviously this item comes from one of the N64‘s most beloved games in its library, Goldeneye 007. I guess Nintendo had some issue working around the James Bond license or something in the US and Europe, but they found a cool way that still works for fans. In Japan the item is called Proximity Mine and comes from another N64 classic Perfect Dark.
5. Reflections in Trophies
As you collect more and more trophies you’ll be able to examine and pose them in different modes. Zooming in on some of them reveal some cool things like Princess Daisy’s hidden third eye. But as for intentional Easter Eggs, some of the shinier trophies reflect secret images that you could only really notice if someone pointed it out. Metal Mario’s statue reveals a reflection of the Yoshi’s Island stage and in the Metroid trophy you can see the Ceres Station lab from Super Metroid.
4. Masahiro Sakurai's Cat
In the Ice stage of Pokémon Stadium 2 when the camera is angled just right you can see a poster of a cat inside the shack. Apparently this is a photo of game director Masahiro Sakurai's cat that he hid in there himself.
3. Nintendo Consoles in the Trophy Room
This one might be my favorite. When looking at your trophy collection in Melee, they appear to be sprawled out in a living room. On the far way is an entertainment center with every major Nintendo console set up. In the N64 sits a copy of the original Smash Bros. The Japanese version features a Famicom and Super Famicom on the shelves, while the US edition has an NES and Super Nintendo.
2. Japan Time
When the Wii was released, a new Smash Bros. game was inevitable. It had been years since Melee and Nintendo’s pantheon of franchises had grown exponentially. We knew the game would be way bigger and would feature even more characters than Melee. But which ones? Nintendo started a site called the Smash Bros Dojo that trickled out info about the upcoming Smash Bros. sequel. Every weeknight at midnight PST the site would be updated. This became known online as “Japan Time.” Sometimes it was a new character, but usually it was something like an assist trophy or a stage that would be featured. This helped to keep the already huge hype alive until the game’s release.
Even though Nintendo has the majority of major video game franchises under their umbrella, including hundreds of characters near and dear to gamers across the world, the company is about so much more than that. We have Mario and Samus playable, but Smash Bros. also encompasses things like the Superscope and R.O.B. the robot, two peripherals that technically aren’t even from a game. Familiar locations and music are featured to moisten your nostalgia glands and do else. And that’s just fine. Sometimes nostalgia for nostalgia's sake is a good thing. Most license crossover fiction create some hackneyed plot about a dimensional rift, but Smash Bros. just gives us out action figures and lets us bang them together to settle schoolyard bets about who would win. Smash Bros. is exactly what every gamer has wanted since controllers had less than four buttons. And no company can replicate what this series has accomplished. Not even Sony.
What’s your favorite Easter Egg, reference or neat little touch in Smash Bros.?