Bad Games That Should Have Been Great: Super Smash Bros. Spinoffs

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Hey everyone, guess what comes out this February. Killzone 3! Ha ha just kidding (but not really) even before that, it’s Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. I know I’m excited. It’s been approximately a decade since its predecessor was unveiled and subsequently preceded to dominate the Arcade market on a worldwide scale. Even to this day, it is easily my second favorite Fighting Game franchise. Why second? Because as much as I love how MvC does what it does so well, my allegiance has always been to another franchise, that, in my opinion, has reinvigorated the entire fighting genre, given it a whole new style of play, and is easily the most original of it’s kind.

I'm looking at you, HAL Laboratories.

So yeah, this may sound like a broken record on this site, (especially since Chris has wrote on his love for this game just last year.) but I love Super Smash Brothers. But what I don’t get is after years and years of the three games in this series being best sellers, why in the world have we not seen any other fighting game franchises learn from its example and make their games more like this one. Well, the sad answer is that what little we have, has yielded some underwhelming and quite disappointing results. So here’s my take on spinoffs of Super Smash Bros: Bad Games That Should Have Been Great.

Digimon Rumble Arena 2

Nefertimon vs. Greymon vs. Gomamon vs. Biyomon… in Tinker Toy-Town. Why am I not excited dammit?!

Now here’s one my brother and I bought on launch day. See, we played the predecessor for this game back on the PS1, and while it wasn’t anything spectacular, for a one-on-one digimon fighter, it wasn’t too bad. The roster didn’t have everyone, but a pretty good balance of the most popular characters from the first three (all three at the time) seasons. There were very few attack variations, but they implemented the digimon’s specials in very interesting ways. When we heard that the sequel for the GameCube would implement four player brawls, it was more than enough to get our young naïve minds to fork over the money. So we get it and… I guess we liked it. We played it solid for like three months at most before going back to Melee.

In hindsight, I have a lot of problems with Rumble Arena 2. Gameplay wise, it became much easier to spam characters that got knocked down. While there were a lot more attacks, they were way more repetitive. Also it played on a health meter instead of the damage meter I love in SSB that works so well and gives a sense of weight to everything. In terms of characters selection, while there were a lot of new ones, there were also several from the first game that were taken away. Instead of having a good balance of digimon from all seasons (or going the extra mile and giving us everyone), this time they just had all the partner digimon from Season one, then just only one partner digimon from each of the following seasons. The battle maps, while all colorful and creative, were very few in total. The supposed digivolution of the series just became a digi-dud.

TMNT Smash Up

Just another half-baked shell.

Now here is something that is even more disheartening. While Digimon Rumble Arena 2 was made by some third party company that banks on making cheap licensed games, TMNT Smash Up was made by the same group of people that worked on Super Smash Bros Brawl (in fact that was the huge selling point). One of the most creative and unique comic franchises made into a fighter by the same guys that made one of the most creative and unique fighting games of all time? That’s just a recipe for amazing, right? Of course those same creators forgot one very crucial ingredient this time around:

Effort.

Seriously, what a wasted opportunity. After my experience with Digimon, I was very careful to look closely before I attempted to buy this game. I haven’t actually played it, but if Chris’ response of the game is anything, you can see how underwhelming it was for a Turtles fan. From what I can see, this game was made to cater to fans of the most recent TMNT style of the Turtles, which makes absolutely no sense to me. Why? Why would you do this? The biggest group of hardcore gamers out there right now would have grown up watching the late 80’s cartoon and played Turtles in Time. If I’m going to buy a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fighting game, then gosh darn it, I better have the opportunity to play as Bebop and Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman, The Rat King, Metalhead, Leatherhead, Tokka and Rahzar, Groundchuck and Dirtbag… who else am I forgetting? [Pranger’s Note: These guys.]

Well there goes two fractions of my childhood down the drain. I’m starting to wonder if another brawler half as good as Smash Bros is even possible.

Wait? You mean this actually exists? What the hell Japan?!

Any of you still unaware of what Shonen Jump is, it’s essentially a genre of Japanese cartoons and manga that are strongly based around combat and fighting. The list includes (but is not limited to) Bleach, Dragon Ball, Naruto, One Piece, Rurouni Kenshin, Shaman King, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Yu-Gi-Oh (Yes, even though all the fights are children’s card games, Yu-Gi-Oh is considered Shonen). Now any one of these series alone has enough characters, locals, and move sets to have its own fighting game (of which several of them do), but to have all of them in one game with four player brawls and Super Smash Bros levels of vitality, well that’s got to be a dream come true. Turns out that dream is real and has a name: Jump Super Stars with a sequel called Jump Ultimate Stars for the DS.

I have never played this series, and probably never will. But I can tell you right here and now that it sucks. It is more than disserving of its place at Bad-Games-That-Should-Have-Been-Great for one reason and one reason only: it never got an international release. I don’t understand. Why? Does Japan really think that a game made of all Japanese manga characters won’t sell in any other place than Japan? You know, if your game has Goku, Naruto, Yugi, Ichigo, and Luffy all on the front cover, I’m pretty damn sure it’s going to sell almost anywhere.

See? That looks wicked fun. Not fair.

With that, here’s my plea to developer Ganbarion and Nintendo their publisher: If you guys plan on making a third installment to this series for the 3DS in the near future, please please PLEASE reconsider and release it here in the states. I have never really gotten into the handheld market, but if something like this was on the 3DS, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. And if you guys decide to make a console version for the Wii, Bonus Stars!

[Pranger’s Note: The reason why Jump’s awesome all-star fighter games can never come over to the US is all due to copyright laws, or specifically, international copyright laws. Reason being, while Jump owns the rights to all these series in Japan, they don’t all share a US publisher, meaning there’d have to be a lot of deals made that’d cost way too much money. Therefore, the only method of playing these games is via an import or finding it at a super awesome electronics store like Fry’s.]

Anyway, thanks Pranger for stealing that thunder…better wrap things up. While I’m sure there have been other franchises that may have tried to implement the Super Smash style into their fighter game, I just haven’t found one I truly like. Some of you might be asking why I’d even care. If Smash Bros. is such an amazing game, why would I want something like that being copy-catted all over the place? Why can’t I be happy with just that one? Well not to sound stingy for anything, but I don’t want this trend in fighting games to die once Smash Bros. is gone. And I truly believe there are tons of franchises out there that are vast enough and have plenty of variety to create some epic battle royales. But hey, I’m sure you do too. So tell me, what game/movie/comic/cartoon series do you want to see get the SSB treatment?

P.S. Dragonball and Naruto are both off limits. They have seen more than enough games for one lifetime.

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