What Super Smash Bros Can Learn From AKI’s Wrestling Games

 I remember playing Karate Champ in the arcades and on the NES. It was fun, but it was too inconsistent. Too often, I would punch or kick my opponent only to be surprised that the hit was not registered by the game. Without reliably being able to convey my commands, there was no satisfaction for playing successfully. It seemed to be all up to chance whether or not my attacks would connect as opposed to relying on my actual skill at the game.

I'm kicking your FACE!

Moving forward to when I played Street Fighter II in the arcades and on the SNES, I finally felt the satisfaction of my input accurately being represented on the screen. In the beginning, I did not even know what a Dragon Punch was; instead I learned to rely on crouching fierce punches and sweeps. I remember hearing cheers from behind me as I won a match by accidentally performing a Dragon Punch when I intended to do a simple uppercut. From that point on, I transitioned from accepting simple, reliable moves to committing to learn the complexities of the game.

I went from casually playing fighting games, through being engaged in the combat, to obsessing over being able to pull of any move whenever I needed to perform it. I was young, and I had the time to train. Looking back, however, I wonder if my time Dragon Punching from one side of the screen to the other, over and over again, could have been better spent just playing through the game. When I played Street Fighter with my friends, we were always very competitive. It got to a point where it wasn’t really as fun as it was exhausting. I was happy when we started playing AKI’s wrestling games as they were just as competitive but allowed me to have more fun. How, by not forcing me to train my muscle memory in order to pull of the moves.

The control scheme for No Mercy allows you to use one universal list of inputs for all of the characters in the game. The moves are simple to perform, and they are accurately executed. At the same time, the same input will perform different moves for different characters. This allows for a wide variety of characters with a wide variety of moves without the need for complicated controls. Because of the implementation of timing for counters and the rock-paper-scissors depth to the striking-grappling-defending mechanics, the fighting can be very strategic. The result is a varied and complex, strategic fighter that can be played with a focus on what to do instead of how to do it.

The same concepts of controls, variety, and even the strategic elements can be found in Super Smash Bros. This allows for competitive play that is still very fun and intuitive without having to be stressful or tedious. If you think back to how you felt when you used to play No Mercy, or any of AKI’s wrestling games, and then think of how you feel when you play Smash Bros, perhaps you might notice some similarities. When comparing the two fighters, you may also notice a glaring disparity that has yet to be included in previous Smash Bros releases. That missing feature is character creation and customization.

There are likely other features that Smash Bros can and should look to No Mercy for such as combination moves for characters that have teamed up or having different “win” goals besides just using the number of ko’s or coins via the use of specialized match types. Also, both lack a co-op story mode. All of these pale in comparison to Smash Bros lack of character and move customization. Based on what was done in AKI’s games, it seems like a good practice to lock the move sets of the official roster. The magic is in having all of the different moves of all of the different characters at your disposal when creating your own characters. As we have seen with the weapon collection, combination, and items system in Kid Icarus, there is hope for a robust customization system in Smash Bros as well.

The move sets must be robust, but I’m not sure as to what kind of options we can expect in terms of character creation. Mii’s would be my first guess as to the type of characters that we may create in Smash Bros, but it might be a good idea to, say, copy over the Donkey Kong official character from his slot on the roster and paste him into a customizable slot, just like in AKI’s games. Then we could modify the move set using ones from other characters. This would allow us to not only make Mii’s with customized moves but also have personalized versions of each of the main characters too.

The addition of customization features in Smash Bros seems to be very likely thanks to Kid Icarus: Uprising. I would also like to see how Smash Bros can handle 3D depth of movement in the environments instead of always being 2D gameplay. No Mercy was not tethered to a 2D plane, so this might work. Again, Kid Icarus shows us that 3rd person gameplay through 3D environments is feasible. We’ll see just how far and how wide Sakurai wants to change the series. I’m confident that steps will be made in the right directions. It’s the giant leaps that I’m concerned about.

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