Season of Smash – August: Super Smash Bros. 64 [Smash Draft!]

[Updated 8/29/18]

Andrew and I recently decided to do a “Smash Draft” after I was inspired to do so by a similar feature being done on the Smash Bros podcast, Show Me Your News. Andrew and I took turns drafting characters to our “team”. The draft (which was a snake draft) went like this:

  1. Pikachu (Andrew)
  2. Captain Falcon (Brandon)
  3. Kirby (Brandon)
  4. Yoshi (Andrew)
  5. Jigglypuff (Andrew)
  6. Fox (Brandon)
  7. Ness (Brandon)
  8. Mario (Andrew)
  9. Samus (Andrew)
  10. Link (Brandon)
  11. Luigi (Brandon)
  12. DK (Andrew)

Andrew: Pikachu, Yoshi, Jigglypuff, Mario, Samus, DK
Brandon: Captain, Kirby, Fox, Ness, Link, Luigi

I felt pretty good about my crew. I stole Ness from Andrew because despite the fact that Ness isn’t that great in 64, Andrew is much better with him than me so I didn’t want him to have that advantage. I missed out on my boy Yoshi but was happy to have Fox.

The competition we decided to do was a “Smashdown” (the new mode from Ultimate) style one. We played a series of matches where we had to play at least one match with each of our characters before we could re-pick a character. Then we’d repeat that process where we had to play with at least each character twice before a character could be picked a third time. We played first to 10 wins was the champion. Additionally, the winner had to pick their fighter first so the loser could counter-pick, and the loser also picked the stage.

We learned pretty quickly that Dreamland was the only stage we felt comfortable playing in a high-intensity situation, as the rest of the stages have serious drawbacks. We started off pretty even, going back and forth. After the first “round” were were tied 3-3. After going up 4-3 on Andrew I had series of tough matches, losing with Kirby and Fox in particular, and I went down 7-4. After a few close matches I was now down 9-6. I quickly discovered that for one reason or another, I played better on Hyrule Castle than Andrew and kept picking that map. With the help of that map and some very close matches with my worst characters, I tied it up 9-9.

We played one final match with our best characters – Captain vs Pikachu. Andrew strategically picked Saffron City, one of my most hated maps, and along with good Pikachu play rode that decision to victory. The competition was a lot of fun and gave us the chance to play with each of our characters in a variety of situations. We are planning on switching teams and running the same thing back again before the month is over.

[8/21/18]

My brother (Andrew) and I are MEGA hyped about the release of Super Smash Bros Ultimate later this year. To celebrate the Smash Bros series, and further indulge our hype, we are planning on making the rest of this year the ‘Season of Smash’. We plan on playing a different Smash Bros. game every month for the rest of the year, leading up to Ultimate.

The schedule goes:

August: Super Smash Bros 64
September: Super Smash Bros Melee
October: Super Smash Bros Brawl
November: Super Smash Bros 4

Then the first week of December (before Ultimate) we will be replaying every game again one last time before Ultimate.

This month we are playing Smash 64! We will be posting our general thoughts on the game as well as our personal (casual) tier list based on our experience with the game. This post may be updated several times over the course of the rest of the month. Thanks for reading!

Brandon’s General Thoughts:

I played Smash 64 quite a bit as a little kid, though it’s not my favorite in the series. First impressions are that the game is still really fun, but unrefined. It feels like a prototype for what Melee just about perfected a couple years later.

The controls feel a bit stiff at times and some of the characters are absolute trash (I’m looking at you, Link). Then again we haven’t played a whole lot yet so that might change down the road.  I have some other more technical notes. The hitstun (how long you are “stunned” and cannot take actions after being hit) is crazy long in this game. No wonder pros can chain together sick combos.

Additionally the shieldstun (how long you are “stunned” when you are hit with a strong attack while shielding) is incredibly long as well. I think this is part of the reason the controls feel stiff; sometimes you can’t even grab out of shield after being hit with a strong attack before you opponent can move/hit you again. I don’t mind hit/shield stun overall; I don’t like how much Smash 4 (and maybe Brawl?) nerfed hit/shield stun for instance. But Smash 64 definitely feels like the extreme side of the scale.

Additionally recoveries are AWFUL in this game. It can be incredibly difficult to get back on the stage at times. Basically two characters have good recoveries: Pikachu and Kirby (no wonder they’re top tier competitively). A few others have mediocre recoveries: Jiggs and Captain Falcon. The rest of the cast’s recoveries SUCK. It can be so hard to get back on the stage. Again, I enjoy what edgeguarding adds to the game, but it feels a bit too hard to get back on the stage with most characters in Smash 64.

As a result of this and other factors, playing some characters can often be not fun. You often fight the stage more than your opponent with certain characters. For instance, Link’s recovery is God-awful. If you get hit off the stage you’re pretty much dead. His moves also feel slow. Below is my “casual” tier list as of 8/21, and some thoughts I have on each character.

“Top Tier”

  1. Pikachu: Fast, great recovery, fast and powerful moves, good projectile, powerful aerials. Feels like a Melee character in Smash 64’s universe. Really fun to play as and really hard to play against.
  2. Kirby: Great recovery, good aerials and grabs/throws. Abusive down-air that spikes.
  3. Captain Falcon: Fast, strong moves. Really fun to play as (I also really like Falcon in general). Falcon punch is awesome in this game. Only an average recovery but that is still better than almost all of the cast, lol.”High Tier”
  4. Jigglypuff: Abusive aerials, can juggle the frick out of other characters in the air. Decent recovery, not as good as Kirby’s. Quick, especially in the air.
  5. Yoshi: Would be higher if not for a really bad recovery. Doesn’t have an Up-B recovery, just his mid-air jump. The mid-air jump does cover a lot of distance and has super armor (can’t get knocked out of it) but if you lose your mid-air jump your’e toast. His aerials are really strong, and I love his multi hit down air. Good projectile, overall good grab. Fun to play as :)”Mid Tier”
  6. Fox: Honestly, it’s Fox. He plays similarly to other games. Pretty fast, though laser is pretty slow (I’m having a hard time nailing short hop lasers, I think they’re worse than Melee). Average recovery, reflector is great when playing with items. Running up smash is as good as the other games.
  7. Mario: Haven’t played him too much, but feels like a very average character. Average recovery, as the Up-B does take you some distance. Grab/throws are quite good, fireball is a good projectile.
  8. Ness: Aerials are good, PK fire is pretty good. Grab and throws are great like the other games. Recovery sucks. The Up-B is way harder to use in this game and doesn’t take you very far.
  9. Samus: Haven’t gotten to play her too much yet. Her B projectile is solid, her grapple grab can be awful (slow) and really good (crazy range). Not sure if she can bomb jump in this game, but without it her recovery isn’t great.”Trash Tier”
  10. Link: I wish he was better. Recovery is super super awful. Almost no vertical recovery. Not sure if he can bomb jump but haven’t figured it out. His bombs are pretty good otherwise, and the boomerang. But his attacks just feel slow. Grab is slow as well.
  11. Luigi: Haven’t played him much, but he just feels like a worse Mario. Recovery is even worse.
  12. Donkey Kong: Slow and terrible recovery. Might need to give him more of a chance but what I’ve played has not been good.

Onto the stages. Honestly most of the stages are fun party stages but brutal when trying to just 1-on-1. Here’s my ranking of best to worst stages. We haven’t unlocked Mushroom Kingdom yet so I will add that once we do.

  1. Dreamland: One of the best stages in all of smash, if simple. Also the least likely to kill you. Also the only stage legally allowed competitively, just as an FYI.
  2. Hyrule Castle: Really like this stage – love the Zelda music, interesting areas including a mini-cave of life on the right side. The ledges can be really finicky though – it will look like you can grab it and then you can’t.
  3. Yoshi’s Island: Big, but the ledges are normal and there isn’t a bunch of stuff trying to kill you here. Fun stage.
  4. Congo Jungle: Good stage but passing through the stage can be tricky. Also the barrel is a huge troll.
  5. Peach’s Castle: One of my favorite stages in Smash 4 but it is ruined in this game because you can’t grab any ledges. This makes it so easy to SD or get gimped.
  6. Sector Z: Big, and the Arwings are really annoying and very strong. Otherwise ok.
  7. Saffron City: I want to like this stage but the ledges are gimpy, the “alleys” between the buildings are very difficult to recover from and the pokemon can be annoying. Sometimes it is fun comboing your opponent into the pokemon though.
  8. Planet Zebes: Would be a great stage without the lava. As it stands, the lava is so fast and painful that you will be fighting the lava more than your opponent. At least that’s my experience, especially with characters with bad recoveries (which is most of the cast).

In terms of any other notes, one annoying thing is that you can’t turn items off until you’ve played 100 VS matches. In general, I don’t’ mind playing with items in Smash on occasion but when you want to play some decently competitive 1-v-1’s it’s very irritating to lose because your opponent had a hammer spawn on them on the last stock (looking at you Andrew).

Overall, don’t get me wrong, I love this game! I’m actually surprised by how playable it is today, and it is a really good time. But again, it’s very clear that Sakurai was able to make some huge improvements in the later games.

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