Alongside Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, Super Smash Bros was a game on the Gamecube that was completed and then completed again, until all characters were unlocked. This was completed solo and for those who remember the 2001 game, you needed to complete 1,000 battles in order to unlock the final character, Mr.Game and Watch. Something that was completed by myself and myself alone, with no friend input.
To say that you can get 100 hours from the game would be an underestimate. Two sequels have followed melee out the door and the most recent, Ultimate, still sits on the side, calling out to be played. It hasn’t got the pull that melee had but that maybe that’s because there is less time available time each day to play or because there is more competition. The important consideration here is the original, melee, which was an addictive fighter that never took itself too seriously.
Never a dull moment
By limiting the battles to a few minutes each and ensuring that each map was contained inside a limited square area, you made sure that encounters were exciting and frantic. Never to the point of ridiculousness but more than enough to keep you playing.
To get good, you needed to fail many times, whilst ramping that difficulty up and not relying on downward Y to use Pikachu’s best attack. Variation was key and requiring you to play 1,000 battles to unlock all the characters ensured that you played every character, getting to know their individual skills.
This should have been the plan but 1,000 battles seemed rather a lot to me and so an alternative idea was formed in my mind. One that got around the need to play through every battle.
1,000 battles for Mr.Game and Watch
You could tinker with the settings in the background, as you can these days, with any self-respecting game. So rather than setting the battles for a standard three-minute bout, with unlimited lives, you could set them for one life only, sudden death. To unlock them all normally would have taken me and a friend more than two days with two controllers and that is assuming that we didn’t sleep or eat. It was something that in my head, would take too long and therefore, condensed the experience.
Loading battles up this way did take away a little of the fun as nights were then dedicated to simply falling off the edge of the screen. It took an average of ten seconds this way rather than three minutes for each battle. The funny thing with this was that it didn’t take away from the love of the game. It was a little monotonous but getting through it meant that the full set of characters was available to go back through the main adventure with. On top of this, it was a major bragging point for friends as none of them had such a wide array of characters.
The final character, Mr.Game and Watch wasn’t really worth it in all honesty but to complete everything and unlock all the secrets was. It’s something that has been lost from gaming today, that desire to unlock everything and keep going, beyond the end of the story but this is maybe to do with having less time and more choice.
Back in 2001, two games sat in front of the Gamecube for around a year. The launch line-up for the console was not one that sent friends mad in a fit of envy, it was one that was smiled at and then followed up with a question of, where’s the rest?
Super Smash Bros Melee and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron were the two games for me. Completing them not once but multiple times and this is a feeling that has not been replicated again. After this point, the Playstation 2 was added to the collection and the choice of games grew to the point where maybe one in ten is completed. The rest sit on my shelf, yearning to be played, making me feel bad every day to the point where they are traded in to silence them.
Having a choice is great in theory but in practice it leaves you completed a little of everything. The internet is responsible for this in my mind. We have a history of every game out there and persuasive writing aimed at us parting with our hard-earned cash. Most of them make good points and so the game is ordered and played until the next article arrives, it’s something that makes you wonder whether more choice is actually better or not?
Mr. Game and Watch was the product of more than 100 hours of gameplay, or he should have been. Circumnavigating the system to unlock him quicker was a great idea and didn’t take away from the experience, it only enhanced it and added additional time to an already completed entity.
This desire to not only complete a game but play through it multiple times to unlock everything is something that has been lost on me today. With so many amazing experiences sitting there on the shelf, staring back, the pressure mounts to justify the purchase.
So far this year, four games have been completed, which is more than last year. The problem is that there is ten times that amount in the backlog. This is also not including all of the books that are sitting on the shelf, yearning to be read.
By the time that the decision to start a family is met, my hope is that most of the games will be completed and in some cases, replayed, as following on from the family trigger will be reduced time. Something that will be best suited to a limited choice environment.