Here’s some words you don’t see on RPS every day: Mario, Link, Megaman…Pikachu. Yet there they all are. The reason is Super Smash Land, a free, downloadable demake of Smash Brothers, the game were Nintendo characters pummel the crap out of one another. There is no love in that family. Dan Fornace, the creator, has previous with this sort of thing. He once half-made a Smash Brothers alike using Lord of the Rings characters. This project is different though; it’s Smash Brothers as made for the original Gameboy. Except on your PC. Take a look.
I can confirm that, dinky graphics and all, it plays very close to Smash Brothers. There’s a choice of authentic stages and a small roster of characters with all their moves are recreated. If you’ve never played the original or any of its sequels, they aren’t quite like normal beat ‘em ups. Rather than draining a health bar when you hit an opponent, you cause their smash meter, or whatever it’s called, to rise. The higher it is, the further each blow will knock them flying, with the aim being to knock them off the edge of the screen.
The controls are simple. Move, jump and attack. Pushing in a direction while pressing attack triggers a special, which are unique to each character. The best way to learn is to play a few games and there is a decent AI to scrap against if you don’t have a friend willing to join in. Up to four people can play, although that would be a very crowded keyboard unless you have very tiny hands. Or a very large keyboard.
Super Smash Land has been in development for a long time and the effort shows through. There’s an interview about the development process on Piki Geek here, where you’ll also find the download link. It’s a fantastic homage and a fun game in its own right, although you’ll definitely get more out of it if you have more than a nodding acquaintance with Nintendo. The music, by Brendan Becker, is very well done and the whole thing makes me nostalgic for school lunchtimes spent swapping the one Gameboy in the playground back and forth.