Super Smash Bros. changed the gaming world when it released on the Nintendo 64 in 1999. Not only did it unite some of Nintendo’s most famous characters and create the biggest video game crossover at the time, but it also introduced the world to a different type of gameplay. It was part fighting game and part party game. The players compete in combat, but instead of lowering an opponent’s health bar, they’re wracking up damage to launch them off the stage. It’s great for both casual players looking to have goofy fun and competitive players who want tight controls and heated battles.
Obviously, Super Smash Bros. has become exceptionally popular, gained a massive competitive scene, and even spawned a handful of sequels. Since the series’ release, there have been several similar games developed by other studios. PlayStation All-stars Battle Royale, Brawlhalla, Brawlout, Slap City, and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl each feature gameplay where two to four (and sometimes more) characters duke it out on platform-based stages in order to ring-out their opponents. The premise behind the gameplay is clearly similar, which has caused people to refer to them as clones or rip-offs of Super Smash Bros. While some of them, like Brawlout and Slap City, feature original characters, many other platform fighters, like PlayStation All-stars Battle Royale and Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion, focus on crossovers between existing characters like Super Smash Bros. does which admittedly furthers the similarities to the original platform fighter. However, having gameplay and other features that’s similar to or inspired by Super Smash Bros. does not make it a rip-off.
Super Smash Bros. didn’t spawn rip-offs, it created a brand new genre. Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter are both fighting games and people accept them as different franchises with a lot of similarities. The same can be said for Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing as kart racing games or Battlefield and Call of Duty as first-person shooters. Why can’t this be the same case with platform fighters?
“Platform fighter” is simply a genre that hasn’t been touched on as much as other video game genres have. The games in a genre each find ways to use a similar format to do something different. Some are great, while some are rather lackluster. Some focus on competitive gameplay while others focus on the casual “party game” feel. Like games in all other genres, platform fighters follow many of the same rules as each other, but that’s what makes them part of a genre, not clones of the original.
It’s also worth noting that every new addition to the platform fighter library isn’t trying to be a “Smash-killer.” It’s not the goal of a new game to hurt the fanbase, sales, or legacy of another. They can coexist and each have their own fans. Because of their similarities, fans of one platform fighter can be fans of others as well, similar to how many in the Street Fighter community also enjoy a good round of Tekken or Soul Calibur.
Games like Super Smash Bros., Brawlhalla, and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl should be able to coexist. They’re not ripping each other off or erasing other games from existence. They all have similarities but try to do something new with the format. They can all be enjoyed, so it’s time to stop with the negativity every time a new game in the platform fighter genre is announced.