12 Smashing Facts About the Super Smash Bros. Video Games

Farley Santos, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Farley Santos, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Super Smash Bros. debuted on the Nintendo 64 in 1999 (first in Japan in January, then North America in April, and then Europe in November), and since then it has grown into one of the most popular franchises in gaming. It has sold more than 40 million units with its six different releases, and it still makes fans go absolutely bonkers each time there is an announcement about the series. In a way, Smash Bros. is like the Fantasy Football of gaming: a fighting game acting as a glorified Nintendo commercial that, in effect, exposes players to some of the company's lesser-known entities (like Earthbound and Kid Icarus). Thanks to it, the series boasts an abundance of quirky facts and details from its impressive 20-year run.

1. Super Smash Bros. was first referred to as "Pepsiman" during development.

image of Pepsiman
Takashi Hososhima, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

During the early stages of development, a small team of people led by Japanese designer Masahiro Sakurai worked on a prototype for a new kind of fighting game. Since Sakurai had not yet gotten the approval from Nintendo to use their characters, the original build featured some primitive polygonal figures, prompting the team to refer to the game as "Pepsiman" due to the similarity between them and the old marketing campaign mascot that Pepsi used in Japan during the 1990s. (Pepsiman, incidentally, also had his own videogame on PlayStation.)

2. The lead designer of the series voices King Dedede.

Hailing from the Kirby franchise, King Dedede is one of the few characters in Super Smash Bros. voiced by someone different than the character's original actor. Instead, he was voiced by none other than the creator of Super Smash Bros. himself, Masahiro Sakurai. His dialogue is mostly comprised of strange laughs and brawny grunts, but it is entertaining to know the lead designer of the series is the voice behind that sinister penguin, mischievous smirk and all.

3. There was an entire website that revealed new information on the latest game every day.

Masahiro Sakurai, creator and director of Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series, welcomes the crowd at an event in 2014.
Masahiro Sakurai, creator and director of Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series, welcomes the crowd at an event in 2014.
Bob Riha, Jr./Nintendo, Getty Images

Back before the release of the highly anticipated Super Smash Bros. Brawl in 2008, there was a special fan page that generated hype for the game. This "Smash Dojo," as it was called, delivered teasers and new bits of information about Brawl every day until the game was released, varying from little screenshots to new character announcements, all provided by Sakurai himself. One of the dojo's most memorable reveals, which they dropped about two-and-a-half months before Brawl was released, was that Sonic the Hedgehog would be a playable fighter. As one might say today, it broke the internet.

4. The soundtrack for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate features over 24 hours of songs.

The music that accompanies video games can become just as integral to culture and iconic as the game itself (is there a single person who wouldn't recognize the Super Mario Bros. theme?). But for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which was released at the end of 2018 and quickly became the fastest-selling Nintendo Switch game ever, the music team went above and beyond: Ultimate boasts more than 800 songs from over 25 different gaming franchises, whether you're in the mood for the heroic orchestration of Zelda or the more futuristic-rock of Splatoon. In a way, Ultimate is like a greatest hits soundtrack that just happens to have a full-fledged game included, too.

5. The Master Hand can be unlocked.

Easter eggs are commonplace in all realms of pop culture, gaming included. The Super Smash Bros. series, thanks to the sheer number of characters and properties being represented, is filled with hidden secrets to find. One of these comes from the 2001 game Super Smash Bros. Melee, which was actually discovered many years after the title's release. It revolved around unlocking the game's primary antagonist, the Master Hand, as a playable character. If done correctly, the player can seize control of the sentient hand and can use it to eradicate opponents with ease.

6. The Ice Climbers are the only characters to have been cut after appearing in multiple releases.

Depending on who you ask, the Ice Climbers are either the greatest ally or a most feared adversary when it comes to combat. Nobody would argue, though, that their exclusion from the Wii U iteration of Super Smash Bros. was enormously disappointing, especially considering they'd appeared in multiple games already.

According to Sakurai in an interview in Eurogamer, the characters were cut because they were too complicated for the hardware of the Nintendo 3DS. Both versions of the game (for Wii U and 3DS) were being released in 2014, so Sakurai chose to remove them entirely so that one version wasn't viewed as having less content. Because of the brief absence of the Ice Climbers duo in that series, the announcement that they were returning for Ultimate—along with every other character ever featured in the history of Super Smash Bros.—was a delightful surprise.

7. Solid Snake was added to the game because of a friendship with the creator.

Designer Hideo Kojima at a gaming event in 2008.
Designer Hideo Kojima at a gaming event in 2008.
Rene, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Helmed by director Hideo Kojima, Metal Gear Solid is one of the most innovate franchises in video games (who could forget the boss battle that featured the enemy breaking the fourth wall and literally reading and commentating on the saves of your memory card?). The debut of its main character, Solid Snake, in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, however, was a surprising one. Considering the character's background consists largely of M-rated titles involving plenty of gun violence, Snake was a clear outlier from the more cartoonish and family-friendly Nintendo image. Apparently, Snake's addition to the series came after Kojima—who is a close friend of Sakurai's—"practically begged" to have the character included because his son was such a big fan.

8. The announcer from Bill Nye the Science Guy is the narrator in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Most '90s kids will remember the eccentric educational TV series Bill Nye the Science Guy, and it turns out that show's announcer also voiced some Super Smash Bros. characters. In an interview with Smashboard, voice actor and comedian Pat Cashman said that even though he didn't know much about the game beforehand, he knew that it would look "nice on my resumé to say that I was the announcer on what was one of the most popular video games on the planet."

He worked hard to make the announcer voice "big and bombastic," but in one recording session, he recalled he had been seriously dialing up his line-readings only to realize nobody was there. "I remember one time when I was really going for it. Way, way over the top. I remember thinking, 'Man, I am really killing it! This is the best I've ever done!' My arms are waving, I'm jumping up and down, spit flying all over the mic, my shirt's getting sweaty," Cashman said. But then: "The producers, the engineer—everybody had taken a break and were gone. What I thought might have been my best Brawl announcer performance ever had an audience of one: me."

9. Meta Knight and Bayonetta are the only characters to have ever been banned.

Video game character Meta Knight
Everette Murrain, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Considering how in-depth the series's history of characters are and how vastly different each of them operate from one another, there was bound to be some controversy and complaints about certain fighters being unfair or poorly balanced. In this case, the sword-wielding Meta Knight, who first made his debut in the 2008 entry Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and the gun-toting, majestic acrobat Bayonetta, who made her debut in 2014's Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, were both barred by the official Super Smash Bros. fighting-game community for use in official tournaments.

10. The developer also created Kirby.

A Kirby video game cartridge
Bryan Ochalla, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Before they masterminded Super Smash Bros., designer Sakurai and developer HAL Laboratory worked on everyone's favorite spherical alien: Kirby! Back in 1992, HAL Laboratory—which took its name not from the antagonist computer HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but because "each letter put them one step ahead of IBM"—released Kirby's Dream Land for the Game Boy, the first of the franchise that starred the titular pink poof (but not yet with his signature copy ability). Kirby would go on to appear in more than 20 releases across a variety of Nintendo consoles.

11. It spawned some fan fiction that is the longest known work of English literature.

While fan-fiction is certainly capable of being just as entertaining as the original it's mimicking, not many can come close to this epic started by fanfiction.net user AuraChannelerChris in 2008. With over 4 million words, "The Subspace Emissary's Worlds Conquest" is more than three times the length of the entire Harry Potter series combined.

12. James Bond was once considered as a possible playable character.

Likely because of the success of GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64, the world's most famous secret agent was at one point considered as an addition to the Smash Bros. roster. Unfortunately, due to many legal issues surrounding the usage of the character and his likeness, the prospect of having James Bond fight against Bowser or Peach while sailing through the air with his rocket-belt was never realized. As Sakurai told the Smash Dojo, "Showing realistic guns = no good! Character uses an actor's likeness = no good! Since the original game is based on a movie, getting those rights = no good! He's Rare’s property = no good! Blocked on all fronts."

We suppose one could say that the idea was shaken, but not stirred.

10 Facts About DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story For Its 15th Anniversary

Vince Vaughn stars in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).
Vince Vaughn stars in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).
Twentieth Century Fox

June 18, 2004 saw the release of two wildly different films in American cinemas: Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal and a goofy, cameo-filled, wrench-chucking sports comedy called DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story. Guess which one came out on top at the box office? The sleeper hit both saluted and skewered the sports movie genre. It also gave Chuck Norris the chance to enjoy a free helicopter ride.

1. Dodgeball's creator was inspired by the book Fast Food Nation.

DodgeBall writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber considered DodgeBall an homage to some of his favorite flicks, including Revenge of the Nerds (1984), Rocky (1976), and Bull Durham (1988). Another source of inspiration was Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, the nonfiction bestseller about the modern obsession with greasy, ready-made cuisine. Published in 2001, Fast Food Nation sold more than 1.4 million copies within five years. It also left plenty of fingerprints on Thurber’s script.

"I really took a cue from that—there's an absolute love/fear relationship thing in our culture," Thurber told Film Freak Central in 2014. "We're so weight conscious, so image conscious, so youth-oriented—and wrapped up with all that psychosis are these ad images of it being so cool and all-American and sexy to eat McDonald's and drink pop and all that. It pulls people in all sorts of different directions, so I wanted [Ben Stiller’s character] White Goodman to be sitting there with a doughnut and the car battery attached to his nipples … That situation with food, with sports, with so much of our culture. [It’s] already almost too surreal to satirize."

2. The movie's actors went through some rigorous training.

To ready themselves for the movie, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and the rest of the actors ran indoor dodgeball drills at what many of them have since described as a “boot camp.” According to Stiller, this basically consisted of “us at a gym a few times a week playing dodgeball.” While that may not sound too intense, the physicality of these sessions took its toll on the performers. “It’s a game for the young,” Stiller said. “It’s one thing when you’re eight, but when you’re 38, it gets really exhausting. After three or four minutes, you’re fried.” Practicing at his side was Stiller’s wife, Christine Taylor, who plays Kate Veatch of the Average Joe’s squad in DodgeBall.

3. Ben Stiller took Christine Taylor down with a dodgeball ... twice.

As a general rule, it’s never a good idea to hit one’s spouse in the face with a rubber ball while playing any sport, but that’s exactly what Stiller did to Christine Taylor—twice. Blow number one came during the boot camp; the second strike occurred while filming the epic Globo Gym/Average Joe’s showdown. The latter ball was intended to strike Vaughn, who reflexively flinched to get out of the way. In any event, Stiller admits that those two incidents put a temporary damper on the couple’s marital harmony “for like a week, because there’s no way to not get upset with somebody after you’ve done that. It just sent us both back to eighth grade." (Though the couple announced that they were divorcing in 2017, the split has never been made official, and the couple is still regularly seen together—sparking rumors of a reconciliation.)

4. Stiller borrowed much of his character's personality from 1995's Heavyweights.

The fact that Stiller borrowed some of White Goodman’s traits from Tony Perkis, the fanatical fat camp owner he played in 1995’s Heavyweights, won’t surprise anyone who has seen both films. DodgeBall’s White Goodman (as played by Stiller) is a bombastic, egomaniacal fitness guru with some inherited wealth and major insecurities. The same description also applies to Perkis. A lighthearted family comedy, Heavyweights didn’t fare well at the box office, grossing a meager $17.6 million. As such, when Stiller copied a few of Perkis’s mannerisms in DodgeBall, he figured that no one would notice.

"I always thought, ‘Well, nobody ever saw Heavyweights, so I can do this,” Stiller recalled. “But a lot of people saw Heavyweights … Apparently, it shows on the Disney Channel a lot or something.” Regarding the two characters, Stiller has said that Perkis is “definitely a first or second cousin” to Goodman.

5. Justin Long suffered a minor concussion on the set.

Justin Long, who plays Justin in the film, took some hard knocks while making this movie. For starters, a prop wrench made with hard rubber left a nasty cut on his eyebrow when Rip Torn, as Patches O’Houlihan, threw it at his face in one scene. Then, while filming another section of DodgeBall’s training montage, the actor was pelted with enough high-speed balls to render him "slightly concussed."

"They didn’t want me to drive home at the end of the day because I was a little off," Long told Today in 2017. “So next time you’re watching that and laughing, know that you’re laughing at my pain.” Still, the experience wasn’t all bad. According to New York Magazine, Long can often be seen riding a scooter adorned with the words “Average Joe’s,” a gift from Stiller.

6. Hank Azaria and Rip Torn didn't even try to synchronize their Patches O'Houlihan voices.

Early in the film, we get to watch an instructional video about dodgeball (and social Darwinism) hosted by a young Patches O’Houlihan, who is played by Hank Azaria. For the remainder of the film, however, it’s Rip Torn who portrays the seven-time ADAA all-star. You may have noticed that the two actors use very different accents in their respective scenes: Azaria, who joined the cast at Stiller’s invitation, called his performance “essentially a bad Clark Gable impression.” At the time, Torn’s sequences hadn’t been shot yet, leading someone in the crew to pipe up and say “You know, it’d be funny if Rip tries to emulate that voice!” “I was like, ‘Yeah, good luck walking up to Rip Torn and suggesting that he change his vocal quality in any way. Let me know how that goes for you,’” Azaria replied.

7. The Average Joe's team colors are an homage to Hoosiers.

Thurber, a fan of David Anspaugh’s Oscar-nominated Hoosiers (1986), tipped his hat to the Hickory Huskers’ red and yellow uniforms by giving the Average Joe’s squad—led by Vince Vaughn’s Pete LaFleur—an almost identical color scheme. 

8. Chuck Norris was reluctant to make a cameo.

The action star’s only scene was shot in Long Beach, California. Geographically speaking, this was problematic for Norris. “I was in L.A. when they asked me to do the cameo,” Norris told Empire Magazine. “I said no at first because it was a three-hour drive to Long Beach.” Hearing this, Stiller called Norris and begged him to reconsider. “He goes, ‘Chuck, please, you’ve got to do this for me!’” Norris recalled, “My wife said he should send a helicopter for me and that's what happened. I didn't read the screenplay, just did my bit where I stick my thumb up.”

After post-production on DodgeBall wrapped and Norris got around to seeing the finished product, he found himself enjoying most of it. However, there was one little moment in the final credits that really caught him off-guard. “In the end, when Ben’s a big fatty and watching TV, the last line of the whole movie is, 'F***ing Chuck Norris!' My mouth fell open ... I said, 'Holy mackerel!' That was a shock, Ben didn't tell me about that!"

9. One villain was originally supposed to be a robot.

By far the most mysterious player in the Purple Cobras lineup is Fran Stalinovskovichdavidovitchsky, an Eastern European all-star whom Goodman calls “The deadliest woman on earth with a dodgeball.” What’s the secret to her success? Well, in an early version of the screenplay, it’s revealed that Fran is actually a robot in disguise. Thurber ended up dropping the gag, which he considered too ridiculous—even by DodgeBall’s standards. However, when Missi Pyle was cast as Fran, the big twist hadn’t yet been cut.

“Initially, in the first script I read, she was a robot, like a sexy-bodied robot” Pyle explained. The original plan was to slowly pan the camera up over a partly-exposed Robo-Fran—with her metallic face and fake breasts on full display—at some point in the climax.

10. Alan Tudyk weighed in on a fan theory about Steve the Pirate.

In 2012, Redditor Maized made the case Steve the Pirate, Alan Tudyk’s swashbuckling oddball, is actually an “ex-Navy sailor who suffers from PTSD.” As evidence, Maized cited Steve’s tattoos, which bear a striking resemblance to those frequently worn by U.S. Naval recruits. In theory, the Average Joe’s patron uses his pirate persona to cope with his condition.

During a 2016 interview with Screen Crush, Tudyk was asked to offer his thoughts on the theory. With a chuckle, Tudyk replied that it “doesn’t seem like it’s impossible.” Emphasizing that he didn’t wish to “insult Navy sailors who have PTSD,” the actor said he’d consider taking the Redditor’s idea into account if a DodgeBall sequel is ever made.

Game of Thrones Director Said He Wanted to 'Kill Everyone' During the Battle of Winterfell

Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones.
Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones.
Helen Sloan, HBO

Now that Game of Thrones is over, it’s time to talk about the nitty-gritty of the episodes, particularly “The Long Night.” While the Battle of Winterfell may have been nerve-wracking to watch, there ended up being surprisingly fewer deaths than fans expected, considering the living were fighting the entire army of the dead.

Miguel Sapochnik, who directed the episode, was no beginner with battle scenes before taking on “The Long Night,” as he was also responsible season 6's iconic “The Battle of the Bastards” as well as the memorable season 5 episode “Hardhome.” While his list of Game of Thrones accomplishments is long, it turns out that Sapochnik's choices haven't always been in line with what showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss want.

According to IndieWire, Sapochnik’s aesthetic choices, such as the decision to shoot shoot Cersei and Tommen shadowed by prison-like bars to represent Tommen’s imprisonment in season 5, were not favored by the showrunners. “[Benioff and Weiss] said [it was] ‘so self-conscious and we hate it basically,'” Sapochnik revealed at the time. Because of disagreements like this, the pair “visually policed” the director.

There was a difference of opinion between the director and the creators again for “The Long Night,” Sapochnik revealed on IndieWire's Filmmaker's Toolkit podcast. “I wanted to kill everyone,” the director said, as reported by Esquire. “I wanted to kill Jorah in the horse charge at the beginning. I wanted it to be ruthless, so in the first 10 minutes you could say all bets are off, anyone could die. But David and Dan didn’t want to. There was a lot of back-and-forth on that."

Ultimately, Sapochnik gave in to Benioff and Weiss’s plan for the episode, and the Battle of Winterfell had far fewer casualties than most of the series's other battle scenes.

[h/t Esquire]

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