This article was requested by NerfariousShyGuy on Twitter. Thanks for the request! It was really interesting to research this.
First, Why are Genres Important?
Genres were created in order to help humans classify forms of media. Classification is useful because it helps us as consumers find the products that we may or not may be interested in. Classification is not always clear, and is often up to debate. Some media even transcends one type of genre and can be classified under multiple types depending on opinion, and era. There’s a few cases where the media actually creates a whole new sub-genre.
An example of a genre that was made is Nintendocore. Nintendocore is a sub-genre of chiptunes, video game music, hardcore rock, heavy metal and more. Nintendocore mixes all of these genres to become it’s own unique thing. Today, I’d like to argue that in its’ purest form Super Smash Brothers is not only a fighting game or an action game. Instead, it should be classified under a new sub-genre: “action fighter”.
By the way, in case you are wondering…this is Nintendocore.
Difference in Perception:
On the English Wikipedia page for Super Smash Brothers (Series), it lists that the game can be organized into the “Fighting, Action and Platform” genres. However, on the Japanese Wikipedia page, it states that the Smash series is only an “Action” game. On the German, it states that the series is a “Beat ‘em up” Spanish “fighting”; French, “Fighting and Platform”; lastly Chinese “fighting”. Essentially, there’s a lot of debate on what genre Smash Brothers is, because it’s a game the transcends one specific genre.
Sakurai’s Fighting Game:
The original plan for Smash Brothers (Finished in October, 1996) was labelled, ４人同時対戦可能ダメージ排除型バトルロイヤル格闘. Or literally: 4 players fighting at the same time, removal of potential damage (HP), battle royale fighter.
Sakurai is notorious for taking a concept, ‘disassembling it and resembling it’. He’s done it with Kirby’s Air Ride (making it a one button racer), Kirby and with most recently, Kid Icarus: Uprising. Therefore, it’s only natural that his games are difficult to place in only one top-level genre.
Action Fighter Genre?
In Japanese, the individual games in the series are listed under an action sub-genre called, “Action Fighter Game” (対戦アクションゲーム). Wikipedia notes that this is a derivation from “competitive fighting games” [Usually just called labelled under the “fighting” genre in English] and action games. Essentially an Action Fighter game, is where two players or more battle. Often, martials arts is not the only mode of fighting. The page notes that while racing games and sports games could be classified under this sub-genre, those particular genres have their own sub-genres to better classify those games. K.O. Punch, by Sega (1983) is the first game to be classified under this sub-genre. While some games like the original Mario Bros. and Bomberman, have components of this sub-genre, the Wikipedia page states that they do not fully meet the requirements for classification.
Other Components for this Genre:
- There is a possibility to attack from far away using items, missiles in addition to ‘normal’ close up fighting.
- There is no guard system, but there might be a blocking mechanic.
- Stages have special traits (like a pit fall)
- There are items
- It’s necessary to adapt to the random nature of the game; whether it be items or the stage selection itself.
- There’s a possibility that three players or more can fight, and the players aren’t necessarily designated to teams. Can be played as a party game
Other Games in this Genre:
- K.O. Punch (Sega)
- Spy Vs. Spy / Spy vs. Spy: The Island Caper
- Downtown Nekketsu Koushinkyoku
- Virtual On (Series)
- Super Smash Brothers (Series)
- Mobile Suit Gundam Versus (Series)
- Power Stone (Series)
- Naruto: Ultimate Ninja (Series)
- J STARS Victory Vs (Series)
- JUMP Super Stars/ JUMP Ultimate Stars
- Tales Of: Versus
- Dissidia Final Fantasy
- Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale
Note: that DreamMix TV World Fighters (Sony.jp, Japanese) is listed under yet another sub-genre, “Nonsense Action Fighter” (はちゃめちゃ対戦アクション). An online game called “Kokona”(Japanese) was also listed in this sub-genre.
I really want to play Power Stone now:
A Smashing Success
I believe that Super Smash Brothers was the first game to support up to four players in this sub-genre, and was popularity on an International level. The chaotic, random nature of the game makes it’s both enjoyable and friendly for beginners. You can see the direct influence that Smash has had games like JUMP Super Stars and Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale.
So what do you guys think? Should Smash be listed under this sub-genre? Or should we keep labeling it as an “action, fighting , platforming” game?