Quick Thoughts #2 – Ghosting; or, How to Communicate and Be an Adult

So, while I’m railing against Millennial concepts, allow me to comment upon one of the most abhorrent: Ghosting.

Ghosting happens when someone stops communicating with someone else completely, usually permanently.  It is often abrupt and always without explanation.  Sometimes it can even happen whilst in a relationship, and usually ends the relationship in the most confusing fashion possible.


Jimmy Hoffa: World Ghosting Champion since 1975.  Also, probably just “Ghost Champion”.

The reasons as to why someone might ghost are multitude, but most often it happens when someone isn’t interested in you, and would just like to avoid the awkwardness of having to confront you with that fact.  This is regardless of whether or not you’ve given any indication of being interested in the person doing the ghosting.  Because, hey, if they’re of the opposite sex and talking with you, that must mean they want to bang–I mean, who wouldn’t want to bang you, right?  Pure perfectionMm, mmm!


The word you’re thinking of is “elephantine”, baby.

In addition to a delusional and over-inflated sense of self, ghosting reveals a serious lack of emotional maturity.  Most people don’t like conflict, but conflict is a part of life–and life is about doing things you don’t want to do.  Eventually, you’re going to have to tell someone something they don’t want to hear (like you’re just not that into someone), or you’re going to have to discover something you don’t want to discover (that, in spite of you thinking the greeting “hi” is some sort of secret-handshake within the swingers’ community, it really isn’t and no one would want you to join anyway).


This is the typical–and, therefore, normal–reaction to ghosting.

So, how does one avoid ghosting?  By remembering these simple lessons taught to every toddler:

  • Learn to communicate effectively, or “use your words”.  We teach kids this because communication is the cornerstone of the most ancient of humanity’s civilizations, and without it, we wouldn’t know our asses (or anyone else’s) from holes in the ground.
  • Be honest, or “tell the truth” about how you feel towards another person.  If you can’t bring yourself to be perfectly clear (because you’re a spineless coward most likely), then tell a “little white lie”, but don’t ignore the person.  Ignoring people is just fucking rude.  “Don’t be rude”.
  • Don’t assume anything, or “don’t jump to conclusions”.  You’re not a “10” by anyone’s scale, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that every encounter with the opposite sex is a quest for coitus.  If you are a “10”, you have bodyguards to sift through the riff-raff already.

If every emotionally crippled baby (i.e. Millennial) follows the above, they too will communicate like adults.

Universal Horrors Challenge – RIP Philip J. Riley

As though Father’s Day isn’t hard enough for me already…

It is with a heavy heart that I report to you that Philip J. Riley, film scholar, horror buff, and producer behind the MagicImage and Bear Manor Media publications of Universal horror film script books, has passed away at the age of 68.

Per a Facebook post by Michael Pestritto:

Philip J Riley, passed away this morning at 68years old. That’s so so sad and still so young. He was such a good man. Incredible, Amazing, Unbelievable, Genius..bass player, guitar player, singer, song writer, novelist talented person. That I ever had the pleasure and privilege to play the drums and create..America’s only 2 man Heavy Metal Rock and Roll band !!!!!! “GRANMA” original music to perform in front of a 100,000 screaming people at Fairmount Park Festival in Philadelphia. WOW !!!! What a unforgettable experience of my lifetime on planet earth !!!! He will be missed dearly my good friend Philip J Riley. This year 2016 in the heavens with, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Keith Emerson, Lenny Kilmister of MOTORHEAD and Prince. RIP

There are no words for me to describe how distraught I am over this. Phil and I communicated quite a bit on social media (he was mentor-like in his advice to me concerning a great many subjects), and though he was at times a controversial figure in the horror scholar world (I may talk about this at a later date), his contributions are not to be ignored. A warm, friendly, approachable individual who was always there to help a newbie out.  To date, he’s the only Phil I’ve ever known who hasn’t betrayed me.

You will be missed, Phil.

There will be no list today.  Perhaps tomorrow.

Preview – All In On Dead – Chapter Two

ZODIAC entered the world stage several years earlier, but failed to do so with any degree of grace.  Their first attempt to set themselves apart from the multitude of other global terrorist organizations bent on world domination ended in disaster, when a truck carrying explosives meant to destroy the American Embassy in Spain caught fire and exploded outside of Zodiac’s own “secret storage facility”.  As expected, the storage facility was no longer a secret after that blunder.  Another attempt at infamy, this time a planned assassination of the English Prime Minister while on vacation in the French Riviera, was just as unsuccessful.  The sniper that Zodiac hired to do the job had a peculiar habit of adjusting his position whilst peering through the scope of his rifle, resulting in the sniper’s abrupt demise when he misjudged his distance from the opened window.  He fell from a balcony and to his death, three blocks away from his target.

But now Zodiac was learning from past mistakes.  Clownish half-attempts at extortion and carnage had given way to genuine success.  Zodiac was responsible recently for helping to sneak East German scientists over the wall, only to ransom them back to the Soviet Union—returning the scientists in caskets after having extracted Soviet technological secrets from them, and then selling those secrets to the United States.  More recently, Zodiac had stolen advanced encryption technology from the United States Army, only to sell it back to the United States—after opening up the machines for themselves and selling blueprints of the inner workings to the Soviets.  Most recently, Zodiac supplied the IRA with the materials necessary to bomb locations in Ireland that were of strategic importance to England.

Though agencies like MI-6 and the CIA still considered them small fish in the larger global pond, their agents were made aware of Zodiac and its achievements.  In this way, Zodiac had finally broken from the pack and started to make a name for itself.

Agent Man-In-Charge’s bloodshot eyes flashed with contempt.  “A nest of vipers beholden to no nation, their leader—Cancer—will stop at nothing to gain control of the world and its people through an empire of fear and destruction.”

Agent Villain looked at Man-In-Charge and considered the Gamblin’ Pharaoh Pisces McCool.  “They certainly are dedicated to their theme, aren’t they?”

“Yes,” said Man-In-Charge, who took flask in hand once again to drain the rest of its contents.  “The upstarts have wanted global attention for years, and thus far have been content with playing both sides.  But a stronger relationship with the Soviets, more so than the actual guns, will give them a means to achieve the unthinkable.”  He stumbled forward a bit and put his hands on the table, steadying himself.  “Now you see why we need McCool to defect.  We need to remove the head from this snake before it has a chance to poison the world.”  Like a marionette without strings, Man-In-Charge clambered over to a filing cabinet, removed four folders from on top, and placed them on the table in front of the agents.

Immediately, Agent Big Fish burst into a fit of laughter.  “Oh, I get it!” he guffawed.  “Pisces!  It’s a fish!  And Cancer’s a crab!  The theme is the ocean!”  He sat back in his chair and grinned smugly.  Agent Pheromone leaned back in her chair and, reaching behind Agent Many Faces, punched Big Fish in the arm.

“You are being sent as a team,” said Man-In-Charge, “not because you work well together, or because any particular one of you—save Agent Villain—is especially good at this.  It is because our other specialist, Agent Misogynist, is in the Alps on holiday.”  He pulled a small bottle of rum from his side pocket, unwrapped the top with hands that no longer obeyed him as well as they did when the briefing began, and took a drink.  “In the folders before you are the mission parameters, which I probably should have handed out at the beginning, but tough luck, chaps.  The primary objective is to bankrupt McCool and force him to defect.  That hasn’t changed.  If Agent Chaste isn’t dead, of course you’ll want to rescue him—but he knew the dangers when he took this job.”  Man-In-Charge took another shot from the bottle and placed it on the file cabinet that sat looming above the projector.  “In fact, if you look in the backs of your folders, you’ll see a copy of the form that you each signed when you came on, stating that you—like Chaste—understand the dangers.”  He hiccupped.  “Upon arrival, you will check into rooms in the hotel under assumed names.  I lobbied for four rooms, but budget constraints only allowed for the reservation of three—so Big Fish and Villain will be staying in the same room.”

Villain’s eye widened in disbelief.

Big Fish’s face, however, beamed at the news.  “The last time I had a roomie was the ’68 Olympics, where I won three gold medals!”  He turned to Villain.  “This’ll be wild!  We’ll do everything together!  Eat, sleep, even bathe!”

At this, Villain grimaced and shuddered visibly.

“Now,” continued Man-In-Charge, “all that’s left to decide is who will enter the tournament.”

Villain raised his hand and grinned unpleasantly.  A plan was forming.  “I think Many Faces would be the best option.”

“What?!” cried Pheromone, who half-jumped out of her seat.  “I’m twice the gambler he is, by half!”

Many Faces nodded.  “That’s probably true,” he said.  “I’ve never gambled before in my life.”

“Yeah, but she’s a girl,” said Big Fish, earning himself another punch in the arm from Pheromone.

“You’ve a point,” said Man-In-Charge.  “She is a girl.”  He stroked his chin.  “There’s only one way to settle this: A game of chance.  We’ll flip a coin to see who, out of three attempts, comes up with the correct side the most!”  He swung his arms forward and knocked the open bottle of rum onto the projector, emptying its contents and causing the machine to spit sparks.  After several seconds, the machine shorted out entirely.  “Villain, you may, er, moderate.”

From his pocket, Villain produced a sixpence and held it out, balanced on his thumb.  “Call it in the air,” he said, and flipped the coin.

“Heads,” said Pheromone.

“The other one,” said Many Faces.  “Not-heads.  Queen?  No, that’s not right…”

Villain caught the coin in his open hand and, holding it close, glimpsed for himself the results.  It was heads.  “Tails,” he said, motioning to Many Faces.

Twice more, Pheromone correctly guessed which side landed upwards.  Twice more, Villain gave the victory to Many Faces.

Pheromone frowned.  “Well, I guess there’s no arguin’ that none,” she said.  “The better man won.”  She spit in her hand and held it out to Many Faces who, after hesitating for several seconds, shook it limply.

“Yes, well,” said Many Faces, wiping his hand on the torso of his maroon track suit, “don’t congratulate me yet.  I still have a tournament to win.”

“You’ll do fine, Feces,” said Man-In-Charge, who lumbered over to the group and away from the now-smoking projector.  “Good job and all that rubbish.  The rest will act as support, then, during the tournament and keep an eye out for any tomfoolery on Zodiac’s part.”  He handed Many Faces a slip of paper.  “You are to hand this to the hotel clerk when you arrive.  Reservations have already been made for you, and the entry deposit for the tournament has already been paid.  I, er, need to be elsewhere right now, but you all are to report to Agent Pilot in the secret hanger in an hour.  Pack only what you think you need.”

“Aw,” whined Big Fish, “aren’t we gonna see Agent Curmudgeon about some neat-o gadgets?”

“No,” replied Man-In-Charge.  “Not since you lot lost his equipment in the Congo.  He’s still upset about the laser-watch.”  Man-In-Charge grabbed the door knob and pulled, then turned the knob, then turned and pulled, finally opening the door.  “You have your orders,” he rasped as he slid out.  “One hour.”

All In On Dead: An MI-13 (Mis)Adventure is available now for Kindle through Amazon and The Fictosphere’s FictoStore.

Preview – All In On Dead – Prologue

ST. JOHN Templar took every precaution that his profession demanded.  In addition to choosing a contact location several miles away from the Lady Luck Hotel and Casino—a payphone located on the outskirts of Marrakesh, to be more precise—he was sure to always take a taxicab, and made certain that he was never followed.

The payphone itself was a lowly little machine inside of an untidy, tight steel booth with glass paneling.  It was modern but weathered, due in part to the hot Moroccan sun, the wet rainy season, and poor general upkeep.  When the taxicab arrived at its destination after a mad rush through the buzzing dusk-time streets, Templar paid the driver, tipped him, and waved him off, expressing that he would take another cab back into town.  The driver, a large man of Middle Eastern descent, looked first at his tip, then cast a bloodshot eye to Templar.  With a bristle of his bushy black mustache, and without so much as a departing salutation, the driver sped back off down the dirt road toward civilization.

Templar approached the booth and lifted the loose dirham coins from his pocket before entering, knowing by experience that removing them once inside would be a task bordering on impossible.

Once inside, he deposited several coins and spoke into the receiver.  “Transfer: London, 020.”  He waited and, after a moment, “Vauxhall Building.  Clearance: Chaste, 606.”  Another pause, and then a sigh.  “Yes, from the broom closet.”

Fifteen minutes later, Templar removed a handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiped the receiver vigorously, placing it back onto its cradle when finished.  He then opened the door, making sure only to touch the handle with handkerchief in hand—and he closed it the same way.  These were unnecessary precautions, but as Templar rationalized, one could never be too careful.

Templar heard the gravel crunch as the auto rolled up the dirt road, and he felt lucky.  It would have been quite a walk back to the casino, and the appearance of the cab meant he wouldn’t have to waste much time at all in flagging one down.

Though he couldn’t see the driver’s face through the cab’s tinted windows, Templar nonetheless offered the driver a smile and approached the back passenger door.  He slid inside effortlessly.  What started out as a boring few days in Morocco was quickly turning into a fun and interesting jaunt—especially considering the orders he’d just received from home.

“The Lady Luck Casino, please, driver,” said Templar, still smiling—but his expression changed as soon as he realized that the proverbial rug had been pulled out from under him.

Templar heard the door locks snap before he realized that a window was closing-off the opened space between the front and back seats.  Though he struggled at the door handles and threw his fists wildly at what he found to be a plastic pane, Templar couldn’t help but claw at his throat after mere seconds as the invisible toxin filled the compartment.

Through increasingly unfocused vision, Templar at last saw the face of the driver through the plastic pane.

It was a woman, her striking green eyes standing in contrast to the black burka covering her face and the brown motorist’s cap on her head.

Templar knew in the instant before he lost consciousness that all his careful planning had been for naught.

All In On Dead: An MI-13 (Mis)Adventure is available now for Kindle through Amazon and The Fictosphere’s FictoStore.

Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS – Nintendo Direct 12/15/2015

Standing by, ladies and gentlemen.

Check out the livestream here: http://www.nintendo.com/nintendo-direct/12-15-2015/

Less than 30 minutes away now.  Scroll down for updates.

Speculation?  One of the remaining characters has to be third party.  Why?  Two character slots (after Cloud), one level slot (after Midgar, Cloud’s level).  The Nintendo DLC releases did not specifically come with their own stages…past stages, yes, but no new ones specific to them (Mewtwo, Roy, Lucas).  Ryu and Cloud, both third party character DLC, come with character/series-specific levels.  Thus, at least one remaining third party character.  Is it Snake with Shadow Moses (revisited)?  Is it Shantae with…wherever the hell she’s from?  Shovel Knight with the Order of No Quarter’s Headquarters?  Banjo and Kazooie with a level that looks very much like every other level in this game?  Or…is it Minecraft Steve, with a Minecraft-inspired block level?

Or did Sakurai make the right choice, the only choice, and build a Castlevania level for one Simon Belmont?  We shall soon see!!

About 15 minutes away…feed is up, chat is up.  People speculating and hoping for a miracle.  As am I.

Presentation will be 33 minutes in length.

9 minutes and counting. Taking part in the chat and being very pro-Simon. Here’s my twitter: https://twitter.com/search?q=MalusNMayhem

A couple of pro-Simon people in here (so, at least me and one other person). THE HYPE IS REAL!

Only 5 minutes remain. I’m hearing the band Europe in my head.

Okay, time to get serious. Three lines, bros and babes.

…another Fire Emblem? Corrin form Fire Emblem Fates. Huh. Weird. Male or female versions available.

He/she is a swordfighter who transforms into a dragon. That’s cool, I guess. I think now Fire Emblem matches/rivals Mario and Pokemon in terms of number of characters.

The moveset looks interesting but…meh. I’m just not a Fire Emblem guy.

No new stage with Corrin, but new music.

Cloud will be released soon, and was most requested Final Fantasy character.

Limit Break is both chargeable and charges automatically with use of attacks.

…Last fighter is Bayonetta. Seriously? Konami can go fuck itself, apparently.

I miss Project M already.

Can’t wait for someone to hack the game and allow for custom characters.

Good night, all!

Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS – The Shovel Knight Upset (formerly conspiracy)

So, today (December 15, 2015) at 5 PM ET/2 PM PT/10 GMT is the final Nintendo Direct livestream event dealing specifically with Super Smash Bros.  It’s believed that Cloud Strife’s inclusion in the game will be covered in more detail, and that the rest of the DLC (which Sakurai said yesterday will be ending soon) will be revealed.

Holy cow, that’s in less than an hour!  As the stream is happening, I will be bullet-pointing and updating the blog.  That said, let me talk (very briefly) about Shovel Knight.

When it was first revealed that Shovel Knight would be the first 3rd party-produced Amiibo (indeed, Shovel Knight is not a Nintendo property but rather the IP of Yacht Club Games), there was a ton of speculation that Shovel Knight would be pulled into Smash Bros. as a playable character.  It makes sense, to a degree; Amiibos were first introduced for Smash Bros., after all, and for the longest time, no one could see the color of the base.

Sidenote: Each game that uses an Amiibo for interactivity has a different base–so Smash Bros. Amiibos have a golden Smash insignia base, Mario Party Amiibos have a silver checkered base, etc.

On top of that, the preliminary sketches released by Yacht Club games showed the Amiibo as having a Smash Bros. base…so, yeah, it makes sense that people would think Shovel Knight might show up in the game.

Recently, though, Yacht Club Games themselves have dispelled that rumor, stating that though they would love nothing more than to see their character in Smash Bros., he just wasn’t “compatible”.  Now, whether or not they were just talking of the Amiibo, or of the character himself (only makes sense if my original hypothesis of this Smash Bros. game being about Nintendo history is true), remains to be seen.  It has since been revealed that Shovel Knight is to have a purple base with a shovel insignia on it–so, not the Smash base.

Either way, though, with the final Nintendo Direct dealing with Smash Bros. looming ever closer (a mere 35 minutes away as of me typing this sentence), literally anything can happen.  We may yet see Shovel Knight in this game, ladies and gentlemen.  I’m hoping not before Simon Belmont, of course, but what can one do?

Stay tuned for live updates during the livestream!


TBT #11 – Mega Man 10 Robot Master names leaked! Capcom has a fit! Spoilers within!

Originally published at Examiner.com on January 11, 2010.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Robot Masters for Mega Man 10 have been named!  Furthermore, they’re all apparently true, as Capcom has seen fit to delete every thread associated with the–not rumors–spoilers from the Capcom Unity website.

Yes, you read correctly.  This is the information that Capcom doesn’t want you to know.  Seriously, folks, they’re literally freaking out about this, even though this information will in no conceivable way hurt the sales of Mega Man 10.  Plus, when you think about it, it’s truly Capcom’s fault that these names were leaked, as they must have shared this information with someone in order for it to have been leaked in the first place

Perhaps “Classified Man” or “Big Brother Man”  will be found in Capcom’s next Mega Man game.

The Robot Masters are as follows (and this information came from ProtoDude’s Rockman Corner, before ProtoDude very bravely ran away from his evil overlords at Capcom):

  • Blade Man
  • Strike Man
  • Pump Man
  • Commando Man
  • Solar Man
  • Chill Man
  • Sheep Man
  • Nitro Man

Again, though Capcom has not issued an official statement, I think the fact that the mods over at Capcom Unity soil themselves every time these names are mentioned is evidence of the information’s accuracy.  If you, my loyal readers, post these names in a thread on Capcom Unity, you will see how long it takes for the mods to delete your posts, your entire threads, and, possibly, your very lives!  That’s right, folks, a bunch of twenty-something nerdy Japanese game designers will swarm upon you like a clan of ancient assassins.  Be warned!

All joking aside, Capcom’s reaction is a complete joke.  They really are treating this tiny, insignificant leak as the most grievous intellectual property crime since Napster–or The Pirate Bay.  With this in mind, though ProtoDude may only answer to his Capcom masters, I answer to my loyal readers and fellow fans of the Blue Bomber.  This is my gift to the fans.

I will update as more information becomes available.  Keep the free press alive!

For more info: Capcom Unity, ProtoDude’s Rockman Corner

Sinister Penguin


Evil, wicked penguin!
Why did you steal the Eskimo’s
only beer?
The beer for which he traveled
so long and hard on a sled
of huskies?
You, evil penguin, have caused
the Eskimo to melt his
igloo in a sober rage!
He needed that beer,
Satan’s servant,
and you have robbed him of it!
But, hark, what is this?
The penguin has sipped the beer!
How can this be?  Penguins can’t fly!
Yet here, the intoxicated mammal
flaps its wings and flies to
scenic Harlem.
How can this be?
He is a drunken penguin,
and all things are possible.


There is a bulldozer where the
penguin lands, and with one small
claw it turns the key.
The penguin has turned the key!
“That sounds like a drunken penguin
operating heavy machinery,” a nearby
officer states as he draws his weapon
to stop that which cannot be stopped.
He fires in vain at the bulldozer,
knowing the penguin’s rage cannot be stopped!
The end is near for Harlem
and the world!
The penguin is a demonic force
of beer-stealing fury as
it sings, “Doo Be Doo Be Doo!”
Nothing can satiate a drunken penguin.


The next day is one of confusion as
the evil penguin finds himself in a bed.
On him, a navel uniform.
Next to him, a cheap prostitute.
In a drunken stupor the wicked
penguin joined the U.S. Navy!
A proposition came to him
and he accepted.
The prostitute, after a night of penguin
pleasures, wanted twenty dollars in return.
How can he pay?
He’s only a penguin!

– From An Old Man’s Nocturnal Emissions
Randall Malus, c. 2001

Super Smash Bros. 3DS/Wii U – Laying the (Back)Groundwork

So, I’ve decided to take a break from my novella(s) to fulfill one promise from around the time of E3–specifically because we’re nearing October (why this is important will become apparent later) and recent updates concerning the game have caught my attention.  This isn’t going to be one post, but a series of three or four, so bear with me–updates will be fast and furious.

Some quick definitions so you know what the fuck I’m talking about (skip this if you already know the lingo):

  • Second-party (developer): A subsidiary of a larger developer, usually comprised of programmers separate from but beholden to a larger parent company and must produce games for that parent company’s chosen platform (console).  While a second-party developer can become independent of the parent company at some point (I’m thinking of Rare specifically), this doesn’t happen often.  In most cases, creations of the subsidiary are owned by the parent company.  An example of this would be Hal Labs and the Kirby series of video games.
  • Third-party (developer): A wholly independent developer who just so happens to occasionally produce and develop games for another company’s platform.  Unlike a second-party developer, a third-party developer is not beholden to the parent company, and may contractually publish software for any platform it sees fit.  Two examples of third-party developers are Capcom (who have produced a literal ton of Mega Man games across various consoles and platforms, not all produced by Nintendo) and Konami (see Capcom, but replace “Mega Man” with “Castlevania”).
  • DLC: Downloadable content.  Often, this is content that is released after the final version of the game is released and sold to consumers, acting as a way to expand the original game’s playability long after its release.  Some notable DLC includes additional game modes (ways of playing the game), characters, costumes, and levels/arenas.  Of course, DLC is not often free.
  • Amiibo: A collectible plastic figurine licensed and produced by Nintendo in the likeness of a video game character (often associated in some way with Nintendo) that can produce via internal microchip real effects within certain compatible games (through a chip scanner/reader in the Wii U wii-pad controller, and through a dedicated scanner/reader peripheral sold separately for the 3DS handheld).  They are hard as hell to find in stores and expensive as fuck on the aftermarket.

Now, a summary of what the hell Super Smash Bros. is–in about a paragraph (skip this if you already know your ass from a hole in the ground):

Super Smash Bros. is a video game series created and published by Nintendo (technically, with second-party company Hal for the first two iterations, second-party company Sora for the third, and both Sora and third-party company Namco Bandai for most recent installment).  It is, specifically, a series of fighting games, whereby a player may take control of a character to beat the living snot out of a competitor’s character.  This competitor may be the computer or a second (or third, or fifth, or eighth) player.  There are four games in this series to date, with the most recent being shared between two platforms: the Wii U console, and the 3DS handheld.  These games are, in the broad strokes, meant to celebrate Nintendo’s video game history and heritage.

I say “in the broad strokes” because it is my belief that Super Smash Bros. 3DS/Wii U is a bit of a different animal–still a reptile, but where the other games were lizards, this one is an alligator.  To illustrate my point, a summary of the progression of the series by briefly explaining each individual game is necessary (don’t skip this, as this is where I start to make my point):

  1. The first game in the series, aptly titled “Super Smash Bros.” and released for the N64 console, was a showcase of Nintendo characters.  Flagship franchises like Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Star Fox, Metroid, and the Legend of Zelda–among others–were represented via playable characters, and players were able to fight either the computer or a friend (or four) using familiar franchise-based characters in familiar franchise-based arenas while familiar franchise-based tunes played in the background. The roster included 12 characters, all from games developed by Nintendo (or by second-party company Hal).
  2. The next installment, “Super Smash Bros. Melee” for the Gamecube, was an evolution of the first game.  The fundamentals were the same: fight each other using Nintendo (or Hal) characters in Nintendo (or Hal) arenas while familiar Nintendo (or Hal) tunes play in the background.  The differences were few, but significant: better graphics, faster movements, more furious gameplay, and a roster increase from 12 to 26.  While some of the additional characters were clones of existing characters (i.e. Doctor Mario, Young Link), several were unique, and a few (like Mr. Game-and-Watch and the Ice Climbers) were characters unused by Nintendo is decades.  As an added reason to play through the game multiple times, a player could collect “trophies” while playing, which unlocked 3D models of characters from throughout Nintendo’s history (a sort of cameo appearance for characters deemed not popular enough or versatile enough to make it into the roster-proper).  A similar element was involved in the first game, but it was rudimentary and unworthy of note.  Melee is where this concept really started to find its footing.
  3. “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” for the Wii has been seen as both a step forward and a step backwards.  While the game increased the roster from Melee’s 26 to 37, it eliminated some fan-favorite clone characters from Melee (bye, Doctor Mario).  It slowed the action down considerably, and at times feels sluggish.  There’s a single-player story mode now, but it’s mostly superfluous–a nice attempt, but people buy these games to play with friends or to challenge themselves.  In addition to trophy collection, one could collect stickers for basic character customization–but this felt like busy-work and wasn’t much fun.  Brawl did do some interesting things, though.  First, it introduced a concept known as the “assist trophy”, which was an item that could be picked up and used instantly.  Such trophies would feature a non-playable character (in a cameo appearance), doing something to either help the player or hinder them (the helper character to appear is random).  Second, it introduced to the predominantly Nintendo-centric roster two third-party characters: Sonic the Hedgehog, from Nintendo’s longtime business rival Sega, and Solid Snake, a character from Konami’s Metal Gear series (predominantly featured on the Sony Playstation and its various evolutions).

That brings us to SSB 3DS/Wii U.  The roster is now huge: where Brawl featured 37 playable characters, this game boasts a whopping 53, and growing monthly via DLC–more if you count alternate costumes and move-sets, which sometimes change the name and appearance of the playable characters to someone else entirely.  The game has been sped up again, and sits somewhere between Brawl and Melee.  Some favorite clones are back (hello again, Doctor Mario), as well are collectible trophies and assist trophies, and it introduces a customization process that is more fun than it was in Brawl (now a person can insert a Mii, or a super-deformed cutesy version of themselves or someone else, into the game, and create their moveset from a static set of moves available).

But some Super Smash Bros. players (rather vocal and negative blokes) have seen this game as an abomination, an outlier in the series.  While I agree, I don’t see this as a bad thing.

So, why do I think it’s an alligator among lizards?  Because it evolves the concept of the series beyond its original purpose.

NEXT: A Case for Evolution