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.

Watch John Krasinski Interview Steve Carell About The Office's 15th Anniversary

John Krasinski and Steve Carell in The Office.
John Krasinski and Steve Carell in The Office.
NBC Universal, Inc.

The Office just passed a major milestone: It has been 15 years since the American adaptation of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's hit British sitcom made its way to NBC, where it ran for nine seasons. To celebrate the show's big anniversary, former co-stars John Krasinski and Steve Carell reunited in the best way possible: Carell appeared as a guest on Krasinski's new YouTube show, where the two decided to spread some positivity.

Krasinski just launched his very own news show titled Some Good News, and it's exactly what we've all been needing. During this segment, he interviewed Carell via video call, and the two shared their favorite memories of working on the beloved workplace comedy.

"It's such a happy surprise," Carell said of The Office's continued success. "After all these years people are still tuning in and finding it." The two also addressed the question that's been on every fan's mind: is there a chance that we'll see the Dunder Mifflin crew reunite in some way?

"Listen, I know everyone's talking about a reunion," Krasinski said. "Hopefully one day we'll just all get to reunite as people."

You can watch the full episode below. (Carell joins the video around the 5:50 minute mark.)

15 Facts About John Brown, the Real-Life Abolitionist at the Center of The Good Lord Bird

John Brown, circa 1846.
John Brown, circa 1846.
Augustus Washington/Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Abolitionist John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry on October 16, 1859, was meant to start an armed slave revolt, and ultimately end slavery. Though Brown succeeded in taking over the federal armory, the revolt never came to pass—and Brown paid for the escapade with his life.

In the more than 160 years since that raid, John Brown has been called a hero, a madman, a martyr, and a terrorist. Now Showtime is exploring his legacy with an adaption of James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird. Like the novel it’s based on, the miniseries—which stars Ethan Hawke—will cover the exploits of Brown and his allies. Here's what you should know about John Brown before you watch.

1. John Brown was born into an abolitionist family on May 9, 1800.

John Brown was born to Owen and Ruth Mills Brown in Torrington, Connecticut, on May 9, 1800. After his family relocated to Hudson, Ohio (where John was raised), their new home would become an Underground Railroad station. Owen would go on to co-found the Western Reserve Anti-Slavery Society and was a trustee at the Oberlin Collegiate Institute, one of the first American colleges to admit black (and female) students.

2. John Brown declared bankruptcy at age 42.

At 16, Brown went to school with the hope of becoming a minister, but eventually left the school and, like his father, became a tanner. He also dabbled in surveying, canal-building, and the wool trade. In 1835, he bought land in northeastern Ohio. Thanks partly the financial panic of 1837, Brown couldn’t satisfy his creditors and had to declare bankruptcy in 1842. He later tried peddling American wool abroad in Europe, where he was forced to sell it at severely reduced prices. This opened the door for multiple lawsuits when Brown returned to America.

3. John Brown's Pennsylvania home was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The John Brown Tannery Site in Pennsylvania
The John Brown Tannery Site in Pennsylvania.
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Sometime around 1825, Brown moved himself and his family to Guys Mills, Pennsylvania, where he set up a tannery and built a house and a barn with a hidden room that was used by slaves on the run. Brown reportedly helped 2500 slaves during his time in Pennsylvania; the building was destroyed in 1907 [PDF], but the site, which is now a museum that is open to the public, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Brown moved his family back to Ohio in 1836.

4. After Elijah Lovejoy's murder, John Brown pledged to end slavery.

Elijah Lovejoy was a journalist and the editor of the St. Louis/Alton Observer, a staunchly anti-slavery newspaper. His editorials enraged those who defended slavery, and in 1837, Lovejoy was killed when a mob attacked the newspaper’s headquarters.

The incident lit a fire under Brown. When he was told about Lovejoy’s murder at an abolitionist prayer meeting in Hudson, Brown—a deeply religious man—stood up and raised his right hand, saying “Here, before God, in the presence of these witnesses, from this time, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery."

5. John Brown moved to the Kansas Territory after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which decreed that it would be the people of Kansas and Nebraska who would decide if their territories would be free states or slave states. New England abolitionists hoping to convert the Kansas Territory into a Free State moved there in droves and founded the city of Lawrence. By the end of 1855, John Brown had also relocated to Kansas, along with six of his sons and his son-in-law. Opposing the newcomers were slavery supporters who had also arrived in large numbers.

6. John Brown’s supporters killed five pro-slavery men at the 1856 Pottawatomie Massacre.

A John Brown mural by John Steuart Curry
A John Brown mural by John Steuart Curry.
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On May 21, 1856, Lawrence was sacked by pro-slavery forces. The next day, Charles Sumner, an anti-slavery Senator from Massachusetts, was beaten with a cane by Representative Preston Brooks on the Senate floor until he lost consciousness. (A few days earlier, Sumner had insulted Democratic senators Stephen Douglas and Andrew Butler in his "Crime Against Kansas" speech; Brooks was a representative from Butler’s state of South Carolina.)

In response to those events, Brown led a group of abolitionists into a pro-slavery settlement by the Pottawatomie Creek on the night of May 24. On Brown’s orders, five slavery sympathizers were forced out of their houses and killed with broadswords.

Newspapers across the country denounced the attack—and John Brown in particular. But that didn't dissuade him: Before his final departure from Kansas in 1859, Brown participated in many other battles across the region. He lost a son, Frederick Brown, in the fighting.

7. John Brown led a party of liberated slaves all the way from Missouri to Michigan.

In December 1858, John Brown crossed the Kansas border and entered the slave state of Missouri. Once there, he and his allies freed 11 slaves and led them all the way to Detroit, Michigan, covering a distance of more than 1000 miles. (One of the liberated women gave birth en route.) Brown’s men had killed a slaveholder during their Missouri raid, so President James Buchanan put a $250 bounty on the famed abolitionist. That didn’t stop Brown, who got to watch the people he’d helped free board a ferry and slip away into Canada.

8. John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry was meant to instigate a nationwide slave uprising.

On October 16, 1859, Brown and 18 men—including five African Americans—seized control of a U.S. armory in the Jefferson County, Virginia (today part of West Virginia) town of Harpers Ferry. The facility had around 100,000 weapons stockpiled there by the late 1850s. Brown hoped his actions would inspire a large-scale slave rebellion, with enslaved peoples rushing to collect free guns, but the insurrection never came.

9. Robert E. Lee played a part in John Brown’s arrest.

Artist Thomas Hovenden depicts John Brown after his capture.
Artist Thomas Hovenden depicts John Brown after his capture.
The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images

Shortly after Brown took Harpers Ferry, the area was surrounded by local militias. On the orders of President Buchanan, Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee entered the fray with a detachment of U.S. Marines. The combined might of regional and federal forces proved too much for Brown, who was captured in the Harpers Ferry engine house on October 18, 1859. Ten of Brown's men died, including two more of his sons.

10. John Brown was put on trial a week after his capture.

After his capture, Brown—along with Aaron Stevens, Edwin Coppoc, Shields Green, and John Copeland—was put on trial. When asked if the defendants had counsel, Brown responded:

"Virginians, I did not ask for any quarter at the time I was taken. I did not ask to have my life spared. The Governor of the State of Virginia tendered me his assurance that I should have a fair trial: but, under no circumstances whatever will I be able to have a fair trial. If you seek my blood, you can have it at any moment, without this mockery of a trial. I have had no counsel: I have not been able to advise with anyone ... I am ready for my fate. I do not ask a trial. I beg for no mockery of a trial—no insult—nothing but that which conscience gives, or cowardice would drive you to practice. I ask again to be excused from the mockery of a trial."

Brown would go on to plead not guilty. Just days later, he was found “guilty of treason, and conspiring and advising with slaves and others to rebel, and murder in the first degree” and was sentenced to hang.

11. John Brown made a grim prophecy on the morning of his death.

On the morning of December 2, 1859, Brown passed his jailor a note that read, “I … am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away, but with blood.” He was hanged later that day.

12. Victor Hugo defended John Brown.

Victor Hugo—the author of Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, who was also an abolitionist—penned an open letter on John Brown’s behalf in 1859. Desperate to see him pardoned, Hugo wrote, “I fall on my knees, weeping before the great starry banner of the New World … I implore the illustrious American Republic, sister of the French Republic, to see to the safety of the universal moral law, to save John Brown.” Hugo’s appeals were of no use. The letter was dated December 2—the day Brown was hanged.

13. Abraham Lincoln commented on John Brown's death.

Abraham Lincoln, who was then in Kansas, said, “Old John Brown has been executed for treason against a State. We cannot object, even though he agreed with us in thinking slavery wrong. That cannot excuse violence, bloodshed and treason. It could avail him nothing that he might think himself right.”

14. John Brown was buried in North Elba, New York.

John Brown's gravesite in New York
John Brown's gravesite in New York.
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1849, Brown had purchased 244 acres of property from Gerrit Smith, a wealthy abolitionist, in North Elba, New York. The property was near Timbuctoo, a 120,000-acre settlement that Smith had started in 1846 to give African American families the property they needed in order to vote (at that time, state law required black residents to own $250 worth of property to cast a vote). Brown had promised Smith that he would assist his new neighbors in cultivating the mountainous terrain.

When Brown was executed, his family interred the body at their North Elba farm—which is now a New York State Historic Site.

15. The tribute song "John Brown's Body" shares its melody with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

It didn’t take long for Brown to become a martyr. Early in the 1860s, the basic melody of “Say Brothers Will You Meet Us,” a popular camp hymn, was fitted with new lyrics about the slain abolitionist. Titled “John Brown’s Body,” the song spread like wildfire in the north—despite having some lines that were deemed unsavory. Julia Ward Howe took the melody and gave it yet another set of lyrics. Thus was born “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” a Union marching anthem that's still widely known today.

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