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How to Avoid Being Shit at 'Super Smash Bros'

It's Nintendo's biggest release of 2014, so you'd better be ready.

There are two types of people in this world: people who think that Pikachu is an awesome little creature, and people who would like to punch Pikachu over and over again. Super Smash Bros. is the only game in the world that caters to both of those broad demographics. (There is a possible third demographic: people who don't give a shit about Pikachu, but we'll ignore that for the sake of brevity.)

Smash Bros. is Mario Kart with punching, basically. It's easy to get into, colourful, chaotic, funny and most enjoyable when played against other actual human beings. It is also a giant Nintendo nerdgasm, starring 49 Nintendo characters from the obvious (Mario) to the ragingly obscure (Shulk from Xenoblade Chronicles) fighting across stages bristling with little Nintendo jokes and visual references that submerge anybody who grew up with a NES, SNES or N64 in waves of smug nostalgia. This is largely why people love it so much. Well, that and ​the "Falcon Punch".


For the next several months, as new iterations take over both the 3DS and Wii U, Super Smash Bros. is likely to become the sole reason for your social life shifting from a pub stool to a sofa. Here's how not to embarrass yourself in the process.

The first trailer for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS

Know The Basics

In Smash Bros., the aim isn't to beat your opponents up until they collapse – it's to knock them off the stage. The more damage they've taken, the more readily they will fly off the edge of the screen when you smack 'em. This is shown as a percentage counter. Ridiculously, it goes up to 999 percent damage, but all you really need to know is the bigger the number, the more vulnerable you are. (You also punch harder when you've got a lot of damage on you, though, which is worth keeping in mind.)

So, it's not just about having a character that can hit hard; it's about having one that can recover when they're sent flying. Characters like Kirby can basically fly, which is massively unfair, but helpful for beginners.

The finishing moves are called Smash Attacks. If you master nothing else in Smash Bros., learn how to pull these off (you have to press the attack button and flick the control stick at the same time). Even if you never learn the intricacies of combos or "​teching", or any of the other jargon that super-serious Smash Bros. players use, you can at least find characters with high damage and have a good shot at knocking them the fuck out.


Don't Worry Too Much About Picking a Character

See, the cool thing about Smash Bros. is that you can have fun with pretty much any character. That said, some are more technical than others. More importantly, some are funnier than others.

The most amusing character in the new Wii U and 3DS versions of Smash Bros., for my money, is the Villager – possibly the most benign video game character in existence. In his native game, Animal Crossing, all the Villager does is wander around watering flowers and collecting shells. In Smash Bros., he has a range of amazingly troll-y moves, like aggressive weed-pulling, burying opponents with a shovel and catching things that are thrown at him before stuffing them into his pockets. He also has a three-stage move where he plants a seedling, waters it and then chops down the resulting tree. If you manage to hit someone with that, it's probably the funniest thing in the game.

Villager's good for beginners, too, because he can use balloons to float back towards the stage after being knocked back. If you're not great at the game, it's also a good idea to use characters with projectiles, like Link and  ​Toon Link (endearingly effeminate / adorable stars of the Zelda series). That way you can hide at the side of the screen like a coward. If you want someone who just hits very hard, go for Punch-Out!!'s Little Mac, a diminutive boxer with comically oversized gloves. Mario is a safe but boring choice, too. It might be an idea to stay away from the super heavy guys – they're pretty reliant on timing, and they don't recover well after being hit.


Basically, though, don't worry too much about it. Every character can win, and only a few are genuinely difficult to use. There's an element of chaos to Smash Bros. that means character choice is only part of the battle.

Be a Dirty KO-Stealer

KO-stealing is a wonderfully petulant expression for when one player spends ages beating up another, and then a third player comes in to score the last hit before they're sent flying off-screen – thus reaping the reward for the first player's effort.

This is an excellent tactic if you are not particularly good at Smash Bros., or simply love to piss your mates off. During four-to-eight-player battles – i.e., the ones you're likely to be playing round friends' houses – try staying out of the fray and then leaping in to pick off the weak after someone else has done the hard work. Your friends will hate you, but then you can cover yourself in the glory of victory, and new friends will be jostling to touch you.

Upload Some Celebrity Miis to Beat Up

On both 3DS and Wii U, Smash Bros. lets you upload Miis – custom Nintendo characters – and fight with them. So, obviously, what you should do is go to ​this site, find some people / characters you really hate and scan the QR codes so that you can continually electrocute them with Pikachu's thunderbolt. I enjoyed beating up all of the James Bonds in sequence.

Take Full Advantage of the Screenshot Mode

At any point during a Smash match you can pause, zoom around and take screenshots that make it look like Nintendo characters are doing naughty things to each other. Or, if you're not 12 years old, you can content yourself with shots like these:


Super Smash Bros. is out on the 28th of November for Wii U – or the slightly inferior 3DS version is out now, if you're super impatient.

Keza MacDonald is the editor of ​Kotaku UK. Follow her ​on Twitter