When a gamer first walked into a GameTruck game theater, they are hit with a wall of color and sound. The screens are full of games cycling through their “attract animations” built in commercials that show how fun and engaging each game will be. The Game Coach greets them and rapidly gets them situated and into playing.
While there are differences, from market to market, and region to region as far as games go (for example, in the Northeast, NHL Hockey is a must, while in the Southeast NASCAR is frequently requested), there are usually some variations of the following games that have been on our trailers for the better part of a decade.
What are they?
These are the games that
- Support four players
- Are widely popular
- Are easy to get into
- Have been played by almost everyone attending the party making them familiar and accessible.
This list is so stable that it was an enormous deal when Fortnite forced its way into the list of games that make a regular initial appearance at most parties.
The list of games is easily recognizable, but there is one game, that in my opinion stands above all the rest. It might not be obvious, but even if you don’t agree, I think you’ll at least understand why I am such a fan.
The following is a list of games you are most likely to find at the beginning of a party, in no particular order:
- Just Dance
- Lego (anything) from Star Wars to Batman
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- Call of Duty (latest version)
- Super Mash Bros Ultimate
Of all the games on this list, I believe that Super Smash Bros Ultimate, or just “Smash“, is the king of party games. And here’s why.
Smash is special for a variety of reasons. Developed by Legendary Nintendo President Satoru Iwata and Masahiro Sakurai while they worked at the HAL Laboratories (this was before Iwata joined Nintendo), they created the game in their spare time. Iwata would code Sakurai’s ideas and they would play the results. They wanted to put something together quick so they could try out the idea. The original prototype did not even have Nintendo characters in it. “After the first round of programming, we knew we had something special, ” said Iwata. 
Neither of them imagined the game would grow to the legend it has become. However, Smash was unique in that the game benefited from more. Iwata did not believe that adding more was necessarily the best way improve a game. In my own experience as a game developer, I saw this played out in our most successful original property ever, “ATV Off-road Fury.”
ATVORF (the name was a mouthful), originally started out to be a launch title for the PS2. We had included 38 tracks. The producers at Sony, realizing we had something special did the unthinkable. They cut the game to 12 tracks. The team almost quit over it. Imagine having two third of your work thrown out.
However, this decision forced us to pick only the 12 best tracks and then polish them to perfection. But that was not all, Sony decided to delay the game until February, giving us an additional 4 months to work on it, but with one critical constraint. We could not add any new features. What did we do for 4 months?
We removed every annoying thing we could find. The game became significantly better by subtraction. ATV went on to sell 40,000 units a week, for years culminating in roughly 10M units sold.
Yes Smash, as Iwata noted, was special. It did benefit from more. More characters, more modes, more stages. The game is genius in both its simplicity and its depth. The core concept mimics the play of action figures. Early versions of the game in fact features giant hands that “smashed” these beloved action figures together, much as a child would do with their own toys. However, in Smash Bros, the characters really do get to “fight”.
But it’s not simply the premise that makes Smash special, but a number of features.
- Characters never “die”, nor are they “killed.” They are knocked out or KO’d and that only happens off screen.
- Characters never lose health. They accumulate damage points. This is a really interesting twist, because zero is always zero, but this idea of “stamina” seems to speak to our intrinsic understanding that competent, capable fighters are able to take way more punishment than inexperienced and unskilled combatants. It literally feels like a “toughness” meter, and better players can in fact, play through high levels of accumulated damage. Like the quarterback that bounces back up after a hard hit, or a basketball player who jumps up after a hard foul, we respect toughness.
- The game supports at least 6 major styles of play. They all work, each and every one of them can be effective.
- The game is rich enough to support a thriving esports community.
- Smash has the largest in person esports community in the world. For more than 20 years players have been coming together face to face, and shoulder to shoulder to battle it out on the big screen (and no infrequently on the small CRT).
- Smash supports up to 8 players at the same time.
- Players respawn constantly. Unlike games where they are eliminated until the next round, Smash keeps everyone engaged and active.
- The game includes characters not only from Nintendo, but across the landscape of video games  – from metal gear solid, to Minecraft , Smash could be the most inclusive video game ever made.
- Smash plays out on ONE single screen.
Of all the games we play, Smash has been one of the most consistently popular games for more than 15 years. While some games have come and gone (like Guitar Hero, or Wii Bowling), Smash has persisted. The ability for so many players to jump in, find their favorite character, and go to town is incredible.
What’s more, an 8 player Smash battle is something that is hard to replicate at home. Our consoles have all the characters unlocked which allows the players to pick from the full library of characters. They even have a way to allow every player to pick the same character (they just have to pick a different color or “skin” so they all appear unique.) Let’s just say an 8 player Ganondorf battle is more entertaining than you ever imagined.
Smash is more than a game; it feels like a toybox full of surprises. There are so many ways to configure the game, so many characters to pick from, players gravitate to Smash without hesitation.
This is why I feel confident in outlining Smash as the greatest GameTruck Party video game of all time. Of course, this is up for debate, which is what makes it fun. Do you agree? What is your favorite game to play with friends? Reach out to us on social media and let us know.
- Hobonichi (Ed.). (2021). Ask Iwata: Words of Wisdom from Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s Legendary CEO (S. Bett, Trans.). VIZ Media LLC.
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch system. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2021, from http://www.smashbros.com/en_US/fighter/index.html
Facebook, S. on, Twitter, S. on, & LinkedIn, S. on. (2020, October 1). Super Smash Bros. Ultimate adds Minecraft characters. VentureBeat. https://venturebeat.com/2020/10/01/super-smash-bros-ultimate-adds-minecraft-chracters/