There's something that feels so good about playing Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series. The game's arena-style combat, coupled with angle-precise moves, gives it a level of intuitiveness not found in traditional fighters. Pulling off awesome combos boils down to landing the right punches and kicks at the right time, as opposed to memorizing complicated button combinations as in games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.
Unfortunately, Smash games have been limited to Nintendo consoles. Whether you're looking for your Smash fix on other platforms or need something to tide you over until Smash Bros. arrives on Switch, here are eight alternatives that will scratch that wavedash-back-into-forward-smash itch.
Credit: Dan Fornace
Rivals of Aether is fast and fluid. It feels like a mix between Super Smash Bros. Melee, the 2001 GameCube release that still has a strong competitive community today, and the more recent Super Smash Bros for Wii U. While the cast of characters doesn't have a very wide range, each character brings a unique set of abilities that sets him or her apart. For more-technical players, wavedashing and dance-dashing are in this game. There's less of an edge game than in Melee, and it does take higher percentages to smash an opponent out. The game's 2D pixel-art aesthetic is nice but can make it harder to distinguish hitboxes. Developer Dan Fornace regularly puts out updates; the game has a robust online mode, and there's an active competitive community.
Credit: Dan Fornace
Brawlhalla is a free-to-play arena fighter that takes light inspiration from the Smash competitive community. It has a wide-ranging cast of characters, but because it's free to play, it requires ponying up some capital to unlock everyone. The game has an appealing line-art aesthetic, and it moves fast. It's a little floaty, and because wall jumps are unlimited, there's less risk in jumping off the stage to attack an opponent.
For a casual gaming experience with a group of friends, Brawlhalla is an easy download and a lot of fun. But for hardcore Melee fans seeking a highly technical arena fighter, it may not offer everything you're looking for. Is it possible to wavedash in this game? Yes. But there's a recovery time, so it's impossible to do multiple wavedashes consecutively. This prevents the game from going off a technical deep end.
Credit: Blue Mammoth Games
Gang Beasts isn't your typical arena fighter. It doesn't have a 2D perspective, nor is it all that technical. But it's oodles of fun. And it's probably the most accessible game on this list. In Gang Beasts, the player controls the character's arms, using the left and right bumpers to slap and punch their opponents into oblivion. It's the physics of the game that make it so wacky. The lower half of your character's body seems completely unconnected to the individual's upper half. So, you get halves of bodies running and whaling on each other. It's hard not to laugh the entire time. Gang Beasts is the epitome of a party game. And isn't that what Smash is all about?
Credit: Double Fine Productions
Nidhogg 2 might seem like a choice that's out of left field, but it has all the elements of an arena fighter. Direction-based attacks? Check. Quick kills and revivals? Check. Deceptively easy but hard to master? Check. Nidhogg is so simple, yet it offers so much rock-paper-scissors action in one-on-one bouts that it's hard not to see the similarities with Smash.
The objective of the game is to run all the way to your side of the screen. But each time you pass a screen, your opponent is there to one-hit-kill you. It's this constant tug-of-war that makes the game so compelling, not only to watch, but also to play. Its awesome music and great visual flair make it a great competitive or party game.
Super Smash Flash 2 is probably the most robust fan-made Smash game on the internet, excluding any hacked mods that were created for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. It's a pixel-art homage to Smash, with a few characters that would never be a part of the official Smash lineup, like Goku from Dragon Ball Z or Luffy from One Piece. Mechanically, the game plays most similarly to Brawl, but with the speed of Melee. The result is a surprisingly Smash-like game that can be played all in your browser (although we advise players to download the game directly on a computer). Super Smash Flash 2 is still in beta, but the game is incredibly robust as is. Just beware of crashes.
Brawlout is probably the most robust original arena fighter on this list. Instead of using 2D sprite models, the team at Angry Mob Games opted for fully 3D characters. This makes a big difference in the feel of a Smash-like game. Brawlout is also unapologetic in its implementation of many competitive Smash mechanics. Wavedashes are easy to do, as are directional-influence moves and land-canceling techniques. Brawlout is currently in early access on Steam, but the game is very much playable. It's already out on Switch, which is especially nice given that there's no release date set for the next Super Smash Bros. game. Oh, and you can play as Juan from Guacamelee or The Drifter from Hyper Light Drifter.
Credit: Angry Mob Games
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play Super Smash Bros. on the original dot-matrix Game Boy? Well, wonder no more, as Super Smash Land will answer that for you. It's a de-make of the original Super Smash Bros., made by Dan Fornace, the creator of Rivals of Aether. The game is an homage to Smash Bros. and is available to download for free. Unfortunately, the game is too limited when compared to the other arena fighters on this list. Controls are relegated to your keyboard, which is awkward enough, and there are only two buttons, jump and attack. Smash is already a simple game, but this removes too much. Still, it's a cool experiment and will distract you for at least a few minutes
Credit: Dan Fornace