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The competitive Smash scene is a breeding ground for lasting memes.
Since its inception in 1999, the Super Smash Bros. series has cemented itself as one of the most entertaining video game series of all time.
The idea was bound for success: all of your favorite Nintendo characters beating the shit out of each other with bats, hammers, shells, swords, Poké Balls, and much, much more? The game was a dream come true, our wildest playground arguments about whether Donkey Kong could beat Mario in a fight, finally brought to life.
Fast forward to 2016 and three other Super Smash Bros. titles have joined the series: Melee, Brawl, and 3DS & Wii U. Melee celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. Considered the best Super Smash Bros. a part of the series, Melee is still played by fans across the world, especially professional players.
Melee not only birthed the professional Super Smash Bros. tournament scene that’s still prevalent today but also one of the first viral internet memes from the series. In December 2008, a Melee doubles match took place between green teammates SilentSpectre (Captain Falcon) and Tang (Fox), and blue teammates Lucky and Zhu (both Fox).
After Lucky loses his stocks, only Zhu is left against SilentSpectre and Tang. The battle doesn’t last long. The duo proceeds to complete a doubles combo on Zhu, which incites a furor among tournament commentators, known as HomeMadeWaffles, Mango, and Phil.
“Happy Feet. Wombo Combo. That ain’t Falco,” the trio exclaim as Zhu’s Fox is taken out. The moment lasts less than six seconds, but in the age of the internet, six seconds can last forever. Encapsulating the thrill of Super Smash Bros. the Wombo Combo not only celebrated the camaraderie that’s so important with this game, but also gave outsiders a glimpse into why people love this series so much.
The Wombo Combo video was uploaded on Dec. 8, 2008. Eight years later, it’s been viewed close to 12 million times.
“Four stocks and seven years ago, my teammate and I created a combo that revolutionized the Melee nation,” Tang said in a recently released documentary about the Wombo Combo.
The documentary describes the tag-team attack as “one of the most influential and viral moments in Melee history.” The short film tells the story of the moment but also how it inevitably transcended its Super Smash Bros.
One scene explains how the Wombo Combo became a popular catchphrase throughout other esports. Suddenly, these two words became a shared sentiment: Everyone wanted to drop that Wombo Combo on some unfortunate player whenever possible.
Super Smash Bros. has birthed a number of notable internet memes since its inception, including this one below.
Without context, the assumption is this: nerdy dude is shocked after being kissed by a cute girl. In reality, this is another Super Smash Bros. tournament moment that became an internet sensation.
The story goes that in 2009, Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman, a prominent competitor in the Super Smash Bros. tournament scene, received the kiss from Amber Scheurer, who was in attendance with her boyfriend John “Rx-” Vastola (a fellow gaming enthusiast).
The kiss occurred after Zimmerman lost to Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma. “The crowd that was standing around was like ‘Oh, you should give him a kiss on the cheek to cheer him up,’ so I did,” Scheurer said in an interview with ESPN, which called the kiss “the most viral moment in Smash history.”
A combination of Scheurer’s spontaneity and Zimmerman’s sense of humor resulted in the viral photo. The interaction has become a meme shared throughout the gaming community: another viral moment brought to the World Wide Web courtesy of Super Smash Bros.
Photo via Imgur
Where the previous two transpired through Super Smash Bros. tournaments, the Falcon Punch has been with the series since it first popped up on the Nintendo 64.
Photo via unrealitymag.com
Captain Falcon’s signature attack, the Falcon Punch, is laughably over the top: The character charges up his fist and strongly declares “Falcon Punch,” before unleashing a strike so strong that it conjures a burning falcon.
Falcon Punch may very well be the only internet and pop culture meme from Super Smash Bros. Aside from a handful of memes dedicated to the move on the internet (see examples here, here, here, here and here), it’s also referenced in an episode of Workaholics. As the trio of guys attempt to rid their home of rats, Blake Henderson (Blake Anderson) shouts “Falcon Punch” before smashing one of the rodents to a bloody pulp.
Other memes have popped up that, but they’re not as popular as the ones we’ve already discussed. That new additions are still being created, however, is a testament to the series’ lasting fandom. Newcomer introductions, fan made videos, the merciless Villager, the mysterious FalcoMaster3000: The list goes on and on.
Recently, one high schooler became an internet sensation when he took his copy of Super Smash Bros. Melee to prom. Seventeen-year-old Chris Burwell took pictures of himself giving a corsage to the game and dancing with it, and he posted the photos online the following day. The post first went viral on a Melee Hell, a popular Facebook group where over 18,000 people share memes, stories, and other posts dedicated to Super Smash Bros. Melee.
As with most of these memes, Burwell’s viral post speaks to the community the Super Smash Bros. series has created: a group of people brought together by their love of Nintendo, its characters, and beating the shit out of those characters together.
Here we get a certain glimpse of the world of Super Smash Bros., where it’s not just about the games but the people who play them and share a sense of unity among fellow fans of the series across the world.
Elijah Watson is an internet culture and entertainment reporter. His work has been published by the Daily Beast, Vice, Complex, Bustle, Uproxx, and Okayplayer.