The game is centered where players can play as and against characters from Nintendo's video gaming franchises such as Mario, Pokémon and The Legend of Zelda. The stages and gameplay modes make references to, or take their designs from, popular games released by Nintendo. The gameplay system offers an unorthodox approach to the fighting game genre as percentage counters measure the level of damage received, rather than the health bar traditionally seen in most fighting games.
Super Smash Bros. received mostly positive reviews from the media. It was commercially successful, selling over 4.9 million copies, with 2.93 million copies sold in the United States, and 1.97 million copies sold in Japan.
During battles, items related to Nintendo games or merchandise fall onto the game field. These items have purposes ranging from inflicting damage on the opponent to restoring health to the player. Additionally, most stages have a theme relating to a Nintendo franchise or a specific Nintendo game and are interactive to the player. Although the stages are rendered in three dimensions, players can only move on a two-dimensional plane. Not all stages are available immediately; one stage must be "unlocked" by achieving particular requirements.
Although the player can choose from five difficulty levels, the game's single-player mode always follows the same series of opponents. This game mode is called Classic Mode in subsequent sequels. The player will choose one unlocked character, and fight against a series of characters in a specific order, attempting to defeat them with only a limited amount of lives.
There are three more modes of play. The "Break the Targets" minigame as well as the "Board the Platforms" minigame are two of the remaining single-player games. The objective of the mingames is to break each target or board each platform, respectively. The goal must be achieved without falling off each character-specific stage. The last one is the "Training Mode" section, where the player can choose any of the available characters and to choose the opponent, as well as any stage. When started, the game can be paused to gain almost any control, such as slowed game speed, spawning any item, and telling the opponent what to do.
If there is a tie between two or more combatants, the contenders are returned to the fighting stage in a "Sudden Death" battle with 300% damage each. This means players are easily knocked out, so as to quickly determine the winner.
Super Smash Bros. was commercially successful, and quickly became a Player's Choice title. In Japan, 1.97 million copies were sold, and 2.93 million have been sold in the United States as of 2008.
Super Smash Bros. received mostly positive reviews, with criticism mostly directed towards the game's single-player mode. GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann noted the single-player game "won't exactly last a long time". Instead, he praised the multi-player portion of the game, saying that it is "extremely simple to learn". He also praised the game's music, calling it "amazing". IGN's Peer Schneider agreed, calling the multiplayer mode "the game's main selling point", while GameCritics.com's Dale Weir described Super Smash Bros. as "the most original fighting game on the market and possibly the best multiplayer game on any system". Brad Penniment of Allgame said the game was designed for multiplayer battles, praising the simplicity of the controls and the fun element of the game.