End Boss Month #26: Super Smash Bros.

Coming up with a suitable boss to end a game is not an easy thing to do. Intentions of being grand can turn out looking hokey, as critics of Mass Effect 2’s Terminator Reaper might suggest. Or the difficulty of the encounter might not match up to expectations, or might simply be unfair, as was the case with Alpha-152. But what if the boss is an entity representing not a singular plot thread or universe? What if the game in question is something meant to be absurd, as was the case with Super Smash Bros.?

In a game and series that is known more for its eclectic cast of Nintendo characters past and present, what sort of foe would provide a proper match for everyone, from Mario to Captain Falcon? From Pikachu to Samus? The answer, apparently, is to throw a hand at them.

Tickle, tickle!
Tickle, tickle!

Master Hand has been the final boss of the standard single-player mode in every Smash Bros. game to date. A giant, disembodied hand, it awaits the player at the top of the arcade-style ladder. And if the right criteria are fulfilled, its left-handed (left-bodied?) companion Crazy Hand joins in on the fun. This is one pair that refuses to hold the applause until the end.

But really. Hands? You get to the end of the game, and you’re fighting the Hamburger Helper mascot? Well, yeah. I mean, Master Hand doesn’t endorse any dinner preparation kits, but it’s ready and waiting to slap fools off of the stage and into the stratosphere. And in a way, it makes sense, when you think about it. The Smash Bros. games are all about mixing it up between disparate video game characters for little other reason than the fun of it. Heck, the opening movie of the original Super Smash Bros. plays directly into the idea.

In a way, Master Hand and Crazy Hand are like the appendages of someone playing with their toys. It would be like sitting next to the coffee table and pretending that Cobra Commander, He-Man, Barbie and Leonardo are in a free-for-all, pulling off ridiculous karate moves as they send each other flying. And then, when only one is left, having the victor go up against their own fist.

So really, Master Hand is a child being abusive toward his or her own toys. Toys unwilling to put up with their master’s torment any longer. It’s like if Toy Story were crossed with Small Soldiers. (Man, there’s a reference I didn’t ever think I’d make.)

There’s little reason to doubt that Master and Crazy Hand will come back for the Wii U and 3DS incarnations of Smash Bros. Their slapping, punching, pounding, crushing and laser blasting are a part of what makes the games what they are. There aren’t many disembodied appendages that can say the same thing. Well, if they could say anything at all to begin with.