Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

In previous blog posts and on Twitter, we’ve covered the unintentional lack of backing music for a The Mummy reboot trailer, and as an intentional artistic choice in the trailer for horror film A Quiet Place. We said it might be “both a first and only” occurrence for the blog, and today that’s no longer true – the second film to embrace its total lack of tonality, however, could not be more different in tone.

While Nintendo’s intentions behind the decision to release a trailer with only sound effects is not clear, its effect is undeniable. Fans are editing in droves to fill the perceived audial gap, some of which are nearing one million views – from channels that, frankly, don’t usually pull in nearly such traffic. The fan cut trailer is certainly not a new phenomenon, but it has never been more pervasive and accessible in an era of pocket computers with previously workstation-class compute and widespread broadband, corporate-subsidized distribution networks (looking at you, YouTube).

Moreover, the Smash Bros. series itself has always been a bit of a collaborative, fan service-driven business. While at first constrained to Nintendo characters for its 1999 debut, the fighting game franchise has since welcomed a variety of video game characters across companies in the industry, from 80s icons Pac-Man and Mega Man, to the 90s and early 2000s PlayStation mainstay Solid Snake, to fighters hailing from the most recent entries in the Pokémon franchise. The music of the series has always been a bombastic highlight: the main theme has always been an original work of epic proportions, with orchestral flourishes and operatic vocals. The most recent theme, via sound production company Noisycroak Co. under composition supervisor Hideki Sakamoto, upholds that trend, suitability surpassing the series’ previous themes for bombast and grandeur. It sounds designed for the epic trailer; carefully tuned for nearly twenty years itself over its series of games, the latest Smash Bros. theme is practically a cognate to the definition of the genre of epic music itself.

Why, then, hold back that perfectly formed whole of a theme for this trailer? Nintendo seems to be saying that, more than ever, this ultra-crossover series belongs to the fans. The tacet score in this trailer appears to be a tacit invitation to complete the trailer as they want to hear it, to an embarrassment of auricular results. Whether or not this is an intentional strategy, we can’t be sure, but the results do speak for themselves.

Smash Bros. Ultimate arrives in stores and on the Nintendo e-shop on December 7th.

– Curtis Perry