Lost Smash Bros. Photos from Slamfest ’99 Bring Pikachu, Mario and Yoshi into a real ring

When Super Smash Bros. made its debut in 1999, it was a curiosity in the Nintendo 64 library, a stark contrast to its monolithic status as a heavyweight in today’s Nintendo pantheon.

Along with the now-iconic N64 commercial promoting the game, Nintendo has come up with creative ways to bring it to its audience. That effort included a bizarre but amusing slug fest featuring fighters in Nintendo costumes called SlamFest ’99. And now some sleuths have spotted high-quality photos of the event on Reddit, showing how this early, high-concept gaming event unfolded.

Photos from Super Smash Bros. Slamfest ’99

A legendary event

The event itself has become a legend in the online gaming communities. Vice previously reported on efforts by communities trying to find media in 2020, but not much has come of it. Once dubbed the “hand-to-hand combat of the millennium” on the original location (now forgotten), this IRL Super Smash Bros. exhibit took place in Las Vegas in early 1999 before a live audience.

During the event, the fighters fought each other in Nintendo costumes, with the referee deciding which of the characters from the Smash Bros. roster had the upper hand. In hindsight, the event itself paved the way for many of the familiar convention- or geek-centric spectacle events that are commonplace today. Not only did it feature a fairly high quality cosplay for Pikachu, Mario, Yoshi and Donkey Kong – the exact same ones from the famous N64 commercial – it was also broadcast on the internet for fans to watch online.

Despite the spectacle, much of the footage for this event has yet to be recovered – something common for content from the early days of the internet. However, content creators and Redditors still have to try to find photos or even a recording of the event. Over the past few years, GameXplain creator Andre Segers has been urging fans to find photos or videos of the showcase, which has resulted in some good finds. In addition to interviewing Ed Espinoza, one of the key producers behind Slamfest ’99, a few Redditors uncovered anecdotes and heard a few stories about the exhibit.

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Anyone remember the real Smash Bros fight (in the same costumes) that Nintendo live streamed to promote the game? (Yep! a live stream in 1999!) I’ve never heard anyone else mention it and I can find zero evidence that it ever existed online. https://t.co/vR8gkTv3yY

— André (@AndreSegers) May 11, 2020 A new treasure trove of photos

Recently, Reddit user bozo_ssb posted a treasure trove of photos showing the event and what happened behind the scenes. These photos were taken by Ed Espinoza while working on the event. It’s an exciting find that illustrates the growing scale of gaming events and the proliferation of video games into the mainstream. The photos from that SlamFest ’99 event also make an excellent time capsule from 1999. Video games and the rest of the world have changed a lot in the years since.

It’s fun to look back at where gaming events used to take place. Hopefully more people will step forward with actual footage of the event; I think any serious Smash Bros fan would love to see footage of a real Pikachu embarrassing Donkey Kong.

Thumbnail Credit: Ed Espinoza
Alessandro Fillari is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @afillari.