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         Super Smash Keyboards 4 (大乱闘スマッシュキーボード4 Dairantō Sumasshu Kībōdo Yon?, lit. Great Fray Smash Keyboards 4) is a 2001 3D fighting game developed by Drillimation Studios and published by Namco for the arcades, which was released worldwide on June 8, 2001. The game was ported to the home consoles and computers, with the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and PC versions being released in Japan on November 16, 2001, then in North America on December 14, 2001, followed by a PAL release in May 2001 with it being a launch title in PAL regions. This is the first Super Smash Keyboards game to be released on an Xbox console, and was a launch title in Japan and PAL regions.

This is the first Super Smash Keyboards game to have a story mode, which is exclusive to the home console and PC versions. The story mode, titled The Deadly Alliance in Gensokyo, follows a series of stories revolving around different characters. Development for Super Smash Keyboards began in early 1999 and took two and a half years to complete.

Gameplay

Like all of the Super Smash Keyboards games, it focuses heavily on its fighting modes. The gameplay is completely different from that of previous entries in the franchise. Each character now possesses three individual fighting styles, generally two hand-to-hand styles and one weapon style (excepting Kagami Ochiai and Rinnousuke Morichika, who received three hand-to-hand styles and no weapon style) which players can switch between with the push of a button. In previous games, aside from "dial-a-combos" all the characters fought virtually identically, with only special moves to differentiate them. The number of special moves per character (usable in any fighting style) has also been reduced, varying only from two to four for most, thus forcing the player to make use of the improved fighting system. The characters can no longer run, and there is no run meter. However, while still limited to only moving into the background and foreground, movement in the third dimension is much easier and can be used continuously (in Super Smash Keyboards 3, sidestepping was mapped to two different buttons and could be performed at a rate of about one a second). To prevent fighters from leaving the arena, boundaries that are otherwise invisible appear when a fighter is knocked against the edge.

Characters models and level environments became more realistic, while an anime motif is still maintained. Flesh will move or jiggle on a character as they move around. Environmental interaction is present but infrequent. Several levels include obstacles —- such as pillars or statues — that can be shattered to damage an opponent standing near one. There is just one Fatality per character, while the previous games included many ways to finish the opponent. Along with Super Smash Keyboards 9 (until the Ultimate edition added them to the game), it is the only other Super Smash Keyboards game that does not include Stage Fatalities, although the Acid Bath level still possesses special acid-vomiting statues called Acid Buddhas that do damage directly to fighters that stray too close to them.

Super Smash Keyboards 4 introduces the Conquest mode, which expands on the storyline and acts as a tutorial for each character. The Conquest mode consists of a series of missions to complete with each of the characters. In between each sequence, a video of a monk moving between various locations on the path of Konquest is shown, but this has no actual bearing on the gameplay itself other than to simulate the sense of a journey. After completing eight initial "brawl tasks" with Miyuki Takara, the player is instructed to complete a specific set of tasks with each character, which varies from performing difficult combos to defeating opponents. Each series comes with text instructions that include a basic storyline that delves further into each character's backgrounds and motives. Upon completing each mission (of a starting difficulty for each character that increases per mission), the player is rewarded with a number of "coins" that act as the in-game currency to skip difficult challenges in the Achievement Center and unlock secrets in the game.

The Achievement Center is a feature in which the player can buy extras with coins earned in regular play and in Conquest mode. The Achievement Center consists of 676 "challenges" arranged in a square format with each designated alphabetically by a two-letter designation (AA–ZZ). The challenges are filled with a vast number of secrets and unlockables. Each challenge has a different designated skip price, listed in a number (anywhere from 1 up to the thousands) and type (Gold, Ruby, Sapphire, Jade, Onyx, and Platinum) of coins that it would cost to skip the challenge. The Achievement Center includes unlockable characters, arenas, and alternative costumes. Also included among the challenges are various videos, images, concept sketches, and the entire Super Smash Keyboards Collector's Edition manga. Some challenges contained coins that could be used towards other achievements, others contained hints as to where other items were located, and others were even empty.

Test Your Might, the original minigame of the series returns for the first time since the first game, and a variation, Test Your Sight, is also included. In Test Your Sight, the character stands in front of a set of cups, and the game shows the player which cup contains the Super Smash Keyboards logo icon. The cups then begin to move in a random order, and by the end, one has to select the cup containing the icon. As the player progresses through the minigame, the number of cups increases, as does the speed at which the cups move. At higher levels, the camera would even move in order to make it more difficult for the player to keep track of the movement of the icon. Succeeding at both Test Your Might and Test Your Sight rewards the player with coins.

Reception

Super Smash Keyboards 4 received mostly positive reviews. The game currently holds an 85% on Metacritic based on 77 reviews. The game was a modest success, selling two million copies on all platforms within two years.

References in later games

Behind the Scenes

  • This is the first Super Smash Keyboards game to:
    • Be released on an Xbox console.
    • Be made in Driller Engine 4.
    • Not have Hiroshi Takajima's involvement, as he passed away four years prior to the game's release.
    • Feature fighters from the Touhou Project series.
    • Use more realistic graphics and effects.
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