He is master and creator, punisher and destroyer, the antagonist for the iconic and beloved fighting game series Smash Bros. Whether you’re scrawling across the first game on the Nintendo 64 or bashing buttons on your 3DS you will inevitably come face to face with the terrifying adversary known infamously as ‘Master Hand’.
Master Hand was first introduced in the very first Smash Bros title released for the Nintendo 64 November 1999. The game was a massive success selling over 5million copies worldwide within it’s first two years, not only that but it received exceptionally positive reviews from critics and fans as players scurried to take on their favorite Nintendo champions and fight others on stages inspired by some of the most well known games in the Nintendo arsenal. Super Smash Bros. was quick to establish it’s world, the fighters, characters from Nintendo were toys duking it out all while being controlled by the hand, by the creator of the world.
Master Hand is not the leader of a terrorist organization, a corrupt CEO, genetic experiment gone awry, it was an unseen force playing make believe with their favorite toys. This is established from the very start with the opening sequence, a rather happy floating hand appears picks a Yoshi doll out of a toy chest drops it on a desk in a bedroom and begins setting the stage for a fight against Samus Aran:
Playing through single player mode, eventually after beating characters like Link, Pikachu and Mario, you will come to face Master Hand and the rules in this fight are completely changed – this is his/her world and you’ll play by new ones. Instead of increasing the damage gauge on your opponent and knocking them out of the arena, you must instead lower Master Hand’s, reducing it from a staggering 300HP to zero or you’ll be defeated and Master Hand does not take it easy on you.
This trend continues on for the sequels, Melee, Brawl and SSB 3DS/Wii U each time players must face off against the white five fingered glove but Melee introduces a second hand, Crazy Hand, which behaves more erratically tag teaming with it’s partner to knock you out of the ring – it’s 2 versus 1 and they have the advantage.
Master Hand takes no pity on you possessing some devastating moves designed to test your skill and fortitude. Crushing, slapping, dodging, projectiles, grabbing, throwing, slapping and flicking, Master Hand will do everything to dominate the fight – disappearing off stage only to come in from above with a crushing fist or off-screen for a fly by jet attack, walking across the stage kicking with fingers. There is no let up in the fight and with each game the difficult is only increased.
Who or what is Master Hand? Well I have a theory that you may or may not agree with but here goes…
The idea behind Master Hand is perhaps the most terrifying, discounting the role in the Subspace Emissary mode in Super Smash Bros Brawl, the entity is simply toying with… well toys. The characters of Mario, Donkey Kong, Kirby and co. have been reduced to nothing more than simple toys stored away in box only to be used in it’s imaginary duels. It doesn’t seek to destroy the world, conquer it or bring about a new era for all to suffer under, it is simply playing a game, just as we are and therein lies the real terrifying fact – we are all Master Hand. We are all playing with characters whether it’s in Pokémon, Zelda or Metroid Prime, we are pushing characters, toys, to fight against the forces of evil – Master Hand is just more aware of this than the rest of us, pitting its beloved figures against each other to find the best only to cast itself in the role of the diabolical villain.
A simple game of make believe has become our own worst nightmare. This idea is only worsened with each title, as the gaming Universe expands with more titles so does Master Hand’s collection of new characters to turn into fighters, to puppeteer in vicious combat – we have become the very one thing we always feared…
…we are the bad guy!
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!