Super Smash Bros. is a popular series of crossover fighting video games featuring the Nintendo All-Star characters that started out in 1999 with the release of Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64. The original title included 12 playable characters, four of which were unlockable. The eight playable characters from the start consisted of Nintendo All-Stars: Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Samus Aran, Yoshi, Kirby, Fox McCloud, and Pikachu. The unlockable charcters were Luigi, Captain Falcon, Ness and Jigglypuff.
The game was an instant success for Nintendo and its developer HAL, though the series wouldn't become one of Nintendo's most popular until the second entry into the series was released for the GameCube - Super Smash Bros. Melee. The third video game (for the Wii), called Super Smash Bros. Brawl, introduced a full-fledged adventure mode and two "guest" (third party) characters: Snake and Sonic.
The series is best known for featuring Nintendo characters and themes. The characters fight against each other using their own moves that they use in their own games. (e.g Kirby using inhale, Samus Aran using Screw Attack, Mega Man using his Mega Buster.)
As aforementioned, there are three games in the series as of yet. It has been suggested by the series creator and director Masahiro Sakurai that the third game in the series would be the last that he would actually direct.
Super Smash Bros. (1999)
The original game in the series was released on the Nintendo 64 in 1999. It included 12 characters from various Nintendo video games, including Mario, Pikachu, Link, Yoshi, Samus Aran, Donkey Kong, Kirby, Fox McCloud, Ness, Luigi, Captain Falcon and Jigglypuff.
Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001)
The second game in the series, made for the Nintendo Gamecube, featured a much larger cast of characters including all of the originals, in which some were still locked others were available from the start. Some new characters were Princess Peach, Bowser, Zelda and Ice Climbers.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)
This is the third game in the series for the Wii, featured a slightly larger cast then Melee, including a lot of "character replacements" since some of the characters from Melee are gone from this one. Perhaps the most effective replacement on the Smash community was Lucario replacing Melee's Mewtwo. Some new characters were Pokémon Trainer, Lucas, Pit, Olimar, Diddy Kong and Meta Knight. The first one in the series to contain third party characters (Sonic the Hedgehog and Solid Snake) and is the first game in the series to include the final smash.
Super Smash Bros. 3DS and Super Smash Bros. Wii U (2014)
At October 3, 2014, Nintendo has released the 4th installment of the Super Smash Bros. series. It has been released for the Nintendo 3DS, and the Wii U version was released on November 21 in the US, November 28 in PAL regions and December 5 in Japan. The two titles will have the ability to trade custom fighters. The two games share a roster but, the games otherwise have numerous different features, with the Wii U version being far more filled with content. It has also been confirmed by Nintendo that Namco Bandai developed the game to speed up production.
Super Smash Bros. has a unique community in that it is one of the larger ones and it has been persistent in playing an older entry over newer ones. Super Smash Bros. Melee is by far the most played version. It has also quite a large following in general, being one of the most watched streams at EVO.
References in other games and other media
In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Palutena mentions a parody of it, Super Bash Sisters.
Playstation All Stars: Battle Royale is a game made on the concept of this game but instead of Nintendo characters, it is replaced with with Playstation characters.