Slamfest '99 aka "Super Smash Bros. LIVE" (lost livestream of promotional event for Nintendo 64 crossover fighting game; 1999)
Super Smash Bros. is a crossover fighting game released for the Nintendo 64 in North America on April 26th, 1999, developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo. The game allows players to fight each other using various characters from iconic Nintendo franchises such as Super Mario and Pokémon. The game was a critical and commercial success, often regarded as one of the best games on the N64, spawning a large fanbase of players, as well as five other games, with the most recent game being Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in late 2018.
To promote the game, Nintendo held a promotional event called Slamfest '99 on April 24th, 1999 from 11 AM to 1 PM at the MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 17-minute long "fight" that was livestreamed via RealPlayer G2 started half an hour later into the event and featured various costumed characters from the game. A recording of the corresponding livestream has never surfaced since its initial broadcast.
This is a description of how the event unfolded, posted on the same day it was held.
"Mario and Donkey would start the match. Donkey Kong, being much larger than our favorite plumber, quickly took Mario out. Yoshi came in and got his revenge on the gorilla. Pikachu would come in for the monkey only to be knocked down by Yoshi's lethal tail. Then, before anyone knew it, Mario went crazy. He wiped out Donkey Kong, Pikachu, and his own teammate, Yoshi. Ultimately, the match would end in a crash which knocked out everyone resulting in a draw. "Everyone's a winner!" the announcer yelled."
Two days after the event, Nintendorks posted their own summary.
"Mario and Yoshi were on one team, Donkey Kong and Pikachu were on the other. It was quite funny to see the life-size mascots bouncing around a wrestling ring. Mario went on a crazed rampage hitting everyone in sight, and instead of Yoshi, Donkey Kong accidentally hit himself with his 'mallet of doom.' And in the most heated moment, all four mascot smashed into each other in the center of the ring, and all fell to the mat. That's right, in true Nintendo fashion, it was a draw...and everyone is a winner!"
Later in June 1999, N64 Magazine published this summary along with two new photos.
"Even the ref got in on the act, biting Pikachu’s ear and declaring that it tasted ‘like chicken’. Mario shocked us with his low blow antics and Kong knocked himself out with his own magic hammer, but they all wound up best of friends at the end, the match being declared an honourable draw."
History & Early Search
On August 22nd, 2014, NeoGAF user Rösti mentioned the event in a discussion about Super Smash Bros. for 3DS & Wii U DLC leaks and revealed that they had found the original webpage promoting it. The website, hosted by MediaOnDemand, revealed the official name of the event being Slamfest '99, as well as a link to the rebroadcast that turned out to be dead. This is the first time in over 12 years that it had been referenced again. It's believed that the rebroadcasted livestream was taken down sometime in the early 2000s.
Along with this, Rösti also found that the website Zelda 64 Planet had a page that had more info about the event. This website confirmed that the event was held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, with a summary of the event included. It hosted many images of the event (see gallery). While this had very useful info about the event, the livestream was still nowhere to be found.
Later, on May 11th, 2020, the Supper Mario Broth Twitter account posted a photo of Yoshi, Pikachu, Mario, and Donkey Kong costumes, along with their actors. These costumes, made by KCL Productions, were used in the famous Super Smash Bros. commercial and the Slamfest '99 event. This Tweet gained much attention from the Super Smash Bros. community and was liked over 19,000 times (as of May 2022).
Andrè Segers, founder of YouTube channel GameXplain, quote retweeted the image with a comment mentioning a real-life Super Smash Bros. Battle using the same costumes used in the commercial that was livestreamed:
"Does anyone else remember the real-life Super Smash Bros. battle (using the same costumes) that Nintendo live-streamed to promote the game? (Yep! a live stream in '99!) I've never heard anyone else mention it and I can find zero evidence of it ever existing online."
This Tweet kickstarted the modern search, with many people scouring for an archive of the livestream on databases and video-sharing sites to no avail.
By the time Andrè posted his tweet, the original findings on NeoGAF had been forgotten. People speculated that the event was held around April-May 1999 and that it was being held at the MGM Las Vegas' Grand Adventures Connected Theme Park in a boxing ring specifically built for the event.
YouTuber and contributor to the Lost Media Wiki LSuperSonicQ, along with a small search team on Twitter had looked into other websites mentioning the event and old magazine scans, all with no success. It wasn't until Twitter user Robert Sephason tweeted to Andrè Segers an image of Donkey Kong in a boxing ring. This originates from video game historian Steven Kent's book The Ultimate History of Video Games. The discovery piqued interest for LSuperSonicQ, who proceeded to contact employees who were suspected to have some involvement in Slamfest '99.
"On the Hunt 5" Search
On May 25th, 2021, the Lost Media Wiki would launch an "On The Hunt" search for Slamfest '99, bringing more attention to the effort to find the livestream. Shortly after, Discord user SpartaYoshi researched and documented how MediaOnDemand's livestream technology worked. The "On The Hunt Contact Team" then followed LSuperSonicQ's lead by reaching out to more people in search for a recording. Those who weren't part of the team also researched for press records. It was through these combined efforts that garnered a ton of newly discovered information about the event.
Aside from the following developments, the search started to slow down, with few new leads to build on. It stayed this way until October 9th, 2021 when Ed Espinoza, a Golin Harris employee working for Nintendo's PR department, privately messaged LSuperSonicQ. Slamfest '99 was one of his first assignments on the job. In addition to posting a picture of himself with Mario and Donkey Kong on Instagram, he also provided info that is mentioned in the section below.
- Steven Kent, who had attended the event, stated that several video game magazine reporters were there. Demo booths were set up for people to play Super Smash Bros. before and after the fight. He also provided a colorized version of the photo found in The Ultimate History of Video Games and one of Donkey Kong wielding his "mallet of doom."
- Eric Mangol, a former Director of Sales for MediaOnDemand, suggested that Onstream Media may have a recording since they bought out the former company.
- Jimmy Vaughan, a former MediaOnDemand Project Manager for live and on-demand webcasts, confirmed that it was up to Nintendo to tell the company to record Slamfest '99 or not.
- Ed Espinoza, PR for Golin Harris, claimed that a photographer based in the Los Angeles area was hired to take shots for the event and that a satellite truck from Golin was used to livestream. He suggested that Steve Honig had done truck work for it and that Golin would have had a recording. Furthermore, he stated that the costume performers and choreographers were from Cirque du Soleil, the ring announcer's "cheesy" script was inspired by the 1989 No Holds Barred movie, kids from the Andre Agassi Foundation were invited to the event, and that the Columbine High School shooting which happened 4 days before Slamfest '99 forced Nintendo to limit the amount of outgoing publicity so they could keep a non-violent image. As a result, only about 100 video game review platforms knew of it.
The following Lost Media Wiki members found articles and images which also advanced the search for Slamfest '99 in some way.
On June 26th, 2020, LSuperSonicQ found 2 items pertaining to Slamfest '99. The first was an IGN article dated April 21st, 1999. This one confirmed that the MGM Grand area dedicated to the event would be open from 11 AM to 1 PM. The exact address used is 3779 Las Vegas Blvd. South. It was on "Salem Avenue" or the "Salem Waterfront." The second was an article from Nintendorks dated April 22nd, 1999. It confirmed that the fight started at 11:30 AM Pacific Standard time.
On October 1st, 2020, user "Foxlet" found a NintendoWorldReport article dated April 26th, 1999. This confirmed that the fight itself lasted for 17 minutes.
When the On The Hunt first started, former user Binzy Boi found 2 new photos in the 29th issue of N64 Magazine. They do not feature any compression artifacts typical for livestreams in 1999, which fuels a rumor that they came from a VHS copy.
Also on the same day, Tornadic found another Nintendorks article that was dated April 26th, 1999. This provided another brief overview of events during the fight.
On June 8th, 2021 user "Rno" found a Nintendojo article dated April 22nd, 1999. This stated that the fight will be split up into 2 matches; the first being Pikachu vs. Yoshi, and the second one being Mario vs. Donkey Kong. This description contradicts that on the Zelda 64 Planet site, as Mario went up against Donkey Kong first.
On October 15th, 2021, SixtyFours and Rno found a new photo in the April 25th, 1999 issue of The Sacramento Bee newspaper. This confirms Ed Espinoza's claims of an Associated Press photographer being at the event.
On February 14th, 2023, more of Ed Espinoza's scanned photos released online. These revealed alternate viewpoints of the fight, the Super Smash Bros. demo booths, and shots of the crowd.
While many people made many efforts to find the livestream, such as contacting people possibly involved and finding a possible archive of the stream, neither the livestream nor any possible amateur footage from Slamfest '99 has been found as of the writing of this article.
Although the stream is not found, several photos taken at the event were found on websites of interest and through various leads, shown in the gallery below.
On the Hunt
Images on Zelda 64 Planet
Ed Espinoza's Photos
N64 Magazine: Issue 29 Page 13
An excerpt mentioning Slamfest '99 on page 13 of issue 29 of N64 Magazine.
April 25th, 1999 Issue of The Sacramento Bee
An excerpt mentioning Slamfest '99 on page 30 of the April 25th, 1999 issue of The Sacramento Bee.
Super Smash Bros. Commercial
- IGN - Nintendo Stages Smashing Fight Retrieved 18 Oct '21
- Nintendo World Report - This beats Monday Night RAW! Retrieved 01 Jun '21
- Nintendorks - And in this corner… Retrieved 18 Oct '21
- Zelda 64 Planet's page on Slamfest '99. Retrieved 29 Jun '20
- Nintendorks - And the winner was… Retrieved 18 Oct '21
- N64 Magazine: Issue 29 Page 13 Retrieved 26 May '21
- The NeoGAF thread mentioning Slamfest '99 (post #4,500). Retrieved 18 Oct '21
- Archive of the official Slamfest '99 page. Retrieved 29 Jun '20
- The tweet made by Supper Mario Broth about the costumes. Retrieved 29 Jun '20
- Andre Segers' original quote Tweet sparking discussion on Slamfest '99. Retrieved 3 May '22
- Vice article on Slamfest '99. Retrieved 24 Nov '21
- Reddit post on r/LasVegas mentioning the event being held at the MGM Las Vegas' Grand Adventures Connected Theme Park. Retrieved 16 Jan '21
- Google Books page on The Ultimate History of Video Games. Retrieved 29 Jun '20
- The Lost Media Wiki's "On The Hunt Archives" section on Slamfest '99. Retrieved 03 May '22
- Nintendojo - The Big The Big N's Smashing party Retrieved 18 Oct '21
- The Sacramento Bee - Star-studded affair Retrieved 19 Oct '21