Super Smash Bros. came out on January 21, 1999 in Japan. That’s roughly three months before the US debut in April, and a while 10 months before the European launch. Imagine that wait!
Having been there, I can attest to the explosive nature of the Nintendo 64 original. The N64 had been a staple in multiple households at my school at the time, but the promise of allowing all of your fictional childhood friends to battle each other was too much to handle. People started recruiting brand new fighting game players into their ranks, and the rest was history.
Smash just completely changed the entire landscape of fighting games. While Street Fighter and its various Versus iterations were in their arguable heydays, and Arc System Works was gaining traction with Guilty Gear just a year earlier, Nintendo made an undeniable grab for the genre and it paid off big time. As of this past week, the Smash series as a whole is 22 years old and still going strong.
Source: Destructoid The original Super Smash Bros. is now 22 years old