Undoubtedly, many of you have played the Super Smash Bros. series. They are fun fighting games, where you are able to play with up to four players simultaneously with iconic Nintendo characters. The gameplay is straightforward and the controls are simple – for most players, it’s all about duking it out and seeing who’s the best in the group. To have fun with friends during the evening hours of a day. To spend time with your children, beating them at their own game.
Guest post by mmKALLL
However, not all players only desire this – some wish to be completely undefeated by their friends. They wish to improve. Many players derive great enjoyment from being able to best their opponents, to show that they are masters at this game. Who didn’t want to have dominance over others in games as a kid? I bet that many do. I sure did, along with most of my friends. This kind of competetiveness drove me to beat everyone I knew at a children’s fighting game – and I did. I became the best in our class and thought that I was simply unstoppable. Nobody could beat me, right?
I was satisfied because amongst our group, I came out as the winner every single time. The end result was, however, that nobody wanted to play against me anymore. That’s clearly understandable – it sucks to lose all the time, after all. At this time the third installment in the series – Super Smash Brothers Brawl – was out, and we were playing it a lot. At least for a while, until it was apparent that I still couldn’t be beaten. While the lack of people to play with wasn’t too great, I enjoyed the sense of victory.
Practice makes perfect.
Of course, complex games like Smash aren’t like that – it is highly likely that there is a counter of some kind to the things I did, that there was some superior strategy that would have beaten what I was doing in the game. We were very competetive, but I don’t think that anyone actually tried to improve. To find superior strategies like that, to research different possibilities – doing things like that was way beyond our level. In the end, even though we played to win, we just wanted to have fun.
High school comes in – the people are all different now. Could it be that someone was interested in playing Smash? Although many had heard of the series or played Melee before, other games were far more popular. I played single player for a while and took breaks from Brawl a lot – it was nothing serious after all, just a game amongst others – but I eventually decided to look for better players. The internet. Of course, millions and millions of people had played the game and Nintendo-related forums often had discussion about it, but nobody showed much interest or promise. People liked the game, but very, very few actually had much skill or drive for improvement. I even stumbled upon the center of competetive Smash, Smashboards, but for some reason didn’t properly investigate it. Thinking in hindsight, my searching was highly inefficient.
However, I eventually found a group of players playing competetively online. I decided to play against them, and it was fairly even – having such even matches against players that were on my level was refreshing and very interesting. Thing is, the online play in this game is horribly laggy for the most part, so it was not as great as I would have hoped. Soon after that I managed to get in contact with a serious player from my country, and learned there actually exists such things as offline tournaments for this game. Not to mention there being one held fairly close to where I live, too..!? I wouldn’t have believed during elementary or middle school that there actually would be people playing this game on such a level that they host tournaments. Even with all my searching, I hadn’t learned about anything like this. I decided to register for the event, nervous and excited at the same time.
Would I be able to claim the victory I was after?
As I later found out though, competetive Smash and competetive, organised playing of fighting games in general has been around for a while. There were some highly skilled players of the original Super Smash Brothers, but especially with the explosive popularity of Super Smash Brothers Melee (released in 2001), competetive groups of players really started appearing. Melee has been featured in high-profile tournament series such as MLG and EVO. Apex, a huge Smash event featuring all three games has been going strong for years. Smaller tournaments and gatherings for competetive Melee and Brawl can be found from virtually any part of the globe. There are great amounts of footage from professional-level matches in YouTube. The important thing is that anyone can attain these skills, if they are just motivated enough. As for what happened to me, and what is the actual competing like, here is the next part of the story.
You can also check out this interesting documentary on how competetive Melee came to existence, who are the top players, and what is it like. Brawl is a very different game on a competetive level, which has caused much disparity amongst players, but in my opinion all three Smash games are very interesting – each has its own merits.