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There are a handful of franchises that are really beloved and talked about every day in terms of speculation of what is in a certain game, drama, theories, and many more. Super Smash Bros is definitely one of those pitting Nintendo’s infamous cast of characters against each other in a fighting game. The Nintendo 64 original was a great start for the series, but the GameCube iteration, Melee, took everything a step further and still is considered the best game of the series. I recently watched a documentary, not surprisingly called The Smash Brothers by SamOx, that showcases over a decade of the tournament scene for Melee. If you never seen this side of Smash Bros gameplay, it is a completely different beast compared to playing it casually with items. It also spotlights seven of the best players and their stories are quite special, which is why this documentary is one of the better ones about gaming I seen in a while.
What is more impressive about this documentary about the Smash scene is the trials and tribulations Melee went through to be where it is today from its grassroots beginnings, having the big stage at MLG events, Brawl’s disappointments, and it’s big return at Evo 2013. From a casual perspective, Super Smash Bros is always identified as a party game and never as a tournament-level fighter. Head of the series Masahiro Sakurai has claimed on numerous occasions that he never wanted it to be a serious competitive fighting game, but luckily Melee turned out to be according to the documentary a “happy accident.” Nintendo throughout all these years tends to not care about certain communities like the competitive Smash scene and the documentary touches on this multiple times. It is a shame and such backwards thinking compared to how Western companies embrace the e-sports culture back then and surely today with League of Legends, Call of Duty, Starcraft, etc.
The players aspect of the documentary was also captivating to see because of the variety of personalities. From Ken’s reign of terror from 2003-2006, which he did compete in one season of the hit CBS show Survivor, Isai’s self-confidence issues, Mew2King’s scientific approach to the game, and PC Chris/Mango’s “rock star” mentalities to the scene. Just like any other gaming community, Smash has its legends, heroes, villains, colorful personalities with tons of drama, but everyone knows when to put drama aside for the greater good of the community to survive or even move to bigger and bigger things. That alone is why I love about gaming communities in general is knowing when to come together as one for the bigger cause.
The infamous Nintendo incident at Evo 2013 still remains as a big victory for gaming communities as a whole standing up to the big corporate company to make them reverse a boneheaded decision of not allowing Melee to be streamed. Actually, that is one of many victories for gamers this year as a whole with the whole Xbox One fiasco. The lesson to all of this is never underestimate a community even for a game that is over a decade old. If there is still lots of passion about this certain game, this case being Melee, then it continues to have events and tournaments. It is something I feel is missing about today’s generation of games is the lack of passion and support. Sure, nostalgia plays a big part since Melee provided many childhood memories, but I’ll be honest. Most of gamers’ mindset these days are to beat this one game and then on to the next one.
With new games coming out on Wii U and 3DS hopefully next year, there is a lot riding on Nintendo and Sakurai’s team at Project Sora to satisfy not only casual fans of the franchise, but also the tourney scene. While feeling neglected after how Brawl turned out for them, tournament players will still give these new ones a chance, but of course who knows how everything plays out since we still know literally nothing about them besides the character roster announced so far. Nintendo did recently expressed interest with MLG about having the new Smash game on the pro circuits, so that is a start, but we’ll see if they still stand by that by the time it is released. If the new Smash games are indeed another disappointment, then Melee continues to flourish as the Smash game to play. If you’re ever interested in Super Smash Bros and loved the games, give the three to four hour documentary a watch and see why a twelve year old game is still going strong, but let’s hope for the best that Nintendo delivers the goods to both crowds with the new iterations.