Thanksgiving Brawl

Hope all of you back in America proper had a good Thanksgiving. Over here in Japan, most expats are saving their money to go home for Christmas, so we all end up banding together to have a good Thanksgiving dinner together in lieu of being able to be with our families. This year we hosted four Americans and an Aussie for the usual Thanksgiving spread (sans Turkey, swordfish with rosemary makes a surprisingly tasty replacement), a viewing of Blazing Saddles and some homemade butter beer and pumpkin pie (made from scratch!) Yeah, I said homemade butter beer. This is what happens when you get a bunch of hopeless nerds together for dinner

There was a lot of Super Smash Brothers Brawl in there too, which surprisingly turned out to be pretty great. I had been down on Brawl ever since Parish, among many others, utterly demolished my long held belief that it was a fighting game with any meaningful depth. And the fact that I mostly ignored it in favor of Armored Core while one of my favorite Smash Brothers opponents was visiting only seemed to reinforce that disenchantment.

But I was pleased to discover that once you abandon any preconceptions of Brawl being a tournament level fighter, it’s actually still a hell of a lot of fun to play. Items returned to our matches after a long hiatus, Final Smashes were prevalent, and every trip to Final Destination came with some joke about ‘tournament rules.’ When we were finished, even my friend Peter, who has been relentlessly pounding the “Brawl is just one of the reasons that the Wii sucks” drum for months now, managed to crack a smile.

“I’ve been down on Brawl,” he said. “But when you’ve got four people together in a room, there’s nothing better.”

Seconded. I might not play Brawl everyday, but I’ve got the feeling that it will be finding its way back into my Wii for many Thanksgivings to come. And besides, the Pokemon Trainer is still the greatest character. Ever.

39 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Brawl

  1. “But when you’ve got four people together in a room, there’s nothing better.”

    I’ve been playing Smash this holiday weekend as well, and it is every bit as much FUN as it should be. Let the friendly gaming group in-jokes fly!

  2. What does “tournament level” even mean? It might not have the overly complex mechanics of an Accent Core or a VF5 (two fighting games I love), but there’s plenty there for those willing to give it a chance. Accessibility doesn’t preclude depth.

  3. Well, Melee was “tournament level” because players turned off all the items, played on only one level abused a variety of glitches. For Brawl, they fixed the glitches and slowed things down considerably, so most of the “tournament” players still play Melee.

    In other words, Accent Core and VF5 were designed for competitive play. Brawl was designed to be an insane, chaotic party game. I think all three titles are successful.

  4. I think the more important question here is…what did the butterbeer taste like? I’ve always imagined it to be the absolute best tasting beverage in the world.

  5. @Kat:
    Not to sound down on you, but glitch abusing has been a staple of the fighting game genre ever since Super Turbo came out. Heck, high-level MvC2 play is practically built around exploiting weird things that were most likely never intended by Capcom. Even in Guilty Gear you have a few things that straddle the line.

    And it’s not like Melee was intended to be a deep fighting game either; some of the facets of the game that made it such were discovered accidentally (like the much reviled Wavedashing) and turned it into a surprisingly competitive game. Brawl, in many ways, actually made several improvements such as auto-L cancelling and in general making it much less technically difficult to play. If you’re going to complain about anything, it should be about how there’s a huge push to hack Brawl’s code within the Smash community.

  6. Brawl is one of my favorite Wii games; my friends and I still play the hell out of it whenever we hang out!

  7. so much misinformation

    in melee, wavedashing is a simple technique that mostly looks cool. it wasn’t all that versatile and hardly “turned it into a surprisingly competitive game”.

    also i believe only a handful of stages are banned in most tournaments. most levels are available, not “only one level”.

    not sure why there’s so much hate for smash! despite the simple controls it is by no means a simple game, which i think trips some people up…

  8. one more point. i realize that the above may suggest that i don’t believe that melee was a competitive fighting game. that’s not true, of course i think it is, but not for the reasons that people often suggest.

  9. I still don’t know about this whole “not a fighting game” deal. As great as SF2 is, and it is great, I really think it has caused the genre definition has become overly narrow. Nearly every competitive 2D fighting game since owes it a large debt of gratitude. Gameplay and structure simply have not advanced in any significant way. Smash takes an entirely different approach, emphasizing mobility and location within the stage over pure spacing. It is more interesting for it, in my opinion.

    Sorry, it just annoys me whenever I hear self-styled hardcore fighting fans rag on Smash because it doesn’t strictly conform to some misguided conceptions of what videogame fighting is. There isn’t much better than getting 4 bodies together for Brawling.

  10. I have never gotten the appeal of organized tournament play in games. Any sort of game. Video, Card, Board, RPG, Wargame.

    Why not just play to have a good time for having a good time’s sake?

    Competition players just take things WAAAY too seriously and suck all the fun out of a game.

    Or to put it another way as I like to say: “Tournament play could take the fun out of an orgy”.

  11. Sean…it wasn’t Super Turbo…it was just Street Fighter 2. The simple act of cancelling attacks into others (or, Comboing) was actually a glitch in SF2…it wasn’t supposed to play that way. Capcom noticed that it made the fights more exciting, so they left it in.

    Wave-dashing was actually from the Marvel games that capcom put out…Tekken has it too, though…(End Sean)

    I don’t rag on Smash, I don’t even hate smash…but ever since I moved here to Illinois and met “Competitive Smash Players”…I have liked the game less because They have indeed sucked the fun out of the game for me, plus…their arrogance and lack of respect for history pisses me off.

    People just need to have more respect is all…and that goes for both sides of the spectrum.

  12. @Riot.exe:
    Good point about SF2, but I said ST mainly because no one actually plays SF2 in a competitive fashion anymore, they play ST. Your point does stand though. And there are still “glitches” they purposefully left in HD Remix!

    Yea, I know the term “wavedashing” originated from Tekken. But it was used for a completely different purpose there if I recall correctly.

    You make a fair point about the community, but that’s honestly true for any fighting game community. You’ll always have asshats ruining stuff purposefully or inadvertantly… Also, far be it for my to be an apologist to the Smash community but a)they organized themselves completely independently from the rest of the fighting game community and b)they have to deal with a lot of shit talk from said community because of the party game stigma. It doesn’t completely excuse them, but they’re not unjustified in their “lack of respect for history”.

  13. It’s funny how the power of persuasion works. Brawl is the superior game to Melee for everyone but the hardcore wavedashing Melee players, but the vocal minority can sway opinion by saying how inferior it is. Brawl does so many things right that it saddens me to constantly hear negative things about it.

    One can only wonder what Smash Bros 4 will be like. IMO, I’d like to see a repeat of Brawl with less projectiles and the lack of auto edge-grabbing.

  14. Oops, that got fucked up.

    @ parish

    These dudes are having a perfectly polite conversation about something as ridiculous as, uh, yeah, a VIDEOGAME, and you give them shit about it?

  15. …and by repeat, I mean let Sakurai change it as he sees fit. Because everyone wanted Melee 2 for Brawl. :P

  16. Actually, parts of the conversation looked pretty angry and shouty. So yeah, I’m making fun of those parts, because they’re silly.

  17. @Alias
    I agree with you that Brawl improved on Melee in many ways. But on the flipside, the “hardcore” community isn’t entirely wrong in being unhappy with competitive aspects of Brawl. Ignoring the whole Brawl != Melee 2 thing, there’s nasty stuff in there like Dedede having an infinite grab combo. shrug.

    I don’t see any of this supposed anger or shouting… Ironically, I do see you holding people in contempt for trying to discuss a game seriously. Imagine that.

  18. Fun times at Gamespite.

    Anyway, concerning the “hard corps” way of playing Smash, I only do it when like-minded buds are around and we want to remain competitive while still having ludicrous shit going on. I’m always up to play super-crazy mode when it’s called for, and in many cases, it’s the most fun. Playing “hard corps” with more than two people just sucks the fun out of it for me.

  19. “Oh, lo’dy, lo’d, he’s desp’it! Do what he sayyyy, do what he sayyyy…”
    “Isn’t anyone going to help that poor man?”
    “Hush, Harriet — that’s a sure way to get him killed!”

    Probably one of the best scenes in the movie. And with a hot cup of rum-ified butterscotch, that sounds like one hell of a Thanksgiving. A lot better than a room full of stuffed, bickering family members!

  20. I first played Melee w/roommates in college. Some of us were distinctly better than others, w/all sorts of characters, on all sorts of stages. They could turn Peach into a levitating hindu god of death, mewtew into a grey fireballing nightcrawler, or ganondorf into an uglier tri-force of power endowed Mohamed Ali, dancing like a butterfly, stinging like a freight train. They had skill, and it showed in their gameplay. I call a game like that, competitive.

    We all moved on before Brawl came out, so I can’t definitively comment, but it seems just as competitive to me when I play.

    It also doesn’t punish me for not having spent 200 hrs mastering it, and lets me play it w/my friends who never played melee but know who mario is, and have a blast seeing him glow w/power and unleashe a world-ending fireball.

    but in the end, how much of any of this really matters?
    it’s game.
    it’s fun.
    you can play it and have fun.
    so go have fun!

  21. I don’t think I’ve ever had more admiration for Gamespite commenters than I do now. Pro Smash is a ridiculously polarizing topic and this is one of the most calm and reasonable discussions of it I’ve ever seen.

    You were positive about Brawl but you were making very inaccurate statements about professional Smash, but that’s not your fault. There’s a huge culture of disrespect for pro Smash and even intelligent posters will make the mistake of dismissing it as “weirdos who are playing the game wrong” because there’s so much criticism and misinformation going around. I think that’s a bad think to happen to a group with some really intelligent and dedicated people in it.

  22. @nemo
    Dude, I really don’t think Kat was coming at it like that. I may have been, but that’s merely from personal experience and seeing how gamers play any sort of tourney style of a game. (And its more confusion and befuddlement than “BADWRONGFUN BADWRONGFUN!”. I know this is the Internet where everyone has to be on one side and the other, and “I disagree” is generally considered to be more akin to “You are a dirty pig&^%# and God himself hates your very existence”, but cmon here…)

    It doesn’t matter if its Street Fighter 2, Magic the Gathering, Heroclix, or Flag Football.

    They just take it too serious and for those of us who are casual players who play games to have fun as a pleasant passtime they sort of ruin it for the rest of us. They have a higher investment so they tend to be the most vocal about the game online or at whatever venue is appropriate, and they tend to get the ears of the developers who then make the game to suit them. This also damages the casuals as the game gets less and less for us, and gets continually developed for the bug exploiting powergamers whose fun is mostly WIN AT ALL COSTS. (Which would be fine and dandy if it were a vacuum where the tourney folks and the casual players never had to interact at all, but this is not the case.)

    Let’s face it, tournament play really does bring the worst out in people. Most folks are naturally competitive, if just a little bit. Put money, prizes, and prestige on the line and things get a little too heated. It brings the worst out in people.

    And if on casual online play people will talk smack, use cheating programs, and exploit bugs or poorly playtested mechanics to ensure a win of a meaningless game, putting money and prizes up for grabs just sends things spiralling into a land most folks consider sucky.

    Some folks do have fun with that and more power to them! But it shouldn’t affect the masses. And it does, even if they never enter a tourney ever. It trickles down to affect the casual game. Try playing Type 1 casual Magic. The tournament scene has ruined that card game to the point even casual pick up play is a miserable time unless you find other casual players who aren’t just practicing for tournaments and are willing to show some restraints. 1994-95 Magic was loads more fun than it is now, even with the whole collectible game buy more to be better concept.

    But again, I don’t think anyone is dissing tourney play. Its just that for the majority, a hardcore minority is affecting the games in a way they find incredibly negative.

  23. @LilSpriteX

    I’d say we have just inadvertently created a new genre of dirty movie, but I am pretty certain we have been beaten to the punch. But if this one Japanese video was anything to go by, competitive orgies are not very fun. Just rather creepy. But that may just be due to Japanese dirty films being creepy and unfun in general.

    Hmm.. no wonder their birth rate is so low. Wanting to marry Haruhi Suzumiya characters IRL even though they are underaged cartoon characters can’t help either. :(

    Oh Japan, why can’t you just make more awesome giant robot cartoons like I loved in the 80s? Gurren Lagann cannot save the genre alone!

  24. I was with you until I realised you were generalising ALL pro-players as “hyper-competitive people who spoil the game for everyone”. That’s another common mistake.

    Conflicts happen because SOME players have tried to force ‘their way’ on people who don’t want or need it. The ones who don’t, who respect the difference between pro and non-pro play and stay with their own group, are invisible because they don’t cause a problem. This way many people start to assume the behaviour of the problem-causing minority represents the pro scene as a whole because they can’t see anything else.

    Like I said, misinformation is very, very widespread on this topic. I don’t hold people’s mistakes here against them, I just wish the ridiculous stereotypes would stop.

  25. Uhh.. I don’t think I called every tourney player what you said. This is the Internet. Did my little spiel in the first paragraph go unnoticed? Its not an all or nothing thing. Has discourse on the Internet gotten so poor that every sentence and statement everyone utters needs descriptives like “some, most, a few” and such in them now to avoid anyone that nitpicky or sensitive getting all upset and ignoring whatever is actually written?

    Again “I disagree” is not “YOUR MOTHER IS A SLUT”. Nor is “This group does this thing I dislike” mean “WHEN I AM KING THEIR SKULLS WILL REST ON KHORNE THE BLOOD GOD’S SKULL THRONE OF BRASS”.

  26. Well I didn’t see any attempt to make distinctions, just big generalising statements like “They just take it too serious and ruin it for the rest of us”. And what you ‘actually wrote’ were just the same tired old boring stereotypes that weren’t true the last hundred times they were posted.

    You can make as much of a song-and-dance as you want about your ability to disagree with me, that doesn’t change how wrong you are about Smash pro-players.

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