Super Smash Bros. Invitational E3 Tournament Review


With Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS on the verge of coming out, it would only be natural that Nintendo wants to show off their "Console Saving" title at E3 Expo.  Now, with that day upon us, how did it stack up to what was promised?  Did they manage to make the game fun as well as competitive to help the more casual community get into the game and appease the hardcore tournament goer?

Well, I have tuned into this tournament and watched it within its entirety and have formed my own opinion on it.  Be sure to check out the full article after the jump and find out what I'm thinking in regards to how Smash Bros. For Wii U and 3DS is progressing and how this tournament event at E3 turned out.  Go ahead and hit the jump.


  About The Smash Bros. Invitational  


From those within the Smash Community, 16 players were chosen to take part in the E3 Invitational Tournament for Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS.  They will be competing in the first ever tournament for the new Wii U title and will be the first solid look of getting to see the game in action (Though it is still a work in progress).  

Personally, I am looking to see some solid game play and the possibility of seeing things that gives me, and the rest of competitive Smash Bros. players hope that this version of Smash will not end up like Super Smash Bros. Brawl.  If you are unfamiliar with what I mean, "Brawl" is generally looked at as a lesser form of "Melee", made for a more casual audience.  Sakurai said he has addressed some of the concerns we have had within the competitive community (Which is shown by him adding in a "For Glory" mode, which is seen in the Nintendo Smash Direct).  This will be a good opportunity to gauge that.




  The Players and Their Characters  



Competing within the tournament happened to be 16 players (Although there were 3 players present -- Wynton "Prog" Smith, Bobby "Scar" Scarnewman, and D'Ron "D1" Maingrette -- who did not play and only acted as official announcers), each of these players played a different character dependent on who they picked when they draft order came around (They picked numbers out of a hat which showed the numbered order of when they would get to make their character selection).  

Of the characters that have already been announced, there were 20 available to be chosen in the draft:  Little Mac, Zero Suit Samus, Bowser, Wii Fit Trainer, Marth, Mega Man, Pit, Villager, Pikachu, Mario, Link, Kirby, Samus, Rosalina & Luma, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Greninja, Pikman & Olimar, Zelda, and Fox.  However, it seems that four characters were not selected and it appears that the strongest among them (According to internal play testing) was overlooked in the draft according to Sakurai (Samus).

People such as Ken Hoang, Kevin Nanney, and Hugo Gonzalez are instantly recognizable names throughout the entirety of the competitive smash community.  Interesting choices from among these players, such as Ken going with his staple character "Marth", and HugS disregarding Samus and going for Kirby should make for some interesting matches.  Those and along with the rest of the combatants character choices are placed beside their names.  If you are not really sure who played with whom and want a visual list of who represented each character so that you can better track them during the matches, you will find a tangible list below.  I have included their real names, smash names, and character choice below.


01.  Lilian "milktea" Chen - Pikachu.

02.  Hugo "HugS" Gonzalez - Mega Man.

03.  Ken "LiquidKen" Hoang - Marth.

04.  Daniel "LiquidKDJ" Jung - Rosalina & Luma.

05.  Hendrick "DJNintendo" Pilar - Bowser.

06.  Neha "Lilo" Chhetri - Wii Fit Trainer.

07.  Sam "PeachyHime" McNaughton - Villager.

08.  Kris "Toph" Aldenderfer - Pit.

09.  Juan "Crs. Hungrybox" Debiedma - Kirby.

10.  Kevin "PewPewU" Toy - Mario.

11.  Kevin "EG PPMD" Nanney - Fox McCloud.

12.  Dakota "TheRapture" Lasky - Little Mac.

13.  Cristin "Crismas" DeSaro - Zelda.

14.  McCain "MacD" LaVelle - Greninja.

15.  Gonzalo "CT ZeRo" Barrios - Zero Suit Samus.

16.  Masaya "aMSa" Chikamoto - Pikmin & Olimar.




  The Tournament  


Nintendo had a very good idea to show off their progress in their new Smash Bros. title, it could showcase things to the world and get players involved who had been apart of the community and helping it to survive, thrive, and grow since the series debuted nearly 15 years ago.  However, I think Nintendo went about this the wrong way.  The casual scene will love Smash Bros. no matter what they will offer because the goal is to simply have fun, not to win.  The scene that is competitive loves fun, but they will also like to win and showing that this game is tournament worthy will halt the doubts permanently embedded within some of us due to the disappointed that Super Smash. Bros. Brawl was.

Nintendo chose to go with a Four-For-All format where the person who survives will automatically progress to the next round and the character with the highest score (Best Kill-to-Death ratio) will also proceed to the next match.  I believe this was incredibly one-sided in some of the fights because not all characters were made to be viable during Melee fighting.  Some players with weaker K.O. characters (Such as Lilo with Wii Fit Trainer at some points), simply decided to zone and range opponents until an opportunity to grab a Smash Ball came forth.  Others with massive Smash Ball and normal K.O. ability (Such as Zero Suit Samus) seemingly dominated.  If having a Melee style tournament was not crazy enough, they decided to add items into the mix (Though, they began to lower their usage and the Smash Ball appearance after every match it would seem).

I feel like if they wanted to make a worth while tournament to show off things to both the competitive and the casual community, they should have made the tournament a 4-hour or so event with all 16 players (Or 8 players and a 2-hour event) where you fought best 2 of 3 matches, four stocks, 8-minute time limit, and it would be 1-vs-1 and not 4-for-all.  The first match would be all items with medium frequency, the second match would be no items whatsoever, and the last match would be items on low.  In order to make it steam lined they could have three Wii U's setup with the settings already in place and all they would have to do is plug in the controller.  If they did not make it to a match 3, oh well, but it would have been fun to see and more intense than just seeing a bunch of random acts on the screen simultaneously.

All-in-All, we did get to see some new weapons, how some of the Final Smashes actually work, and solid game play of just how the game is going to look.  Honestly, I am not really impressed because, while they seem to have some hit stun, it still is not as fast as Melee and I did not really notice any advanced techniques (Or if there were some that players found, it was not readily apparent).  I find this is going to steal the spotlight from Super Smash Bros. Melee just as Super Smash Bros. Brawl once did, but ultimately it is going to fail (Or wind up being modded), simply because it will not have the longevity of intense competitive matches.  Then again, it could be too early to tell but I do not think the exclusion of Wave Dashing, Dash Dancing, and L-Canceling will work.


  Special Events During the Tournament  



During the tournament they also had a couple of special events, such as the Celebrity Match which featured famous personas such as Zelda Rae Williams (Robin Williams daughter who was named after the princess in "The Legend of Zelda"), and even a demonstration (Shown above) which shows Super Smash Bros. for 3DS exclusive mode, "Smash Run".

I find that while these are pretty good to give more information about the game and giving us value as far as the appeal of Smash to the masses, both common and famous people, it was nothing more than a time filler.  Everyone who was paying attention to Smash already knows what Smash Run is and no one really cares about a Celebrity Match, if anything it was a show that nothing really goes differently in Free-For-All between people who do not take the game seriously and those who have spent tens of thousands of hours devoted to becoming the best.




  Terrible Announcers  



Say what you will, but the announcers chosen were ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE in the worst way during the Invitational Tournament.  Even if I did not like the format of the tournament, it could have been made fun and more exciting had we the right speakers for the job.  While these guys may be good at announcing 1-vs-1 competitive smash, such as in Super Smash Bros. Melee or Project M tournaments, it is quite clear that they do not know how to properly commentate without extensive knowledge of the game prior to taking the commentators seat.  Throughout the tournament they were yelling at awkward times, had oddly spaced out sentences, and did too much which reminded me of corny game show hosts who desperately try to get you into the game.  Also, I felt as though they attempted to play to the audience too much.

I feel what they should have did is, besides calling in play-by-plays constantly, try to talk about the characters and the community while keeping an eye out on the action.  Discuss what we are seeing but also possibly why we are seeing it.  Discuss what they wish someone had done or try to do, maybe why they had such a dominating performance and bring into account things from the community.  Also, they could have discussed what type of strategies they would like to have see instead of complimenting the same strategy multiple times out of lacking anything else resourceful to talk about (Remember when Lilo kept hiding Wii Fit Trainer behind Yellow Devil and they praised her multiple times?).

While it was very good to have people from the communicate come in and be apart of every aspect of the action, I felt like we would have gained more knowledge and more in-depth analysis from those who were already working on the game and had extensive knowledge that we did not know.  Talking about things like, "Why did Pits move change from Brawl to Smash Wii U?", "What was the inspiration behind creating Mega Man's core style to be faithful to the original?", "Why is Zero Suit Samus' Final Smash so good and Rosalina & Luma's so bad?".  These would have been excellent things to figure out, or at least something that would have been better to illuminate my senses while watching these matches.




  The Verdict  



  Good Effort, Bad Event  


  STRENGTHS   - Showed off extended game play, Got to see how certain Final Smashes work, Looks better than Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Reggie (President of Nintendo of America) telling Hungrybox he is going to kick his ass.

  WEAKNESSES   - Tournament was 4-for-all instead of 1-vs-1, "Celebrity Match", Very poor announcers, Did not get to see the potential of most characters due to the tournament environment, Annoying "Fan Vote" system.



While I do give Nintendo an "A for Effort", I do not feel as though they did this tournament in a way that was appeasing to most of us core smash fans.  While casual gamers do give a massive boost to sales during the beginning of a consoles lifespan, I feel that they should also have created rules in place to also give their hardcore fans, competitive players, more of what the game will look like when it reaches big gaming tournament circuits such as Major League Gaming and Evolution.  Honestly, I thought the entire event was so boring that I fell asleep and had to re-watch it on YouTube from a fan upload, it was that bad to me.  

I feel like Nintendo and Sakurai are working very hard to make "Smash 4" the best that it can be, but in order to get the hardcore players believing in you once again, there needs to be a way to confirm that this game is actually competitive worthy.  For me, while it does look fun, it will not justify me paying $350 for a Nintendo Wii u as of yet, but the game itself does look like it can at least be fun on its most basic level, which is good.  I guess in the end Nintendo showed that the game is fun and that is what counts, but I feel like I got my hopes up only to be crushed by a lackluster event.


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