Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Seven days to Smash Bros Brawl: Hands on coverage of the WPI Brawl Tournament

2:44 PM on 03.02.2008 // Jonathan Holmes

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend the Massuchsetts leg of Nintendo and Best Buy's National Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament. With over 500 people in attendance and 256 competitors in all, there was nary a dull moment during the seven hour event. It was a full day of awkward social interactions, first hand impressions of Brawl, and that certain sense of community that can only be found at a video game tournament of this scale. Hit the jump for more details of my adventure, and the unedited video of the tournament's final match. 

The day started off tense, with over 500 potential tourney goers packed together like sardines in the hallways and stairwells of Worcester Polytechnial Institute. There were many surprising sights to be seen in this line up, including multiple cosplayers, a smelly weirdo who predicted his own victory in the tournament though he had only started playing Super Smash Bros Melee a week prior, and perhaps most endearingly a small acoustic folk band called "Team Tacgnol" who played Portal's end theme Still Alive to a grateful crowd. Near the end of the song, I counted at least ten people singing along to every word. 

Then it was off to the VIP section, where the Nintendo staff and WPI students running the event went to mentally regroup and reload. There I chatted with Jaime, the head of Worcester Polytechnical Institute's Game Developers Club. He couldn't have looked more excited, with a Totoro-esque smile beaming from ear to ear. It turns out that he had contacted Nintendo's PR firm in July of 2007 asking if they could hold a pre-release tournament at WPI, but he never imagined Nintendo would actually take him up on the offer. Jaime wtatingas especially impressed with Nintendo's interest in reaching out to the aged 18-24 hardcore gamer demographic, by stating "If Nintendo only cared about 'the casuals', they wouldn't be spending all the time, money and energy to put on this tournament. Brawl will sell itself, they don't need to do this for promotional purposes. They're doing it because they love their hardcore audience."

Also in the VIP lounge was a food services guy who had made the mini-burgers and fruit salad for the event's staff and guests to consume. I interviewed him briefly, very briefly, as he could barely detach his eyes and brain from Brawl's adventure mode. He told me he didn't own a Wii, that he only owned a 360 "but really only played sports games". Yet he had started playing The Subspace Emissary at 12pm, and had not stopped once by the time I started talking to him at 2:30pm. For my money, that confirms Brawl's single player mode as the ability to hold the attention of even the least Nintendo-friendly gamer.

Later the VIP section would be joined by's resident dreamboat Alexander Sliwinski, and the children of a certain high ranking Nintendo of America executive. Alexander, the kids and myself held our own unofficial Brawl tournament there in the lounge, occasionally joined by the random Nintendo staffer or WPI student. This was my first time playing the game, and though it's already been said a million times before, I have to tell you from the heart that Brawl is an incredibly engaging game. 

Brawl surprised me in two ways. The first was how unpolished the graphics looked at times. The Shadow Moses stage, for instance, has some really ugly textures that looked nearly PS2 in quality. They looked very out of place next to some of the game's characters like Charizard and Wario, who both look like they could be from a first gen 360 title. 

The second thing that I didn't expect about Brawl was how little the tiny details like the above mentioned graphical flaws, or even the bigger features of the game like the character roster and the stages seemed to matter to me while actually playing the game. No matter which character you're playing as or what stage you're playing on, this game is extremely captivating. My sense of scrutiny for detail about Brawl, which I've been fostering for almost a year by reading every damn Smash Bros Dojo update that has come down the line, completely melted away after my first actual play of the game. When you play Brawl, any sense of awareness of the game's minutia completely melts away. It's a game of pure fun, plain and simple. Brawl could have N64 quality graphics and I'd feel that same way. 

After a few hours in the VIP lounge it was time to get back to work, so I headed back out into the fray. I saw that another huge line had formed at the event, but this time it was for those unlucky event attendees who didn't make it into the tournament. They too would get a chance at Brawl. There were three kiosks set up for this privilege, with four players per kiosk, and still this line had about 100 people in it. I saw many players, including the above mentioned members of "Team Tacgnol" finish their matches, only to circle around to the back of the line to wait another half an hour just for 5 minutes of Brawl play time.

All the while, obnoxious club music and over-excited commentary from the tournament floor blared an abrasive soundtrack to the event. At the very beginning of the tournament, I couldn't stand to be in that area for more than ten minutes at a time. Not only was the room offensive to the ears, but to the nose as well. It smelled like vomit and body odor in there. After the first round of play was over, which consisted of 256 players, the crowd thinned out a bit and the smell dissipated, so I decided to stick around and take a look at Brawl from a competitive standpoint. 

But it's not all wine and roses for Brawl. Not only were some characters from Melee removed from Brawl's line up, but many of Melee's advanced techniques like wave dashing and L-canceling have also been cut or dumbed down. This has many Melee die-hards already complaining about Brawl, although most of them have not yet even played the game. Maybe it was just their excitement talking, but none of the tournament level players I spoke with at WPI had any complaints about Brawl.

One especially articulate competitor likened the differences between Brawl and Melee to those between Street Fighter Alpha 2 and Street Fighter 3. Street Fighter Alpha 2 is generally more rewarding to offensive players with it's emphasis on high damage combos and super techniques. This is opposed to Street Fighter 3, which thanks to it's parry system, is notorious for long, drawn out, "turtle" packed matches. L-canceling and Wavedashing are both defensive maneuvers analogous to SF3's parry's, as they allow for skilled players to defend against any offensive moves with little to no risk to themselves. With out allowing those kinds of nearly impenetrable defenses, Brawl is generally more fast paced and violent than Melee. The risks that come with the necessity of playing Brawl in a more offensive style makes for an extremely exciting competitive level game, both to play and to watch.

Also worth noting is the increased amount of match altering items that Brawl has over Melee. More than a few matches in tournament were decided by a well placed final smash or hard earned hit with the instant kill item "The Dragoon". However, even with L-canceling gone, even these big damage moves can be defended against, and some times even countered. In general, all who I spoke with were in agreement that the hardcore Smash Bros. community was just seeing the tip of the iceberg as to what competitive Brawl play has to offer. 

Speaking of which, embedded below for your viewing pleasure is the tournament deciding final battle between 19 year old Daniel Jung and the man known only as "Compton", a member of the New York City based gaming crew "Deadly Alliance". After watching this match,  I could not help but ask myself "What does the WNBA got that competitive gaming hasn't got?" This tournament opened my eyes to the very real potential games like Brawl portend for a future where millions of people worldwide tune in on TVs, computers, or through in-game spectator modes to marvel at the skill and techniques of others playing video games.

The WNBA has never caused my jaw to drop, but after watching this tournament, I could barely get my jaw off the floor.

Jonathan Holmes, Bad Joke Uncle
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
"Where do dreams end and reality begin? Videogames, I suppose."- Gainax, FLCL Vol. 1 "The beach, the trees, even the clouds in the sky... everything is build from little tiny pieces of stuff. Ju... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
Two more days to get in on the unofficial Christmas Card! [Url][/URL]
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django has got a mystery sale on T Shirts and Tank Tops atm, $5 for each. Only catch is they're random. But I've had some good luck, got a Captain Falcon one before, Zombies ate my Neighbors and a Persona 4 X Earthbound crossover.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
I would really, really love if "publish now" could work without me having to post a blog multiple because the site is such a mess right now.
fitzen avatarfitzen
I got it all the way back in spring, but I still haven't finished Majoras Mask. Think I've done the first temple.. It's hard not knowing where to go. All those linear corridors and objective markers in games has made me dumb and impatient.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
A weekend open forum posted every Friday night would be really cool, at least until we get real forums again.
Parismio avatarParismio
Went snowboarding for the first time in years. Crashed a lot, many times into trees. All that training in FF7 didnt do squat!
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
If I were to get Age of Empires II HD to play with you all, do you all have the DLC?
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I am relieved to know Creed is a Rocky spin-off and not a feature-length documentary about the band.
Steven Hansen avatarSteven Hansen
the worst thing about that jesssica jones program is i keep getting "basketball jones" stuck in my head
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Been playing Gears of War 3's campaign on Xbox One. Looks great on there, and Sam's voice actor is Chloe's voice actor in Uncharted 2/3. Hell yeah!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: With all the controversy surrounding review scores, what do you personally consider a "bad" score versus a "good" score? Is there a game in particular that was panned by critics that you nevertheless enjoyed? Or vice versa?
TheVeganGamer avatarTheVeganGamer
Finally got around to playing Diablo 3 with some friends, holy smokes! That game is rad!
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Public service announcement: Marry an orphan. It makes the holidays so much easier when you don't have to deal with pain in the ass in-laws.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So... how long is it until we get the inevitable Colonial Marines or Ride to Hell: Retribution PS4/Xbox One re-releases?
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Screw Bloodborne. I finally managed to overcome not tearing up while listening to the entirety of Never More. Git gud! [youtube][/youtube]
NYCpunk avatarNYCpunk
you know what's not okay? scalpers with 10 copies of fire emblem fates SE on ebay for $200+. and no one is saying anything.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Fallout 4 wouldn't be Fallout with ridiculous glitches and shenanigans. Here are a few I've run into - [youtube][/youtube]
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I've never earnestly went drinking before so it's cool to know I'm the slow, sleepy, impaired type.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Got to admit I didn't expect to find a mewtwo amiibo at my bookstore of all places...
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
My cousin found out I slept with his girlfriend and is pissed. Understandable. I am totally sick of the angry phone calls though. It reminds me so much of playing Call of Duty online. The screaming 11 year olds suck on there too.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -