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Smash Bros. Invitational is a Smashing Success
As we bid farewell to the Treehouse crew for the day, the camera faded and remained black for a few moments. What came next was a sight that made me very proud to be a Nintendo fan. The Nokia Theater comes into view, the seats lined with excited Super Smash Bros. fans. While I wasn’t there in person the hype in that room was strong enough to be felt round the world, through each and every screen tuned into the event.
“Are you ready? This is it. It’s the big one.”
So went the familiar chant for the first few minutes as the camera panned around the room, the excited looks of fans, some in costume, most waving around little character notebooks given out for the event. The enthusiasm was absolutely amazing. This was how I wanted the Smash Invitational to be.
Geoff Keighley took the stage, sans Doritos and any kind of look of general interest. But not even Keighley could suck the excitement out of this room.
“Wanna see some Smash Bros.?”
Damn right we do Geoff.
Before starting the event proper, Keighley laid out the rules for the event. The tournament consisted of a total of 16 players. Each match would be a 4 player fracas with 5 minutes on the clock and 4 stock per player. Items were turned on for every match except the Grand Finals. These matches were set to run for 8 minutes with 4 stock per player.
In addition to choosing normal winners from each match, the crowd would get to pick a fan favorite for each bout using the character notebooks I mentioned earlier. This method worked out rather nicely for the entire event and some people even managed to annoy Geoff by waving around a Pikachu card in matches were the lovable yellow rodent wasn’t even a participant.
Our combatants drew numbers from a hat and were then given 10 seconds to choose a character from the available roster of Nintendo’s finest. Out of the lot, Donkey King, Samus, Link, and Sonic remained unused. Interestingly enough, it was noted later that the development team felt that Samus was one of the strongest characters at the game’s current state of development.
In a surprising moment, series director Masahiro Sakurai appeared on stage to greet the fans and give his thanks.
“Man you guys are really excited to be here aren’t you? I’m so grateful for your support.”
The tourney participants took the stage with Sakurai and we were introduced to our announcers. Wynton Smith (Prog), D’Ron Maingrette (D1) and Bobby Scarnewman (Scar) all took a seat on a nearby couch and were ready to talk up some Smash. With all the pleasantries out of the way, it was finally time for a good, old-fashioned brawl.
Players: McCain Lavelle vs. Masaya Chikamoto vs. Cristin DesSaro vs. Dakota Lasky
Characters: MacD (Greninja), aMSa (Olimar), Crismas (Zelda) and TheRapture (Little Mac)
Stage: Mushroom Kingdom U
The battle opens up with a bang as the players all dive in on one another. Greninja makes use of some strong down airs while Little Mac unleashes a powerful barrage of punches. Olimar manages to get the first final smash off and hits for some big damage. Mac’s neutral B lands a OHKO on characters that have at least a little damage on them. Greninja manages to grab a Smash Ball after a heated chase, but misses the move. Zelda is the first to lose all 4 of her stock. Olimar gets the Smash Ball once more and mets out some big damage again. Greninja sneaks in some quick KO’s with an Ore Club and Little Mac is the next to fall. The timer runs out and Greninja and Olimar enter Sudden Death. In a blink and you miss it moment, Olimar lands a hit and takes the match.
aMSa and TheRapture move on to next round. Fan favorite voting commences and Greninja seems to be the clear favorite.Match 2
Players: Hendrick Pilar vs. Gonzalo Barrio vs. Daniel Jung vs. Kevin Nanney
Characters: DJNintendo (Bowser), CT ZeRo (Zero Suit Samus), Liquid KDJ (Rosalina) and EG PPMD (Fox)
Fox manages to snag an early KO. Zero Suit Samus darts around the field super-fast and is able to work in some solid hits and combos for good damage. Zamus grabs the first Smash Ball and leaps into her ship. The Final Smash works similar to Snake’s from the last game but seems to hit faster and maybe even a bit harder. Rosalina keeps up a strong aerial game, launching Luma for some quick blocking some potential smashes on her with the little star. Zamus gets the Smash Ball again and scores plenty of KO’s. Bowser, despite seeming a bit quicker than previous incarnations, fails to snag the third Smash Ball and Zero Suit Samus KO’s the Koopa King and Fox with another round of fire from her ship. With three stocks left, Zero Suit Samus gets the fourth Smash Ball and decimates the field.
CT Zero and EG PPMD go on to next round. Fox wins the fan favorite vote as well.
Players: Kevin Toy vs. Neha Chhetri vs. Kris Aldenderfer vs. Ken Hoang
Characters: PewPewU (Mario), Lilo (Wii Fit Trainer,) vs. Toph (Pit) vs. LiquidKen (Marth)
The Wii Fit Trainer hangs back and lobs some projectiles while the others jump into a melee fracas. The first Smash Ball is struck by a blaster wielding Wii Fit Trainer who unleashes a barrage of multi colored yoga poses on the rest of the field. Pit exchanges some projectile shots, jumping about to go into some melee hits to boot. Everyone’s favorite angel grabs the next Smash Ball and lads a devastating Final Smash that KO’s the Wii Fit Trainer. A wayward bomb KO’s Marth and Mario keeps up the offensive with some smashes and ground combos. Wii Fit Trainer continues to keep her distance, making use of items and long range attacks to rack up damage on the others. Pit is the first to go after the Wii Fit Trainer scores another Smash Ball. After the attack, she manages to dodge hammer attack from Marth. The swordsman is the next to fall and the timer runs down. Sudden Death sees Mario land a strong front kick to the Wii Fit Trainer and The Big N’s prized plumber pulls through.
PewPewU and Lilo move on to the next round. Surprising almost no one, Marth takes the fan favorite vote.
Players: Sam McNaughton vs. Lilan Chen vs. Juan Debiedma vs. Hugo Gonzalez
Characters: PeachyHime (Villager), milktea (Pikachu), Crs. Hungrybox (Kirby) and HugS (Mega Man)
Stage: Town and City
Kirby gets and early Smash Ball and KOs Mega Man in midair. A Cuccoo is chucked and a flock of angry chickens swarm Pikachu. The Villager snags a Smash Ball and through some quick and dirty architecture and explosions gets 2 KOs. Mega man tosses out some strong smashes and dishes out solid damage. Kirby nails all three of his fellow fighters with a Final Smash, and only Pikachu survives the massive blade. Mega Man is the first to go. Kirby taunts awaywhile Pikachu and Villager tussle until the clock runs down.
Hungrybox and Peachyhime go on to the next round. Mega Man takes the fan favorite vote.
Fan Favorite Match 1
Players: McCain Lavelle vs. Kevin Nanney vs. Ken Hoang vs. Hugo Gonzalez
Characters: MacD (Greninja), EG PPMD (Fox), LiquidKen (Marth) and HugS (Mega Man)
Stage: Town and City
An early Smart Bomb from Marth deals some big damage. Greninja is the first to get KO’d this match . Marth gets a Super Mushroom and the others proceed to gang up on him. Marth gets the Smash Ball but misses Greninja with it. A few moments later, Marth manages to land a Final Smash for a KO. Greninja focuses on air dives and the occasional Water Shuriken for poke damage. Fox snags the Smash Ball and the Land Master hits for some solid damage. Arceus and the Color TV-Game 15 Assist Trophy take up big portions of the screen for huge damage all around as the timer runs down.
EG PPMD wins the match. Once again, Mega Man takes the fan favorite vote.
Players: Fran Mirabella vs. Ben Reeves vs. David Kepler vs. Basara Sato
Characters: IGN (Link), Game Informer (Little Mac), Gameswelt (Mario) and Famitsu (Greninja)
Stage: Wily Castle
Speak of the Yellow Devil! As the announcers bring up the yellow blob, he pays the players a visit. Greninja makes use of his speed and projectiles, but unfortunately self-destructs over the edge of the stage. Mac, Link and Mario slug it out, with Mac landing some hard punches. Yellow Devil returns once more and smacks the players around a bit as he sends his blobby bits across the screen. Color TV-Game 15 makes a return and much like the Yellow Devil, sends the players sliding across the screen. Items rain down on the field like water as the fighters scramble for all of them. Link gets a Final Smash out of the chaos but whiffs it. Yellow Devil makes a third appearance and the timer runs out.
After all is said and done, Basara Sato comes out on top.Semi Finals 1
Players: Masaya Chikamoto vs. Dakota Lasky vs. Gonzalo Barrio vs. Daniel Jung
Characters: aMSa (Olimar), TheRapture (Little Mac), CT ZeRo (Zero Suit Samus) and Liquid KDJ (Rosalina)
Stage: Pilot Wings
Little Mac lands some solid opening blows. Rosalina is the first to get KO’d. Mac preps a KO punch but Rosalina throws Luma into the blow saving herself. Little Mac hurls a bomb across the stage and deals big damage to Olimar. Rosalina takes a full KO Punch from Little Mac but barely manages to survive. Zamus and Olimar exchange blows with Zamus taking advantage of her quick mobility options. Rosalina gets the Smash Ball and nets a revenge KO on Little Mac. Not long after, Olimar lands a Final Smash of his own. Little Mac is out first and the remaining players duke it out until time expires.
CT Zero and aMSa move onto next round. Fan favorite voting commences and Rosalina takes the title.
Semi Finals 2
Players: Kevin Toy vs. Neha Chhetri vs. Juan Debiedma vs. Sam McNaughton
Characters: PewPewU (Mario), Lilo (Wii Fit Trainer), HungryBox (Kirby) and PeachyHime (Villager)
Stage: Wily Castle
Wii Fit takes some long distance shots and succeeds in racking up some damage on the others. Yellow Devil appears and knocks some players around. An X Bomb takes out Kirby and dishes out some damage to the other players. Yellow Devil returns and the Wii Fit Trainer makes use of the bright colored titan as cover. Kirby inhales Mario and succeeds in a quick Kirbycide with the plumber. An assist trophy is thrown and Midna appears to wreck Mario. The game enters Sudden Death with Wii Fit Trainer vs. Kirby. The Trainer dodges some attacks but Kirby lands grab and sends his foe flying.
HungryBox and Lilo move on to the finals. Mario takes the Fan Favorite vote.Fan Favorite Match 2
Players: Kevin Nanney vs. Hugo Gonzalez vs. Daniel Jung vs. Kevin Toy
Characters: EG PPMD (Fox), Hugs (Mega Man), Liquid KDJ (Rosalina) and PewPewU (Mario)
Stage: Boxing Ring
Rosalina and Fox duke it out outside the ring. Fox keeps thins aggressive, going for combo strings and juggles. Mario and Mega Man exchange shots in and out of the ring. Stage lights fall for several KO’s. Fierce fighting continues outside the ring between Rosalina and Fox. A Golden Hammer falls and makes for some quick KO’s. The stage lights fall around the same time adding to the chaos. Mega Man manages to land a Final Smash on Rosalina, much to the excitement of the announcer who begins to scream the Mega Man cartoon theme.
EG PPMD secures the victory while the Blue Bomber takes the Fan Favorite vote.
A quick break between matches occurs. We get another look at Smash Bros. for 3DS. More Smash Run is shown off and we get to see a new element of the mode, Challenge Doors. These rooms feature different 30 second challenges which have the potential to yield plentiful power ups.
Fan Favorite Finals
Players: Kevin Nanney vs. Hugo Gonzalez
Characters: EG PPMD (Fox) and Hugs (Mega Man)
Stage: Wily Castle
Fox and Mega Man open with some fierce juggles. Yellow Devil and Samurai Goro rack up some damage on both players. PPMD gets the first KO. Fox hops into the Landmaster snags a KO. Some SoCal hype from the fans can be heard as the match reaches its last 2 minutes. Fox gets another KO as Yellow Devil exits the stage. A Smart Bomb from Fox leaves EG PPMD feeling cocky as he decides to taunt. Mega Man gets a Smash Ball, loses it, and Fox gets in the last 10 seconds.
As the match concludes, EG PPMD claims victory as the Fan Favorite.
Players: Gonzalo Barrio vs. Masaya Chikamoto vs. Juan Debiedma vs. Neha Chhetri
Characters: CT Zero (Zero Suit Samus), aMSa (Olimar), HungryBox (Kirby) and Lilo (Wii Fit)
Stage: Boxing Ring
Kirby keeps his distance going in for some grabs and quick jabs when anyone gets close. Wii Fit Trainer focuses on projectiles to keep the others at a safe distance. Zamus manages to get a KO on Wii Fit Trainer but is subsequently KO’d by Olimar. The lights fall for relatively minimal damage. Kirby continues spending time outside the ring, trying to catch others off guard. Zero Suit Samus and Kirby maintain the lead down to the last minute.
HungryBox and CT Zero move on to the Grand Finals!
Before the Grand Finals, Geoff and the announcers inform us of a special celebrity match.Celebrity Rumble
Players: Keegan Allen vs. Zelda Williams vs. Stephen Lunsford vs. Erin Sanders
Characters: Bowser, Greninja, Link, and Kirby
Stage: Town and City
Lots of love for Zelda Williams, who enters the stage with a large replica of Majora’s Mask, as the game starts. All four players get off some solid early damage. Early Andross assist trophy pops up. Greninja grabs a rocket and scores a double KO on Bowser and Link. Link gets Smash Ball, loses it. Greninja gets it but misses. Bowser hitting some strong down specials from the air. Greninja finally gets a Final Smash off, KO’s Link. Bowser lands some strong Koopa Claws and Link KO’s a freshly green-hatted Kirby. Greninja lands home run bat swing and gets two KOs. The timer runs out and the crowd falls silent for a moment
Keighley takes the stage again and ushers in our two finalists. Both players come out in smash themed boxing jackets. The players mingle with the fans as they walk to the stage, Gonzalo hams it up a bit as he makes his way to the platform. Both combatants take their place and the excitement is at a fever pitch.
Kirby and Zamus are in a dead heat melee as the match opens. Zamus works in some whip strikes while Kirby lands some back airs and grabs. The Pink Puffball snags first blood with an up smash. Kirby survives a strong side B but is dropped by an air side B from Zamus. Kirby bides his time and waits for grab openings. Zero Suit Samus snags the next KO with a quick whip. Zamus slides around the stage but takes a hammer from Kirby and is KO’d. Kirby works in rolls to snag some grabs but Zamus counters with quick stun shots. Kirby takes the lead with a grab but is then KO’d as Zero Suit Samus returns to the field. With one minute left, Kirby packs on the damage on Zamus via shield rolls into grabs. Zamus stalls for Sudden Death by jumping above the stage and avoiding Kirby. Zamus manages to get a get a final hit in during sudden death and secures victory!
Reggie Fils-Aime appears to present the trophies to the winners. As he makes it to the stage, the Regginator also gives out some free hugs to both players. Fils-Aime thanks everyone in attendance and everyone watching at home. He also mentions that at one point during the proceedings, Miyamoto was apparently watching the tournament from the back. The crowd chants Reggie’s name.
“Nintendo had a great day today!”
Reggie also mentions that Sakurai is very happy with how the game is coming along. Once again, he thanks the fans, announcers and players. Kevin Nanney is awarded the Fan Favorite trophy and poses for a photo with Reggie.
Fils-Aime turns to Gonzalo Barrio and proclaims, “You were rockin that Zero Suit Samus!” Reggie gives Gonzalo his award and poses for another photo.
On a hopeful note, Reggie hints at possible future tournaments and even road show events. As the event winds down, Reggie professes, “I suck at Smash,” but is hoping to improve his skills with the upcoming release of the 3DS version. He turns to Gonzalo once more
“I’m going to be able to come back up next time and kick your ass!”
The Super Smash Bros. Invitational was a riveting success and a heck of a lot of fun to watch. I loved seeing all of the fans get super excited for the game and finally getting to see more of the WiiU version in action was great. I hope that Nintendo does indeed take the show on the road and host more tournaments in the near future. It’s one thing to create a quality game, but it takes something special to build such a fun and passionate community.