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Smash Bros 4 and the Infinitely Expanding Hype
It’s been a bumpy road as far as the relationship between Nintendo and the Super Smash Bros fanbase is concerned, but we’re finally through the roughest patch and seem to be driving on smooth pavement now. Nintendo has caught my fascination with their recent approach, and as we near the release of the newest game in the franchise, I’m sitting down to analyze it once again.
The low point of the relationship is certainly when Nintendo tried to pull Super Smash Bros Melee from EVO 2013. For a game that’s quickly approaching its 13th birthday, Melee still holds a great deal of importance and prestige in the fighting game community. It deserves its place at EVO, and luckily, Nintendo recognized this and let it go ahead (not without some struggles, though).
While Melee will likely always remain the crown jewel of Smash Bros in the eyes of the fighting game community, Super Smash Bros 4 (or, if you’re living in Japan, the already released and rapidly selling Smash 4) is when Nintendo really decided to incorporate and accept the Smash Bros fanbase, particularly its competitive side.
I’ve written before about how remarkable it is for Nintendo to take a serious chance by essentially leaving the bulk of their marketing to a fickle fanbase. Yet Nintendo has taken the careful steps to bring the anticipation for Smash 4 to higher and higher levels, all the while appealing to the fanbase and casual fans alike.
It started at this year’s E3 – Nintendo didn’t approach the conference in typical fashion. Over the course of a few days, we saw so much footage of Nintendo games that it almost made us here at Leviathyn keel over (don’t worry, we did survive).
Of everything we saw during E3, even amongst wonderful demonstrations of Bayonetta 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles X, nothing stood out to me more than the Smash Bros Invitational. It still feels like the most important thing to come out of E3 2014 in any way – a bold reach out to a fan community that hadn’t been of any concern to Nintendo a year prior, excluding their legal department.
After the dust of that tournament settled, here’s what I came to understand. Nintendo suddenly understood that one of the greatest marketing tools in any company’s bag of tricks is to recognize when the fans can do it for them. Smash fans are incredibly passionate and ever since they’ve known about Smash 4 (in both its 3DS and Wii U forms), they’ve been awaiting it with baited breath.
Speaking of bait, the 12th of September was Nintendo throwing out their fishing line with a beautiful wriggling worm at the end in the form of an early release of the Smash 4 3DS demo. Sending codes out to certain Club Nintendo Platinum members, Nintendo planted the dynamite.
And my god, did the internet ever explode – Twitter was aflame with people trying to obtain codes from the lucky people who opened up their email to find a set of four codes to access the demo a week before its expected release. There were people creating contests, asking for follows and retweets with the promise of giving out codes. People were even willing to pay for the codes – all this for an early release demo.
It’s amazing to see how this demo made the hype swell to even greater proportions. The timing was right – a day before the real deal version of the game was to release in Japan, Nintendo knew that everyone was at Smash 4‘s door with their ears pressed up against it. Rather than keep the room silent, there were the familiar sounds of battle.
I played a lot of the demo for a few days after obtaining a code through a Twitter contact, enjoying it so much – but constantly wishing for more (I wish Shulk had been playable, but oh well). I know of people that played more Smash Bros in that time frame then I thought humanly possible, and naturally, a lot of the big names in Smash went ahead and obtained the Japanese version of the full game, broadcasting it on Twitch for everyone to see.
And that’s yet another example of the Smash Bros fanbase doing so much of the work for Nintendo. This crazy bustle of people genuinely interested in Smash Bros were creating so much content, it’s unreal. A week after the early demo release, it became open to all, and as everyone got into it, you knew there was something special going on.
And on October 3rd, we’re going to see it all culminate – the months and months of growing hype that Nintendo and the dedicated Smash Bros fanbase have created. It’s all going to pay off when Smash Bros for the 3DS launches, and then it’s all going to build more for the main event on the Wii U. The Smash Bros launches are going to be big, and I want to see how it all goes down.