The Brawl Tournament Experience
Leave it to Nintendo to go all out for their most anticipated game ever like this. Four locations (LA, San Francisco, Worcester, and New York, respectively). 256 people per tournament. It turns out I was one of the fortunate people who got to play Brawl before the US release coming very soon.
Woop-de-fucking-doo, Mark, your vendetta-filled mind may be thinking. Big deal. It may not be a big deal, true, but short of you being Japanese, living in Japan, or being one of the lucky
bastards opportunists to go to E 4 All ages ago, have you played Brawl yet? No? I see. If I haven't offended your sensibilities (or god forbid, you're actually somewhat interested), carry on, my wayward son.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute is, surprise, surprise, a college. Ironically it was to no surprise that when I got there at 11:30, there were already groups of people waiting in line; Some since last night. And you thought you wanted to play Brawl badly. I made my way to the line (thanks to the convenient signs that obviously had a lot of effort put towards them, as pictured), and when I got there, the crew counted 247 people. The early drive paid off. I was safe.
They offered Wii gloves while we waited, because you can never be too warm at room-temperature. Snazzy walking advertisements, but alas.
4 hours of waiting in line, turning the corner to see more halls and getting there was a test of patience, but goddamn, was the wait worth it. Picture, if you will, your auditorium in High School (or College). Picture the end of the room with a stage in the middle, 4 Wii kiosks in either side, and all that mainstream
crap playing. Three nicely placed screens hanging from the roof at first showing the intro with the logo in English, which was fucking glorious. Then imagine all the battles being portrayed on the screens from kiosk number 5. Must've been a number fetish or something. Anyway. The two people I met along the way and myself had group number 14, with each group playing for 4 minutes.
Had I been a lesser man, I would've cried foul and demanded to get my Ness on in Brawl (which in itself was impossible since the volunteers deleted the data after every match), but as I told my newfound friends repeatedly, I didn't mind. I may be spouting the same tired shit you've grown used to seeing for yourself since 1999, but it bears repeating. Part of what makes the Smash Bros. series so great is having fun not just playing it, but watching it. And damned if I didn't have fun with the latter on the fetish-focused kiosk 5. Plenty of Marios, Links, and Samus' abound. Lots of Smash Balls and lost Pokeball opportunites. All of this on incredibly crisp screens.
I realized at this point that I didn't want to go to kiosk 5 with all the attention being solely potentially focused on me and my opponent. Of course, what would a rather intimate (or any other adjective you'd like to substitute with this, like boring or whatever) Feature be without irony, right folks?
As group 13 went up, group 14 (which included my two newfound friends) sat down in the front row. As I would learn soon enough, going to a kiosk wasn't as random as I believed it would be.
"Your name?" asked the bearded tournament volunteer.
"MARK!", I screamed back amongst the music.
He looked at his paper, saw my named and yelled,
"Fuck", I didn't say back. But I sure as hell thought it.
Let me just say that I had no delusion of ever winning. I just wanted to play Brawl, even if it was for a bit. The advantage was there. Why not take it?
That being said, I went to kiosk 5 and shook my opponent's familiar hand. He chose Link, the tried, true and familiar. Who did I choose? Diddy. Gotta represent, yo. Recognize. Respect. Etc.
The match started as I realized one fact: I missed the lack of a Gamecube controller. Not to say that the Classic Controller was bad, mind you, but Nintendo shouldn't have pulled a Sony with having the analog stick in the middle-left. The battle raged on. I shot. I did multiple cartwheels into my opponent. I used that jetpack and ended up committing suicide once. Nevertheless, Diddy was fast, and he was fun. His Final Smash for someone that had no previous control experience with it?
Not so much.
In the 4 minutes I got to play, I got the two Smash Balls available and ran Link over to death twice. People were cheering for Diddy.
Yet I lost. 3-2. No big deal. I got to play Brawl, and that's all that mattered. In a paradoxical sort of way, playing it has made the wait seem less painful now that I know the glory it'll be. I also got 10 dollars to use at Best Buy, which isn't a bad consolation prize if I do say so myself.
The Free Play zone wasn't announced in the press release, and it was a bonus treat nonetheless for those that were numbers 257 and beyond. The nice thing is that it wasn't Battlefield-biased. Using the Wii Remote, myself, my friend, his friend, and my sister played (you know your game is special when someone who hasn't played a videogame since Streets of Rage can enjoy both watching and playing) on a custom stage. Diddy, Pit, Meta Knight, and Mario respectively had their brawl. My reason for doing well this time around? Bonsly, in a rather smashing twist of fate. Clearly my great DKU vote satisfied someone up there. Time was up, and Sudden Death occurred between myself as Diddy and Pit. I won this time around, and I knew that I did his presence in this game proudly.
On the subject of the game itself for a while: the speed is perfect. It's not slow like the original is in retrospect, nor is it too fast like Melee was. Brawl, like the last bowl of sickeningly sweet porridge, was just right. As someone who mostly played Melee in Slow-Mo Melee, this makes me incredibly happy.
Prizes in tow as pictured below (rhyming aside, the ten dollars was a DKU stroke of fortune fit for catfish), I left the college pretty damned happy. In the end, when you take away all the bullshit, all the characters and stages that should've logically been, and your boning for characters that realistically wouldn't have made sense, you know you're onto a magical experience. Seeing the intro in English, I realized it. Brawl is among us in 8 days (as of this writing). In the end, the bullshit matters, but won't be prominent until people get tired of this game and Fourlee's revealed.
Brawl is coming. The wait was agonizing (as it definitely will be this next week). Yet as I left I smiled, knowing that the end of an era is near. An era of waiting until 3 (now 2) in the morning to find out the update, generating a new unwanted sleep pattern in the process and all the bitching and rejoicing that it came along with.
Brawl will rule us all very soon, and with a master like it, I'll happily be subjected to the glorious pain it will tie me up, gag me, and whip me with.
A present retrospective (with an awkward ending, to boot) by Mark .