As soon as my first visit to FanExpo Canada ended last year, I’ve been counting the days until it comes around again. Not only is it just plain fun, the Expo is a springboard toward my dreams of having hands-on experiences with upcoming games, speaking with prominent members of the game industry and marrying a talented Samus cosplayer (brunette version, please).
I have even been so bold as to consider competing in the Super Smash Bros.: Brawl tournament, one of several to be held during the show. Sure, my skills at Brawl could only be considered extraordinary in nursing home circuits and there’s a $20 fee to take part, but there’s something to be said for having the experience, right? And there are 10 million Hbc Rewards Points up for grabs! I don’t know what those are, but 10 million of them sounds like a lot and hopefully I could use them at Tim Hortons after I cross back into the States.
Then I read the tournament rules.
Well, maybe “read” is overstating it a bit. I observed all the strings of words that compose the rules, but as to comprehension, I’m not so sure. “Stage striking?” “D3 walking and standing infinites?” What is this stuff? Why are there so many rules for a game that comes with its own tournament system installed? I keep looking for terms and rules I’m familiar with, like “Don’t be a hammer-grabbing jackass.” or “When choosing Captain Falcon, always pick his pink color scheme because it’s just funny.”, but they’re nowhere to be found.
And Meta Knight is banned? Why? In my hands, Meta Knight is, at best, a flying drunk shish kebab. If there is some technique that has turned him into a vile, unbalanced force of unstoppable fury, I’ve never found it.
Worst of all, they refer to Jigglypuff as “Jiggz.” Way to make one of the cutest, most kid-focused characters sound like a porn star. Jigglypuff is a lady and should be treated as such!
As you might have figured out, I’m nowhere near the technical or experiential status of a serious tournament player. I don’t study techniques or hone combos in practice mode. When I play Brawl, I choose a character based on whims alone, attack by jabbing the buttons for one of about five different attacks I happen to have in my head at the time, and am not against stages with environmental hazards. Live by the go-kart track, die by the go-kart track.
On a “professional” level, Brawl does have a number of imbalances and ways to play that would be considered unethical or unfair to those who would desire to exploit them — and when awards are being offered, there’s always the risk that someone will.
“[W]e’ve got a great scene with no jerks,” the rulewriter states in the manifesto, “but I just want to cover my bases.” That is plenty fair, but goes to show just how different worlds exist between tournament play and some rounds with friends. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against tournaments at all. I respect people who are willing to invest the time and study into becoming good players in this respect, but I don’t think it’s fair to consider them “superior” in many ways to an average gamer. It’s two different universes with two different tiers — and one side isn’t so concerned with their standing as long as you respect the house hammer rule.
So I’ll be looking forward to the tournaments, not as a fighter but a spectator hoping to be impressed by some finely-honed skills. Well, unless I find someone in a finely-designed Varia Suit.