Saturday, February 21, 2009

The History of Smash Bros. Speculation, Part 2: Days of the Dojo

Well, you can't expect these types of projects to succeed all the time. Even so, to coincide with the upcoming one-year anniversary of Brawl, I decided to finish my "History of Smash Bros. Speculation" series and post it here (alongside other blogs).


In the last instalment, we saw the game announced with a few surprises in tow. Not long after, cryptic statements helped contribute to the thoughts, the battles, and the pain. I revealed my own involvement in the dreaded online character cults. And after 6 months and two trailers revealing pretty much bare bones information, silence reigned….

March 28th, 2007
It had been months since our last update. No news, no interviews with important information, nothing. Those impatient little dimwits cried about it for days on end. “Why, Nintendo, why?” they whined. Every convention/other opportunity was seen as a chance for Brawl tidbits, but nothing came, not even a firmer release date.
The first major Brawl-related news bit of 2007 wasn’t even about Brawl directly. On this day, it was announced that, after over a decade of rivalry, Mario and Sonic would finally appear together in one game, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games.
Of course, after months of debating 3rd party involvement in Brawl (where everyone from Mega Man to Kingdom Hearts’ Sora were seen as candidates, and reason was tossed out the window and impaled on broken glass), some saw this is a major break. Sonic discussion was mandatory, and its oligatoryness made it seem like a background element to all the other discussions. Even so, here’s a chance to get some info, because all the interviewers asking about this game has GOT to bring up Smash Bros.
And they did, and we got…nothing. ‘No comment’ from one, as should be expected. However, the other interviewed rep made the statement “That’s not on the cards right now”, something to carries a bit more meaning to overanalysts, despite lacking any. Some saw this as a sign that Sonic wasn’t going to make it, and proclaimed repeatedly. Others, mostly those whose denial was based on fanboyism rather than logic, cried back. It was par of course for Smash Bros. discussion. And it would be a bit longer before this one would be locked.
This provided a decent enough break from the monotony of months-old speculation, but it soon went back to “Which characters should return LOL”. Thankfully, it wouldn’t be long until the next miniscule moment of enlightenment.

April 2007
Of course, Brawl was the subject of April Fools jokes. How could it not? None of those jokes were particularly good, but they were there. They were about all we had at the time.
Then came my next contribution to the Smash masses. While perusing NSider against my better judgement, I stumbled upon a thread linking to a Korean site with a scan from Corcoro Comics, one of Japan’s premier comic magazines. This scanned showed a page with some Brawl art and text nearby, and some translators determined that the mag would have a feature of the game in next month’s issue. I quickly broke my cyber exile from Smashboards and posted the thing. Excitement swept the land. It appeared everywhere. Of course, the vagueness of the magazine’s text led many to believe, wrongly, that there would be a new character revealed. Such are the actions of simpletons. Even so, it all made some level of sense, as Corocoro had spent a good time before the release of the newest Pokemon games revealing some of the new critters before anyone else. We’d just have to wait and see.
Around the same time frame, we got a rather bizarre break from Hideo Kojima himself. At some convention, Kojima was asked about Smash, to which he replied that he and Sakurai had played the game not long ago, and Kojima claimed “It feels really complete” and “If they released it right now, they’d sell a million copies”. These statements, of course just compliments from a friend, were taken deadly seriously by many message boarders.

May/June 2007
We had been hearing that more information was coming. We prayed for that information. And then we got eventually got it.
In mid-May, the Smash Bros. Dojo website was taken down and replaced by a countdown of around a week. “Oh boy!” We all thought. “We are getting new stuff, finally!” Conveniently, this came at the same time we learned the CoroCoro thing was a bust. And so we waited, and waited for that time. In the meantime, there was anti-comedy afoot: the ‘Japan Time’ note contained on the page became a meme at places like NeoGAF, and like all memes at NeoGAF, it was driven into the ground like a drill.
I remember when the day came; I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. For that reason, the fact that the actual site update didn’t come until 2 AM probably wasn’t the best for me. And when the update came…
I can’t say the first posts on the Dojo were received very well. They had waited a week, and were expecting quite a bit, and what they got was…introductory posts. Not unexpected or illogical, but not what they were building up to. I mean, the world held its breath for 6 months for this news!
The reaction was not really outright disappointment, but rather something a bit lukewarm. The early posts did give some fuel to the fire, though – mainly through the Musicians post, which was incredible on its own. It got some pretty early speculation going on, but unfortunately based on wrong connections – the site listed the major games that the composers had worked on before, and this led to people thinking that Brawl must feature content from some of those games in some way (apparently the idea of ‘freelancing’ eluded them that moment). It died out pretty quickly, I thought, although some people (even IGN) held on to the belief that the hired musicians meant something to third party participation until the very end.
The first three weeks of the Dojo were basically getting us into the idea of the Dojo. There wasn’t really much in the way of exciting new stuff during that time; some new items, some new special moves, some fun new concepts (I thought moving and shooting was pretty damn swell), a new stage…but that was pretty much it for most of the first month or so, and people complained (especially when the game explained basic concepts like Recovery), as they are wont to.
The major updates for that time period were the explanations of the Final Smashes (the super moves from the first trailer) and the controller options. The former solved a mystery that had been in our minds for a year (and to think, some people had been convinced that the absence of the final smashes in the second video meant they were cut out or were ‘just for show’), and spurred another tournament player item/no item firestorm. The latter was very important, as it explained that all the compatible controllers were usable in the game (solving the mystery of what controller would be used in the game and ending another dumb forum argument), as well as told us that there would be customizable controls, which was great (and would be expanded upon in future updates, neither of which were met with much fanfare, strangely). Of course, this would also lead to tournament players claiming that anyone using any controller other than the Gamecube one would be ‘gimped’, but you take the bad with the good sometimes.
After the initial month of mostly recapping and basics, the updates really started picking up in the last month of June, when we finally got a new (but old) character in Zelda. Updates started becoming something to really look forward to, and the constant stream of whining ceased for the time being. Plus, E3 was right around the corner, and who knows what could go on there…
One final note for this month: the trend of misunderstanding or questioning interpretations of the posts began pretty early on. I must admit, I didn’t quite grasp the concept of rolling crates in the beginning. Other sources of confusion: the phrase “but once” in the Final Smash update, the explanation for aiming the Cracker Launcher, the naming of the Ridley song as ‘Metroid Boss Battle’ (did it mean Ridley was a boss?), and Wario’s ‘new martial arts that other characters cannot even see’. These ones were more minor confusions, but future posts had people questioning the translation or what the actual sentence means, mostly so they can construe it to their whims.

July 2007
July started with a bang and never really let up until months later. The first update of the month told us about ‘Assist Trophies’, a feature that was well-received but nonetheless controversial. It let characters that would otherwise not be in the game in any major capacity get their chance in the spotlight, but what would your reaction be if a character you were gunning for as playable was only in the game as an item? This would be brought up again and again in subsequent months as excitement and disappointment came with each newly revealed Assist Trophy. Like the previous month’s entries, there was some confusion with the concept – for example, did your character disappear when they used it? The only evidence was in how some screenshots were framed, but that was it.
The rest of the week was up to snuff as well: the return of Bowser (and his awesome final smash) and a new stage was swell stuff. And the next week, we got the return of the Bumper from the original Smash Bros.! All this, though, was lead-up to E3.
Now, one thing to remember: it had been announced earlier that the E3 we knew and loved was no more, to be replaced by a more conventional series of announcements and demonstrations (which was entirely reasonable, considering the needlessly bloated carnival E3 really was most of the time). This meant that there really was no way there would nearly as much mayhem in the Nintendo booth as there was last year. Even so, we waited in anticipation to see what Brawl info we could get.
What we got was a short movie, which was perfectly okay, and a release date, December 3rd, which was great. We scoured the video looking for any new elements not yet revealed on the Dojo, which consisted entirely of Donkey Kong, who appeared on the site the next day. Despite the small feeling of E3, I think most of us Smash fans were reasonably satisfied by it. Plus, we now knew where to mark our calendars.
The last update of the week was also a doozy: an Animal Crossing stage. This of course led discussions into a possible AC character, as the stage had to mean SOMETHING (in fact, no it didn’t). This would also be a source of debate until the end, as people could not, COULD NOT, give up the possibility of a playable AC character (even the ones who were clearly in the background of the stage, like Tom Nook). Some of the names they came up for the generic human character were pretty kooky as well – Animal Crosser? Doesn’t sound particularly family-friendly.
The rest of the month was good fun, but nothing that caused a massive stir. We got some more characters that were half-new (Yoshi and Zero Suit Samus), a couple of stages (the Rumble Falls stage was the cause of a minor spat in which people who thought the Ice Climbers could only have one stage design immediately jumped to the conclusion that they were out because Rumble Falls was in that mould), more Assist Trophies, and other such nonsense. The major potboiler was a mysterious update, bordered in black, which explained things about ‘this world’ and ended with an ominous message and a screenshot of a weird robot thing. I think most people guessed this was a teaser for the ‘beefed up’ Adventure mode mentioned before (the fact that it was in the section titled ‘Mode A’ helped that along a bit), but that didn’t stop some from coming up with crazy theories (for example, that it was actually teasing the online mode, and the ominous messages were talking about punishment for cheating or other such drivel).
Before we move on, one more thing: the so-called ‘Icon Theory’ (which may have had its roots earlier) was solidified in July. The ‘Icon Theory’ was basically checking the image name of the series icons presented in the top left corner of the updates, arranging the icons into a list based on how their names were numbered, and using that list to determined how many series are represented (have icons) in the game. Really, out of all the methods we had for trying to figure out stuff ahead of time, it was probably the best one, although there were arguments over how the order of the list worked (in the end, there was an order, but not that orderly an order). It became one of those integral things posted on most message boards over the coming months as new icons were revealed, and was another source of hope and disappointment for many.

August 2007
The first update in August was late for some reason. This would be common in August, but it also meant good things – it usually signalled something big. And the first update in August was big – our first completely brand new character in over a year, Ike. The shot heard round the Internet; the beginning of a new frenzy.
Not to be outdone, the last update of the same week solved the mystery of the black update by revealing the new Adventure mode, titled ‘The Subspace Emissary’, and featuring a big story, sidescrolling action, and cutscenes, cutscenes, cutscenes! Now a whole new sector of speculation came to be, and it was out the gate trying to figure out what those enemies were, or where that stage is from (although they ended up being completely original, we were still under the impression that the stages and enemies could be game-based), or trying to figure out the whole plot (is Meta Knight the villain?). Subsequent updates in the same month introducing the names of the villain group and introducing the concept of bosses (which, like the Assist Trophies, gave another avenue for fans to speculate character choices) added to the magical mystery of this new mode. Of course, some of the obviously hyped-up language used to describe the adventure mode (“And we fit it on one disc!”) would ultimately come to bite it in the ass, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
The rest of August was likewise filled with surprises and wonder. Two more brand new characters appeared within weeks of each other, and one more returning character (Peach, who actually appeared earlier in the Subspace Emissary video) filled the ranks. The two new ones were not without some level of controversy, but then again which ones were completely beloved upon arrival? (There actually were, but those come later). Pokemon Trainer, the second new character of August, was pretty well-accepted, although his game mechanics weren’t entirely clear on the outset. The big thing was the diehard Poke-fans wondering why his name wasn’t Red, the ‘canonical’ name for that particular Pokemon Trainer blah blah, nobody cares. The third new character, Diddy Kong…well, not everyone likes him very much. He’s a kid sidekick after all, and those tend not to be fan favourites. Even so, I can’t say no to monkeys, and he looked fun, so I was on his side from the beginning. The controversies were generally pretty small, and subsided rather quickly.
The characters and Subspace posts held the entire month, with the rest of the updates were okay, and included some new stages, Assist Trophies, and the like. It was a great way to cap off a great summer for Smash Bros. information, and would keep the people satisfied over the next month, which quieted down a bit.

September 2007
After an incredible August, September seemed almost quaint. Which isn’t to say that there were no exciting announcements that month; quite the opposite, actually. But the announcements based on gameplay barely ever stirred the base like new characters did, and there were no new characters that month.
Let’s start with the important stuff: the major features debuting in September were the Online mode and My Music. After months of wondering if the game was going to be online at all (even though that was the main points of making it in the first place), the announcement was one of the most well-received of all, even though the very first post about it mentioned all the features (friend codes, limited communication, possibility of lag) that everyone would be bitching about when they finally got the game. But hey, it was online!
My Music once again opened up another avenue for speculation, or at least opened it up more so. The site had been offering music samples since day 1, and people speculated on music as they normally would. But with My Music, it was evident that the actual soundtrack would be even more epic than originally thought, and people upped the ante on their music guesses. All in all, a very nice feature, although its inclusion did cause some ruckus by those who wanted completely custom soundtracks (which I just don’t think makes sense for this game) so they can play their (almost certainly bad, they’re gamers, after all) tunes over their battles.
The rest of the month was generally typical, but good. Two of the characters featured that month were already known – Meta Knight (who for his three month absence was actually being thought as a possible secret character) and Snake (whose update, finally showing us his special moves and a general idea of how he plays, was previewed a day earlier at a conference at the Tokyo Game Show). The third was a bit surprising to some – the return of the Ice Climbers. Being characters who aren’t from an essentially popular franchise, some thought they were expendable (which they aren’t), and the rumours from the previous year indicated they could be gone and replaced. Well, if that dumb rumour hadn’t been killed and forgotten by then, it was when that update appeared. Good riddance to Internet garbage.
Some of the other updates that month got some responses – Mario got FLUDD as a special move, the Special match options returned, we got to look at some the new enemies in the Adventure mode (killing most ideas that they were being culled from other games), and some amusing Assist Trophies (including Lyn, a Fire Emblem character with a following that mourned her obvious non-playable status). The month capped off with an oddly symmetrical week (two returning game modes, two final smashes, and an Assist Trophy in between).
And now, the stage was the set…for the big stuff.

October 2007
After taking a sort-of break in September, things went back into full swing in October, bringing in three all-new characters and a bunch of other stuff.
The new characters were an exciting lot – the first day we got Mother 3’s Lucas, much to the joy of those raving lunatic fanboys at (who actually stated beforehand that they had sources who indicated him being in the game, among other things that would also come to pass), and later in the month we got the awesome King Dedede, a crowd pleaser. Lucas created another bit of controversy – since he looked similar to Ness, and since the Japanese Melee website mentioned that the developers had thought of replacing Ness with Lucas had Earthbound 64 (the original version of Mother 3) been released, we wondered if Ness was replaced by Lucas, or would return. The description on the page “Can he surpass even Ness” was interpreted as indicating both. This was a major argument for months, as Ness fans looked for hints that he’d be back and detractors (which I must say I was a part of, not because I didn’t like Ness, but because based on the information provided, I thought he and Lucas were too similar) torn them down. It was a cycle that did not end until the game came out.
But neither could surpass the mania inspired by the character confirmed between them – Sonic.
It came as a surprise announcement in the middle of the night – Nintendo held a conference, announced a bunch of stuff, and showed off two Smash Bros. videos, one making all our wishes come true by showing Sonic battling it out with the rest of the cast. After months of wondering whether or not he’d make it, we got what we wanted, and it was glorious.
The two videos actually showed a lot – it was our first footage of ‘up-to-date’ gameplay, including the new character head boxes beside the damage meters (which were confirmed in the Online post), and a couple of attacks, taunts, and some slipped new stages in the background (Norfair was the main one, but it also appears that a secret stage, Spear Pillar, was also shown). So, aside from Sonic, we actually got quite a bit on that day. And we were to get even more, because alongside the announcement came playable demos for the press.
Yes, soon videos of people actually playing the game surfaced, and we basked in the glow. What we didn’t learn from the videos, we definitely got from the demos – special moves, changes in characters, stages, final smashes, Assist trophies, items, game mechanics, etc. etc. The week after, players who could make it to E For All got the same demo, and thus we got non-press reactions. E For All also had some footage of the Adventure mode, which added to the speculation for that as well. In any case, the impressions were generally good, and no one was bitching about things as of yet (although the beginnings of it were well in place. Everyone was just a little bit high on the moment to care that much). With E For All, however, also came impressions and things learned from the game that were…less than true. All the public demos would garner fake information, and some of it was even accepted for quite a while.
Of course, all these goodies came at a price…it was soon after announced that the game was delayed until February 9th, 2008. Strangely, the reaction to this wasn’t all that bad…I think, at least getting a real glimpse of the game was enough for people. Plus, we could see we were getting a pretty content-filled game, so maybe we just knew it was going to be worth the extra two months.
Not to be outdone, the Dojo posted numerous things that weren’t even in the demo – three new stages, many returning game modes, Snake’s hilarious Codec conversations (which sparked some minor debate about how they would be handled in the game, as in, would they interrupt it?), and of course Dedede. We also got news of lots of co-op modes, including Adventure, Target Test, and Home-Run Contest, which was much appreciated. The Target Test even included the first mention of the (decent but somewhat limited) replay saving feature, which added to the fun. We also got the Stage Builder, another new feature that blew minds, although it would eventually cause nitpicking. On a lesser note, the return of Classic update, which talked about collecting coins, created some mystery about what the coins would be used for (which wasn’t ‘shopping’, as the update put it).
All in all, October was a good month. But was it too good? Would following months live up to it? Well…

November 2007
November starts a period I like to call ‘The Great Whining’. How so? After all the features revealed in October, alongside the demo, people kept expecting their desire to be fulfilled daily. But the Dojo still had to catch up on a number of things revealed in the demo, and that consisted of a good chunk of the month. This alone caused people to whine about how boring the updates were getting, because they knew this stuff already. The rest of the updates didn’t help, as there were no new characters all month (one of the main reasons for moaning, and a defining feature of The Great Whining), and the thing was pretty much basic feature-heavy.
Although updates like the ones on the return of character entrances, multiple taunts, and the colour varieties were good, they lost impact because of the demo. And the others, on things like the new handicap options, widescreen mode, and Training were a tad underwhelming for the audience. Even some features that should have sparked some interest, like the Spectator mode, were met with hostility for no reason other than boredom-induced groaning.
Although new final smashes, Assist Trophies, and music appeared throughout the month, they were never met with much enthusiasm (maybe because they were never exciting unto themselves for most, but rather were swept along with other great things). Some of them even caused bitching – a joke-y comment about ‘wouldn’t it be cool if Gray Fox was playable?’ turned into a torrent of ‘why wasn’t Gray Fox playable??’ despite all common sense. The Great Whining affected all things.
It wasn’t until the very end of the month that we got some better stuff – the return of Events and some stages from Melee, but once again the excitement was stifled but general ill-feelings at that point. After so much greatness, it felt so weird for everyone to be sort of miserable. December wouldn’t necessarily fix that, but it was a better month over all.
One more thing: we got an update explaining Lucas’ special moves, which only furthered the “Will Lucas replace Ness?” debate. The update itself referred to Ness in the past tense, which contributed to the replaced side, but Lucas’ moves being different contributed to the for returning side. Of course, the debate would rage on for a few months more.

December 2007
Remember when this was the release date? Yeah, other people did as well. Even so, it wasn’t that much of a downer for people. Considering the frustration with the updates at that point, though, they really couldn’t get any worse off.
December was an improvement, though, in that there were a lot more exciting updates and general new stuff. There were still things that were scoffed at for being too technical – the options menu and online ‘sharing’, for example. But we also got some good things, too – Co-op Events, for example, the Coin Launcher mini-game, the Trophy stands concept, Kirby’s new hats, and other things. Some things even inspired some conversation and/or controversy!
The With Anyone/Basic Brawl update should have been rather tame, but it included the information that ‘most’ of the characters would be unlocked through the Adventure mode, which was an interesting development (the first real mention of the presence of secret characters, too, which no one thought wouldn’t happen, but worth mentioning all the same) The aforementioned Options update, although generally unappreciated, did unveil some of the other menus in the game, giving more ideas for how things in the game worked.
When the earlier online updates this month were posted showing the demo character select screen, some began to think that was the starting line-up, despite lacking some crucial characters (Kirby, for example, and Wario). With the ‘unlocking’ conditions mentioned earlier, they figured that the game would go Tekken and have tons of easily unlocked characters, whether they made sense as unlockable or not. Everyone pretty much ignored them, and the screen changed later when the full default select screen popped up.
One of the more controversial updates was “Overalls Wario”, the revelation that Wario would get his classic look alongside his WarioWare gear. Many people were hoping for alternative costumes for all characters, but this update, which said “But Wario alone is special” killed that idea cold. Some still clung to the possibility of a mistranslation, but nope, everything said the same thing. Oh well.
Strangely, there wasn’t that much of an outcry when two characters that had decent support as playables, Waluigi (why, I don’t know) and Stafy, were revealed as Assist Trophies. People usually got upset about these things, but there was hardly a peep. Must have been that ol’ Christmas spirit they were feeling.
There was also the Frigate Orpheon stage, which ended some dumb conspiracy theory about the developers of the game having some sort of grudge against Metroid Prime, apparently evident because of the lack of Prime-based content (they even nitpicked Samus’ design in the game, saying it looked more like the design in Super Metroid) and because in an interview with the Metroid Prime 3 team, they said no elements from the game were ‘borrowed’ from them for Smash.It was great that the Dojo once again shut people up.
Outside the Dojo, there was one important news item. After the announcement of Sonic, people were hungry for more third party characters. I mean, the site said they’d have two or three in total a year ago, didn’t it? The leader of the pack when it came to support was, as one would guess, Capcom’s Mega Man. I mean, he’d work perfectly, and be so fun (the people who said he’d be a clone of Samus obviously never played a Mega Man or Metroid game).
But alas, it was not to be. In an interview with MM creator Keiji Inafune, he was asked if Mega Man was in Brawl. Inafune said that “Nope. But wouldn’t that be great? Nintendo should call me, make it happen” (of course, not exactly like that). For most, this was all that needed – the game scheduled to be released in two months, not enough time for it to happen. Of course, there were some who refused to stop believing – “He might be throwing us a red herring!” they yelled. But we all knew the truth – there was no Mega Man in the game. Maybe another third party character would show up…
Before the beginning of the New Year, the Dojo announced it would be taking a weeklong break. People whined about it, but it might have been a good idea for poster and reader, giving us a week to relax and think about all that happened over the past year, while preparing for…the final countdown.

And that’s where 2007 ends. In the next instalment, get ready for massive revelations, mad ‘prophets’, and the truth, finally revealed.


-Some posters on a website that shall not remain nameless, NeoGAF, whined about the quality of music being posted on the Dojo. They thought it was too MIDI, wanted more orchestration, yadda yadda you get the deal. Some geniuses among them began to theorize that the samples were, in fact, not the real thing, but rather just an ‘overview’ of the song, which would end up being orchestrated. Yeah, think about the logic of THAT.

-Oh IGN, IGN, IGN…devoted much time and effort to keeping up with the latest news, but contained that air of fanboy prattling that makes me dislike the site so much. Their weekly ‘stories’ where they listed a group of possible characters became a staple, but not one that was read much.
IGN’s biggest contribution of bull to the speculation field, though, came from a statement where they nudge nudge wink winked us into thinking they had the inside information that were to be more third-party characters other than Sonic, and more than we were thinking. This turned out to be completely false, but thus is the quality of IGN’s rumormongering. How’s that new Kid Icarus announcement coming along?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stage Tour #1

Well, here’s the first part of many. In each of these, I’ll go over the basics of every stage, list all the traps, give you an idea of when and why you’d want to play this particular stage, and even rate the music. Hopefully, these will enlighten you on certain things about every stage in the game, but chances are it won’t. * indicates the stage must be unlocked.

Size: Small
Design: Three non-solid platforms over a floating island, two slightly above the ground, and one in the middle of the other two and high above the stage
Hazards: None
Comments: This is as basic and basic can get, folks. Battlefield best represents the main aspects of Smash Bros., with a size allowing you smash others off easily, and platforms to take advantage of your jumping. Of course, those platforms are pretty much the defining aspects of this stage: while it is pretty simple overall, the platforms can be taken advantage of both offensively and defensively. They help you avoid attacks, but they also make you an easy target in certain situations (especially for things being flung upwards, and upward attacks like Samus and Wario’s Up Specials). The platforms can also both help you perform some aerial attacks, while hindering your attempts to pull them off from the ground.
Some characters with good floating/flying (Peach and Jigglypuff) abilities can fly underneath the stage from one side to the other, not something you’re going to be pulling out during a heated battle, but neat nonetheless.
Danger Level: Low
Music: 4/5
Home to original songs (and when I say ‘original’, I mean remixes of the main theme) and songs from other Smash Bros. games. All of them are very good semi-epic battle music, with the Menu 1 remix being the standout. The Latin-infused Battlefield Version 2 is also great.

Final Destination
Size: Medium
Design: A completely flat floating platform.
Hazards: None
Comments: Some may say this is an even more simplistic arena than the Battlefield, lacking extra platforms that at least give you somewhere to jump. But, just like in Melee, Final Destination has one very interesting bit to it: there is nowhere to run, and when something gets thrown, shot, or tossed, you’re more likely to get hit by it. Things like sliding crates, Bob-ombs, Smart Bombs, and most final smashes become even more dangerous when you have no way to avoid them for long. Characters with ranged attacks will have an absolute field day (especially ROB). This means, especially with items on, you’re going to need to master both aerial and ground based evasive manoeuvres.
Danger Level: Low to medium
Music: 4.5/5
Final Destination houses some of the best tracks in the game, including the awesome main FD theme, and remixes for the intro/credits of the first two Smash Bros. games. The two Melee Final Destination songs on there are okay, but sound kind of weak compared to the newer ones.

Delfino Plaza
Size: Small to Medium
Design: Set on a small floating platform with a larger, semi-solid bottom (you can’t go through it from above, but you can jump through it from below) for a few seconds that changes the formation of platforms every time it reappears (sometimes it’ll be a basic three platform style, sometimes it’ll only be one big platform, sometimes there are two curved platforms, they can be more spread out) After a time, it will land in one of several spots, each with its own design:
*A slightly large, flat area with slightly curved edges and water on either side
*Three pillars rising above water
*A small island surrounded by water
*Another small island surrounded by water
*An area with a low center and stairs on both sides curving upwards with walk-off edges
*An area with one normal, flat section with some umbrellas you can stand on and a walk-off edge, with a lower section in shallow water to the left and another walk-off edge
*A slightly large main gate/tower, with a half-circle rising up in the center and two fairly medium-sized solid platforms on both sides
*Atop a number of buildings with lots of curves, walk-off ledge on the left and a pit on the right
*An area with solid ground to the right with a walk-off edge, a low shallow water area in the center, a small area of solid land with a transparent platform above it further left, and a small pool off deep water to the very left
Hazards: Water
Comments: One of the more interesting stages, if only because of the sheer number of different land designs that appear in it. Even the basic platform that takes you from spot to spot changes constantly, although since the platforms aren’t solid, you hardly even notice it. The order in which the floating platform lands is entirely random, so you the only real way to know beforehand where you’ll end up is by recognizing the various landmarks as the background stops in front of them. When the platform stops in front of Delfino Plaza itself, it signifies it’s just going to stay still for an extended period of time. Because of its small size and only one way to get back, the platform is the easiest place to get KOs, although none of the land sections make smashing people off any harder.
The water, for the most part, doesn’t pose much of a threat here, as the stage stays entirely still (unlike Pirate Ship). However, what the water contributes to is the possibility of you being left behind when the platform suddenly reappears and floats away, which isn’t going to happen if you stay near the center of the stage or aren’t slow as hell. Even so, it’s something you need to watch out for.
The stage is also rife with walk-off edges, making throwing your opponents into oblivion rather easy. It is especially easy for characters with grab-and-move techniques (Kirby and Dedede with their B specials, DK with his forward throw) to get kills for very little effort. They also make it easier to chase after a smashed opponent and add that little bit of extra distance to send them off the screen proper.
Danger Level: Low
Music: 5/5
This stage has quite a selection of classic Mario tunes, and not only are all of them great, they all fit the sunny, boppy atmosphere of the stage. I’m torn on my favourite – I love the Mario World remix, but I also love the NSMB theme. I even love the basic Delfino Plaza music. Oh, maybe Bob-Omb Battlefield.

Luigi’s Mansion*
Size: Medium
Design: A mansion with three floors of similar size, and all with openings on both sides. The top floor is the smallest (and when all players are on it, the rest of the mansion is covered by the front of the house); the second floor features two solid floors and one semi-solid floor in the center. The bottom floor is the biggest, as it encompasses the outside edges as well, and features two platforms slightly underneath the semi-solid floor of the second floor. A platform will appear on either side of the stage outside the mansion and slowly float up and down (it will go down if you jump on them), and then disappear after a while and possibly reappear on the other side of the stage. The only time both platforms show up is when the mansion has been knocked down.
Speaking of which, the two lower floors have two pillars, and when you smack one pillar enough, it causes that half of the mansion to collapse (you need to make the top part of the mansion collapse before you can make the bottom part do the same). Once all pillars have been destroyed, the stage becomes flat (this is about the only time both the floating platforms appear simultaneously). After a short time, the mansion comes back, good as new (but won’t become restored until after the ENTIRE stage has been destroyed. If half of it is gone, it’ll still like that forever).
Hazards: Pillars holding up the floors can be destroyed, levelling the mansion piece by piece (I already went over this).
Comments: The stage seems like a pretty simple variation to Shadow Moses Island, and while it doesn’t have much in the way of little interesting extra things, it’s still pretty damn fun.
One important thing is the two solid platforms that hang in the center of the stage. One could easily mistake these two for semi-solid platforms and waste time either trying to move down from them or jump through them, only to be blocked. It also gives the bottom part of the stage a narrow ‘tunnel’ feel, as you can really get bounced around. Of course, if those solid platforms really bug you (and they easily could), you can take them out of the picture for a while with a little effort. I guess that’s the other major attribute of this stage (more so than Shadow Moses) is that you can shape it any way you want.
I guess it’s also worth noting that the stage has a strange bottom structure: It is being held up being a thin pillar. Most characters will not be able to reach the thing holding up the stage, but fliers can. So, it’s not quite a floating island, but unless you have some weird skills, you won’t be able to take advantage of it. It’s just a quirk that happens to be there.
Danger level: Low
Music: 5/5
Another Mario stage with excellent music. I love the main Luigi’s Mansion theme, but I think the two Tetris themes steal the show, as they are catchy and (surprisingly) reflect their ethnic origins (that’s a weird statement, I know). The two ‘evil’ Mario themes are also well done, but are overshadowed by everything else that is offered.

Friday, June 6, 2008

And now...a ctrl+C/ctrl+V opinion piece!

I am almost done with the first Stage Tour, so sometime later this weekend/early next week it should be up. Until then, here's a relevant article I posted on my personal blog almost two months ago:

Here's my opinion: I don't think they should make anymore Smash Bros. games.

You might be thinking "The game's only been out for month (three months now)! You still have time to absorb what Brawl gives you! Why would you be thinking about the future now?" The reason I am is because others are, and I'm constantly surrounded by a fan base who started looking towards the future in February. So basically, I don't think for myself.

Apparently Nintendo has been sending out a survey asking whether or not you would like another Smash Bros. This makes sense, but on the other hand doesn't. Durrrr, I don't know; do you think the millions of people who bought this game would want you to make another one? Well, I guess I'm the exception to the rule. I wouldn't want them to make another one.

Errrr, okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. Would I buy another Smash Bros.? Of course I would, I'm a slave of the series. But I just don't think they should make another, which is about the fifth time I've said that, and I haven't even provided any reasons yet!

Why don't I want another one if I'm such a big fan? Pretty simple, really. I think Brawl is the peak, the farthest they can go with this idea. Any more games in the series would just be spinning the wheels.

I mean, just look at all the things in Brawl. Online, fully-realized adventure mode, stage editor, hundreds of songs, pretty much every major Nintendo franchise well-represented...what could they possibly add in a future game that would be new or exciting? Oh, and don't say 'a better online mode!', because that's not adding, that's just refining. And while the Brawl online isn't perfect, it feels fine for me.

Aw, the representation statement, better go into that. I can barely think of any other Nintendo series that NEED to be Smash Bros. (I think Punch-Out!! and Advance Wars are about the only two 'major' ones left, and they were both represented by non-playable things). And keep in mind, while I love obscure gems like Drill Dozer and Elite Beat Agents, I can completely understand while they weren't chosen to be playable, and why they probably never will. I look at all the character choices in Brawl, and pretty much every one represents something integral to Nintendo. It's probably harder to convince some kid why ROB or the Ice Climbers fit this bill, but they do. In a recent Dojo update, Sakurai mentioned how there seemed to be a large time gap between series represented in Brawl, and how Nintendo hasn't had that many titles in recent times that more or less work in Smash Bros. I laughed at the nerds taking this a sign that Nintendo is losing creativity or something along those lines, as those very same people almost always ignore the games I mentioned above. But I can see Sakurai's statement on two sides: good that Nintendo is branching out into new things, but I guess not so good if you love the character-based games of old. I guess that could go into another argument about how another reason there shouldn't be another SB is because they are moving away from making the types of games that support the series, but I won't.

So yeah, aside from the lack of possible new gameplay additions, I don't think they have many (or maybe any) characters they just HAVE to add into a future game. After Melee, there still were many characters that were just essential. Pit, Wario, Diddy, Meta Knight, Dedede...And guess what? They ALL got into Brawl. Hell, even SONIC, a character we all wanted but never expected, got in. After this...there just isn't anyone else who feels missing. And the side characters that keep getting mentioned by fans? Not essential at all. Also, I don't really accept the idea that more third parties lining up would solve this, as (1)they are entirely opportunist and thus don't have much chance of getting included and (2)having too many third party characters kind of dilutes the point of the game. As cool as finally getting Mario, Sonic, Mega Man, Pac Man, and what have you in the same game would be, it doesn't feel like it's a must for me.

On a slightly separate tangent, I can't help but feel partially responsible for spawning the terrible character cults and leading many online idiots to be disappointed in Brawl's final roster. As you may or may not have known, I was the one to tally up the number of character references in the very early Brawl 'give me suggestions and maybe I'll print'em!' deal. My numbers were referenced for long periods afterwards, and with each new character revealed (all belonging to the upper echelons of my list, and all of which were pretty obvious inclusions in any case), it gave several fans the idea that their favorite character was obvious. And then, after spending months talking about how awesome Ridley, Krystal, or Geno would find out that they were relegated to non-playable roles, or in the case of Geno, not included at all. So to all you whiny freaks: I guess I'm kinda sorry.

So, lots of words to get two main points across: I don't want them to make anymore Smash Bros. games because there isn't any more essential features or characters they could add. I could have just posted this, but that would have saved you and me time.

"How about a DS Smash Bros.?" you may ask. Well, I'm not entirely for that either. No matter how they go about that, wouldn't it just end up being Brawl with less stuff? What would be the point, then? I know, the idea of portable Smash Bros. probably trumps any counterpoints, but I still don't support the idea. Maybe if they got the Jump Superstars guys to make a SB similar to their game, I could see more worth in it.

Speaking of new ideas, that's another thing I would be fine with them doing. Retire the Smash Bros. series and use the concept of bringing your favorite characters together in a different type of game. A puzzle game, a strategy long as it's a genre I enjoy, seems good to me.

But as mentioned before, it's only been about a month. Maybe in another 5 years I'll change my tune. And then maybe I'll waste your time with another long winded essay about why I was wrong the first time. I'm weird that way.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Hey, thanks to Matt for the good article. He's a real treasure, folks.

I see nobody voted in the poll. SHAME.

Actually, I'm not surprised. Who reads this?


Brawl on.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The History of Smash Bros. Speculation: Part 1, The Wonder Year

I’m working on starting the Stage Tour series soon, folks. To tide the time before you can actually read something you want to read, I’ll give you some bullshit that I find somewhat interesting.

Recently, I’ve been noticing a pervasive sense of…emptiness. I couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on, until I figured out what time of year it was: exactly one year since the Smash Bros. Dojo first opened its doors and started its of wave of information that gave me reason to look forward to each weekday morning.

So, to fill the void in my life that has existed since March (and will hopefully go away soon, because it’s really annoying), I’m going to write a retrospective of the nearly two years of wild speculation, in-fights, and realized and crushed hopes and dreams that were the Brawl pre-release times. Of course, I don’t always look upon these times kindly, so expect me to insult many people, maybe even you, repeatedly and brutally.

In this first instalment, we’ll visit the early times…

May 9th, 2006
E3. It had been a year since Nintendo announced that they were making a new Smash Bros. title for their new console, which since that time had undergone a name change and a controller revelation. People were curious about how the new instalment would work on the newly dubbed Wii, and were hoping Nintendo’s press conference would shed some light on it. Alas, while games like Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3 were shown, a new Smash Bros. was nowhere to be seen. People were worried, and we all wondered where our beloved sequel could be. We didn’t have to wait long to find out…

May 10th, 2006
The next night, as if out of nowhere, our prayers were answered. Shiggy and Sakurai called together a group of journalists, and soon our new Smash Bros. was there all to be seen. Subtitled Brawl, the first few seconds of the video footage showed us shiny graphics, new stages, a Nintendog out of nowhere, and a mysterious item and revelation of super attacks.
Then the new characters marched onscreen. Meta Knight! Cool! Pit! Holy crap! Zero Suit Samus! Interesting! Wario! Awesome! Things were looking good already.
Then darkness. Then something unexpected: a Metal Gear Solid CODEC scene between Solid Snake and Colonel. What does this have to do with…unless….oh. My. GOD. Then it happened: Snake is in Smash Bros.! The first third-party character in the series, and it came from f’in NOWHERE! BEST GAME EVER.
As some lamers may say, the game was now afoot.

The Rest of May 2006
We had our first batch of information, and so the baseless verbiage that had been going on since Melee was released was now replaced with ideas based on what we had seen. People wondered: How will Snake play? How do those super attacks work? Where did that dog come from? How will Zero Suit Samus come into play? And, of course, speculation about who will be in the game, both returning and new.
The English Brawl site opened soon after, and each week a new character profile would be put up. We got out first few tidbits about each of the new characters, but little else. Some statements, like the cryptic statements about Wario’s farting special move, fuelled even more speculation. Additional information was garnered from early interviews with Sakurai, where he revealed that Gamecube controllers would be compatible with the game, leading to an argument between people who thought that it would be the ONLY compatible controller and those who thought that the Wii Remote MUST also be compatible (one side would eventually win, as they should have, because the other side was completely illogical). But these nuggets were small potatoes compared to what was being said on the Japanese site…

May 20-something to June 9th, 2006
Ahhh, Toukouken, the cause of, and solution to, most of the Smash forum problems for the longest time. This little section, where director Sakurai chose fan-submitted comments/suggestions for one reason or another to be printed and even answered some questions. Many were mad that only the Nips were getting a chance to offer opinions, but those people probably didn’t understand the concept that Japanese developers would be able to understand letters from Japanese fans much easier than some English-to-Japanese corporate communication. Even the way these comments were chosen was argument unto itself, where some believed the chosen comments meant something, while more cynical minds said they didn’t mean anything. Either way, it was our only source of information for a good, solid month.
The main info gathered by us Babelfish-using gaijin dogs were Sakurai’s comments, which sped across the spectrum from eyebrow-raising revelations to useless, jokey responses. The most important information, best translated by Smashboards stalwart SamuraiPanda, revealed a host of things: that Snake wouldn’t use ‘realistic’ weapons, but rather explosives (leading to an even bigger aura of mystery to his potential moveset); that, yes, the Gamecube controller would be compatible (which didn’t help much with the controller argument at hand); and that they would try their best with the online function, and would not include rankings and leaderboards (which apparently didn’t become a controversial decision until closer to the game’s release).
The most important of these announcements were threefold: that there would probably be, at most, 1 or 2 more third party characters (most assumed 2, but some clung to the idea that the cast would include dozens of non-Nintendo characters for very little reason other than lack of common sense); that the game’s speed would be adjusted (which led many self-serious ‘hardcore’ players to moan almost all the way until release); and that some characters from the previous game would be dropped (leading to every character not yet confirmed to be returning to be considered unsafe, even though it made no sense for them to drop characters like Luigi or Bowser. Those of us not stricken with paranoia pretty much knew from the start who would get the boot.) These statements would provide for flamewars for a whole year.
At the end of the comment section’s reign, I personally took all the suggestions that were translated by us fans and created a ranked list of characters by how many times a comment suggesting them appeared during the run. Yes, it was I who devised the shambling monstrosity that plagued countless speculation threads even to the Dojo days! I don’t regret it, but it really made things…interesting, especially later on. Some lesser thinkers treated it like a popularity poll rather than the developers choice of letters, so its meaning was somewhat skewed.
On the list itself, characters like Dedede, Ike, Diddy Kong, Ridley, Geno, and Krystal topped off the list, with others like Lucas bringing up the rear. With this, many people thought they knew exactly who would get in the game and battled with the cynics. Some were so convinced that the fan clubs they were bound to make become even more cultish and insane, soon inspiring battles so pathetic it would make Celebrity Boxing look like World War I. The one part I do regret, I guess, is possible inspiring goddamned forum wars between Geno and Ridley fans. Many also wondered where Sonic was at, and some gunjumpers thought that his absence meant that he was definitely already in. It wasn’t until about August when we found out he was the most requested character.
It was around this time, too, that the first rumours appeared. Many were easily dismissed, but one annoyingly stuck around because of people who don’t check facts. It was a doozy, too: according to some French person, Sakurai was on a Japanese radio show, and had said that they would be dropping the Ice Climbers, Mr. Game & Watch, and Young Link, and would be adding Bowser Jr., Ridley, and Windwaker Link. It sounds ludicrous now, but back then, anything was possible, especially in concerns to the former two characters, who some troglodytes saw as completely expendable because they have no absolutely no sense of history. The hardest part about disproving the rumour, as fake as it sounds, was that there was no evidence for or against it, which pretty much made it a test to see who could think critically. The fact that sites like 1Up ran the story despite the lack of evidence only exasperated the situation further. Thankfully, it played a lesser and lesser role in speculation as time passed, even though the secondary part of that rumour, where it was said there would be 40 characters, stuck around in some people’s minds a bit longer.
Then the message appeared: that the site would stop updating for a while. We still had very little clue when the game was coming out, other than he vague “2007”. We had as many questions as answers, or more. And we were forced to wait until our next big reveal, whenever that was. The arguments in progress lingered, and we waited for our overlord to enlighten us again…and waited…and waited.

October 31st, 2006
Ah Halloween. A time for spookiness, a time for candy. It was also a time for our waiting to cease…or, at least, to give us an idea of when the waiting would cease.
After 6 months and a few press conferences that came and gone with no Brawl info, someone noticed that message appeared on the Japanese site. It was quickly translated, and our hearts jumped: later that week, a new Brawl trailer would be shown at a Japanese Wii tour! There were some vague bits about “new characters moving around”, which made people wonder if any actual new characters would be shown, or whether it would be the new ones already revealed. No matter, a new trailer! We smiled and bounced as spent a few mini-Crispy Crunch-fuelled days waiting for our prayers to be answered.

November 2nd & 3rd, 2006
Time Zones allowed us to get our first new game glimpses ahead of time. The night before the trailer was to premier, we got a lone screenshot: a brochure pic of Pit fighting…gasp! Sorta….Fox, in what appeared to be a Kid Icarus stage. As I stated on one forum “it’s small…but it’s enough”.
The next morning, the new trailer was all over the Internet. We got to see lots of character footage, giving us a vague idea of how some of the new characters would play. We saw Meta Knight gliding, giving us a new technique to speculate about. Wario moved funny, and some wondered if he was replacing Mr. Game & Watch. And Snake came with some ideas about his stage, which had been slightly revealed in a screenshot on the site before. Not much in the way of new character stuff, but it was good for the time.
The new stages, however, were coming out by the boatload. A Mario Kart stage, hoorah! A Yoshi’s Island stage, booyah! The aforementioned Kid Icarus and Metal Gear stages! Is that…Pokemon Stadium, again? We even got some idea of the unique features to some of these stages. So, now we actually had some stages we really knew (where is the details of the two nameless stages and the Halberd from the previous trailer were very vague, and inspired some arguments).
And then, at the end, we see the new design for Fox, and his space ship stage. Some didn’t like his new Star Fox Command-based design, and acted like big babies about it (even a certain co-blawger I know of…) Others wondered how his new stance and the fact that he was carrying his gun rather than leaving it in his holster would affect his gameplay. Thus ended the new trailer and we were once again left with a cryptic “2007” release date. At the end of November, the trailer and a few new screens were posted on the site, and once again it went dormant.
The new trailer answered many questions, but apparently not enough. The same arguments from before raged on, and some new, very dumb ones arose: why weren’t the super attacks in the new trailer? Were they just in the first one for show (as little sense as that makes)? People also tore apart the trailer, looking for hints of attacks and new attack properties. Some used it as evidence that the game would slower and thus not totally l33t h@rdcore enough for their Melee dominating skillz. It was around this time I became disinterested in the Smash Bros. online communities and went away, hoping to keep Brawl out of mind until something new came up again.
And it would be another long while until something new did come up….


Bonus: the stupidest forum ideas/arguments from this time:

*”Obviously, the statement means that there will be fewer characters in this game than in Melee, and they will drop unimportant characters like Yoshi and Zelda.”

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hur hur hur

Tomorrow, I promise, you will see content.

Matt is slacking off, right? He needs to start posting that shit he has going on.

I'm gonna whup him good.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

King DeDeDe = DEATH

The DeDeDe guide is coming soon (expect it this weekend, in an unfinished form), but here's a combo video I found.

Just get past the music. It sort of fits with Dee's pimpin' image, but I like to think he has more taste than that.

Learn from it what you can.