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CRASH COURSE on Smash Brothers

Welcome to a brand new series in our blog that we are calling: Crash Course!

Video games can be weird and complicated and the truth is, gamers aren’t always the best at explaining the games they love in a way that makes sense to others. This series hopes to help break down some of the most popular video games and hopefully make them a little bit more accessible for families and parents to engage with the things gamers

are passionate about. At the end we’ll also go over a couple tips you may want to consider if a gamer in your life plays Smash Bros. themself. What better place to start than my personal favorite video game of all time, Super Smash Bros.

At its heart, Smash Bros. is what is called a fighting game. Fighting games are games where there is a diverse cast of characters to choose from and 2 players compete against each other and fight until one of them is eliminated. Other games in this genre include Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. What separates Smash Bros. from other games in the genre is its focus on fun over competition and its ability to accommodate more than 2 players at a time with a maximum of 8 people playing simultaneously. In Smash Bros. players are trying to knock each other out of the arena by hitting them with a variety of attacks. As players get hit, they take damage in the form of percent, pictured at the bottom of the screen. This is a pretty misleading design because despite it being called percent, there is no correlation to the number 100. The higher percent that a character is at, the further they will be knocked back by following attacks, making it harder for that character to stay in the arena when they are hit.

So the general strategy in a game of Smash Bros. is to build up percent against your opponent, then hit them with a big attack to knock them out of the arena. In order to understand Smash Bros. you must also understand the company that publishes the game, Nintendo. Smash Bros. is a crossover game, meaning the characters you can play are all characters that exist in their own games previously before being introduced to Smash Bros. Nintendo is the company behind franchises such as Mario, Pokemon, Donkey Kong, Zelda, and many many more.

There are 89 playable characters in Smash Bros. Ultimate, the newest title in the franchise, each with their own unique set of moves and strategies. These 89 fighters come from a huge variety of Nintendo franchises and even includes some guest characters from other video game companies such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-man, and the main character of Minecraft. It may be easy to look at a fun and colorful game like Smash Bros. and not take it very seriously, but Smash Bros. has a very wide audience and is played at every level of competition.

Due to its fun and lighthearted gameplay, the game is very popular with younger gamers and is very often a gamers first experience with a fighting game. On the other end of the spectrum, Smash Bros. has not one but two vibrant esports scenes of people competing against each other at the highest level due to the games surprising depth and complexity behind the fun aesthetics. Smash Bros. is truly the ultimate gaming example of simple to learn, impossible to master.

So let’s say there is a gamer in your life who plays Smash Bros. Here are a few things to look to explore and engage with them further.

1. What character(s) do they play? With 89 unique characters playable in the game, players tend to gravitate towards a handful they prefer. In the community, these characters are what someone would call their “main.” Learning someone’s main is great because it also allows the opportunity to ask follow up questions about that character.

a. Why did they start playing that character?

b. What is strong about that character?

c. What is their favorite/least favorite aspect of that character?

2. Matches of Smash Bros. are usually pretty short. The standard for tournaments is 7 minutes for a match. While playing online, players are unable to pause mid match. While offline playing together locally, player may pause the game, it is generally considered poor etiquette to pause. So while it is possible to interrupt a game mid match, it is generally preferable to the players if the interruption can wait for between matches.

3. While all fighting games are, by definition, violent, Smash Bros. goes a long way to make sure the combat is cartoonish and lighthearted. Characters don’t die, they are knocked out. You don’t lose a life, you lose a stock. There is no blood/gore in Smash Bros. The closest thing is a boxing character who becomes bruised and bandaged when hit to make him look more like a boxer at the end of a match.

4. Most regions in North America as well as many across Asia, Australia, Europe, and Central America have vibrant and active competitive scenes where players compete in weekly tournaments and form community around playing the game. If your student is interested in playing Smash Bros. in a more competitive environment, I’d encourage you to attend one of these tournaments with your student.

The most common place to find local Smash Bros. communities is to look on Facebook for “(your local area) Smash” and see what comes up. For example, if I were to look for a local tournament in my area I would search Facebook for Salem Smash and I would find a group called Salem Smashfest who host local tournaments every weekend.

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