When I was in college I made about half of my friends the moment that I brought Super Smash Bros. Brawl to the dorm. Despite hardly interacting with them until that point, once we all began to play the over-the-top tribute to Nintendo’s absurdity we formed instant bonds. Over the course of the next four years we would all play an uncountable number of matches in Smash Bros., whether it be in Brawl, Smash 4, or the fan-made Project M. So, once it came time for me to head back home for good, it only made sense to say goodbye with a Smash competition.
At that point only two of us were still serious about the game: me and one of my housemates. I think it would be best to call him by his gaming handle (on account of it being hilarious and lame), so I will henceforth refer to him as EpicRaids. We knew that our years-long struggle for Smash dominance had to be settled once and for all, and we had the perfect prize with which to crown the champion. A trophy of sorts gifted to the house by a friend: a cardboard belt with “Smash Bros. Champion” proudly emblazoned on the buckle.
We found the most competitive Smash variant to be Project M, so with that game in mind we chose our events. First would be a round of the drinking game “Super Smashed Bros.” Next, a reverse draft that would force us to play the characters that the other selected. Finally, a first to seven grand final fought between our two best characters (Sheik for me, Captain Falcon for him). It seemed to be an even match: he was historically much better at Super Smashed Bros., but I was (in theory) better at the reverse draft on account of my larger character pool. If all went according to plan, we would each win one of the more casual events and head into the final showdown with a score of 1-1.
We began our Smashed Bros. game two nights before graduation. The way the game works is simple: both players start at the top left character (Wario in Project M) and play a one stock match on a random stage. The winner moves on to the next character, but also takes a drink. This way the game automatically balances itself as the leader gets steadily more impaired. The game ends when a player wins as the bottom right character (the random slot). We had many fond memories of getting good and drunk while playing this game, but this time it was serious. There was no time for joviality, our pride was on the line. To my dismay, EpicRaids gained a commanding lead after I reached Luigi, the third character. For whatever reason I could not win a game as the younger plumber, causing me to lose the first round of our competition. EpicRaids was up, 0-1.
The next day, after we nursed our hangovers, we were ready for the final two events. The reverse draft went quickly, though despite my advantage I only barely took the second round. I discovered that I did not play nearly as well under pressure, a realization that had me concerned for my performance in the final round. Still, just as we had envisioned we were all tied up and ready for the main attraction. The final games were played on tournament legal stages with an appropriate pick/ban system and four stocks each. We each selected our trusty main and began the most intense set of our lives.
Just as I feared, I lost the first two rounds by a wide margin. My nerves on top of EpicRaids’ fast, aggressive playstyle were getting the better of me. I realized that if I were to have any chance of graduating with no regrets, I had to change the way I approached the game. I began to play like a man possessed, ignoring defense and attacking at every possible moment. I started every engagement, overextended every edgeguard, and made full use of Sheik’s blindingly fast offensive kit. EpicRaids wasn’t able to adjust to my desperate mix-up, and eight rounds later the belt was mine.
As thrilled as I was to win, the competition itself was an absolute blast. It felt great to apply some real (if goofy and unimportant) stakes to our favorite pastime, and we made a memory that neither of us will soon forget. And to pretend that this article had a point to it, here’s a question for all of you: what is your best memory of gaming with friends? Be it a competition or wholesome cooperation, tell me your best stories below!