The great Michael Jackson once sang sweet-nothings to Paul McCartney, “I’m a lover, not a fighter,” in the billboard-topping song The Girl Is Mine. Anytime I pick up a new fighting game, this song plays in my head; the reasoning is quite strange.
Set The Stage
My memory is not what it used to be (many say this when they think they are getting old). In the mid-1990s, I became a huge fan of Michael Jackson. My brother is solely to thank for this since he played his music non-stop. One day that has always stuck out from the rest is the time my brother played Super Nintendo (SNES) while I had my headphones on, listening to Michael Jackson. I am not sure why I did this, but I am glad I did.
At that ripe young age, I did not know any better. I barely paid attention to lyrics in songs, but the smoothness of The Girl Is Mine has always stuck with me. The fun banter between Michael and Sir Paul from is pure greatness! The one line that will never leave me is this: “I’m a lover, not a fighter.”
My first fighting game, and one of my all-time favorites, is Street Fighter II for the SNES. It was a spectacular one-on-one fight with subtle mini-games thrown in. My favorite character to use was Chun-Li because her list of moves were easy to perfect. I could never figure out how to use Ryu, Ken and Guile (cue Guile’s Theme) to their full potential, so I usually stuck with Chun-Li. Every now and then, I chose Blanka to see how far I could get, but mostly as a joke.
When you select your character, you are automatically thrown into the game’s tiny plane and flown to your first resort (opponent). With its minimal list of fighters, I still had trouble with each CPU fighter. I was never great at Street Fighter II, but I enjoyed the challenge; I knew which fighters I could destroy, and which would give me the greatest trouble.
A Challenger Approaches
The three fighters I always feared was Balrog, Vega and M. Bison. It was rare for me to fight these characters, since I never got that far in the game; I could never figure out their fighting technique. You could also never play as these three characters in the game, which was a bummer.
Balrog is fast, and his punches are swift. I did my best to dodge his incredible strength and kicked when I had the chance. One of the cheapest things I had to do against him was to jump into the air at an angle and use my powerful kick; BOOM – right in the kisser. I usually died within seconds, but every once in awhile, I would defeat him and continue my effortless journey.
Vega is made of lightning. His speed is unmatched and his reach is uncharacteristic. It did not help that he is the cheapest fighter in Street Fighter II. He can jump on the fence and nose dive on top of you like a eagle catching its prey. It was a grueling matchup for me, but I did my best. My heart would always beat faster and faster when I saw Vega’s health deplete. Every Time I would beat Vega, I would cheer and give my own fist-pump of victory.
Finally, M. Bison, the most powerful and scariest final boss. My heart races when I reach that final stage. Whenever I made it this far, I had no idea what I was doing. It was rare for me to reach this point, but my brother would always do it with ease. M. Bison is very unpredictable. His speed was on par with Balrog with his strength being greater. If I managed to beat him, it was the most gratifying win. I remember losing to him more often than winning, so I cherish those wins until the day I die.
After Street Fighter II, I never played played another in the series. I dabbled in the arcade scene with the later Street Fighters, but I had no idea what I was doing; basically, I was wasting quarters. I played many of the Tekkens, Soul Caliburs and Dead or Alives, but none really satisfied my fighting game mentality. I wanted something more. Something that involved loved characters from my youth. Something that would be an all out brawl.
Super Smash Bros.
It was the late 1990’s and a new fighting game comes out: Super Smash Bros. Hands down, this was my favorite Nintendo 64 (N64) game (sorry Perfect Dark and Goldeneye). The crazy part is that this was the one fighting game I did not own. The first time I touched this game was at a friends house with three other people. I had no idea what I was in for until I picked up the controller; talk about a mind blowing experience. After my first match, I was hooked.
Super Smash Bros. is a giant brawl where four characters can face off against each other individually or with teams. The one thing that set this game apart was the fact that it involved all kinds of Nintendo characters, useable items and team-based gameplay. My favorite characters to use are Fox, Samus and Link. One of my favorite parts about this game was the friendly competition among friends and those friends did not have to be great at the game. Though, being the competitor I am, this was one game I would master so my friends eventually hated playing against me.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
The next game in the Super Smash Bros. series was Melee. The only reason I wanted the GameCube was so that I could play Super Smash Bros. Melee. I did not care about any other game on that console, I just wanted the non-stop fighting game that I could enjoy with friends. The game was and still is one of the best fighting games I have ever played. The roster was huge, the graphics were out of the world and they included more features than its predecessor.
I was addicted to this game like no other. I probably put in over 100 hours, by myself, not including matches among friends. I remember training against the computer and setting their levels at 9, which is insanely difficult when 3 CPUs gang up on you. The only reason I did this was because I wanted a challenge, and none of my friends were around normally. I collected all the trophies and made sure I knew how to use every character.
My main characters in Super Smash Bros. Melee are Falco, Link, Young Link and Kirby; I could dominate anyone with these characters. Falco’s speed is unmatched, unless you play as Fox or Captain Falcon. The main reason I used Falco over Fox is because his blaster can stun opponents unlike Fox’s which never phases anyone. I will also say that Falco is faster than Fox, but I know many people will disagree.
Link and Young Link play very much the same. Both have basically the same move set, but Young Link was more agile. Before choosing whichever Link when playing with friends, I would wait to see what my friends would pick and then decide on which Link to pick. The Downward-A attack was one of my favorite moves Link could use; the power is catastrophic. I also believe their Upward-B spin-attack is one of the best recovery moves in the game.
Kirby is a well-rounded character. His speed is fair, his attacks are fast, and his recovery was one of the best as well. When you can blow yourself up like a balloon, there is no way you cannot reach the platform safely. His Downward-B attack was quite powerful like Link’s and Young Link’s. Kirby will turn himself into a heavy object, such as a brick or spiked ball. However if you missed your opponent, you would most likely be in a world of hurt after changing back to normal. Kirby had one of the worst Over-B attacks, but the fact he could steal other fighters abilities made up for that attroaches attack.
Smashing College Kids
Super Smash Bros. Brawl was the next game in the Super Smash Bros. series. It came out during my college career, and few friends were as excited as I was. This was my very first midnight release game I went to, but more on that later. Before the game came out, a couple of my friends and I decided to beat 100 percent Super Smash Bros. Melee. This was no easy task. We beat every challenge, used every character in the story mode, obtained every trophy and fought against each other for countless hours. I will always remember this experience since it showed me how hardcore a couple of my friends were at the game.
It is strange how a game that conquered hours of my life and skill resurfaced in college. I did not play Melee with many friends when the game first came out. However, I finally got my competitive juices flowing again when a buddy in college would compete with me without items. We were well-matched and could nearly use every character against one another. Our battles would last a long time with five stocks (lives) at our disposal. If we used items, the match would be over too quick and more luck-based. It is worth noting that this was the first time I played Super Smash Bros. without items. I actually like this format a lot, and I wish that I would have competed in tournaments. Those were my prime years with Super Smash Bros. that I hope I got back with Brawl.
My very first midnight release game was Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I just started college, but since Nintendo is nice enough to release games on Friday’s, I made sure I had no class or work on Friday. The funny thing was that the line consisted of people of all ages. Kids age 12 could be seen excitedly jumping for joy while older men in their late 30s were talking among each other about which characters to use and new strategies.
It felt weird being there, since I am not a hardcore gamer who does these midnight releases. I felt out of place, so I kept to myself. After I picked up my copy, a friend of mine invited me to his place where they had two televisions playing the new Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I could have went home and played by myself, but I rather play with friends instead. I stayed there for two hours hamming it up with newly met friends and playing until I was too exhausted to lift the controller. This was one of my favorite moments for a midnight release yet.
Go Pit Go!
My very first character I played Brawl with was the legendary Pit. I have never played a game involving Pit, but he became my new main ‘go-to’ character. His speed unprecedented, his glide ability makes for phenomenal strategies and his moves overall are most likely overpowered; Pit is out of this world.
One of Pit’s strengths was his Over-B attack that could send projectiles back at opponents. If Samus shot her giant cannon at Pit, it could easily reflect the shot back at Samus. Pit’s fast tapping A attack created crazy combos that could last a very long time. His normal B attack was a blue arrow that could be arched all over the map. There were barely any flaws with Pit, and it felt good.
Strangely enough, Pit’s downfall was Ike. Yes, the ‘oh-so-powerful’ Ike. While Ike was a slow character, less than half the speed of Pit, Ike’s attacks were powerful enough to knock Pit into next week. Pit could be launched in the air quickly by Ike’s normal attacks. If Pit is hit by any of Ike’s B attacks, Pit would most likely be dead. The only way for Pit to counter Ike was to use his speed to his advantage.
Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS is out and the Wii U version is up next. I tried the 3DS demo but could never fully understand the controls. My main problem is the analog stick that feels wonky when controlling the movement of characters. It also gives me fear that I would break off the analog stick from playing too much.
The Wii U version is not that far away. From all of the previews and discussions, I can already tell that Little Mac, Pit and Falco may be my main characters. I love their fighting styles and speed is influences on which character I choose in the Super Smash Bros. world. The hardest part about the Wii U version was choosing which version to buy.
3, 2, 1… GO!
The Super Smash Bros. series is the most enjoyable game in the fighting genre. It fits my playstyle and has some of my favorite characters in the Nintendo universe. It is good to know that the next Super Smash Bros. has online gameplay so I do not have to play the game alone. I am positive that I will spend hundreds of hours with the next installment. To celebrate the release of the Wii U version, I will have a tiny Smash Party at my house for the midnight release and take a day well-deserved day off work. Finally, the reason for me purchasing my Wii U is almost here!