A New Chance in an Old Scene

SuperSmashBrosCover

With its original release in 1999, the Super Smash Brothers franchise has been around for nearly two decades, with the next iteration on the horizon.  As December 7th quickly approaches and gamers from all different walks of life gear up to play this seemingly timeless classic, others (myself included) are preparing for a dramatic shift in competition and are grinding to achieve the status of a professional gamer.

Super Smash Brothers Ultimate

The Super Smash Brothers franchise has been a part of the esports world for over a decade, spanning across every version of the game.  Players from all over the world come together to LANs to compete, show-off combos, and yes, even play for thousands of dollars.  This makes Smash Ultimate not just a game, but an entire lifestyle and culture that people spend hours a day training for.

So while Smash Ultimate may just appear to be a new release of an old game and nothing much seems to have changed, competitive players have spent nearly every waking moment since the game’s initial announcement studying anything that they can get their hands on.  Despite not even having any copies of the game until recently, players have already gathered frame data, possible tournament legal stages, and have even gotten into some debate as to whether or not the overall rule set of the game should change. So even though most players will only see a new Piranha Plant beating their favorite characters senseless in the game, competitors trying to “make it in the big leagues” will be looking at how characters are no longer viable–or possibly stronger–than they could have ever imagined in previous games.  To dedicated players, every bit of information that they are able to get their hands on matters.  Even something as minute as the fact that Pikachu’s forward air now appears to have three less frames of landing lag could be the reason that a devoted player wins their next tournament.

Smash Frame Data
A comparison of Pikachu’s frame data

Smash Ultimate brings new opportunities to players.  With so many new mechanics being added and others taken away, there are multiple possibilities to “shake up” the rankings.  Someone who may not have been good enough to compete at Super Smash Brothers for WiiU may now have the opportunity to be the best in the world at Smash Ultimate simply because these small nuances now fit their play-style, unlike in previous titles.  A new edition also generally gets more players involved as players are more likely to join a new competitive scene.  Not everyone is likely to pick up a game after multiple years of it being released and then suddenly decide that that is the game they want to be the best at. However, someone may decide to get into a new scene because that is the only thing that they have heard from their friends for the past few weeks.  This new and very active player base will cause the game to grow, yielding even more opportunities for the players who are just now deciding to settle it in Smash.

Tournaments for Smash Ultimate have already been organized for 2019, prize pools included. There are even opportunities for new players, as arcadians-tournaments built specifically to show off new players’ skills-are already starting, such as Last Stock, a tournament that is offering travel to one of the biggest tournaments happening later this year: Genesis 6.

Last Stock

Teams are also looking for fresh talent everyday and new avenues to explore, including creating new teams for Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.  This leads not only for better sponsors and money in the community overall (as more professional level companies in anything often means better tournaments and winnings for players) but also a larger amount of competitors.

To most people this game is just another thing to plug in and play when they have a break, to others, Smash Ultimate provides a chance for a future career.

-Trae Stroud

 

Brian Kuh, Hand of the King

By Thomas Adams

(I know it’s long but bear with me.)

From watching The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, I found Brian Kuh to be the most interesting of all the characters in the film. In the movie, he is portrayed as the stereotypical nerdy, white male overly obsessed with video games. While these things might be true, I found that Brian Kuh’s character is actually much deeper.

I began by analyzing his role in the video game world and his relationship to others. Brian Kuh first emerged on the scene with the likes of Billy Mitchell, Steven Sanders, etc – vying for the world records at the popular arcade video games like Donkey Kong. Brian eventually befriended Mitchell, the long-time Donkey Kong world-record holder. This relationship is portrayed in the movie by Kuh being Mitchell’s “right hand man”, as he is the bearer of Mitchell’s newest world-record attempt video tape. However, Kuh has never set a world-record himself on the game. In fact, his highest score for the game (at the time of a 2008 interview) was a mere 568,400, much less than Mitchell’s old score of 874,300. Up until 2005, Brian worked as a bank comptroller in New York City. He decided to “retire” (his words) from that and move to where Fun Spot was in order to play there more often – and possibly set a world record for himself. This information is important when you consider Kuh’s motivation behind his actions and life-decisions.

In the movie, we can really see Brian’s character come to light when Steve Weibe is playing Donkey Kong at Fun Spot. Frequently, we see Kuh standing over Steve’s shoulder, commenting about the game (to him and/or the film crew). As Steve gets closer to breaking Mitchell’s world record, we see Brian start citing “luck” and “randomness” for Steve’s continued success. As Steve nears the “Kill Screen” (end of the game), Brian starts bringing many people over to Steve’s machine as he can. One could argue that Brian wanted as many people to see the kill screen as possible, as it is a extremely rare event to witness one in person. While this may be true, I feel that it is next-to-impossible for Brian to not have subconscious ulterior motives in bringing a large crowd to Steve’s machine.

Fun Spot hosted an annual arcade tournament in 2007. Kuh actually set 16 world records at that tournament. However, when you look at the list of games the records were set for, you may reconsider before getting his autograph: 1943, Final Lap, Rampage, Sprint 2, Starship 1 – just to name a few. Since all these games were less popular than something like Donkey Kong, these world records were considered easy to break. Furthermore, all 16 records were broken shortly after Kuh set them and he has not set any new ones since.

Based on my research and observations, Brian Kuh’s numerous fruitless attempts at holding world records in popular arcade games have influenced his actions and life-decisions greatly. He associated himself heavily with Mitchell, moved from a job in New York City to live near Fun Spot, and passive-aggressively attempts to belittle others’ world-record endeavors. What all this means is not for me to say – I am merely an observer. That’s up to Brian Kuh. There’s a great deal more information I found and more evidence from the movie related to this topic. I could probably write an entire social psychology dissertation on it.

Hilariously and ironically enough, Kuh’s biggest claim to fame might be his portrayal in the movie as he attempts to herd all the people at Fun Spot to see Steve Weibe’s kill screen. Here are a couple youtube videos highlighting the nerdy-ness of it (I’m a nerd so I’m allowed to say that). 10 hours version, parody

– Thomas Adams