Super Smash Bros. 3DS - Little Mac KOs Game Journalists - Prima Games

Super Smash Bros. 3DS – Little Mac KOs Game Journalists

by Bryan Dawson

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The gaming media do a great job providing early information on upcoming games, and offering their viewpoints on the final product before people spend their hard-earned money. While the press has a few other benefits for the end consumer, once a game releases, there isn’t much for them to do. It’s a widely known fact that most game developers aren’t very good at their own games, and the same holds true for the media. While most gaming journalists have extensive knowledge of the video game industry, very few would actually be classified as high-level, competitive players.

There’s nothing wrong with journalists failing to break the top eight at gaming tournaments. Most don’t have the time to put into a game to reach that level. However, most gaming journalists also fall into the realm of casual players who may be able to make it through a game, but wouldn’t stand a chance against anyone even remotely skilled.

As a seasoned fighting game tournament player and a member of the gaming media, there have been many occasions in which I faced off against other members of the press. When Virtua Fighter 5 was about to hit the PlayStation 3, Sega held a media tournament at its San Francisco office. At the time I had no experience playing VF at all. Most of my 3D fighting game experience was in Tekken and Soul Calibur.

Sega had the PS2 version of Virtua Fighter 4: Evo setup for people to practice alongside the arcade cabinet of VF5. I picked up the PS2 controller and put in about five minutes of training mode time with a single character. Having never played VF5, and going up against people who had been playing the VF series since the beginning and were heavily favored to win, I stomped through the tournament crushing a lot of egos. I won the press-only VF5 tournament because I had high-level knowledge of fighting games. To defeat the gaming media, I didn’t need to be familiar with VF because none of them were considered even average at the game. Unfortunately, you can’t tell the gaming media that.

When I was working on the Dead or Alive 4 strategy guide at the Tecmo office near Los Angeles, I ran into another “seasoned” fighting game player in the media. I needed to play against a human opponent to test some strategies and ended up defeating the other journalist in over 30 straight matches. The other player was so aggravated he threw his controller. When it comes to fighting games, journalists simply have no say in what makes a character good or bad because they do not understand these games on the same level as tournament veterans.

With the release of Super Smash Bros. 3DS, many gaming journalists have fallen for the “Ken Syndrome.” When Street Fighter 4 first hit in 2009, the most common character to face online was Ken. This was because he was relatively easy to use, and even the worst players could rack up wins against other skill-challenged opponents. That didn’t make Ken a top tier character. In fact, you can count the number of major tournament wins for Ken on one hand.

Following the release of the new Smash, many journalists are calling Little Mac the cheapest character in the game. They’re proclaiming the character needs to be nerfed and that he’s too overpowered. A vast majority of the gaming media has only had access to the game for a few weeks. Even seasoned tournament players can’t make a proper tier list this early in the game’s life cycle, but journalists are calling for nerfs?

The simple fact is that Little Mac is great to use against players of low skill. However, if an average Little Mac player were to face off against a tournament-level player using virtually any character, Little Mac would lose convincingly. It’s not that Little Mac is bad. In fact, he’s probably above average, but he takes quite a bit of time to learn. Many of the attacks and strategies that work online against other lesser skilled players would not work offline against even average level tournament players.

To take that one step further, Little Mac loses as soon as you make him jump or knock him off the stage. He excels when he can fight on a single, long platform, without having to deal with the edges or anything in the air. It just so happens that Final Destination, the only stage available in the For Glory online mode, offers a single long platform. Even on this stage, take the fight to the air and most Little Mac players will instantly struggle.

If the gaming media wants to whine about an overpowered character, do so when it’s merited. You can’t review a game after only playing the first level, and you can’t determine the effectiveness of a fighting game character with less than a month of play. Use the reach of your words to get the Ice Climbers in the Wii U version of the game, or promote the competitive Smash Bros. scene. You’ll gain a lot more respect from the competitive crowd if you stop calling characters overpowered three weeks after getting your hands on the game.

For a complete rundown of everything in Super Smash Bros. 3DS, be sure to check out Prima’s official eGuide!

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