Sakurai Says the Competitive No-Items Smash Bros. Battles Aren’t ‘Interesting or Fun’

Recently, a fan of Super Smash Bros. Brawl decided to try out the game online, but was disappointed. Why? Because none of the players seemed interested in having fun. None of them played with items on, and they all used highly defensive strategies rather than the more varied and frantic button-mashing that made the game unique and fun in the first place.

The fan was so dissatisfied, he wrote to series producer Masahiro Sakurai, who responded that he shared the fan’s frustration, and was hoping to address that by enriching online play in a way that’s more fun for everyone. Check out the full exchange by clicking below.

The other day, I had my first run at Smash Bros. Brawl online play. What I found was that nobody ever went on the attack; it was like everyone was taking the approach of waiting for the other guy to take the offensive. There were no items, either. I wanted to shout at them ‘This isn’t how you do Smash Bros.’! As the producer, what do you think of fights like this?

The idea of Brawl’s ‘carefree brawling’ motto was to get rid of as many restraints as possible and allow people to choose whatever play approach they liked. I’d like people to take some freer approaches with their gameplay, but the sort of battle style you describe in your letter is not interesting or fun. That’s why I’ll probably be thinking of a way to deal with that in the next game. We’ve learned a lot about net play since Brawl was released, after all, so a lot more is possible. I suppose the fact that we’ve still got no-fee online battles available in a game that was released five years ago is another cause of the problem. It would have been nice if we could have revised the game rules as appropriate, but with the system we had, that wasn’t possible.

I’m inclined to agree. While I definitely can understand that there’s a place for competitive play, I’m not a big fan of the idea that you need to somehow change the game’s rules and leave out options to make it appropriate for competition. This isn’t like Pokémon, where certain monsters are banned because they objectively outclass other monsters to the point that those smaller Pokémon are practically useless. We’re talking about getting rid of random and frantic elements that technically affect all players equally and can be overcome with the right strategy.

I find the fact that some players and even the series producer believe the trends of “hardcore” competitive play are bad for the game to be quite interesting. I made the point in a recent article that Nintendo fans tend not to really be into the truly “hardcore” games (okay, that’s putting it lightly; I said they outright despise them) – this phenomenon seems to go one step further by demonstrating that hardcore players can even make non-hardcore games like Smash Bros., which are designed around pure, unadulterated Nintendo-like fun, into an un-fun borefest.

What do you think about the trends of competitive play in Smash Bros.? Do they make the game better, or should they be swiftly eliminated before they destroy the series’ potential to have an awesome online experience?

Source: Polygon via My Nintendo News

  • The_Hyphenator

    I hate tournament-style Smash Bros play. It sucks every ounce of fun out of the game and tries ineffectually to make it into just another fighting game. Don’t get me wrong, I love other fighting games (I’m a big fan of Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, in particular), but the big draw of Smash Bros is that it’s unbalanced, chaotic and utterly insane. If you remove those elements, then you’re left with a mediocre brawler that lacks any soul.

    • metaxzero

      Melee going having 12 years of tournaments full of players having fun doesn’t sound like it’s particularly soulless

      • Dabir

        The undead have souls now?

        • metaxzero

          Some undead have souls. Not all of them are brainless zombies. What makes something undead though? What makes the Melee scene undead though? Because I don’t remember it ever dying.

        • Fruits

          Apparently getting over 125,000 LIVE viewers for a Melee tournament almost 12 years post-release makes a game “dead”.

          That’s more views than any other released Nintendo game will get LIVE!

    • Domingo Cardona

      hey! leave those tourneyplayers alone! they can ban as many characters and stages and items as they want and somehow make it fun! /sarcasm

      yeah, nah Smash Bros tournaments are retarded.

    • SmashBredda

      Fun is subjective, maybe for you competitive Smash sucks the fun out of the game but for me and many others it’s what makes the game such a masterpiece. Competitive smashers have a passion for Smash, and are willing to spend time and effort in dissecting and mastering their favorite game. I don’t understand why you casuals constantly hate on the competitive Smash community, it’s not like they affect you so what’s the problem? If anything you should appreciate the love competitive smashers have for this game, regardless of what you find fun. Enough with the whole civil war-like conflict between casuals and competitive, just play how ever the fuck you want and let us do the same, that’s why the options to turn off items and change nearly every setting exist after all. Smash wasn’t intended to be played any particular way, it was intended to be played how ever you want.

      I hear a lot of assholes tell us to go play Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat if we want to be competitive. My response to this is a giant “fuck you”. Competitive Smash is so much different than other fighters you really can’t compare. It goes so much more in depth than your typical fighter due to its freedom based playstyle. More variety, more possibilities, more situations, and a constantly changing meta game all speak for themselves. Smash is a unique but excellent competitive fighter.

      • nahor88

        99% of casuals just make criticisms based on a superficial examination of the competitive community, they don’t really get it.
        Melee is over 13 years old, and people are STILL finding new options and techniques. THAT is what makes the game truly fun.

    • Churze

      I’m well aware I’m replying to a year old comment- this was just such a….wrong statement that I must give my opinion.

      ” It sucks every ounce of fun out of the game and tries ineffectually to make it into just another fighting game ”

      How does it suck the fun out of the game. Do you see how excited players get while watching competitive matches? Do you hear the screaming in the video WOMBO COMBO? It seems to me that you do not find it enjoyable due to a lack of understanding. Why do I not enjoy football? Because I have no idea what’s going on, nor do I care who wins or loses. Competitive Smash becomes a lot more exciting when you understand spacing, combos, and how fast and precise the required inputs are.
      “Mediocre brawler”
      …You do realize Melee is considered one of the deepest fighting games of all time, right? Again, a lack of understanding. It is not soulless. Pro Players LOVE the game, and I love it because I can play in competitively and casually. I don’t see the achievement in cutting off one side.

  • Pafsafasafs

    While I agree that seeing two people duke it out in a high-level 1 vs. 1 without any items match is interesting and sometimes exiting, it’s not particularly fun. The fun comes when one of them gets a rolling crate spawned on their head and then flies far into next week!

    • Cereal Bawks

      Eh, I think if you’re playing with 4 people, it’d probably be more fun to play it “party” style. But if it’s 2 people, it’s a lot more fun to play competitive style.

      The fact that Sakurai wants to change that is kinda stupid, imo. There’s no “right” way to play Smash. If you want to play it like a competitive game, by all means go ahead. If not, then good for you. Why change the way the game works so that you couldn’t play it competitively? What if somebody finds that fun?

  • Zakabajak

    This is an absolutely ridiculous assertion and it disappoints me that it is coming from the creator of Smash Bros.

    While I can completely understand that it is frustrating to play matches against people of different skill levels, the solutions to this are to either practice and improve, or to play against people of your skill level. While they may not have been able to do this online with Brawl, they could definitely incorporate different servers to differently skilled players in the next game.

    The notion that playing without items isn’t “interesting or fun” is completely absurd. I’ve noticed that playing with items on just makes matches more unbalanced. I consider myself a skilled Smash Bros player, and in 1 on 1 matches without items, my amount of success against people is very consistent. While people enjoy 4 person matches with items on, it diverts the skill level because everything becomes insanely random and unpredictable. While this is desirable for less skilled players because it gives them more of a chance to win, it just becomes frustrating for those who take the game seriously. While the game is catered to both skilled and unskilled players, accommodations seem to be more geared toward casual players, since the inherently unbalanced items are on by default. To me, the characters are interesting enough on their own with their unique set of abilities. Items just undermine characters’ unique qualities, since a lot of them merely imitate other characters’ trademark skills. To imply that the game is boring without them is insulting, especially since 64 and Melee are my favorite games.

    These are just my thoughts, but to me, Smash Bros. is not a frantic button masher, and once you really learn the game you will realize that it is truly the most unique fighting game available. I really hope Sakurai does not limit competitive players’ ability to continue to play competitively in the next Smash Bros., although I do understand that there still is a place for casual play in the game.

    • HylianBadger25

      I can understand your position, and I too enjoy some matches where it’s purely based on the skill of the player with that individual character. At the same time, it takes away from the player that happens to be very skilled with items. In SSB Melee, my friends feared me with items, as I could throw something from all the way across Hyrule, and hit someone square in the head. There is something to be said for item based strategy, and I don’t feel that disqualifying items in ‘hard core’ competitive play is necessarily fair.

      I would however agree with the sentiment that not including items takes away from some of the fun and charm of Super Smash Bro’s as a whole. The items are what add the little bit of random chaos that the game is known for.

      To give you an equivalent, playing Super Smash Bros without items is akin to playing Mario Kart with no items, or with only green shells. Yes, you’d still have a race, and the most skilled players would still win, but it takes away the random chaos that makes the game inherently fun.

      • Zakabajak

        Well it’s a matter of opinion whether or not you like random chaos, and I personally do not.

        To give you an equivalent, imagine playing a game of, let’s say, basketball with items. The more skilled player will most likely be winning, and then a random box falls from the sky onto them and stops them from making a point. What I mean to say, is items just make the game unfair and balance the results of matches in the wrong way. Although I do respect that you can be skilled with items, they are too unpredictable a game element to be fair.

        • HylianBadger25

          Yes and no. If one is a truly skilled player, they can adapt to any situation, with or without items. The truly skilled brawlers can actually dodge and grab an item out of the air as it’s thrown at them, and then use it to their advantage. Otherwise it takes some skill and cunning to disarm your opponent, or evade them for the necessary duration of the item they have. I would argue that it takes considerably more skill to be consistently successful with items on than without, regardless of whichever character you choose. Regardless of how ‘unbalanced’ items may make the game, a truly skilled player will still be clever enough to find victory in the end. It’s just one more thing to master along with each character’s individual moves. If you turn items off, you’re just copping out of further developing your talents as a player.
          So for you basketball scenario, in order to win, you still need to be a versatile enough player to Dodge Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge that falling box.

          • Zakabajak

            Hahaha I appreciate the Dodgeball reference :P

            And yeah you can adapt to a chaotic situation, but I still feel that is not ideal game design. There are still plenty of quick reaction types of moments without items on, like Diddy’s peanuts and bananas, as well as Peach’s turnips, and what’s great is that they can be expected, but the skill comes from the user making them as unexpected as possible. The damage that results from that can be attributed to less than ideal reflexes and not utter random chaos. Basically, it’s more satisfying to master a balanced system than an unbalanced one.

            • Shamus James Toby-Michael Hain

              Whether something’s more “satisfying” or not is technically up to the player. The game is built on the idea of chaotic battles and, as HB25 just said, It takes more skill and wits to grab a bomb-omb out of the air instead of pressing “Shield” to block a punch. In fact, Items are supposed to balance out people who just use shield all the time. Nintendo fans like the chaos, and try to use it to hone skills (REAL SKILLS) and against opponents.

              • Zakabajak

                You’re making a lot of assumptions here. First off, I am at perfect liberty to decide what leads to satisfying outcome. If you win with your characters set of skills, it’s because of talent. If you win because a bob OMB happened to spawn in front of your opponent while they were attacking, it’s because of luck. Winning by skill and not luck is almost universally accepted as more satisfying. Second, grabbing was made balance shielding. Last, SOME Nintendo fans like chaos, but adapting to chaos is still adapting to something that can be based on luck and not pure skill.

                • Whismur King

                  What about we just say We can get a good laugh out of luck and great satisfaction out of skill :P

            • Alex Plant

              I’m trying to figure out how setting more controls on the game’s features demonstrates a greater level of skill. For me, it looks more like narrowing the game mechanics so that a narrower set of skills are needed.

              • Zakabajak

                Because despite some character imbalance, it’s skill applied to a fair system. The game is not optimized to balance with items.

                • Alex Plant

                  Since items are, as has been said, “luck-based,” it’s still an entirely fair system as it’s not as though the game imbalances the amount of luck distributed among players. You are just as likely to receive an item as any other player – and you are still just as reliant on skill to overcome items as anyone else if they are used against you.

                  • Zakabajak

                    I firmly believe that luck should never be incorporated as a gameplay mechanic – inherent or emergent – if the developer can avoid it.

                    • Sam

                      That’s a nonsense assertion. I play Smash Bros w/o items too, but I also play a lot of board games where luck is inherent and the game just wouldn’t work without it. Likewise, games like Mario Kart would be no fun without the luck. What about gambling games? How on Earth would they work?

                    • Zakabajak

                      Lol I have since, 9 months ago, changed my opinion slightly on the matter. A game that is intended to be played competitively should not incorporate luck. In a game that is meant to measure skill and determine who performed better, luck makes it so that you don’t get consistent results on who is best. Of course, Smash Bros. wasn’t necessarily designed to be played competitively, but I still play it as such so some of the randomness in the game irks me a little.

                      Games that aren’t necessarily about pure skill measuring competition, luck is definitely something that can add fun to things. It just isn’t something that works in a hardcore competitive atmosphere.

                    • ifeanyi ilonzo

                      I think its a sad discussion in the smash community honestly. I don’t think that we should argue on what is the funnest way to play smash. I feel the enjoyment of the game is decided by the players and the players only. What saddens me the most is how absolutely short sighted Sakura sounds in this quote by siding with one side versus the other. As a game developer it should be their responsibility to make the game as enjoyable to all. Not try the limit the game because there perceived notions on how the game should be played. As a kid i used chess pieces as toy soldiers. That didn’t make the more or less fun to me. Whenever i touched a chess piece it was my option to have fun with whatever way I liked.

                      In regards to item-filled games I agree with alot of the assertions with that there is alot of skill involved. I think as mention above items on changes the game and how characters and levels interact with each other. For some people this is the whole point of the game and its what makes it unique/fun. However, I feel that these developed and honed skills cover up the uniqueness of each individual characters. I don’t think having luck in video games make the games unfun. In fact, I feel the randomness gives the game a freshness. Not every game ends the same way. But they do sometimes lead to frustration and anger if a match is decided by it. In tournament settings it is not optimal.

                      Item-less games forces players to have a deeper understanding to each individual character. As any player that has played a fighting game knows spending time learning the ins and outs of a character is very rewarding. Especially if u can use it in a match versus an opponent. By cutting down the option, it allow players to be creative on how each and every tool is used. This gives games depth and longevity. When games are played on a tournament level, they advertise the game to more of the masses which is better for everyone.

                  • Fruits

                    Actually, if a player is behind enough with Smash Balls, they can spawn with a Final Smash ready.

                    Thus, it’s not a lot different than Mario Kart, which rewards you for being in last/near last, which as we know with items on Mario Kart does not really prove who is the best with items.

                    On top of that, each Smash game has super broken infinites with items, and it helps the best characters more than the worst. The Ice Climbers also basically become invincible with items on.

              • Churze

                …I know I am replying to a year old comment, but as someone who recently entered the competitive community and loves it very deeply, I would like to raise a point of defense here.

                In your next comment, you say- “Since items are, as has been said, “luck-based,” it’s still an entirely fair system as it’s not as though the game imbalances the amount of luck distributed among players. You are just as likely to receive an item as any other player”

                You are just as likely to receive an item- but Smash is a tactical fighter. The fact is that items will spawn closer to one player and than the other, and the fact that the other player may lose because the game gave him an arbitrary advantage is unfair. The thing a lot of casual players miss as well is that there is not that much depth to items. If a tournament did have items on, I’m sure the more extreme items would be turned off, and more skill based items like beam sword would be on. It’s not like a pro player would suddenly be rendered incompetent with items on- the deepest it will get is catching an item out of mid air. So yes, if someone can catch a sword it mid air despite the other player being given the advantage it does show a wider skill level. Not by a wide margin at all though.

          • Ghoti

            The most skilled player may be in trouble if a Blast Box spawns in front of their FSmash as they are at a higher percentage. Items have no place in competitive player. Leave them in for the casual players, sure, but keep a competitive side to the game for players who like that too.

    • Ghoti

      Honestly, it is one of the most complex fighters out there (if you don’t believe me, look up “How Fast is Melee?” on YouTube.) I cannot have any fun in free-for-alls or when items are on. They are just frustrating and unbalanced. Everyone has their own way of playing, but to say that competitive play isn’t fun at all?

  • Epic Markell Joshua

    Competitive play is the best i had so many fun hours just besting others and making friends there is nothing wrong with casual play but it sucks people always dissing competive smashers. This is why my expectations are low. Even on the N64 I played with items off i just wanted to fight it is fun.

  • Stan van Dalen

    I think they should do a community thing like in Mario Kart 7 so you can choose which way you wanna play :)

  • Eric Gosnell

    As a competitive smash player, I think the “no items = no fun” logic is stupid. go look at professional melee and you’ll see how great that is. I was formerly top 10 in Brawl for my region, Nor Cal, and I will say that brawl is just not fun. Sakurai made the game purposefully to make competitive players not like the game, and thats ridiculous to do that to your most LOYAL fanbase. let me ask you this, how many casual smash players play this game every day? hell I bet most people don’t play ANY smash game even once a month.

    • Shamus James Toby-Michael Hain

      How did you get in the Top 10?
      Also, competitive battlers are only a part of the “most loyal” fan-base. Most people love using items in creating ways. This is part of the central fun. Casual fans technically make a large portion of the people who buy these games, and they do it for the fun.

    • Domingo Cardona

      “how many casual smash players play this game every day?”

      everyone because Smash Bros is a PARTY fighting game, not some competitive Tourney ban characters/stages/items bs. Smash Bros is all about the fun of playing with your favorite characters and duking it out with massive items and worlds from different games.

      I played the hell out of Brawl daily until I gave my Wii away to my nieces. “Casuals” as you like to call them are a vast majority over tourney players.

    • Fruits

      As a former Nor Cal player who wasn’t top 10 (although I did beat a few of them back in the day), I agree. Brawl was just terrible to play competitively. It was slow, unbalanced, and it favored campers and stallers and defense over offense.

      I quit the game after my Toon Link got timed out by a ROB/Meta Knight player who only fought by literally running away. Since offense wasn’t effective, why should they change their tactics if they “play to win”.

      I enjoy winning and I desire to win, but if I’m not having fun, I’m not having fun.

      That’s why 4 years ago I quit Brawl and stuck with the other Smash games.

  • LookItsLink

    Am I the only one that can accept playing along with either these extremes? When I want to fight competitively, its final destination/smashville, no items, 3 or 5 lives. Then I can have just games where we go completely nuts, 99 lives, 300%, all items, and a custom box map with a single exit hole in the top.

    • Nejove

      I would probably place myself somewhere in between, too, which is why I think it’s a good thing that the game gives you control over how you play. I think the sterile nature of competitive play makes sense for balanced games based more on skill and less on chance, but the randomness can be part of what makes the game fun, too, and isn’t that basically the entire point of any game? Think of that moment that a box/barrel/capsule randomly explodes on someone, they die, and they have a “WTF look” on their face while everyone else bursts out laughing. Besides, randomness applies to everyone. If a player is better at using a particular item or fighting in a specific environment (such as my friend who’s better at getting smash balls than I am or my skills using Ike’s counter on hammers), isn’t that just a different type of skill?

      Personally, I always liked playing Brawl on basically every map (including a variety of custom ones), typically anywhere from 5 to 20 stock, with 1/3 to 1/2 of possible items on with a medium appearance rate. Still, variety is the spice of life, and pretty much the only thing I don’t change up now and again is the mode (I’m a stock devotee; what can I say?).

      Overall, I say one of the best ways to please as many players as possible is to find a middle ground in the deeper game mechanics, then give the player as many customization options as possible and let everyone “do their own thing.” I personally think a battle mode allowing character customization (think stickers in Subspace Emissary, but in standard multiplayer matches) would be awesome. Competitive players can develop their own rule set for balance purposes and everyone else can just play as they like best.

  • Joe Onley Jr

    I find it fun fighting my friends over the random item drops. That usually at least keeps people moving and not waiting someone out.

  • Anonymous

    People play that game online still?

  • Lord Shadowhand

    As a competitive pokemon player I can sympathize with the more serious crowd of players, while I may not play smash to this level, so I wouldn’t personally play these style matches, it’s not right to just say that it’s terrible. In competitive pokemon we ban things like the focus band and brightpowder, which respectively give a chance of surviving an attach with 1 hp and giving your opponent a chance to miss, because they make it much more luck based, whereas the entire point of competitive is to showcase pure skill.

  • K2L

    The Smash fanbase is retarded. Simple as that.

  • Epic Markell Joshua

    was never meant to be but it is. There are two crowds to smash brothers
    casual fans pick up and abandon the game competitive players are still
    organizing tourneys playing 11year old melee and raising money for charity. If he
    chooses to ignore the other side of smash I’m done.

  • Alex Plant

    Let’s clear something up right now.

    Super Smash Bros. is not supposed to be a “hardcore” game.

    • Zakabajak

      Out of curiosity: what is your definition of a “hardcore” game?

      • Alex Plant

        A game designed primarily to the tastes of the most frequent consumers of video games.

        • Zakabajak

          In that case, it seems kind of counter productive for Sakurai to continue to cater the games towards a casual audience when a large portion of the players see it as a hardcore game. He should not continue this trend started by Brawl, as it will alienate a portion of consumers. I’m all for including items for those who want them, as long as the game isn’t designed so that items are a main focus. Melee and 64 encouraged both competitive and casual atmosphere’s, while many would agree that Brawl did not, and it would be a poor business decision to replicate that. Whether or not Smash Bros games are “meant” to be hardcore does not change that a lot of gamers see it as such.

          • Alex Plant

            I very, very highly doubt it is a “large portion of the players” who play Brawl in a hardcore fashion. I also very, very highly doubt that Nintendo will see the direction of the highest-selling Super Smash Bros. game as a “poor business decision.”

            • Zakabajak

              I agree with the percentage about Brawl, but I’d say a significant amount of people who still play Melee do so in a hardcore fashion. Point is, people who really care about Smash Bros are the hardcore players, and this is still a large number of people, if not the majority. I’d actually be interested to see a poll conducted on this, but until one is available, we can really on make speculations on the matter.

              Brawl selling well has little to do with it being a good game or not. The previous installments were well received and there was a lot of hype for this game, not to mention that the Wii had an astronomically larger install base than either the N64 or Gamecube. Since clearly Smash Bros. will sell very well regardless of how good it is, they should take the time to make the next one more like Melee: basic and easy to learn, but extremely complex and competitive beneath the surface so that as many people will be as pleased with it as possible.

              • Alex Plant

                I get the impression – just judging by sales patterns, by the position of the games at the forefront of the consoles’ lineups, etc. – that Smash Bros. sold a lot of GameCubes and probably at least as many Wiis.

                The fact that Melee didn’t sell as well for me seems to be only partially owed to the lower install base of the GameCube; the reverse seems to be true as well, with Melee not necessarily being as successful at driving GameCube as Brawl was at driving Wii.

                It’s hard to say, of course, since Melee was really the main standout launch title for GameCube (as in, the most significant over the system’s entire life by a long shot), whereas there were tons of games already driving Wii momentum when Brawl was released.

                I do agree that there were a handful of changes made in Brawl that were undesirable, but I don’t think any of them really have to do with the stages, items, etc. – they’re instead about the game speed (fast is not necessarily bad or unfriendly to less experienced players) and seriously pointless features like tripping.

                • Zakabajak

                  Yeah, agreed on all fronts.

      • Shamus James Toby-Michael Hain

        I always thought a hardcore game was a game that focuses more on challenging, having overly-complex stories and angering the player rather than trying to be fun. But that’s a personal definition.

    • Cereal Bawks

      Does that mean you’re not allowed to play it like a hardcore game? No.

      • Alex Plant

        No one’s said you’re not allowed to play it like a hardcore game. Not even Sakurai.

        • Cereal Bawks

          Actually, he pretty much is by trying to fight the competitive scene.

          • Alex Plant

            The impression I got was that he wants to fight the domination that competitive players have over the online experience, so that someone who just wants to play a casual round doesn’t have to deal with players who play a completely different way if they don’t want to.

            • Cereal Bawks

              How will he do that? The only way is to hinder the options competitive players usually use.

              Unless he can separate it, so that when you go online you could choose “competitive play” or “casual play”. If he would do something like that, then great.

              Also, I still don’t get that impression. It still seems like he’s trying to fight the competitive scene as a whole, and I wouldn’t be surprised after what he did with Brawl.

              • Thomas Coffman

                “Unless he can separate it, so that when you go online you could choose “competitive play” or “casual play”. If he would do something like that, then great.”

                This is the exact impression I got from the article, that he wanted to do this.

      • Mike_Tha_Hero

        No, but don’t expect the game to be tailor made to your liking because you prefer to play it a certain way. You’re in the minority and you have to accept that, and when the game releases make due. It’s that simple.

        • Cereal Bawks

          I… never said that… All I’m saying is it’s stupid how Sakurai wants to fight the competitive scene because he’s essentially alienating the other part of the fanbase. If he DIDN’T do anything about the competitive scene, then no part of the fanbase would be hurt because you could still play it casually, like Melee.

          Not to mention the competitive scene is pretty freakin’ huge, AND they’re the most loyal Smash players. There are still tournaments held for MELEE, which is a 12 year old game. Those tournaments are usually made up of competitive players. Casual players would most likely drop the game after a few weeks or months.

          • Mike_Tha_Hero

            As someone who used to operate directly in the competitive Smash scene, I can tell you that even at it’s height the scene is not that big. Sakurai is in a position to alienate though I doubt that’ll happen seeing as the competitive players will buy the game anyway.

            • Cereal Bawks

              They’re still the most loyal players, as I’ve said before, and it’s still a pretty selfish gesture. I mean, competitive players love the series, probably even more so than the casual players. As I have said before, these competitive players are still holding tournaments for a 12 year old game. For Sakurai to even think about fighting the competitive scene is selfish.

              And while it is true competitive players would still buy it, if it turns out to be even worse than Brawl, chances are they’ll just give up on the series and not buy the next one (if there will be another).

  • Shamus James Toby-Michael Hain

    “No items. Fox only. Final destination.” All the bloody time! They even have their shields up half the time! That isn’t “Skill!” I just want to play as Link, Sonic and Meta Knight (not because of his overwhelming power/unbalance, he’s just fun to play as and is so awesome-looking)! A feature should really fix this, like segregated No Items/Fox Only/Final Destination “fight” rooms. That way they get their “Competitive Battling” and we get our unhampered fun.

    • Sam

      > No Items/Fox Only/Final Destination

      This isn’t actually a thing…

    • Irishdragon5

      …Well, me from 2 years ago, you were 2/3rds correct! For Glory mode (No Items/Final Destination) is now a thing!

  • Danny Driskell

    LOL This is sad…

  • Jennifer Howard

    Being able to beat each other with just the character’s abilities is a challenge. When you introduce items, then skill and practice is thrown out the window. Items are fun when you are just playing around, but if you are playing or training for tournament play, then they are completely unnecessary. I find items mess me up more than they help me, honestly. I’m not the best player in the world, I get beaten all of the time, but it’s the challenge that is fun. I don’t want it to be super easy..and a lot of the new games are really, really easy. I find myself going back to play older games that I never got to play when they first came out, and those games are crazy hard. But fun.

    • The_Hyphenator

      There’s a massive flaw in your argument; different characters use items in different ways. With the exception of clones, no two characters use the melee weapons in the same way, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, there’s an entire set of moves and skills revolving around items. Item catching, smash-throwing, placement of mines and throwing melee weapons, just to name a few, all have a big impact on how the game plays out. And using items successfully depends both on mastering all of these skills and on being able to adapt quickly to new situations. Discounting the skill involved in mastering items and learning to think tactically on the fly is just as foolish as discounting the importance of other character-specific moves.

      • Zakabajak

        It’s not a flawed argument because things like Link’s bombs, Peach’s turnips, and Diddy’s bananas exist, but not a in a random, chaotic manner. You still have to learn to adapt to these things like you said, but it’s much more balanced. If balance isn’t what you’re looking for and you like the chaos, then by all means use items.

        • The_Hyphenator

          But you’re attempting to balance the game by house-ruling features and characters that were integral to the game’s design. How is that more “balanced” and “fair” than simply learning to play the game as it is?

          • Zakabajak

            Because the characters themselves were designed to be balanced based on their move sets alone, and that is already flawed as seen by the tier lists (whether or not you decide to play by them). Adding items further imbalances this system because they give attributes to characters that they were intentionally not given. Ganondorf had no projectiles because he is a physical powerhouse, giving him say a star rod makes him more powerful than he was designed to be. There are definitely less options without items on, which is why I would love to see them incorporate moves onto characters in the next game that are similar to some of the better items. However, in their current implementation, they are very imbalanced and too random. Again, if you don’t care for balance and just want fun, no ones stopping you. It’s in the game, so by all means go for it.

            Also I’d hardly call it house ruling is turning items off is an in game option. If items were always on and you and your opponent decided not to pick them up, that would be house ruling.

      • Jennifer Howard

        I am fully aware that all characters use items differently. However, it becomes more of a mess than a battle when people are trying to get the items and depending solely on them. I am not saying that playing with items isn’t fun, but if you are playing in tournaments then the items can give an unfair advantage to players. Not all items are equal, no matter what character is using them. Personally, I prefer to play without items and try to improve my skills with the character’s own abilities than trying to fight while going after items. I’m not the best player in the world, but I have more fun without the items. I was not trying to post an argument, as you say, so much as sharing my feelings on the subject matter. I feel as though you did not fully read my comment before commenting on it. I respect your viewpoint and understand that everyone enjoys games like Smash Bros for different reasons. Some people greatly enjoy the items on, some people don’t. I, personally, do not.

      • Sam

        The fact is though is that in a tournament, a player who practices every day and plays the game well can be knocked out because their opponent got invincibility and a super powerful pokémon, and then later a bomb dropped on the player’s head when he was halfway through an attack. All completely beyond anyone’s control.

        In a tournament, you want the player who can win without random influences to come out on top, because you’re playing for money. And you still have to be able to deal with items because many characters have items built in, like Link.

  • Vitamin E

    I prefer the no item matches. It just seems like more fun when people don’t chase after that stuff. It’s all about dodging and positioning, like a poor man’s Mortal Kombat. :P

    But due to lag and the fact not many people play Brawl anymore, I can have my no item matches against the AI and enjoy it just as much.

  • jcl

    i turn items up full blast it’s awesome

    • RestlessPoon

      I only turn bomb-ombs sometimes because it’s hilarious and a great deal of fun. Throw some Pokeballs in the mix, too.

  • Blake Wigert

    Well I don’t know about this guy spoken about in the article but I feel online play is over rated and rarely works for me. I’d take a physical P2 anytime. It saddens me to play CoD which I’ve now ousted from my gaming life, because you either just have an innate talent for shooters like my brother, or resort to being an asshole using whatever “Noob” attachment/gun that is present in the respective game, grenade launchers being a prime example. Just used for cheap effortless kills. As for me I refuse to “be cheap” so I am at a disadvantage, one of the reasons I’ve stopped playing, that and the intenet connection of theirs sucks. As for no Items that is so no one gets a cheap advantage, like spamming fire flowers, pokeballs, or smash attacks. It’s about leveling out the playing field so to speak. Also if I may place my own opinion my brother and I regularly play without Items, and we both enjoy it very much.

    • Blake Wigert

      Oh yeah don’t know how I forgot this I hate little bitchy knifers, little to no skill required

  • CChaplin

    I don’t personally think that it’s *better* to play either way… When I’m at home with my girlfriend we enjoy playing the casual, chaotic crazy Smash and when I’m at work with my coworkers who play Smash every day we play the no-items, intense skill-based Smash. I’d be pretty upset if they nixed one or the other. The reason Smash is so great is that it appeals to a wide veriety of gamers.

  • TehLeetHaxor

    Items? Button-mashing? What is this blasphemy!

    No items, Final Destination, and stocked is the best way to play Brawl. Tournament conditions FTW!

  • Thomas Coffman

    I do a game review show on Youtube that occasionally gets into opinion pieces, and talked about this briefly there. I’m probably violating a rule on spam by linking to it so instead I’ll just summarize a bit here.

    I don’t really have a problem with tournament-style Smash Bros, I’ve done a few local tournaments too. I also don’t have a problem with the standard style, as randomness does make a game interesting and the idea of any player being able to win makes for good fun in a more casual, “just hanging out” environment (see also: Mario Kart or Mario Party). What I have a problem with is certain members of the competitive Smash Bros. scene acting like tournament-style Smash is the only acceptable way to play the game. If it works for you, go for it. If not, that’s fine too. Have fun on whatever terms work for you and your friends.

    Though for what it’s worth, I think the fact that a major feature of the last Smash Bros. game being incorporated as an item is pretty sufficient evidence that Sakurai’s intent was to build the game around this sort of randomness.

    All that said, what I got from Sakurai’s response was that an option to filter out online lobbies for the style of Smash you want should have been included, and on that basis probably will be for the next game.

    • Sam

      I’d bet the amount of competitive players who have a problem with casual play is nothing compared to the number of casual players who have a problem with competitive play, as the comments to this article and words like ‘tourneyfag’ would suggest.

  • Aiddon

    Amen. No items, Final Destination, Stock is the most BORING way to play that game. It’s like it was invented by a guy who HATES the series. News Flash: SSB is NOT and never will be Street Fighter, King of Fighters, Blazblue, Guilty Gear, Darkstalkers, or any of the COUNTLESS number of traditional fighting games that already exist, get over it.

    • Zakabajak

      A lack of items doesn’t turn the game into every other fighter. Most other fighting games are about depleting an opponents life meter. Smash Bros is about tactically positioning yourself and your opponent so you can ring them out while dealing as little damage as possible, if you play efficiently that is. Smash Bros. is unique enough without items, but if you want them on that’s fine. I don’t like items, but that doesn’t mean I think that nobody should play with them on. It may be boring without items for you, but people play the game in different ways, which is okay because the options are available.

  • Nathan

    I’d love to see a Smash Bros. with a multiplayer lobby similar to what you see in a lot of first person shooters, divided into different gametypes. For the “competitive” Smash players, have a lobby for no item 1v1, 2v2, and FFA. Simple as that.

  • The Toof!

    Sakurai: “You have to play the game exactly how I want you to, and if you don’t I’m going to keep changing it and forcing it to be less balanced and competitive until everyone does exactly as I want them to. Sieg Heil!” This is what I hear every time Sakurai bitches about competitive smash bros players.

  • Charlie Jabberwocky McDougle

    In his defense, the headline did kinda take him out of context, as he was interpreting a letter about said battles. But it’s not too surprising, since Sakurai always intended Smash Bros to strictly a party game. I can also attest to this guy’s online problem, as I run into the whole trap and bait experience during random online bouts. The nightmares I could tell you about Hyrule Temple fights…but I digress. Despite this grievance, there’s much more to Smash Bros competitive play than simply the air of “no items, Fox only, Final Destination” smugness the scene’s been infamous for. The amount of depth and complexity that has attracted the traditional fighting game community should be celebrated, not dreaded.

    That’s why there should be separate modes of play to cater to both casual and tournament players. That way, there won’t be any need to interfere with the balance Smash Bros created, like injecting random tripping into more focused bouts.

  • disqus_ZG3rN4LPFR

    It’s all personal preference. IMO 1v1, no items, 3 stock is the way to go. I hate how Sakurai says it is not interesting to play competitively, the smash series (especially Melee and project M) are the most competitive games I’ve ever played. I hope Sakurai doesn’t fuck the next SSB up

  • Stefano Danese

    I completely agree with the comment of user Zakabajak. Smash Bros. is a unique competitive game. Even more, I’d say it needs to be even more refined for competitive play! This assertion is absolutely absurd!

  • AlbinAberg

    This sounds incredibly stupid.

  • Yahya Guzman Diaz

    In Project M Backroom we trust/

  • Caleb Carrico

    This is silly, competitive games with too much random chance in them are terrible when you turn the items off it creates the perfect competitive atmosphere like a chess game each player has to adapt to the other’s moves and in the end the better player wins, the reason chess is a good competitive game is because of it’s lack of any chance based elements. Forcing items to always be on in competitive matches would be like adding dice to chess.

  • Whismur King

    I honestly sometimes still do competitive play. And I’ll admit competitive smash does suck in terms of fun. Mainly because we just fight on Smashville Final Destination and Battlefield. Everyone forgets about the other balanced stages such as the Yoshi’s island one and Pokemon stadium melee one and Lylat cruise. And then most competitive players just go Metaknight,diddy kong, wario, ice climbers, snake, Olimar and falco. It’s just annoying. But then if I try going on a casual free for all we have people going ike, sonic, pit, samus etc. anyone who can spam effectively now I don’t gave a problem with this at all for the casual side since they don’t go mk spamming down smash and mach tornado all day. But I just wish people didnt have to triple team or just go three stages and 10 or so chacters.

  • RandomGuy

    I think Sakurai mistakes camping noobs as competitive players

    • Sam

      Defensive play is generally stronger than offensive play in Brawl.

  • smash fan

    I played brawl online today for the first time in years it’s not that no items have anything to do with the lack of fun. I got into 1 game where someone wanted to fight. the others would run away and watch they would also only pick temple the largest stage so they could be passive aggressive, it’s like the random brawl is populated by that friend who comes over and only wants to watch you play video games it’s sad I hope smash 4s online is better or I’m going to have to stick to melee with emulator net play

  • ChaomiiChan

    I want to bludgeon anyone who tries to reduce a game about Mario and Kirby fighting Mr. Game and Watch into mechanical dull filth to death with a god damn brick. The world would be a much happier place without those kinds of people.

    • Sam

      Or maybe you can play it how you like and we can play it how we like?

  • jake

    if brawl wasn’t so slow and inhibited, it would be more offensive and fun. look at melee, faster gameplay and more legitimate strategic options. the crappiness of brawl is all Sakurai’s fault, guy is too arrogant to ever recognize it

  • Jacob Bjornberg

    Ever consider that fun is subjective?

  • Upside Down Sundae

    … That’s why these games come with the option to play “Fun Item” matches at home with your friends. Why go and change the whole mechanic just because some kids cant handle the heat?

  • HelloPresto

    Nobody went on the attack because playing Brawl online is so slow and laggy, it’s nearly unplayable. It’s like playing a turn based RPG.

  • Sam

    > Fox only, Final Destination

    You do know this isn’t actually a thing?

  • Strabisamus Strabisamus

    When people preach playing with items with ‘random and frantic’ is that way it should be played is missing the beauty of smash bros. Smash bros sets itself apart as it caters for all audiences. You can play with items etc, and you can play with 4 stock no items. You pick how you play and you have fun with that.

    And if anyone hasnt notice competition can be fun jeez.

  • Fruits

    If Sakurai really wants this game to be enjoyed by everyone, he should let everyone play it how they like.

  • Nejove

    I tend to agree with the statement that a pretty strictly defined competitive metagame makes some sense for Pokemon, but not Super Smash Bros. Though even in Pokemon I find competitive players sometimes try to sterilize it and remove the element of luck more than necessary, it at least suits a relatively concrete turn-based RPG driven very largely by factors like stats, abilities, available moves, and so on. In other words, Pokemon is much more of a “numbers game” competitively.

    Super Smash Bros., on the other hand, is in part unique because of the much larger influence of the player and fully intentional chaos and randomness that often occurs. Routinely and thoroughly sterilizing a game that in my mind was MEANT to be chaotic and random to a large degree degrades the experience IMO. While definitely very skill-dependent, I believe it’s supposed to be a unique, chaotic, and amusingly random fighting game that you can learn relatively quickly and have fun with even when you lose badly, not a heavily structured, competitive fighting game in which a player’s skill and manual dexterity are everything. That’s more what conventional fighting games (2D or 3D) are for.

  • Jordan Walker

    In all honesty I don’t see why both can’t be done…. You can build a fun unpredictable smash game with features for competitive players. I personally feel Sakurai is too blinded by his own vision to realize that competitive play is the life blood of a fighting game.

    A balanced all round fast paced combo oriented itemless competitive 2 player brawler is encourages the “I’m better than the world at this game and I’m willing to play my ass off to prove it” aspect. A fun beat em up is fun with friends for a few hours and quickly becomes a classic yes. However, a competitive brawler creates a community that will cling to your game like flies to lights for 12+ years.

    • Gust

      I understand your argument to some extent but I kinda of have to agree with the director. Sakurai intended for the smash series to be simple and fun not ultra competitive. Taking out randomness and chaos that separates it from other games kind of takes away from the whole smash experience. Besides that, the game itself is not completely in terms of character abilities. Even in a match without items certain character will have the edge due to various factors such as range power and speed.

      • Jordan Walker

        But that’s just it, I understand Sakurai’s POV. But just like all of Nintendo’s recent setbacks, they let their ambitions cloud potential. I almost guarantee that Smash bros fanbase will triple if he made it slightly more competitive edge. Argue that if you like but Street fighter is far bigger than Smash bros worldwide because of that competitive aspect.

        I’m not saying he needs to destroy what Smash bros is now, but to have a fair balance that will do nothing but grow this game’s fanbase. Melee was a perfect example of a game which was still random and chaotic but had mechanics which could create a competitive atmosphere.

        My point is that I wish Sakurai built a game that had the randomness and chaotic spirit but also REWARDS players who play countless hours of it to improve. This is why the Smash bros community is so divided.

        • Gust

          It’s like they say you can’t please everyone. If they make it more competitive they will alienate some fans, if they make it less they will still lose fans. Trying to blend it will still make someone unhappy because you know somebody out there will find a way to create and spam an infinite combo or something along that line. I think you may be overthinking Sakurai’s statement a bit though. He seemed to be disappointed with people just playing defense all game. You gotta admit playing like a person who sits back and waits for you to do something is a rather boring strategy.

          • Jordan Walker

            There is always an aggressor in Asymmetrical gameplay, That’s why fighting games are never symmetric. Infinite combos? System update patches, tests and exploit runs fix those.

            Random chaos/Casual fans are not that hard to please, leave the item switch on and add everyone’s favorite characters with cool flashy moves….. That’s it…..

            How I propose Sakurai rewards players who play the game excessively to improve:

            1. Speed up the gameplay slightly

            2. Make it so that certain successions of moves allow for chaining, like in Melee: Foxes B blaster laser into short jump down A drill kick into down B shine into up A back kick into up A smash

            These all look like random moves on paper that casuals can have fun with but vets who practice hard will get rewarded with competitive edge.

            That’s what makes fighting games so entertaining to watch, the suspense over who punishes who first with a well executed combo.

            • Gust

              I don’t really support altering the gameplay I thought brawl was fine. But if the director chooses to do so I won’t complain about it either. As long as the characters are balanced and he makes sure spamming does not find its way into the series I won’t complain. Cause I looked up some of those combos and many of them are seriously op

              • Jordan Walker

                Good balancing can fix combos like that, infact giving every character in the game chain combos is a balance within itself, that’s the mechanics of a fighting game.

                He already did that unintentionally in Melee. He could subtly add these mechanics in without telling gamers to leave a path for self discovery. Those are the best kinds of games which people play for hours.

                Besides, he’d hardly be changing a thing, people didn’t seem to mind the game speed in Melee, something close to that would suffice.

                The core competitive fans think Melee was the best, the crazy mayhem lovers thought Brawl was the best. Wii U smash can easily marry the two.

                BTW spamming exploits already do exist in the series.

                • Gust

                  Personally, I think some of the moves or things that allowed players to perform certain combos ex chain grab etc) in the game were run time errors (which is when a program does something unintended). I don’t really see how brawl is not competitive since you can pull off combos. There are just not as easy as melee and they cannot be abused.
                  I don’t play fighting games online much so a lot of those combos look like spamming to me but I didn’t want to call it that.

  • Red Flame Fox

    This new Smash Bros is going to suck… bad new characters, bad new stages and bet your ass that playing SSB without the GC joypad is going to be a pain in the ass.
    Sorry Nintendo, but I’ll keep playing with Brawl, I already know that is 1000x times better.

    • Madison Twatter.

      ur a joke.

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  • Madison Twatter.

    there is room for both styles. Party game style and tournament style. Which is why sakurai gives you the option to turn items off in the first place. so play how u want to and stop complaining.

    • Od0

      There’s no real tournament style in Brawl. Tripping completely prevents competitive play by adding a luck based movement event. What these people are trying to say is simple: Give people the mechanics for competitive play and keep the chaos level up to the players. I’m not a competitive(tournament) player at all. I have 2 older brothers and grew up on the N64 SSB and remember when Melee came out. OMG you can charge side A and use side B attacks now!!! That was a game changer for us! We would play for hours and doing sky combos made me feel like a superhero. When Brawl was announced we were so excited for a Melee sequel. I remember the first time we played Brawl and felt confused. We could almost never sky combo, the game was way slow, and we kept tripping! Brawl was the shortest lived of the Smash Bros we played. The fun of the game for us was beating the crap out of each other and win. We played with items when we wanted casual and without items when we wanted to see who was the best. The most fun I’ve ever had was 10 stock no item fights with my brothers. We would swear and hiss and push each other around but that’s what made it fun for us. We didn’t get that from Brawl. Tripping ruined strategies and the game was too slow. That’s all I want to say.

  • Guest

    “Affects everyone equally”. How about this, each player has a 25% chance of instantly blowing up and losing all stocks. It affects everyone equally and its random, therefore its fair.

  • Michael Hierlmeier

    I notice everyone thinking Sakurai is basically stating that competitive gameplay isn’t what Smash Bros. is… But that’s not what I see. What I see is that he believes the “pros” who think “not using items EVER = professional” are missing the point. A real pro can win with the cards they’re dealt, be it items or smash balls. Competitive play can included items, just as much as it doesn’t, and still be just as competitive.

  • Jak

    I think the no items and no Smash Ball same 3 stages ruins the fun a bit too. They rip apart the game to try to make it “Balanced”. The game was made to be chaotic and Random, why do u think some of the stages are so out there? And the Plus some ppl (like me) are pretty decent with the items lol. But dont get me wrong, i do Participate in some tourneys cuz it still is fun. Just not as fun imo. Andit being 1v1 just takes away from the excitement as well.

  • Rayne Bowman Dashwood

    Agreed. No middle finger given to competitive players by the developers could ever be huge enough.