The Smash Brothers documentary is quite possibly the best insight into the world of competitive gaming. Produced and directed by East Point Pictures, The Smash Brothers follows the incredible Super Smash Bros. community and its tournament scene, whilst providing an in-depth look at how the community got so big, even without the help of Nintendo or another backer.
For those of you that don’t know, the Super Smash Bros. franchises is a Nintendo fighting game, where famous Nintendo characters such as Mario, Link, Kirby and Pikachu battle it out to see who comes out on top. Whilst the game is intended to be a party title (and it is an excellent one at that), the GameCube edition of the franchise (SSB: Melee) is regarded as one of the greatest fighting games in the history of gaming and as such developed a huge following in the early 2000’s., which still exists today. Nintendo never meant for the game to get as big as it did; it was the passion of the fans that led Melee to be the showpiece event at multiple nationwide tournaments in America, such as Apex and MLG. This is made even more impressive as the game did not feature an online mode; to be the best, you had to be willing to travel to prove it.
It was the passion of the fans that led Melee to be the showpiece event at multiple nationwide tournaments in America.
The documentary is essentially a timeline of the game and how it grew, and I couldn’t help but be impressed by the community it created. Despite the tournament scene being so competitive, ‘smashers’ would not only host tournaments but also house players who were travelling a long way (including those who were willing to travel from one coast to the next). During the early days of the game, one player recalls ‘I attended a tournament at someone’s house; there were so many people sleeping over that I couldn’t even see the floor’. Of course, as the community got bigger, so did the events, and eventually MLG (Major League Gaming) would host national tournaments, where prize money was often as high as $10,000. It’s incredible to see just how quickly the scene grew, just because the gamers were that passionate.
Perhaps the finest thing about this documentary is that it is character driven; those that are being interviewed were, at one point in their career, one of the best Smash players in the country, and we get to see a timeline of just how much the community grew and how they fitted into it. The stories of players like Chillindude and Wife in particular are incredible to listen to; perhaps for the first time, a documentary on gaming has accurately depicted how a video game and its community can change the lives of those in it. Wife in particular faced a potential turning point in his Smash career, when he faced off against the world’s strongest player, Ken. He recounts (having lost the match) ‘I threw my controller and dropped a couple of F-bombs. It was my match to lose and I did. I can’t watch that match back on Youtube, it’s just too painful’. Finally, and perhaps most revealing, he reveals that ‘everything would have been different for me had I won that match’.
Perhaps for the first time, a documentary on gaming has accurately depicted how a video game and its community can change the lives of those in it.
To non-gamers, this might sound ridiculous, but think about; this is a video game franchise that is played 1 on 1 (locally, not online) by millions across America which has developed a community full of rivals and friendship. Whether you regard competitive gaming as a sport or not, it’s easy to watch this documentary and draw parallels to their experiences and those experienced by sport stars and various sports teams across the world. These are gamers who adore a game so much that they are willing to travel across America and in some cases the world to play each other, get better and maybe just become something in their gaming community.
As a gamer, this documentary makes me incredibly proud that purely for the sake of playing a game that they love, smash players across the world have created such an incredible community with a fantastic reputation. Whether you’re an avid gamer like myself or not, I cannot recommend this documentary enough; it is an incredible insight into one of most popular past times in the world.
Link to the first episode of The Smash Brothers on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tgWH-qXpv8