My Love Letter to Fighting Games

Neon Retro Arcade, 2018, that’s where it all started. Located in Pasadena, my friend Jacob and I had wandered in with the intention to play classic games of the past. While the arcade games were fun, they only held our interest for a brief period of time. But buried away in the back of the arcade sat a Wii U and a plethora of controllers, with the character select screen for “Super Smash Bros” displayed. The new “Smash Bros” game had just been announced for the Nintendo Switch, so we thought we’d give it a try. After just the first game, we were hooked. It was simpler to pick up and play than other fighting games, yet it still facilitated the fierce fires of combat. After 2 hours of intense battles, we realized something: we needed more.

While I didn’t own a Wii U, I remembered that somewhere in my house, my original Wii was hiding along with an older version of “Super Smash Bros, Brawl.” That was how I trained for nine months. Sure, it was an older iteration of the game, but it was the only means I had of playing. Naturally, I was drawn to the fat, jolly penguin known as King Dedede and aimed to improve my skill with him. Thankfully, I wasn’t completely out of the loop with “Smash Bros” for Wii U either, as I’d frequently go over to my friend Jose’s house and play it there. 

One of the biggest reasons I played the game at Jose’s house was for the competition. Each time I went over there and played against others, I could sense that I had gotten better. Smash Bros was different from other games I played. Whereas those games told me I had improved through artificial statistics and leveling up, Smash made me feel like my character wasn’t the one getting better, I was the one getting better. It was always such a treat to hang out with friends, screaming and laughing over our crazy plays in the game. Since Jose owned the game, he was the best out of the friend group; each time we hung out at his house, I tried to take him down but to no avail. I just had to wait for the new game to come out for us to be on an even playing field.

With the newest game in the series just around the corner, there was a lot of excitement in the air. It made me really feel like a part of the community. Some of my favorite memories with the series involved attending early play demos of the game. Even when the line to play was 5 hours, the wait was far less gruesome when I socialized with other people who were just as passionate, talking about how long we’ve played it, who our mains were, etc. I even met some of my closest friends while waiting in one of these lines. And then, actually playing the game, wow. As someone who primarily played Brawl, the game felt insanely faster and more surreal to play — like something out of a dream. 

That dream eventually became a reality on Dec. 6, 2018. It was finals week at my high school, but that did nothing to stop me from bringing my Switch to school and playing nonstop with my friends. Seeing everyone get as excited as I was upon seeing the game was a feeling I’ll never forget. Jacob and I had a final to prepare for, so we went home together that day. But all I remember from that day was playing Smash Bros nonstop, unlocking characters together, and battling just as we had many months ago in the arcade. 

My love for Smash Bros comes from how community-building it is. The amount of people I’ve met through the game is something I think no other video game could match; each time I play it, my skills feel truly tested. Throughout this article, I’ve described playing “Smash” as hot-blooded battles, and that’s because they are. Admittedly, it sounds childish (and it is), but the thrill I feel when playing the game — my heart pounding, not knowing if I can win and palms sweating from how intense the game feels — is the feeling I live for.

Photo Via Viggo Kovas of the UCSD Guardian

Art by Angela Liang of the UCSD Guardian

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