Why Do People Play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Online Despite Its Toxicity?

Ever since COVID-19 forced the globe into a quarantine, players have not been able to attend offline gaming tournaments. With CEO Dreamland being the last one, hosted back in March, players have been shut into their homes while playing video games online. Among the most popular choices includes Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. While I covered Smash Wi-Fi tournaments developing in a past article, this was before the aftermath ensued.

As I honestly expected, players quickly grew fed up with playing online. This even caused #FixUltimateOnline to trend on Twitter, with dismayed players sending the trending tweet to Nintendo’s official Twitter accounts. Despite this, Wi-Fi tournaments continue to grow in popularity. As such, players will continue entering them while complaining in the long run. I will break down some of the major problems of Wi-Fi tournaments as well as what draws people to them.

Netcode

For starters, Smash’s netcode remains the paramount problem among Wi-Fi players. The connection causes unnecessary amounts of input delay, particularly in Quickplay. You can never tell who is playing with a LAN Adapter which, at best, only remedies the problem somewhat.

Tournaments, such as Pound Online, Quarantine Series, and The Box continue to run with hundreds of players. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi tournaments come with Wi-Fi problems. The first being that connection issues not only stifle matches, but create enemies among players.

The first example being renowned Roy player from Florida, Goblin, losing to Mexico’s Mr. Game & Watch main, Maister. Following their match, Goblin tweeted out a message regarding his match with Maister. The tweet and replies show that this came due to the match lagging.

Another such example that generated controversy includes Cosmos‘ set with Grayson at Pound Online. Despite being ahead two games, Cosmos requested a lag check. The result Tournament Organizer (TO) Cagt to disqualify Grayson from bracket. The ensuing fallout created controversy across Smash Twitter. However, Smash online is reeling from more than just netcode issues.

Please also note that Nintendo has made no attempt to fix online despite multiple balance patches for the game. In fact, lag was spotted even before the game’s release. The video below showcases an example of Nintendo trying to use “damage control” to minimize the issue that would eventually plague the game.

Wi-Fi Characters

Along with Wi-Fi issues come Wi-Fi characters. Smash Twitter has collectively discussed, in disgust, their least favorite characters to fight online. Among them largely include Zelda and Samus, both of which otherwise aren’t considered top tier characters offline.

However, the online Smash community has been dealing with an even more pressing matter from a single character: Sonic the Hedgehog. Known as a high tier character in Smash 4, Sonic has otherwise maintained steady results in Ultimate offline. During this transition to online play, however, Sonic’s prominence has once again developed him into an infamous character to fight. At the center of the controversy is Dominican Republic’s Sonic main, Sonix.

This largely stems from Pound Online where Goblin and Sonix fought in bracket. Even though Goblin maintained a lead in their last game, Sonix eventually brought the percent back. Rather than, KO him Sonix used the last few seconds to stall for a time-out. This resulted in Goblin’s rant about Sonic with Sonix catching wind of it and sharing it on Twitter.

As such, this created a divide in the community. In a community that frequently targets players based on their mains, this only perpetuated even more in-fighting through social media. One TO even suggested banning Sonic from his next online tournament.

Additionally, fighting game website, EventHubs, reached out to Sonix for an interview. He explained his thoughts on the current competitive scene as well as gripes regarding online play. You can read the full interview here.

Why not enter Wi-Fi tournaments?

As a competitive player myself, I have entered several tournaments, one of which I won. As someone who lives in an area with roughly 20 players who attend weekly tournaments, my training options consists almost exclusively of online practice. However, I’m not so desperate as to play in an online event.

For one, I don’t feel like being confined to waiting for my bracket match to enter. I would rather spend time being more productive. Another part is I don’t want to be part of this rage culture. Smash Wi-Fi historically brings out the worst in its players.

On the outside, people on social media see players as taking online way too seriously. While some players might see these endeavors as “just for fun,” others are playing for thousands of dollars in prizes. As the burdens outweigh the enjoyability, I feel no reason to involve myself.

Also, there is no feeling quite like being at an actual tournament. I entered several tournaments a month, including locally, regionally, and even out-of-state majors, such as Momocon and CEO. Getting to see your friends again and playing offline matches against good competition makes the difference.

The tournament experience, on the opposite hand, largely brings out the best in players. There’s much more sportsmanship and camaraderie at offline tournaments when you’re meeting face-to-face. Plus you’re not hampered by the Wi-Fi connection either.

Alternatives to Smash Wi-Fi.

The reason people continue to play Smash online is because it stimulates the brain. It’s a fast-paced, competitive activity that plays unlike any other. As someone who’s staying at home playing JRPGs, like Persona and Fire Emblem, I too feel the need to test my reflexes and play a game of Smash. Even if it’s just for a few minutes to an hour, on Smash online, nothing feels quite like playing my favorite game.

I could play other fighting games, but I’m also not that good at them. Even then, I would still be running into largely the same netcode problem if I’m playing another fighter. If I need to play Smash seriously, I can always host a Battle Arena. I can enter a Discord with competitive players, seek a match out, and play with them till I’m done. Most of the time, the players I fight will have a LAN Adapter, making the connection a bit more seamless and easier to play.

Meanwhile, some players or even TOs, like Bear, have been spending their time fiending on Mario Kart 8 Online. As the best-selling Nintendo Switch game it still packs plenty of life several years later.

What you want to play for that mental stimulus is largely up to you. There’s tons of competitive online games out there including fighting games, Overwatch, Mario Kart, Splatoon, and more. But if you’re willing to brave the storm and play Smash Bros., the best thing to do is not take it too seriously. Have fun online, find people to play, and host battle arenas if you’re concerned you’ll run into lag. Despite what goes around on social media, it’s still playable. While online is not perfect, not playing Smash is even less enjoyable.

How are you managing through an era without Smash tournaments? Let us know in the comments below!

Rango’s Smash Column – The Importance of Music in Super Smash Bros.

When Super Smash Bros. released in 1999, it brought with it 12 characters from 10 different franchises. With each character, a stage, and with each stage, a song from their respective game. These throwback tracks, arranged by Kirby composer, Hirokazu Ando, brought forth the love of Nintendo’s 18 year history. But when Super Smash Bros. Melee arrived in 2001, it changed the gaming music landscape forever.

Melee’s soundtrack changed the landscape thanks not only to its orchestral remixes, but the sheer quality and quantity of music. Not only did each stage feature one of these beautiful arrangements, but some of the stages even had a “hidden” track which could play if you held the correct button down while picking the stage. In addition to both F-Zero and EarthBound gaining a stage, Nintendo even brought over Fire Emblem’s recruitment theme, “Together, We Ride.” This piece in particular became an instant favorite among players. In fact, it created so much impact that Nintendo even re-used the theme as the recruitment theme for the first western release of the series, Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade, in 2003.

You can listen to Melee’s orchestral playlist here.

My Music

When Super Smash Bros. Brawl arrived for Wii in 2008, director Masahiro Sakurai once again changed the gaming landscape. Introducing the My Music feature, players could pick and choose which songs they wanted to hear. No longer limited to one or two tracks per stage, each stage featured a handful of tracks dating back years to the series’ respective history. Brawl’s soundtrack even included music from series not represented by characters in Smash.

Not only did My Music bring in a much wider variety of tracks, but it introduced multiple composers to compose on the same game. Final Fantasy veteran composer, Nobuo Uematsu, composed the game’s opening theme. And various songs would be handled by well-known composers of video game music. Yoko Shimomura, Motoi Sakuraba, Yuzo Koshiro, and more would contribute to a singular soundtrack. This tradition would continue through Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Smash 4).

In Smashville and Town & City, K.K. Slider would appear, on Saturdays, to play one of his songs.

One particular thing to note, unfortunately, is Square-Enix‘s lack of contribution to Smash’s music. When Cloud came to Smash 4, he was given only two battle themes from Final Fantasy VII. Neither were remixed. While fans lauded Cloud’s debut in Smash, many of them sent backlash towards Square-Enix, accusing them of being stingy.

The Ultimate Soundtrack

When Super Smash Bros. Ultimate came out, it featured over 900 tracks. This includes nearly every track from the Smash series history as well as new ones featured for many of the stages. Even Capcom, creators of Street Fighter and Mega Man, let Nintendo use nearly their entire Street Fighter II soundtrack just for the Suzaku Castle stage. Plus, some stages received a prominent number of remixes. Wily’s Castle received a dozen new remixes alone just for the love and recognition of the Mega Man soundtracks.

Michiru Yamane, one of the composers for Smash 4, composed music for the Castlevania series. One game later, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would introduce the Castlevania series to the line-up. Sakurai would later showcase this in a Nintendo Direct. Much like Mega Man, Castlevania is highly reputable for its music among fans.

DLC

When Joker, from Persona 5, debuted in Smash, Sakurai did something special with the character’s stage, Mementos. Featuring remixes from Persona 3, 4, and 5, the song you picked on the stage would change the stage’s very color and thematic. Even Joker’s victory theme would come from the respective game that the song was playing.

Once again, however, with the debut of Dragon Quest‘s Hero in Smash, the character was given zero remixes and only a handful of songs from Dragon Quest’s legendary soundtrack history. Much like with Final Fantasy’s lack of music in Smash 4, fans would once again react similarly to Square-Enix’s reported stinginess.

On the flip-side, however, Banjo & Kazooie’s entrance into Smash brought many wondrous tracks from their titles into Smash. Sakurai even noted that this was the first time he collaborated with a western composer for music in Smash. The composer in question was none other than Banjo-Kazooie series composer, Grant Kirkhope. He would arrange the series’ main theme for Spiral Mountain stage.

Also noteworthy was Terry Bogard’s debut into Smash brought perhaps the single biggest selection of new tracks, including remixes, to the King of Fighters*** Stadium stage. Not only did this introduce many new fans to the wondrous tracks of Fatal Fury and SNK’s history, but even Sakurai showed his love for their music in his Nintendo Direct.

Finally, Byleth’s inclusion to Smash introduced the final bit of first-wave DLC. Their reveal included a stage – Garreg Mach Monastery – along with a new arrangement of their game’s main theme. The stage also received tracks from the critically-acclaimed Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

Mii!

Finally, one of the biggest surprises for fans was the debut of Sans, as a Mii Fighter, from the notable RPG, Undertale. In addition to the Mii Costume entering the game, Sakurai featured a remix, arranged by composer Toby Fox himself, of Megalovania. Fans reacted with great joy upon hearing this news. Similarly, Cuphead’s Mii Costume also featured Floral Fury, a boss theme from the game, but it was not a remix of the song.

Final Thoughts

One cannot understate the importance of Smash’s musical presence. It contains over 40 years of history and roughly 1,000 tracks of memories and new introductions to players. All of these tracks either came from their respective games or were remixed by talented composers.  Furthermore, you can even take your Switch with you and play it using a Playlist feature. This debuted initially in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. With each game’s soundtrack building over the last, it would not be a surprise to state that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has one of the best soundtracks in gaming history.

What are your favorite songs in the Smash series? Let us know in the comments below.