Todd “Maxx” Robinson
When it comes to competitive fighting games, there are few communities as dedicated as “Super Smash Bros.” fans. Whenever a new title releases, “Smash” players from around the globe come together to learn and teach what the new game has to offer. After years of waiting, the latest installment in Nintendo’s popular “Super Smash Bros.” series has debuted on the Nintendo Switch.
“Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” released last December to critical and commercial success, bringing many players into the competitive scene. UML Smash, UMass Lowell’s very own “Smash Bros.” club, has already adopted “Ultimate” and the multitude of new competitors looking to join the battle.
“UML Smash is just a collection of people who love ‘Smash Bros.’,” said Seth Kary, the tournament organizer for UML Smash’s weekly “Ultimate” tournament.
The competition takes place on the second floor of UCrossing every Monday night. Registration begins at 6:00 p.m., but players can often be seen practicing well before the tournament starts.
Many players bring their own setups, consisting of a Nintendo Switch system, monitor, and GameCube controller adapter. Because of the immense popularity and hype surrounding “Ultimate,” there is no shortage of an excited crowd looking to enjoy the new game.
In comparison to the previous entry in the series, “Super Smash Bros. for Wii U,” “Ultimate” has seen multiple adjustments to improve the player experience.
“The gameplay happens much more quickly, and it’s a lot more entertaining for both the players and the spectators,” said Kary.
New mechanics make “Ultimate” much more fluid to play than “Smash Wii U,” and the ability to disable certain in-game hazards gives the community access to a greater variety of stages to play on. In addition, “Ultimate” is arguably the most balanced game in the series, with very few characters considered vastly superior to others.
“Community-wise, ‘Smash Wii U’ was getting stale,” said Kary. “There was this character that was making everyone hate the game by the last year of it.” The character Bayonetta was considered by many to be vastly superior to the rest of the cast in “Smash Wii U.” In “Ultimate,” Bayonetta has been toned down significantly.
Near the end of “Smash Wii U,” UML Smash saw roughly 30 competitors every Monday. With the release of “Ultimate,” that number has more than doubled in recent weeks.
“Now that we have this new game, it’s like a fresh start. It’s an amazing time for everyone involved,” said Kary.
Players are experimenting with new and returning fighters, and with there being over 70 playable characters, new strategies are being found every day. “Ultimate” will also be undergoing constant changes within the next few years, and balance patches will help keep competition healthy.
Because “Ultimate” is so recent, many players are still learning and adapting to the characters and mechanics, making now a great time for new players to hop in. “Smash Ultimate” has a lot of depth, but it is relatively easy to pick up and learn.
UML Smash offers “Ultimate” friendlies around 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. every Monday night. During friendlies, competitors are able to play “Smash” with anyone looking to join, and results are not recorded as part of the tournament. Any setup is available for anyone to play on, making it the perfect opportunity to sit down, meet new players, and practice.
“Even if you’ve never played ‘Smash’ and you just want to learn, we have so many people that are willing to teach you,” said Kary, encouraging new players of any skill level to participate.
Knowledgeable players are always around to provide advice, answer questions, and share their opinions.
A transfer student and new competitor started attending UML Smash after the release of “Ultimate.”
“I was hesitant to compete because I knew I was going to get absolutely dumpstered. But if you come out of it saying, ‘Wow, I understand what I need to improve on,’ that’s a win. You may as well have just won the tournament,” said the student.
If a new player is looking to improve in “Ultimate,” UML Smash provides a friendly tournament experience needed to hone one’s skills.