Penn State’s Super Smash Bros. Club
When I first heard about the Super Smash Bros. Club, saying I was intrigued is an understatement. A club entirely devoted to the game I grew up playing with my older brother! Never mind if, by playing, I mean hitting the same button repeatedly and hoping someone would just run into my weapon.
I made plans to go to its meeting last Thursday night in 325 HUB, not really knowing what to expect. Checking in with its Facebook page a few hours before, I found this:
I would soon learn all about this legendary “Sakurai.”
Andrew Caldwell is president of the Super Smash division of the Electronic Sports Club and a senior here at Penn State. There are seven divisions of the PSU ESports Club for each of the different games it plays. The Super Smash Bros. Division has roughly 30 members who show up consistently according to Caldwell.
“There’s a very large competitive Super Smash Bros. scene across the country. Here at PSU Smash Club, we get together to practice and build on our skills,” said Caldwell.
They organize various small tournaments around campus, and they also travel across the county to large major tournaments, one being an upcoming tournament in Romulus, Mich., in a few weeks.
“At the tournaments, it’s a competitive environment. You have people who are a part of the community as a whole who are very good. Compared to the best players in the world, we would all get beaten pretty badly,” Caldwell said. “We have people in our club who would just completely destroy each other. Our best in the club versus the worst would probably get a perfect game. But our best in the club versus one of the best in the country would easily get beaten.”
Super Smash Bros., according to Caldwell, is complex in that it can be used both as a fun party game, or a “very deep technical fighting game.”
And the Super Smash Bros. Club does not discriminate when it comes to game console, although GameCube usually ends up being the most popular (a choice I fully support).
“There’s a Smash game for pretty much every Nintendo platform. Most popular are the ones on GameCube (Melee) and Wii (Brawl). Brawl was designed to be as least competitive as possible so a lot of people in the community were not impressed with it,” says Caldwell.
That’s why a bunch of Smash loving bros developed a mod called Project Melee. The community even considers it to be a legitimate Smash game because it’s that well done. And, of course, you gotta show some love for the classic N64 version. Nothing says childhood like blowing into the game cartridge and slamming it into the Nintendo.
“The most popular game is Melee, which is weird because it came out 13 years ago,” says Caldwell. He attributes that to a recent Super Smash Bros. documentary that essentially covers the entire history of the competitive Smash community since 2001.
“That’s been a huge part of getting people involved. That’s helped spread awareness about the competitive community. But this scene has been around for so long. There are tournaments literally every weekend no matter where you go,” says Caldwell.
The ESports Club was even picked up by TeSPA last year, which gets them free pizza, clothes, equipment, and even money.
Caldwell said his favorite character in Melee is Marth. However, Fox is widely the most popular character to play with because he’s the (supposedly) best one. I personally go with the classic Donkey Kong and just annoy everyone by smashing my head into everything. But to each his own.
So, the bros are cool, and all. But where the ladies at?
“Something about the Smash community as a whole is that there is a definitely skewed ratio of guys to girls. We’re trying to change that though. We do have a few girls in the club. Girls are of course welcome,” said Caldwell.
As far as who the infamous “Sakurai” is, he’s one of the developers of the Super Smash Brothers game and Caldwell says they “praise him like a deity.” Smash Club’s got those inside jokes.
So why should people join? Caldwell says, “For starters, Super Smash Bros. is one of the greatest games ever made, of course. Here you get to play this game as much as possible. Whether you wanna play for fun or get competitive, we have a lot of fun events throughout the week. And it’s a great way to make a lot of friends.”
Penn State’s Super Smash Bros. Club meets every Thursday and all the equipment they use is their own. Literally, they lug huge box TVs and game consoles to the HUB just to play some Smash. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.