Don't Be Intimidated By Smash Bros.

With Smash Bros. Ultimate right on the horizon, I am experiencing my usual case of wondering if it’s way too late for me to get on that ship. I sat down with Kotaku’s Maddy Myers to figure out if now is the time for me to start playing Smash or if I should just be ok with being the little sibling who gets an unplugged controller so I can feel like I’m “participating.”


Fighting games have always intrigued me, and the communities surrounding them even more so. Part of the allure is that these games require an impressive amount of skill to hold your own. I’ve dabbled casually with my friends in Street Fighter, SoulCalibur, Tekken and even Smash Bros., and of those games, Smash has always intrigued me the most. It’s accessible enough to enjoy casually but it’s also mind-blowing to see players who have mastered characters go to work.

Check out the full video above or read a short excerpt here:

Maddy: It sounds like you have an internal perception because Smash is this pre-existing franchise, everybody else is going to be coming into the game with an assumed knowledge that you don’t have. So you’re assuming that because you haven’t played every other Super Smash Bros. that you can’t even jump on board now. And I wonder if that’s a Super Smash Bros. problem or it’s “a fighting games are intimidating” problem? What do you think is stopping you?

Paul: I think it’s more of that fighting game stuff. I’ve always been fascinated and intrigued as an outsider looking in to the Street Fighter scene, like “this is that Street Fighter that I’m totally going to get into,” and then you play it and there are people who have been playing Ken for like 10 years, and they’re just going to smack you on day one.

Maddy: Or at least that’s how it feels. There’s also that allure when a new competitive game comes out, like “this is the competitive game that I become an esports pro in because I’m gonna be there on day one,” but it’s never actually happened that way for me. Usually what does happen to me is, I wind up becoming good at a game because a lot of people I know happen to be playing it. It doesn’t matter if it’s old or it just came out. If the people in my life are playing it a lot, that’s how I keep up with the meta and what’s happening in that scene. That doesn’t necessarily have to do with when a game comes out. But at the same time, I get what you’re saying. It feels intimidating to try and get into a game that it seems that everybody already understands.

This episode of Viewpoints and previous ones are also in this handy YouTube playlist so you can have something on in the background while you practice that new air dodge.

Video Producer, Kotaku. Fluent in Spanglish. Tetris Master. Streamer. Host of The Optional Podcast.


Platypus Man

Smash Bros is weird. Because it was clearly created for Nintendo to celebrate their franchises and fanbase and to be a generally fun game, the first one wasn’t even originally scheduled for release outside of Japan. That’s not to besmirch the competitive scene of Smash, they should have the fun they want, it just has never seemed to me to really match what the series was created for. People end up limiting stages and characters and items and everything else to make it competitive, but to me that limits a lot of the fun aspects.

And so looking at Ultimate, the fifth entry in the series, I can see why you would be intimidated by it. If you don’t follow the series, there are an insane number of characters and they all have different moves and strategies and it’s all new to you. But the key to the game in my opinion is to just have fun. Find a character you enjoy playing with or maybe just represents a favorite game series for you. Don’t worry about being good at it, I’ve been playing since the first game and I’m borderline bad at it. The game has a competitive scene but it’s completely optional and in my opinion if you just want to have fun it shouldn’t matter much how good you are. If you want to do the competitive scene feel free, your mileage may vary, but there shouldn’t be pressure to do that rather than just enjoy yourself.

To me it’s similar to Pokemon - there are several games and nearly 800 of the monsters and there are so many ways you can metagame it with the stats and types and everything else, not to mention just the collection. But it’s all entirely optional, if you want you can just play through the game with the little guys you think look cool and ignore all of that other stuff and you’ll generally have a fun time.