There are few games more iconic than Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. The fighting game franchise, launched in 1999, has one of the world’s most passionate fanbases and established tournament scenes.
There’s huge buzz surrounding the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate which is set to release on December 7 2018.
This will mark the start of the Nintendo Switch era for Smash, which should breathe new life into a franchise that has started to slow down in recent months.
The game’s most recent iteration is Smash 4, released for the Wii U in 2014.
The Smash 4 community grew extremely rapidly, peaking in 2017. But in 2018, has somewhat stagnated.
Competition has become dominated by single (arguably OP) characters: Bayonetta in singles and Cloud in doubles. The game is built on an old (and not so successful) console. And some of Smash 4’s best players have taken breaks from competitive play.
We spoke to the Smash community in Australia, to see whether Ultimate will break through this lull.
Jack “Pudge” Gorman is the Head Organiser of Smash 4 for CouchWarriors in Melbourne, and the BAM series, which has been the biggest Smash 4 Major tournament in the Southern Hemisphere for the last 4 years.
Pudge tells us that the Australian scene has been affected by the global community’s issues, but the release of Ultimate is going to be more popular than ever.
“I like to think of it as the calm before the storm. I think we’ll see Smash 4 and Brawl veterans very eager to jump in and play Ultimate, as well as the influx of brand new people who have just picked up a [Nintendo] Switch.”
Pudge and CouchWarriors have big plans for the release of Ultimate, hoping to kick start a new and blossoming era for Smash fans in Australia.
“We’re planning to have a big release event in every state of Australia to start off with a bang and try and get as many people as possible interested in our scene.
“On top of that, the strides we’ve made towards connecting the Australian community will prove even more helpful in trying to close the gap between the stronger international players and our own talent.”
Joshua Freinberger is one of the organisers of the extremely popular Newcastle Siege Smash 4 major tournament.
He tells us, “our Smash scene has seen tremendous growth over the past 6 months, where it has had the highest influx of new players since we originally started back in 2015.
“I think the biggest draw is that our community is so much fun… people come for the first time not knowing what to expect and they are met by a bunch of welcoming people who spend time helping them improve and feel welcome.”
Another contributing factor has been more cooperation between different local Smash 4 scenes across the country.
“We managed to get more players from more regions than last year [for Newcastle Siege]. Our local scene has been travelling a lot more nationally which has led to stronger relationships with other scenes. ”
Josh feels like the apparent stagnation in the Smash 4 community isn’t really as bad as people make out.
“There are top players taking a break, but there are also a lot of new players and veterans getting back into Smash 4 in preparation for the release of Ultimate… and they are a bit less likely to travel to super majors, which could explain the slight decline in EVO this year.
“There is still heaps of hype for Smash Brothers as a whole, it remains one of the most popular fighting games in the world… I would say a lot of players are working on their game rather than worrying about performing at tournaments.”
What are Josh’s plans for the release of Ultimate?
“The first thing will be promoting the heck out of our local scene… Newcastle came late to the party with Smash 4 and we are the newest scene in Australia.
“So I’ll be looking to keep our community growing and hopefully get ourselves to the competitive level of Sydney and Melbourne.. my aim for a national level is to bring more exhibition type fight cards rather than open tournaments to highlight Australian players and media personalities to the world.”