Sometimes gaming enthusiasts are so preoccupied with whether or not they can, they never stop to think if they should. How else to explain one Smash Bros. fan’s decision to create an elaborate retro electronics setup so they could play 10 rounds of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the 1.8 inch screen of a Sony Watchman.
Reddit user NESNerd427 recently shared a picture on the Smash Bros. subreddit of the game’s opening menu displayed on the FD-30A Watchman, one of Sony’s old portable handheld TVs from the 80s. In an email to Kotaku, NESNerd said wasn’t too difficult to do, but it did require a bunch of different adapters and cords to ultimately transmit the HD output of the Nintendo Switch to a battery-powered gadget from three decades ago.
NESNerd427 started by running a mini HDMI from the Switch to an A/V converter box in order to switch from HD to analog. He then wired the converter to a 2001 Zenith DVD/VCR combo unit with a coaxial output. With a coaxial cord, NESNerd427 then ran the signal through a Cable/VCR VHF amplifier to boost its integrity before routing it through an RCA TV antenna, which then broadcast the game to channel 3 on a VHF TV and could then be picked up through the antenna on the Watchman.
The signal still doesn’t travel far, so NESNerd427 said they have to keep the Watchman and RCA TV very close together. Still, it makes it possible to play the crisp, colorful Smash Bros. Ultimate on one of the worst screens ever. Because the refresh rate of the Switch doesn’t quite match up with the Watchman, there are some rogue green lines, but overall it’s a retro futurist gamer’s dream.
NESNerd427 said he’s big into messing around with old electronics, including repairing stuff like old Pac-Man arcade cabinets. “I’m the kind of person that would go with a 1980s Western Electric telephone rather than a new wireless handset phone,” he told Kotaku. Naturally, trying to combine gaming’s present with technology’s past was a fun project for him.
We already suspected that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s roster was pretty evenly matched, and now we’ve got data from the game’s lead creator to prove it. r. In a new column for the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai shared some data on the wins and losses of many of the game’s 74 fighters.
Take King R. Rool, for example. The big lizard l is regarded by many as a “noob smasher,” a character who’s easy to exploit against less experienced players, but Nintendo data shared by Sakurai doesn’t show him as overly dominant. “His win rate is over all 51.9%,” Sakurai wrote. “In VIP matches it’s 48.9%.” VIP matches are what the game in North America refers to as Elite Smash, a ranked mode reserved for players who have reached a high enough GSP (Global Smash Power).
Sakurai spends much of the column touting what he sees as the overall parity between the game’s 74 fighters. “Firstly, one on one victory rates,” he writes. “No fighter is below 40%, and no fighter is above 60%.” He goes on:
“As for one on one matches among VIP players, the lowest win rate for any character is 43.7%. The highest win ratio is 56.8%. Looking at just this data we can see some variation within, though if we think of it in terms of the highest and the lowest of the 74 characters, we could say it’s a uniformly narrow margin.
If we integrate all the one on one data, all fighters fall within 40% and 54% win rates, and that those with a win rate of 45% or higher make up 90% of the total.”
Sakurai also revealed who players are currently favoring. “Moreover, there’s big variation in usage data,” he writes. “The highest is about 20x the lowest. The most-used character is Cloud. The most commonly used character in VIP matches is Ganondorf. However, in said VIP matches Ganondorf’s win rate is only 47.9%, which puts him low in the battle rankings.
On the whole though, the director seems extremely happy with where the game is at right now, and hesitant to make any big changes in the immediate future.
“If we look just at battle data, it seems like there’s no reason to tune the game at all,” he writes. “However, if we don’t tweak things just a little bit, there are probably some people out there who are going to feel stressed out. So for now I’m waiting for opinions of the team in charge of adjustments.”
Piranha Plant has finally joined the fray in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Players are welcoming their new pot-bound friend.
I didn’t get Piranha Plant when it was announced. As a secret final fighter, a potted plant didn’t wow me, even if it did spit poison and spiked balls. Now that it’s actually out in the wild, I get it. She’s got little feet! How could you not love that? Other players were quicker on the uptake than me, it appears, and have been celebrating the plant’s arrival.
As a new plant mom, I also want to tenderly love and care for my plant babies. I just don’t run the risk of getting bitten by them.
Piranha Plant, Smash Bros. Ultimate’s first new DLC fighter, went live last night as part of the game’s 2.0 update, but Nintendo’s unusual way of providing fans access to the character has left some players frustrated and plantless.
Piranha Plant is free for anyone who buys Smash Bros. Ultimate before January 31, but the character doesn’t automatically appear in the Switch game. Users need to redeem a code sent to them by Nintendo. If they purchased the game digitally Nintendo is supposed to have automatically emailed a code shortly after purchase. Anyone who bought a physical edition needed to register the game manually with the My Nintendo Rewards program and then wait for Nintendo to send them an email with a code. Some players say they still haven’t gotten those emails though, while others have reported that even after redeeming the code the new character still wasn’t available.
Currently, the Nintendo Support Forum for North America is flooded with dozens of posts from people claiming to have these sorts of problems. “Another Person with no Plant Email,” reads one of them. “Just making it known that there’s more people with the problem of no emails with the plant, yes I checked promotions and spam,” the player wrote. “Piranha Plant won’t show up even though I’ve updated to 2.0.0 and have redeemed my code,” wrote another. Some eventually found the emailed codes hiding in their promotions or spam folders, but others are still waiting.
It’s hard to tell how widespread the issue is. While there are dozens of complaints, Smash Ultimate has sold millions of copies. It’s also hard to tell how many of the complaints are a product of Nintendo’s odd approach to offering the character and its caveat that the wait to get it after registering might be really long.
In some cases customer support reps have referred people to Nintendo’s Piranha Plant DLC FAQ page. There it says that codes can take up to 10 business days to arrive from the date the game is registered. Regardless, there were some complaints prior to today of people not receiving any email even after the 10 days was up.
At Kotaku, three of us have received codes but all at a different pace. One of us bought the game digitally on December 5 and received the Piranha Plant code e-mail two days later. Two others had physical copies that they didn’t register until this week. One got their code the same day, the other got it after a three day wait. It’s unusual in general that there would be any wait time involved in getting access to an early-adopter bonus like Piranha Plant, let alone a period of up to 10 days that varies from player to player.
Nintendo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Piranha Plant doesn’t radically transform the game, but it is still a new character for Smash. Players are understandable anxious to try it out. The game’s five other DLC fighters will be $5 each and are scheduled to arrive in the game in the coming months, beginning with Persona 5’s Joker.
Last night, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate got Mario’s Piranha Plant, the platform fighter’s first downloadable fighter, and it’s a doozy. Piranha Plant’s moveset is a radical departure from what we’ve seen in prior Smash games, but thankfully, unlike those games’ downloadable fighters, this one isn’t overpowered.
Smash Ultimate players can get Piranha Plant by following our instructions here. The character is not part of the game’s Fighters Pass, a subscription service for downloadable fighters, so Piranha Plant is free to download for anyone who unlocks it before this coming Friday.
Last night, I gave it a spin and Piranha Plant’s toolkit is totally weird and, somehow, works. The first thing to know is that it’s not a fast fighter and has low mobility (hell, it’s bouncing around in a clay pot). It’s got some heavy hits that are, unfortunately for it, easy to see coming and a little tricky to aim properly. Most important though, it’s a super fun fighter that adds something fresh and leafy to Smash Ultimate’s roster.
As a toothed head at the end of a long, potted stem, Piranha Plant has moves that are all foliage-themed and, often, are directed vertically by default. Pressing B, Piranha Plant spits up and suspends a spiky metal ball, which it can throw a little ways left or right. Its down special pulls Piranha Plant into its pot like a spring before it pops outward to bite an opponent—an attack that can also be directed up, right or left. Its side special charges a putrid cloud of poison breath, which does some pretty massive damage when an opponent is stuck in it for several seconds. (Like other charged attacks, Piranha Plant can store it for a long time before using it.) Its up special, or recovery ability, has Piranha Plant turn into a little leaf propeller, which flies around the sky and does damage to opponents stuck in it. The range on that is long and it lasts a significant amount of time.
Here’s his final Smash, Petey Piranha. Our friendly foliage friend becomes an enormous Little Shop of Horrors nightmare who traps opponents in his cages:
Piranha Plant’s toolkit is great for controlling space on a stage and defending against enemies in the air. Tossing spiked balls, littering poison clouds and preparing long-stemmed bites are all useful for keeping opponents at a distance. That’s all also excellent for edge-guarding opponents who are coming back on-stage.
That can work like so:
And like so:
Piranha Plant also has some pretty deft ways to defend itself when it’s off-stage:
What’s really exciting is how well Piranha Plant’s moves interlock to form combos. They’re not inescapable combos; in fact, for fighters faster than it, they won’t be too difficult to avoid. That said, they’re super fun when they work:
Some bad news for folks considering Piranha Plant as a main: It suffers from a lot of landing lag, making its aerial attacks risky to pull off. That makes off-the-ground combos a bit of a struggle.
Even if we may not see Piranha Plant scale the ranks of pro tournaments any time soon, the fighter is adding something a little more significant to the Smash tradition. Smash Ultimate offers a bevy of new fighters whose toolkits resemble no one else’s before them, like Inkling’s, Simon’s and King K. Rool’s. That Smash Ultimate is continuing this momentum with its first downloadable character just goes to show its developers are still innovating [and] keeping things weird.
Nintendo’s patch notes are notorious for saying pretty much nothing. So the latest Smash Ultimate update—which also marks the release of Piranha Plant—contains a nice surprise: a lengthy and detailed breakdown of everything that’s changing, down to each fighter’s specific tweaks.
The 2.0.0. patch notes can be found in full here, and really are enormous. Every alteration made gets its own spot, even when there are multiple changes being made for the one character.
It’s the kind of thing that’s super useful to know, whether checking up on your main or just browsing to see exactly what’s been tweaked for a certain character if something feels just a little bit different.
The good news has been well received:
Please, Nintendo, more of this!
Oh, and if you were wondering a certain thing about Piranha Plant…here’s your answer:
I think all of us are curious about how a literal piranha plant is going to hold its own against the likes of Solid Snake in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The new, downloadable fighter releases sometime before February 15—we’re not exactly sure when yet—and if you own the game, you’re going to want to give the big guy a spin. Just don’t miss out: You only have three days to get him for free.
Super Smash Bros.’ downloadable fighters (DLC) usually cost money, but if you already bought the game or buy it before January 31, you won’t have to pay anything to add Smash Ultimate’s Little Shop of Horrors cameo to your roster. You just have to get the code before Friday, or else you’ll have to pay. Here’s how you unlock the plant:
If you bought a physical copy of the game
You have to register your copy of Smash Ultimate manually. Highlight Smash Ultimate in your Switch library. Hit the Plus button. Then scroll to the “My Nintendo Rewards Programme” tab. Click “Earn Points.”
Pick the Nintendo Account on which you want to download Piranha Plant. Then, within 10 days, you will receive a download code for Piranha Plant in the e-mail attached to the Nintendo Account you chose. Be careful: If you’re on Gmail, it may land in your “Promotions” or “Spam” folder.
If you bought a digital copy of the game from the Nintendo Eshop
The game should have automatically registered for your Nintendo Account. That means your Piranha Plant download code was probably already e-mailed to the address associated with your Nintendo Account. (Again—be sure to check your “Promotions” or “Spam” folder if you’re on Gmail!). If you purchased Smash Ultimate recently, the code will arrive within ten days.
To redeem the code
Go to the Switch’s Eshop, log into the account you want to receive Piranha Plant and navigate to the “Enter Code” tab on the left menu. Type in the code and you’re golden! The code expires June 30, but surely you’ll get to this by then…
Nintendo had a wildly successful December in the U.S., the market research company NPD said on Wednesday. Both Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the Switch hardware itself sold in quantities that could legitimately be called “record-breaking.” Nintendo’s dream of selling Wii-like quantities of the Switch is looking more likely today—and it didn’t have to have a Wii Fit or a Wii Sports to get there.
While the data-tracking analysts of NPD don’t release specific sales numbers to the public (they’re locked behind an expensive paywall), they do share some relative statistics each month. December is usually the biggest month of the year for console sales, and Nintendo sold more Switches last month than any game machine has ever sold in a December this generation, NPD said.
That means PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or even 3DS at its peak never had a December this big. In fact, you have to go back to December 2010, when Nintendo sold a whopping 2.5 million Nintendo DS systems, to find a higher December sales figure.
Even more beyond expectations was the blasting-out-of-the-gate success of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which released on December 7. First, let’s look at the top 20 best-selling games for the entire year (by dollars, not units), as reported by NPD:
Red Dead Redemption II
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4^
Madden NFL 19^
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
Far Cry 5
God of War 2018
Monster Hunter: World
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Grand Theft Auto V
Mario Kart 8*
Super Mario Odyssey*
Call of Duty: WWII^
Dragon Ball: Fighterz
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
Super Mario Party*
Pokemon: Lets Go Pikachu*
*Digital sales not included ^Digital PC sales not included
In less than 30 days on shelves, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate became the fifth best-selling game of 2018 in the U.S. That’s staggering—more so when you consider, as NPD pointed out in its report, that the figure does not include download sales, but it’s being matched up against figures that do take them into account.
NPD didn’t release the exact sales number for Smash, but it gave us enough to roughly figure it out. It said that Ultimate exceeded the launch month sales of Super Smash Bros. Brawl by over 70 percent. Since that number is known (2.7 million), we can add 70 percent to it to get rough first-month sales for Ultimate at a little over 4.5 million units—again, not counting download sales.
In fact, Ultimate’s debut was, NPD said, the best launch month for a console-exclusive game in “video game history.” The strength of the Switch overall also boosted the sales of its major games, sending 2017 games Mario Kart 8, Breath of the Wild, and Super Mario Odyssey into 2018’s top 20. Overall, NPD said, Nintendo made more money on software than any other publisher this year, a feat it hadn’t achieved since—you guessed it—the salad days of Wii, in 2009.
Wii ended up selling over 100 million units, all told. It’s hardly a sure thing that Switch will get there, but it’s well on the way.
What’s interesting about this success is that Nintendo achieved it with Mario, and Smash, and Zelda, and Pokemon. The successes of Wii and DS were thanks to Nintendo’s canny “blue ocean” appeal to casual players, lapsed players, your mom, et cetera. It was games like Wii Fit and Brain Age that were tearing up the charts. That meant that Nintendo’s software library on Wii ended up leaning pretty heavily towards trying to find that next big casual hit (hello, 30-minute Wii Music presentation at E3) and was ambivalent at best about core games.
Nintendo has tried to find a casual hit on Switch, first with 1-2 Switch and this year with Labo. But neither of these took off. Instead, these millions and millions of hardware units that Nintendo is selling are to people who appreciate open-world Zelda and 3D Mario. And Nintendo knows that if it wants to keep selling software to these people, it’s going to have to make more of the things they want. If these are the sorts of games you want from Nintendo, then Switch’s success is good for you.
This is not to say that Nintendo won’t keep trying to swim into that blue ocean again for Switch. When one of these novel experiments does catch on, it opens up a whole new profit stream. Now that core Nintendo fans are making Switch a huge success, that means Nintendo can safely invest in games for them, too.
Nintendo’s removal of the “taunt” option in Smash Ultimate online play has sparked an outbreak of one of gaming’s most notorious behaviors: teabagging.
In Nintendo’s latest Smash game, players can’t use their fighters’ taunts when they’re playing online in Quick Play mode. In all other modes, the taunt move is typically mapped to the D-pad, and deploys custom animations for each fighter: Donkey Kong beating his chest, Ganondorf cracking his knuckles, Captain Falcon saluting and saying, “Show me your moves!” Players taunt after taking an enemy’s stock to rub it in, or to provoke a hot-headed attack in a stand-off. With no taunts available in online play, some players have resorted to a multiplayer gaming mainstay that, before now, was a rare sight throughout two decades of Smash Bros. games.
In a fifth of my Smash Ultimate online games, my opponent teabags after taking a stock from me. Others I’ve talked to, including friends and frequenters of Smash subreddits, say they’ve seen teabagging in half of their Quick Play online matches. At first, this bewildered me. Smash, a family-friendly Nintendo game that doesn’t even have blood, felt like a strange and incongruous context for that sort of wanton insult. Yet through the past few weeks that I’ve encountered teabagging—even once at an IRL Smash tournament—I’ve come to see how it’s woven itself into the game’s metaplay.
Explaining teabagging to a large audience is probably someone’s definition of hell, but it’s not mine, so here goes. Teabagging is a performative sex act that supposedly originated in Baltimore’s gay nightclub scene. It involves squatting and putting one’s testicles onto another person’s forehead. For the past twenty years, since the early days of first-person shooters like Counter-Strike and Quake, gamers have been maneuvering their avatars to do a simulated version of the teabag in virtual spaces by vigorously crouching up and down. Usually it goes down over an opponent’s knocked-out body. Later, when teabagging migrated over to fighting games, players would do the rapid-crouch from far away.
What does teabagging mean, though? Kotaku editor Maddy Myers interviewed pro gamers about what inspires them to teabag, and while some said they see it as a good-natured teasing among friends, others said they use it to make opponents crack, or get tilted. For those pros, it’s dirty. It’s mean. But it’s a little funny, too—not laugh-out-loud funny, but lul-funny—depending on who you are.
Teabagging is also controversial. It’s been banned from Killer Instinct tournaments. Last year, after one Overwatch pro teabagged another player who was on a less winning team that eventually went 0-40, live fans in the audience booed. Regardless of context or intent, some people consider teabagging to always be mean-spirited, chauvinistic and nefarious. Others get a big kick out of it, or, more cold-heartedly, make use of it as a demonstration of grit and cheek and arrogance—the equivalent of hanging on the rim after dunking the basketball.
On Twitter in 2017, Killer Instinct’s lead designer Adam “Keits” Heart had some strong words in favor of teabagging: “Fighting games are psychology. Disrespecting your opponent can be a psychological play. A ban for taunting removes [an] important human aspect . . . It already has a gameplay purpose because it can inflict psychological damage. The line is drawn outside of the game, not inside of it.”
About a month ago, I was in a too-close-to-call battle against a random Link player in Smash Ultimate. It was tight, my GameCube controller was getting a little moist, and although I was ahead by one stock, I had a lot of damage on me. I made a mistake, though, and neglected to dodge their powerful smash attack. I lost my lead. That’s when he teabagged.
In Smash, your opponent is off-stage when they’re dead. That means you can’t crouch over their virtual corpse, which is the traditional way to teabag in first-person shooters. Link was rapidly bouncing up and down in the corner of the stage. Despite playing lots of first-person shooters, and being an open advocate for good-spirited trash talking, I was pretty shocked. It’s Smash, for God’s sake—it’s basically a G-rated WrestleMania show of video game’s cutest critters, plus Bayonetta. The teabag threw me off. I’ll even say it tilted me. So you can bet that when I knocked him off stage, sure he would never come back, I teabagged in return. He eventually did come back and, I’m reluctant to admit, beat me. I left that match feeling pretty bad. I had never teabagged in another game. But here I was, doing it in the Loony Toons of fighting games.
Smash Ultimate players have been at odds with each other about the recent rise of teabagging in the game.
Crayon_Shin-Chan, who had commented on a teabagging thread in a Smash subreddit, further explained their stance in a direct message, saying that teabagging is okay in Quick Play games but only in certain situations. “People who defend teabagging often cite something like, ‘Well when I get an amazing combo or kill I want to call attention to it.’ And actually, I agree. If you perform some unique combo string into a kill or successfully pull off a risky offstage play, I’d say you earned your teabag recognition,” they wrote, adding, “However, the unfortunate part is that I more often see it used for when the opponent plays poorly. Accidental SD [self destruct], teabag. Repeatedly get caught in the same attack, tea bag.”
One other player, who goes by Nitrogen467 on the subreddit, told me that they really don’t like the increase in teabagging. “It feels unsportsmanlike,” they said. One other, KippyKinz, who plays Ganondorf, said they teabag when their opponent picks Ganondorf too as “a show of respect to each other for playing Ganondorf.”
Nearly everyone I spoke with told me they think it’s happening so much because taunting is disabled in these games. “Understand that we just want to communicate in online matches, but we’re just left with crouching which can make the online experience very frustrating. I hope that Nintendo can trust us to taunt online instead of leaving us frustrated with wondering whether our opponent is t-bagging to disrespect or just say ‘that was crazy,’” said user KittyDerpKat.
It’s difficult to interpret what a teabag means in Smash online. Is it “I’m the shit”? Is it “You suck”? “That was hype”? “U mad”? Some combination of the four? Regardless, I have found myself doing it more and more in online matches, often without thinking. Maybe I’ve just spiked someone. Or successfully punished an overly bold attack of theirs that missed. I’m not immune to feeling myself, and without more direct ways to convey it, the easiest thing to do is flip that joystick.
Since picking up this habit in the past few weeks, I have felt every possible feeling about it. Retroactively, I’d tell myself I was doing it ironically. It’s a meme, I would say to myself. It’s not teabagging-teabagging. It’s just saying “ha-ha.” It’s totally detached from whatever was happening in Baltimore clubs in the ‘90s, and even from the Halo bros of the ‘00s. Opponents wouldn’t take it literally. For my online opponents, of course, there’s no way to tell. I don’t want to be a jerk, but I do want my opponent to understand, in their heart of hearts, that I’m a competitive person and they are a spec of unlucky dust particle. Unlike at brick-and-mortar Killer Instinct tournaments, nobody knows what you mean by your teabag when you’re playing against strangers online, for whom you’re just a feverishly bouncing username attached to the protagonist of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
I’m still undecided on whether squatting up and down in Smash Ultimate is a bit of stupid fun or a throwback to an increasingly passe and arguably shitty breed of gamer behavior. While I am a big believer in the mind game—one tentacle of the all-encompassing experience of getting owned and owning others—disrespect isn’t a crucial part of the equation. Taunts are great because they treat opponents to adorable animations or corny voice lines while also insulting them. Pre-written messages are fine, too, because at least your opponent knows what you’re reacting to. Without established channels of communication, Smash Ultimate online players, myself included, are resorting to an ineffective and wholly ambiguous style of mind game.
I asked my buddy Dave for some feedback on my newfound teabagging habit. Last weekend, during some Smash Ultimate games, I had shocked him by impulsively teabagging after stealing a stock. Dave usually beats me at Smash, and, on top of practicing combos for hours on end, he also relies heavily on making me feel very small and inane with his words and actions. So I was curious to hear how he reacted to the teabagging. “Haha, confusion,” he responded to my text. “You did it so slowly. I couldn’t tell if it was an accident.” He continued, burying me deeper into the Earth, “It was like…. duck…. duck…..”.
Anyone who knows will tell you that it’s always better when it’s personal.