Princess Peach is powerful and not to be messed with in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. But I never expected that she was secretly carrying an assault rifle. Yet that’s what fans found when they dug around the files of Brawl.
YouTuber Oddheader recently released a video showcasing some secrets in video games that players and fans were never meant to find. Yet people found these secrets anyways because people have too much free time, I guess. Like the assault rifle in Brawl. It is a small icon that can be found in the game files for Peach. It is never used in the game, but I like to think Peach has it just in case. She is fighting people like Solid Snake and a giant monkey. Having a gun might be useful.
Another odd discovery is some hidden animations in Halo 2 featuring the Master Chief flipping off the camera while holding dual SMGs. That Master Chief fella is such a grumpy soldier.
The full video has more secrets that players have found. I wonder how many developers see stuff like this and suddenly realize that secret mistake or code they left in one of their old games might not be as hidden as they thought.
The next batch of Mii costumes heading to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be headlined by good skeleton boy Sans from Undertale, the hit indie RPG that was ported to Switch a little over a year ago.
This announcement came during a special presentation after this evening’s Nintendo Direct. Super Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai detailed upcoming guest fighters Banjo & Kazooie and revealed some of the new content players can look forward to when Super Smash Bros. Ultimate updates later today.
In addition to Sans and a new arrangement of the iconic “Megalovania” theme from Undertale creator Toby Fox, the update will feature outfits that turn the customizable Mii Fighters into Mystical Ninja’s Goemon, Pokémon antagonists Team Rocket, and Mega Man franchise anti-heroes Proto Man and Zero.
It will also include a Home Run Contest mode, in case you want to whack a sandbag with a baseball bat while wearing any or all of these new costumes.
“Who the hell is Terry?” thousands of Super Smash Bros. fans all asked in unison just one moment ago. Well, according to Nintendo, he’s your next Smash fighter! Also, you know, a 30-year-old video game character from another well-respected franchise.
Today’s Nintendo Direct brought news of the fourth highly anticipated Smash fighter. Terry Bogard is a macho-man American from Fatal Fury, a fighting game first developed by SNK in 1991. Although he’s been around for three decades, he’s not as well-known as, say, Goku or Waluigi, just as some random examples.
When news leaked earlier this week that the next fighter could be from an SNK title, across channels for Smash fandom, a resounding Huh? could be heard. There would only be one more mystery Smash fighter after this one, they believed, so the stakes were high. Thankfully, Nintendo just told us that they’re making more Smash DLC than the previously-announced six total, including the three already in the game, Terry, Banjo & Kazooie and one more mystery fighter. The news should soften the blow for the haters.
We don’t know much about how Terry plays yet, but we do know he’s coming to Smash in November. On the bright side, Banjo & Kazooie are coming to the game tonight.
Super Smash Con, a Super Smash Bros. tournament and convention, has announced they will no longer be permitting a controversial competitor to attend the event in Chantilly, Virginia this weekend due to his alleged history of causing trouble in the community, which includes a recent incident at a tournament in Florida.
Super Smash Con has steadily grown into one of the most important Super Smash Bros. tournaments of the year since being established in 2015. The event regularly features competition in every official Smash game, as well as side events like the Super Smash Bros. 64 combo contest, and this year the event surpassed 3,000 attendees for the first time in its relatively short history. When pool assignments were released, however, several players noticed James “Osiris197” Grolig was going to be in attendance. Some began sharing their misgivings about him on social media.
Players described Grolig’s past behavior in various terms, ranging from him supposedly doing “dumb stuff” to harassment. The most recent incident involving Grolig was a physical altercation at the Florida-based fighting game tournament Community Effort Orlando. During a confrontation with fellow competitor Michael “RiotLettuce” Heilman, Grolig threw a punch, forcing event staff to break up the two attendees and escort Grolig out of the tournament. Both players made statements online about the fight afterwards, and although neither seemed to agree on who started it, Grolig did acknowledge wrongdoing and partially blamed his actions on alcohol. He then promised to restrict his drinking at future events.
When Heilman realized Grolig would be attending this year’s Super Smash Con, he reached out to the organization for a response. He shared an alleged screenshot of his private conversation with Super Smash Con on Twitter earlier today that indicated the event would allow Grolig to attend but that he would be subject to a “very strict one-strike policy” to keep him in line. Kotaku has not been able to verify this information with Super Smash Con itself, but Grolig has confirmed to Kotaku that this was the deal he was given since he had already booked travel arrangements.
This proved to be an unpopular decision. Top player Jestise “MVD” Negron publicly called Super Smash Con’s ruling “garbage,” and several members of the community reacted similarly, asking the tournament to rethink its decision to allow Grolig to attend. It only took an hour for the Super Smash Con organizers to release a further statement on Twitter explaining that they would be reversing their original decision. This move that seemed to please previous detractors.
“[James “Osiris197” Grolig] will no longer be attending Super Smash Con 2019,” the message reads. “Safety of our attendees is the absolute priority. We have heard your feedback on how his presence will make many attendees feel unsafe, which is the last thing we want as an event.”
Speaking to Kotaku, Grolig said he understands Super Smash Con’s decision and doesn’t blame them for having to do what they did. That said, he also explained that he feels his ongoing punishment for previous incidents is “excessive and ridiculous.”
“I’ve already been disciplined by my college for what happened at Community Effort Orlando,” he continued. “I’ve had to enroll in rehab and therapy sessions and have done a few already. I was suspended from a school team and banned from everything within 200 miles of me. I would not even think about doing anything to stir up issues or draw attention to myself at this point, too much has been lost over stupid and unnecessary decisions by me. I was not planning to drink or get involved with anything like that whatsoever at Super Smash Con. I just wanted to compete, top my past major placement, and see my friends.”
Attendee safety has been a major concern at fighting game tournaments since the tragic shooting at a Madden event in Florida. Many major events have instituted bag checks, and some have gone as far as to set up metal detectors to screen attendees before they enter the venue. Last year, the organizers of SoCal Regionals at one point decided that they were even going to ask players to unscrew and open their arcade stick peripherals so that staffers could check inside of them. That policy ended up getting reversed before the event.
Grolig ended his statement by saying that he doesn’t believe people are “genuinely” scared of him but that they are calling for his banning out of spite. “I don’t know at what point that stops,” he concluded.
Today, Smash daddy Masahiro Sakurai announced that Dragon Quest’s Hero fighter will arrive in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate today as part of the version 4.0 update.
The Heroes, referred to as “Hero” in-game, are from Dragon Quest XI S, Dragon Quest III, Dragon Quest IV,and Dragon Quest VIII—each expressed as different skins for the base fighter. Along with them, six Dragon Quest songs are coming to Smash, including two from each released game, as well as a Dragon Quest stage called Yggdrasil’s Altar.
Players can buy the fighter pack for $5.99 when it’s online today, Sakurai announced in a video this morning:
Also announced today in the 4.0 update, fighters’ final smash meters now have a time limit. “That will make it harder to use your attack range to play a waiting game,” Sakurai explained. Smash Ultimate’s adventure mode is getting a “very easy” difficulty, too, and now, players in “spectator mode” can bet on who they think will win in exchange for points.
Lastly, Smash Ultimate is getting an online tournament mode. Finally. And yet, in proper Smash online fashion, it seems a little wonky: The rulesets will change periodically.
After Hero, Smash players will get the long-awaited Banjo & Kazooie this fall. Then, there are just two unannounced mystery fighters left. Perhaps one of them is Goku-shaped?
The most recent Super Smash Bros. Ultimate update addressed a number of concerns in the competitive community, most notably the strength of characters like Captain Olimar. The developers hit the Pikmin protagonist with a number of changes in order to knock him down a peg, but those changes had the side effect of severely limiting his ability to block incoming attacks.
Captain Olimar has received a ton of animosity for his advantages in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Much of his strength in previous versions of the game revolved around his small frame, which made it hard for opposing players to land attacks. The game’s ver.3.1.0 patch, which dropped late last week, addressed this by enlarging his hurtbox, or the space around his model that tells the game he’s been hit. As you can see in the comparison images below, this change made the hurtbox around Olimar’s helmet significantly bigger.
Pichu, another character who has found success in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate competition thanks in part to her small frame, also received a hurtbox adjustment, but with one key difference: the size of her shield was also increased to compensate for the Pokémon’s increased vulnerability. Unfortunately for Olimar players, the intrepid space captain wasn’t given the same consideration, which has proven to be devastating for his defensive options.
Like almost every aspect of the Super Smash Bros. franchise, blocking works a little differently in these games than it does in most other fighting games. By holding the block button, players can surround their chosen characters with a protective bubble known as a shield. This bubble shrinks in size over time and also when it’s attacked by an opponent, reducing its effectiveness. At a shield’s maximum size, it should block most attacks outright, but as it gets smaller, players can utilize what is known as a shield poke to attack the vulnerable portions of an opponent’s character that are no longer inside the protective bubble. There are exceptions—condolences to Mr. Game & Watch in Super Smash Bros. Melee—but, generally, a character with a maximum shield shouldn’t be able to get hit.
That is where things have now gotten precarious for Captain Olimar. With an increased hurtbox but no such expansion on his shield, slivers of his vulnerable bits are constantly sticking out of the bubble’s protective space. The competitive community was quick to pick up on this discrepancy and has produced a mountain of evidence of how this negatively affects Olimar’s ability to mount a capable defense, some of which comes from actual tournament play.
Another technique known as shield tilting, which allows players to shift the shield to other portions of a character’s body to cover an exposed hurtbox, has been raised as a possible solution for Captain Olimar players who have suddenly found themselves without a viable shield, but that still poses the problem of making the lower half of his body vulnerable. And what happens when the shield shrinks? Should players even bother blocking at that point? This is an obvious oversight by Nintendo, and many fans think this is a step too far, even the players in the competitive community who had formerly been calling for Olimar nerfs.
Where one stands on the latest Super Smash Bros. Ultimate patch has a lot to do with what you value in competition. There’s no doubt that characters like Captain Olimar, Pichu, Peach, Daisy, and others were very strong before this patch, but it remains to be seen how the extensive changes made to these top tier characters will affect tournaments moving forward. Olimar’s shield issues, however, fly directly in the face of basic game mechanics that have existed for 20 years, hobbling a character who, while powerful, doesn’t deserve to be removed from competition entirely due to hamstrung defensive options. Here’s hoping the developers fix this oversight in the next patch.
Ian Walker loves fighting games and loves writing about them even more. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.
The Nintendo Switch is a terrific machine for playing video games with friends, for reasons that at this point have been expressed ad nauseam: It’s ridiculously versatile, portable, and not too intimidating. Cliche as they are, those reasons are also true: If I throw a party that segues into video games, odds are we’re going to play something on Switch. This means the Switch and its Joy-Con controller are going to get passed around a lot, or used with a vigor that they don’t normally see from my chill zen solo sessions on, say, a Greyhound bus, or in bed as I wind down for the night.
Like a lot of modern video game machines, the Switch has a button that lets you take photos built right into its left Joy-Con. Unlike a lot of modern game consoles, the Switch’s screenshot button is extremely easy for my friends to hit by mistake.
This means I have a lot of screenshots like this.
Know where this is from? It’s a screenshot from Beach Flag, one of the many minigames in 1-2 Switch!, the party game that launched alongside the console in March 2017. I don’t even think you had to push a button to play this one? Oh well, the thing was brand new. No one knew what they were doing.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is another great source of accidental screenshots, mostly thanks to handing the Switch over to folks who didn’t know what any of the buttons did. Which probably explains this poorly composed shot of Link atop a tower.
Or this screenshot of the menu? I get it. The button’s there. What are you going to do, not push it?
But here’s the real reason this is a problem: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If you have Smash on your Switch, you probably have a load of screenshots like this.
Just loads of ‘em.
All the time.
I have so many accidental Smash screenshots on my Switch, it’s hard to remember a time that I ever took them on purpose. None of them are even all that serendipitous! You’d think at least one would catch something cool happening, but nope. Just this shot of whoever played Ice Climbers getting hit by Marth. They probably had it coming, to be honest.
There’s also this, which doesn’t look like a Smash screenshot, but I’m pretty sure it is, thanks to the right Joy-Con having the home button on it where the left’s share button is, making it equally easy to press. Since this isn’t the home screen, I think it took everyone a minute to realize what happened. I’m just glad no one deleted anything.
“We used to have the perception he didn’t care,” said Super Smash Bros. pro Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios at Nintendo’s first tournament for Smash Ultimate last year. “He,” of course, was game director Masahiro Sakarai, the Smashdaddy himself, who was watching from the sidelines. Barrios had just won a glistening crystalline trophy, and holding it in one hand, he continued: “Obviously that’s not true.”
Nintendo has always leaned into a come-as-you-are marketing strategy for Super Smash Bros., which a hard emphasis on high-level competition can run against. Smash, said Sakurai years ago, needs to be novice-friendly first and foremost. Yet in the year since that tournament, held in a former burlesque theater in downtown Los Angeles, Nintendo has slowly been rolling out more Nintendo-sanctioned Smash tournaments, including one slated for E3 on June 8. They’re a little weird, though, as far as Smash tournaments go. They have items. They’re governed by strange rulesets and competed in by some relatively unknown players. As an independent and hugely popular competitive Smash scene roils on in the foreground with little help from Nintendo, the big question surrounding these official tournaments is simple: Why now?
“Obviously with something like Smash, there are already a ton of tournaments out there,” said Bill Trinen, Nintendo of America’s senior product marketing manager in an interview with Kotaku. “We’re trying to find ways to make it easier for people who are everyday Smash players to get a taste of participating in tournaments.”
In 2019, as big game publishers like Blizzard are salivating over the #esportshype and rolling out hundred-million-dollar leagues, Nintendo is swerving. Let’s not forget they’re the company that looked around at all of its VR-obsessed competitors and decided to release its own line of cardboard “make believe” gaming accessories. Their plan with these sporadic official tournaments isn’t to replace or overshadow Smash’s pro scene. “We want to keep the grassroots base community healthy and sustainable and the way we want to do that is to bring in fresh blood,” said Trinen. Essentially, he wants to leverage Nintendo’s brand to nourish Smash’s player-driven esports ecosystem.
Nintendo has had a fraught relationship to Smash’s fierce competitive community for about a decade. For the most part, Nintendo ignored the contingent of Smash fans who, like an on-task ant colony, carried many times’ their weight in organizing tournament circuits, prize pools and artists alleys for fan-made Smash merch. On one hand, it wasn’t an issue; Smash’s esports scene was organic and hype, even for all of its relative messiness without the polished treatment of a big-money developer. On the other hand, pros wanted to make some damn money for all their hard work, which, some argue, helps extend Smash’s mainstream relevance. Some even considered unionizing.
“We don’t view ourselves as really even now dipping our toe into esports,” said Trinen, following that up with a bit of a marketer’s rhetorical spin: “I think our approach is less of one of competition and it’s really more about the competitive fun.”
In a way, Nintendo’s tournaments feel a little like your dad throwing you the sort of birthday party he thinks you’d want. It’s got most of your friends, including beloved Smash commentators and a couple pros. It’s got all the glitz and glam. But weirdly, he’s set up pinatas (Smash Balls, in this metaphor) and other games you haven’t played seriously since you were little (2 vs. 2 timed battles in the upcoming E3 tournament). It’s fun and you’re grateful—it’s just not what you and your buddies might do on your own.
Trinen says Nintendo is trying to bridge the gap between ardent Smash fans and the pro community (who have their own idiosyncrasies). They don’t allow items in tournaments, and each game is a stock battle that must take place on a tournament-legal stage. “We want to bring the casual Smash player into the competitive scene and the existing competitive community,” he said, citing how over 60 percent of 10,000 players participating in online qualifiers for the last official Smash tournament had never played in a tournament before. Nintendo’s upcoming E3tournament will still be inundated with items, and split between 1 vs. 1 and 2 vs. 2 matches—sometimes timed and sometimes stock. It’s a more mellow vibe, and it’s to be seen whether it whets players’ palates for a weekly local tournament at their nearest card shop.
“We don’t want to compete with the competitive scene,” said Trinen when I asked what the thinking is behind Nintendo’s tournament ruleset. “We’re using items on partially to differentiate from what the competitive scene is doing and partially to make it easier for a more casual audience to approach.”
Lately, there’s a lot that Nintendo has been doing to appease its competitive fans on top of these tournaments. Commentators like Victoria “VikkiKitty” Perez and Phil “EE” Breezy are getting gigs from the publisher. Yet when I asked whether there’s a future for aged-out pro Smash players among Nintendo’s salaried ranks, Trinen politely answered, maybe, for people with the right skillset, but hopefully they can pursue streaming or YouTube content creation. Similarly, Nintendo now issues detailed patch notes for Smash, which means pros aren’t meticulously picking apart the game for any iota of insight they can find. Yet according to Trinen, while developers “look at general trends in the competitive scene” when balancing the game, “I wouldn’t necessarily say they’re tailoring the game for one particular audience of another.” It’s a tightrope act, I gathered.
Nintendo is smartly finding ways to funnel newer fans into Smash’s already-existent network of competitive players and the infrastructure they’ve hammered out over the last decade. New blood’s closeness to the Smash gods at these tournaments will inflame their ambition to one day sit among them. The competitive mindset stokes their passion and, importantly for a game with slow-release DLC, invites them to continually buy in. And relative to the Riot Games and Blizzards of the world, it won’t cost them a whole lot.
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
I’ve begun to think of my weekly, local Super Smash Bros. tournament as a sort of doctor’s appointment for my ego.
Regulars tell me that it’s normal to just win one or two games at these things, yet selection bias mandates that the people who attend a lot tend to be confident that they’re really, really good or that they’re on the pathway there. The only way to learn, the wisdom goes, is to get pummeled over and over by people better than you until—through smarts or osmosis or telepathy—you identify and absorb why they win. Better yet, they might just tell you to your face.
I met a guy at one of these things whom I’ll refer to as “Inkling senpai.” He and I main the same Super Smash Bros. fighter—Splatoon’s Inkling—except he’s on another level. He always places third or fourth in the total standings, beaten only by possessed Smash players whom I assume sacrificed something to some demon.
He’s also all about feedback, always offering it in an upbeat tone with a lot of smiles and encouragement. “You need to throw an ink bomb every time your opponent is off-stage,” he told me once. “You’re not adapting; you’re being predictable.” Once, he said, “I downloaded you.”
I graciously accept Inkling senpai’s feedback and do my best to hold it in the top of my mind even while, on the ground floor of my brain, my impulses are firing off faster than I can consciously keep track. Slowly, I honed my back-airs and edge-guarding until my toolkit became more menacing. I’ll fling an ink bomb off-stage and, sometimes, it’ll knock the opponent into the ether, earning me a win. Last night, I placed fourth.
In my experience, competitive gaming meetups are one of the only venues where people (complete strangers, even) give each other clear, cut-and-dried feedback. Not just the basics like “you suck” or “great job”—thoughtful analyses of what you’re doing and whether it’s getting you where you want to be. In other situations in life, people might not give it to you straight. If you really flubbed your lines in the school play, your parents might say that it wasn’t even noticeable. When your going-out outfit is too much, your friends might laugh, telling you, “What a look!”
I’ll never forget when, at my first Magic: The Gathering tournament, an opponent who had just beaten me meticulously and tonelessly pointed out every single bad move I made before taking my deck in his hand and pulling out the cards he thought weren’t helping. At first, I was offended, sorting some of them back into my deck. That’s not a normal thing to do, I thought, even though he clearly meant no harm. Then, as I moved to sit across from my next opponent, I remembered some of his advice—leaving my mana untapped until after the attack phase—and ended up beguiling this new challenger into my first win. It’s hard to say whether the stranger was right to offer unsolicited feedback, but it’s arguable that, just by entering the tournament space, he and I shared the same goal of improving. In the end, I left the hobby shop that day with a score that made me proud.
Rare are the circumstances where nearly everybody in a given room is there to grow, sincerely and whole-heartedly. It’s like living through a montage training scene in a shonen anime, but real life includes all the mundane feedback that the video editing skips over. You have to put aside your ego, and so does whoever’s offering counsel. Feedback can be as toneless as your doctor checking your blood pressure, as thoughtful as your best friend telling you that going blonde would clash with your wardrobe.
Then I log onto Overwatch, a separate realm where unsolicited feedback is king, despite the fact that few people can accurately pinpoint why their team lost. Most of the feedback isn’t helpful, or isn’t coming from a place where that matters. It’s a team-based first-person shooter, so players don’t always have a great vantage point on what their teammates are doing. And because it’s six versus six, a player might not die because they suck; it could be that their healer wasn’t healing well enough, that their tank wasn’t adequately positioned, that their damage-dealer wasn’t taking down their targets. On top of this, Overwatch is an online game. Anonymously and physically distant, players can be needlessly rude without having to see their teammates’ crestfallen faces. Regularly, I hear players elevating “blunt feedback” onto the level of straight-up harassment.
Prescribing rules around feedback is tricky, since it depends on a given person’s tolerance for criticism and personal gaming goals. (Competing online as opposed to in-person, however, does seem to make a difference from an empathy standpoint.) There’s a way to do it with love that makes your gaming community more supportive and more powerful. There’s also a way to do it spitefully, with an overtone of superiority and abuse.
For me, the sweet catharsis of knowing what I did wrong fills my losses with purpose. Just make sure to ask me if I want to know first.
The original Super Smash Bros. released 20 years ago with only 12 characters, leaving many classic Nintendo characters by the wayside until future installments were released. A new hack released over the weekend helps add some more variety by adding Ganondorf.
Created by modder JSsixtyfour and titled “Smash Remix,” the hack swaps the Legend of Zelda boss in for Captain Falcon, since it’s much easier to fill an existing character slot with a new fighter than actually increase the roster. Rather than just re-skinning Falcon with Ganandorf’s model from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Smash Remix introduces an entirely different fighting style, borrowing moves from the character as he appears in later Smash Bros. games.
For example, the Falcon Punch has been replaced with Ganondorf’s Warlock Punch. Falcon’s regular A attack, a rapid flurry of punches, has been replaced with Ganondorf’s electric jab. Things like the character’s speed, weight, size, and how long they float in the air were all re-balanced as well according to JSsixtyfour.
“The plan is to continue to create new characters and potentially add characters instead of being forced to replace current characters on the roster,” they wrote in the description on the hack’s webpage. Since it actually changes the game’s ROM, rather than just being a mod that runs over top, it’s possible to download the hack onto a cartridge and play JSsixtyfour’s Ganondorf in local meetups.
As such, they plan to show it off at a Smash 64 tournament in Houston later this month. While Ganondorf won’t be tournament legal, he’s the latest evidence that old games never really die.