Thursday, December 14

Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Introducing Competitive Play

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Introduction to competitive Brawl

Brawl is a fighting game. And as its predecessor Melee, it is played competitively in tournaments under tournament rules to be fair and fun. For the basics of brawl, I suggest you look elsewhere, as this article is for those who know the game and want to become better. For the sake of it however, I will mention that the goal of brawl is to hit your opponent off the stage and out of the screen at the top, bottom or one of the sides. In general, brawl is played as a party game, with a bunch of items, wierd stages, 4 players and as much chaos and fun as possible, but these matches are more often than not determined by chance more than by skill. Which is a lot of fun naturally, but for those who play to win and to become better it can get a bit frustrating. 
       Fortunately there’s another way to play brawl for those of us who feel this way:

Brawl Tournament Rules:

No items
Team attack on

“No items” generally mean no (or at least less) random surprises. “3 stock” means 3 lives, giving several opportunities to turn a match around. A maximum time limit of “8 minutes” enhances aggressive play, as there is little point in dragging the time out. “Team attack on” is for team battles. A tournament match is played as a best of 3, best of 5 or best of 7 games, all with the rules above. 

Tournament Stages

In addition to the tournament rules above, there are rules about stages. The first game, will be played at one of the Starters, randomly picked among them, or agreed upon by both players. The loser of the first game picks the next stage, and can choose among both the Starters and the Counterpicks to find a stage he thinks will suit him/her better. The loser of the next game picks next, and so on. These stages are generally accepted as Starters and Counterpicks, but this is of course up to each tournament arranger to decide. 


Final Destination
Yoshi’s Island


Delfino Plaza
Pirate Ship
Pokemon Stadium
Pokemon Stadium 2
Rainbow Cruise
Jungle Japes
Frigate Orpheon

Example Match

2 players, no items, 3-stock, 8 minute limit, team attack on and best of 3. Flip coin on who is to start. The one who starts picks character, and then the second player. Players decide on a starter stage or go random among them. Play first game. Player 1 loses. Player 2 picks his character for game 2, then player 1 chooses first character then stage among counterpicks and starters. Player 2 loses. Score is 1-1. Player 1 chooses character for final game and then player 2 picks character and stage. Winner takes the match.

Being competitive

  • Balance

Brawl has 35 unique characters all with different move sets and unique abilities and naturally some are better than others. Some characters have advantages over others, who again have advantages over others again. Balance is always a question with fighing games. Is the game balanced? Are there some characters that in general are better than others? Can you win on skill alone, or is victory or loss determined even before the game has begun?

Wether Brawl has balance or not, and what we could want better, will not be adressed here, as it is a heavily discussed in all forums concerning Brawl. In my opinion I will say that Brawl is a balanced game with much depth and where skill is highly relevant where victory or loss is concerned.

  • Depth

A competitive fighting game needs depth. Depth means that there are many things to explore and to learn in addition to the obvious moves. Depth is when you can still gain skill after having played the game for weeks, months and even years. Depth makes the space between skilled players and newbies who play for fun wider. And finally, depth is what keep players returning to the game and keep them hungering to learn more and to play better.

Brawl’s predecessor melee, is known particularly for its depth and enormous replay value. Even years after its release, techniques were still found, and some of them had huge impact on the gameplay. Brawl has been criticized for lacking in depth, but still techs are discovered and new tricks and tactics are under constant development. Brawl came in 2008 and still has a long future ahead. 

Brawl is in my opinion a strong competitve game with high replay value, relatively good balance and a LOT of fun. Facing off your favorite nintendo characters in a fighting game is just too good of a concept to pass by without notice. A game definitely worth buying, and definitely a game you’ll spend hours in front of. 

It’s fun to play a game just for the laughs, but it gets even better if you get good and can take the fun to a higher level. I will return with more articles on how to play certain characters and include some advanced techniques that could be worth implementing.


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