Platform fighters enter the ring!
by Tommy Delp | published on February 11, 2022
illustrations by Alice Benavides, Jess Edwards, Kelly Jin, Emily O’Shea, J Rose Parker and Maggie Wehler
HHave you ever played a “Doom” clone? You know, a game where you use guns and other assorted weapons from the main character’s perspective, collecting items and fighting bad guys?
While modern gamers might use the term first-person shooter to describe such a well-known and well-worn genre, for the first five or so years of its existence it was inextricably bound to the escape game that defined his early days, 1993’s “Doom.”
A video game genre’s journey from singular success to widespread relevance is interesting and unique, no better defined than by one of today’s emerging genres, the platformer fighter.
Trial by Smash
Let’s start by defining what a platformer is. Basically, remove the boxed arena found in traditional fighting games and replace it with a stage made up of various platforms and obstacles.
They are further established by their unique approach to combos and the lack of traditional health and damage mechanics.
Hailey “Teridax” Mott, a fourth-year game design and development student who plays “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” (SSBU) competitively and is also vice president of the RIT Smash Club, sums up those accolades.
“In my opinion, a platform fighter is just a fighting game with more expressive moves,” she said.
The genre was popularized by “Super Smash Bros. (SSB) in 1999, which pitted iconic Nintendo characters, such as Mario and Link, against each other.
The game was an immediate success and would continue to to sell nearly three million copies in the United States alone.
“[SSB] was the first game of its kind. He literally made it up,” Mott said. “There was nothing like it before, and most things followed afterwards.”
For the next decade, much like with “Doom” before it, games of this style would be referred to as “Smash” clones.
This description, however, was considered fair enough by many, as SB’s sequels such as “Super Smash Bros. Melee” (SSBM) and “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” would continue to define the small and niche type of game. SSBM, in particular, would be credited with creating the genre’s intense competitive scene.
A developing scene
Due to the complex movement options and various timing skills associated with platform fighters, the genre’s competitive scene would continue to be a big part of its success.
Even though the majority of gamers continue to play platform fighters for fun at college parties and family events, people like Jake “SaucySus69” Leonardi, another competitive SSBU gamer and president of the RIT Smash Club, appreciate the more challenging aspects of the experience.
“There’s a lot of creativity involved in how you can play these games, and there’s a lot of ways to do things in a platformer with the way the mechanics work,” he said. he declares.
“There’s a lot of creativity involved in how you can play these games, and there’s a lot of ways to do things in a platformer.”
It is in this form that platform fighters have a surprisingly large presence on campus, with RIT Esports having a team for SSBM and SSBU.
Alongside these official teams, RIT Smash Club hosts some of Rochester’s biggest tournaments with many non-RIT participants.
“Smash Club is basically a second family to anyone who loves ‘Smash’ in general,” Leonardi said. “We’re open to everyone at all skill levels, but we’re competitive.”
Just because the games are great doesn’t mean the scene is trouble-free. Nintendo, as the developer of all of the genre’s greatest hits, doesn’t always play well with its competitive fan base.
Although the company has participated in its own tournament-type events in the past, it has primarily used them as marketing tools for its brand and upcoming products.
On the fan side, the company has actively contested and blocked some competitive tournaments.
In a move massively panicked by the community and beyond, Nintendo has hosted a 2020 tournament canceled for using a modified version of SSBM that allowed online play for the old game.
The only reason the mod was used? A global pandemic that required the tournament to be held online.
As the genre has grown, it has been able to expand from its Nintendo roots to something resembling the start of a Golden time.
In the last decade alone, games such as “Brawlhalla” and “Rivals of Aether” have scratched the competitive itch of gamers and welcomed the community of platform fighters to the world. development to treat.
And games such as “PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale” and “Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl” offered authorized lists that could make even SSB blush.
Even better, these new entries in the genre help increase its overall notoriety, which, in turn, leads to more new games.
“Every time we get a new game, it will be played by a lot of existing fans,” Mott said. “But we always see a bunch of new people who maybe haven’t played a game before.”
“Every time we get a new game it will be played by a lot of existing fans, but we always see a bunch of new people who may not have picked up a game before.”
Nintendo is even starting to look like it can finally grasp the special spark of its longtime creation.
In November 2021, the company announcement a partnership with the famous Esports brand, Panda Global, for an officially licensed championship circuit for SSBM and SSBU.
And on the horizon, even more new experiences are waiting to be explored.
This year, “Multiverse” will provide a free-to-play experience using the Warner Bros. character library, and “Fears” will bring exciting indie game fighters to the genre with an unprecedented level of gameplay customization.
With all this excitement, it’s easy to get swallowed up by the idea of just how much money and creative capital is being poured into the modern landscape of platform hunters.
Enduring genres aren’t built on trend-hunters or a multitude of “contents” although. They are built from a dedicated fan base that supports these unique creations with their passion and drive.
Of the community the rig fighters have cultivated, Leonardi said, “Everyone is a little bit degenerate, but nothing is ever super personal. Everyone is there just to have a good time and do what they love.