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Monday, June 16, 2014

Ludwig's Smash-Fest @ Best Buy Experience 2014

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Fun game. Fun times, too.

Here is what y'all have been waiting for: I played Super Smash Bros. 4 at the Smash-Fest @ Best Buy. And it's great. I played as Bowser twice on Wednesday on the Wii U version, and then left. I played as Bowser once on the 3DS version on Saturday, and once on the Wii U version on Saturday. And that's all I got to play.

We got to Best Buy around 2:30 on Wednesday (1.5 hours early) and played at around 4:30.
Got to Best Buy around 10:50 on Saturday (1.16 hours early) and played at 1:10.
But the experience wasn't just the games!

No, there was the delight in waiting in line for hours. Let's compare to last year, shall we? Last year, there were no lines. There was a giant mob-blob. Order was dictated by a mystical sign-up sheet. But it wasn't just one sheet last year, it was a collection of sheets. 'cause there were a lot of people. The mystical collection of sheets were double-sided too. While you were waiting your turn, you could do whatever you wanted. Take a piss, or go eat at one of the stores/restaurants surrounding the Best Buy. Or talk to the locals, observe the game in progress (the mob-blob was situated in front of the one, solitary Wii U demo stand of four games), and film it.

Here? There was no sign-up sheet. Although there's still only one Wii U. There was just a long, winding line. Observe:

That is what happened if you came on time. A double-file or so line that winds across the store and its many aisles. Best Buy employees moved in-store displays of things as both a method of crowd-control and impulse-purchases, from bargain bins to displays of Far Cry 4.

The villain of Far Cry 4, who we deem at KoopaTV as CNN's Anderson Cooper. Notably not causing controversy.

Obviously to get anywhere you had to arrive way before. You can think of it like a mathematical function.

If you came too early, you don't get much advantage in the line and you have to wait that extra time before it starts.
I don't think you care about that, though. You care about the game, don't you? Sure. So unlike last year, since we were in this winding snake, only those who were playing got to see the game being played. Since everyone else was in some far-off location in the store waiting in line. It explains the weird camera angle here:

On Wednesday, we got to play two two-minute FFA matches with four people. It appears Masahiro Sakurai's worries about the game during the Invitational Tournament were not unfounded: It froze in the video above once Greninja did his Final Smash. If it froze during a match, you got to play another match! On Wednesday, while my group was playing, it froze during the loading transition screen. We didn't get another match, unfortunately. Between those two freezes, that means it froze twice in the span of about four games. Here's the only match footage I got, from Wednesday:

The Nintendo person recognized me from Wednesday when I was there on Saturday. It didn't seem like a friendly place to sit around and film things! Anyway, after the matches on Wednesday, we got to take as many souvenirs as we wanted from the table. On Saturday, we only got to pick two. On Wednesday, I got some SPECIAL OFFERS coupons ($20 off select Wii U games, $30 off a new Nintendo console, and 10% off accessories), pre-order slips for the Wii U and 3DS versions of Smash 4, two pins, a Mario Kart 8 flag, and a sticker sheet of two stickers. On Saturday I got an Animal Crossing: New Leaf pamphlet and a Wii Fit U... strap?

Those dollar bills at the top aren't included.
Last year, as you may recall, I got "a (Styrofoam) Luigi hat, a Mario Kart flag, and a Wii U lanyard." Here's a comparison of the flags:

Top: 2014 flag. Bottom: 2013 flag. Over the year, an "8" appeared in the game's title, and the flag grew.
The hat is still the best thing from either year. I actually brought the Kirby-with-the-hat-on to Best Buy on Wednesday. Why? ...Not sure. It impressed a dude, though. Another guy didn't like that the hat clearly doesn't fit Kirby.

So, Super Smash Bros. 4. While we were waiting in line on Saturday, this Nintendo person with this belt with two 3DS XLs attached to it via cords appeared. There was no such person on Wednesday.

I took this with my 3DS's camera 'cause it's less suspicious that way.
The 3DS demo, by default, was you vs. three level three CPUs in a two-minute time match. You first get to play in a You vs. Sandbag environment until you decide to start. I decided to instead do a Bowser vs. level 9 CPU Bowser fight. I thought maybe I could learn more about Bowser from the CPU! ...Not really. I beat it 2 KOs to 1 Fall. I managed to clash forward-tilts with the CPU Bowser, and when you do that, both players kind of back up a bit in surprise, which means that clashes = a lot of end lag. I didn't see the new ledge mechanic at all.

The 3DS version looks great. Like a lot of 3DS games (not Yoshi's New Island, which looks like shit no matter where you look at it), screenshots don't do it justice. Heck, 30 frames-per-seconds YouTube clips don't do it justice since this baby is 60! It controls... um... Okay. Not amazing.

They forced the Wii U Pro Controller on us for the Wii U controller. That thing is universally hated by everyone who tried it. I am SO thankful that we'll be getting GCN controllers to play the Wii U controller. The Pro Controller is not made for fighting games, while the GameCube controller basically is. While I was playing, I was basically talking to the crowd about why would Nintendo abandon such a perfectly good controller design just to take an inferior one from Microsoft. Everyone was surprised by how light the thing was, but I spent the two matches on Wednesday just trying to focus on the controls. The button-shape on the Pro Controller is just so different than the GCN controller! I even tried to instinctively Smash-DI (directional influence) with where the C-Stick would be if it was a GameCube controller, but there was nothing there so my finger kind of just swiped the air. (Also Smash-DI isn't in the game.) So for anyone asking me about game mechanics, sorry. I'll just repeat the same "faster than Brawl, slower than Melee" thing everyone else says. But the Wii U version is really bright, colourful, and great. That's a common sentiment.

In the second game on Wednesday, my Bowser got the Smash Ball to the crowd's cheer. To my dismay, Giga Bowser didn't have Bowser's new moves. He's the same one from Brawl. I even taunted with Giga Bowser, and same taunts and same posture too.

The demo had no audio, so I can't comment on that. I really wanted to hear the music, too. I played on only Battlefield and Town & City between my four matches. I would've tried to ask for other places, but since there's no audio, then there is no reason to play on the Punch-Out!! stage, for example. Clearly, casual players would rather play on stages with little-to-no hazards if they only get two minutes to play the game. You know, the same behaviour as non-casual players!

On Saturday, my one Wii U match was Bowser (in "super-saiyan" colour) vs. two Links and one Zelda. I got five KOs and one Fall, and some guy in the crowd (the dudes who would play after me) whispered that I'm a Bowser pro. So Bowser is obviously great in FFAs. He's a lot faster than the previous games, thanks to him running on his feet instead of skidding. This affects both his movement speed and his dash speed. People talk a lot about how Smash 4 has laggy aerial attacks, and that's true and noticeable even to the casual player. For Bowser, he's... just as laggy as he's always been, so this across-the-board lag isn't noticeable to a Bowser player like me! Bowser also didn't have his Koopa-hopping technique from Brawl. Heck, he can barely short-hop and do aerial attacks, if at all.

The game is still in development, so it's dangerous to make impressions. That's also why it's dangerous if Nintendo sent an eShop demo of this build to every Wii U. You can tell that things will change. For example, each character only had three alternate colours, for four colours total. Bowser didn't have his red colour, unfortunately. Either way, the game was still fun.

I pre-ordered the 3DS version. The special gold coin offer that was available to the first 70 pre-orders has been completely changed. Now, you present the "deposit certificate" (the pre-order card) to a Smash-Fest Best Buy anytime before launch, pay $5, enter in your contact and personal information into their computer, and then within 5 days of launch, go pick up the game and pay for the rest. You must retain your pre-order receipt (mine is in my wallet). Apparently there was a manufacturing error to prevent them from being made just yet, so Nintendo procrastinated and delayed it. In the process, there are now an infinite amount potentially available!

They look like this.

Other things to note: There was a Tomodachi Life receipt on the floor in the line, which means someone bought it. There were multiple people who wanted to buy Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (it was one of the four games available for the $20 off coupon) but Best Buy had no more stock. 3DS-belt-lady skipped the dude in line behind me, and he was making salt metaphors for the entire duration of the line to the guy he came with. So that was for more than an hour. He was really unhappy that he didn't get to play Smash Bros. 4 3DS, and it didn't help his partner did get to play it. While in line, I had boxes of other games hide any copies of Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, since I still hate that character. The aisle right before the game demo was the Skylanders and Disney Infinity aisles: The figures were $10 minimum, each. Some went for $13 each. Amiibos will be around that, then!

I'm not sure what else to say. I enjoyed myself! If you didn't get to experience the game for yourself, then that's a shame. But there is a ton of footage out there. A lot better than mine. There is a lot to analyze, so get to it!

Ludwig hopes that Best Buy events keep happening, and he hopes they keep happening at the Best Buy right next to him. KoopaTV's E3 coverage isn't quite done yet, though. We have just a bit more! In the meantime, Follow Ludwig on Miiverse at NNID PrinceOfKoopas!

For 2015's Best Buy experience, click here. It's worse.

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