Students continue Super Smash Bros saga

SJU undergraduates participate in competitive video gaming.

Photo Courtesy of Christian Espinal

Crystal Grant, Contributing Writer

Though Super Smash Brothers made its debut in North America 2002 on Game Cube, even after 13 years, hardcore fans pit oneself against each other to claim the coveted number one ranking in competitions. Super Smash Brothers is a Nintendo game that enables players to partake in a battle royal fights using some of Nintendo’s most popular characters such as Mario, Link, Sonic, and Caption Falcon.

It was the level of intensity within competitive Super Smash Brothers scene that stirred junior Christian Espinal’s interest into desiring to create and outlet for fans at St. John’s to bare their competitive spirits while having fun with each other over this shared passion.

“I didn’t know you could take it so far,” Espinal said. “Into my second year, I actively stated seeking out other people that played Smash Brothers.’’

Through the Otaku Brigade, weekly Super Smash Brothers competitions known as set ups began to occur in the D’angelo Center where the St. John’s Smash community could compete against each other and even stream their battles online via TWITCH.TV were sometimes hundreds of people watch the fights.

They had a humble beginning with only nine members ready to compete, but they managed to expand their competition off of home base to challenge collegiate Super Smash Brothers teams from other Universities including Columbia, NYU and Hofstra whose teams have between 30-40 people. It was through expanding their gaming network to these Universities that they discovered Nebulosu, a weekly gaming tournaments that host Super Smash Brothers competitions.

The energy and the passion people display during the games thrills Espinal.

“There is a lot of electricity in the air people get very hyped and its so much fun to watch,” he said.

According to Espinal, they faced challenges when they played against people that have years of experience in competitive video game.

“We didn’t win a lot in the beginning. It takes a lot of effort to get good at the game,” Espinal said. “Some people have been playing competitively for a very long time so the barrier to entry is very high.’’

Going further than simply enjoying participating in Nebulosu competitions, he is currently aspiring to create a film documentary exploring the journey Nebulosu has gone through to gain recognition in the gaming community.

One of Espinal’s visions is to convert the Super Smash Brothers community into an official collegiate team so they can enjoy the perks along with having an official status. Though St. John’s Smash community enjoys challenging fans from other schools, they do not have the status of being an official collegiate team. This prevents them from entering official collegiate game tournaments.

“By next year I want the collegiate Smash team to be officially recognized in the Smash Scene,” he said.

Christian feels that beyond just becoming more skilled at the game, taking on these challenges has strengthened the bond between his friends as well.

“ I’ve gotten close to my friends over the game and its really great hobby that gives me satisfaction,” Espinal said.