Monday, November 12, 2007

The Fate of Items in Smash - Part 2

Today is a continuation of yesterday's article. Be sure to read that first to catch up on the story.

So, what will become of items in the Brawl era of competition? Well, that question can be answered with an absolutely indisputable... depends. In other words, items did not behave so well when Melee competition was developing. As noted in AlphaZealot's response, the competitive community actually did use items for a long time. However, being unable to disable exploding capsules, boxes, and party balls was items' undoing. With unfair explosions occurring within a fraction of a second, items became intolerable in the competitive environment. There were too many upsets during the final matches of tournaments.

As competitive play has evolved over the years, other more blatant issues began to present themselves regarding items. For instance, even without random explosions, the randomness of items gives one player an advantage that cannot be matched by the opponent. A capsule appearing near one character gives him or her unearned added leverage. Consider Falco knocking Fox off the stage. In the time from when Fox starts his fire fox to when he actually starts moving, Falco can watch a capsule spawn at his feet, pick it up, and KO Fox with no effort since Fox is immobile. (A member of SWF witnessed this very event in competition, so it is not unheard of.) These kinds of events pull emphasis away from character control and place more on luck of the draw. That leads me to my next point.

Many argue that smash is supposed to be a game of chance just like Poker and Blackjack. Despite luck being a common factor in all gambling games, there are professionals out there who win consistently because they know how to best handle the elements of randomness. Why can't the same be applied to smash? Well, technically it can be, but the current competition simply chooses not to. Competitive smashers today view the game more along the lines of a sport. They believe there should be no coin tosses or outside interference. Victory should come as a result of hard work and discipline while playing the game. Losses should be traceable to a single mistake (or series of mistakes). Allowing items is like allowing spectators to throw junk onto the field during a football game.

So, we have two strongly opposing perspectives on the same game. Why have item-free tournaments blossomed while item-filled tournaments become nearly extinct? My theory is that is has to due with the very mentality behind both sides. Competitive smashers take the game very seriously and thus are adamant about making sure competition happens. They tend to look for opportunities to compete, even if it means hosting their own event because winning matters. Items tend to cater more to the casual smashers who do not take the game as seriously and are tolerant of random elements in the game. However, since item supporters are generally more casual, discovering who is best is not of utmost importance to them. Therefore, not many item tournaments take place because just smashing at home with friends is usually sufficient for this type of smasher, even if they do strive to increase their ability and win more.

The future of items seems bleak in Brawl. Many tournament hosts have agreed to at least allow items in tournaments for the first while. Disabling random explosives will be a step in the right direction, if it is even an option. There are still two major barricades to overcome. First, many smashers have become so comfortable with item-free environments that hosts may ban items from the get go just out of habit. This will only hinder adoption of items in competitive play. Second, even without the explosions, players may slowly become frustrated with the unfair advantages that items throw around. While a coin flip's odds remain at a constant "fair" 50/50, there is nothing to stop it from landing on tails eight times in a row.

TO READERS: What is your take on the items situation? Post your response in the comments!


Spellman said...

I'll buy this theory. Good stuff!

Steve said...

i'll play with items for a while, but i think eventually the items list will be trimmed down.

Cylf said...

I think them main worry about items will be about the smash ball not showing up, especially for characters like Samus who without it can't reach her full potential. I think this will be one of the heaviest disputed things, more so then items, allow smash ball or not?

The Buzz Saw said...

cylf, I suspect many hosts will permit final smashes if exploding capsules/boxes are disabled. Explosives are the primary reason items are banned in Melee.

C.j. Neuvost said...

Items simply dumb down the Smash experience in Melee. It's not just the exploding items, or where the items spawn, it's the randomness of which items spawn, and the fact that their use is significantly less skill based in most cases than the characters sans items. I'm certainly going to play with the items some in Brawl, but I'll be surprised if I end up enjoying playing more with them than without.

Also, everyone has this idea that without the Smash Ball we'll never see Zero-Suit Samus. I'm guessing that there will be an alternate way to play as her, probably even just from the beginning of the match. It would just be bizarre if there wasn't.

GC2 said...

I'm glad I found this and read it. At E For All, I did a Brawl podcast and the general consensus was "no items at tournament." But I think it was out of fear and a pre-determined mentality of "Well, we don't play competitively with items in Melee, then we need to do the same with Brawl."

I don't have a preference either way because I don't compete anymore. I do ask though, that the community as a whole take time to study the item situation before making a decision.


Jordan said...

I believe with the Smash community today, and the ongoing debate on whether or not Items will be in Brawl will be resolved within the following months of Brawl's release. The Smash community will test the idea of having items I'm sure to the fullest extent, to see if it is at all feasible to have it be fair for everyone. Unfortunately (not really), I highly doubt Items, even smash balls, will be allowed in the tournament scene. I began playing Melee early on, far before I learned of the tournament scene, and even then, we were always competitive and eventually got fed up with Items and the ongoing luck involved. Melee like most other competitive games, should never be determined by luck (except Peach's turnips of course), but by skill, and skill alone.
If a game was down to final stock; I have 999% and my opponent at 30%, I get a lucky Snorlax Pokeball and win, even I wouldn't consider that a fair win.

Anonymous said...

And Why Player Cant be Both Specialized with Items and Competitive styled play?
I am one of those,I Do Play in No Item Tournaments But when i Want Crazynes I Call For Items...when I Want Serious Fight,then its not Items...I Think Being an Expert in Both Play Styles is also important.