My random thoughts on the Nintendo World Championships 2015 event

nintendo-world-championships-2015So a while back I heard all sorts of talk about Nintendo bringing back its Nintendo World Championships event; apparently this was a thing twenty years ago that I did not pay attention to then and, due to college, did not pay attention to for the past month. I was randomly on YouTube yesterday and saw their “live from E3” link and randomly clicked it, and it just so happened to be about five minutes after the Championships final had started, and I figured, hey, I’m not doing much right now. I’ll put that up in one window while doing other stuff in another window and see how this goes. The following are the thoughts I jotted down as it was going on, edited up a bit to be, you know, legible and not-so-unprofessional.

There were 16 players. They played the Gerudo Valley theme from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as contestants came onto the stage, so that was instant win. There were 14 guys and 2 gals, I believe. My numbers might be off but there was definitely a male majority, which was kind of disappointing. I would like to see more female gamers getting out there, but… Some of the contestants were YouTube and various internet personalities- I’m reading that a number of them were speedrunners- but the only one I actually recognized was Arin from Game Grumps.

The first round was the Wii U game Splatoon. I’ve been hearing people absolutely rave about this game since it’s release a few weeks ago, and, yes, it looks fun to play… but it’s really boring to watch. Maybe if I actually played the game I’d enjoy it more? To be honest, I spent most of that round trying to figure out why my Twitter account (*cough*) would not post to my Facebook page (*double cough*) even though I had it set up to do so. I was unsuccessful in that endeavor. The four players who lost in this round went on to the elimination round.

The Stage 1 Elimination round was the original Legend of Zelda. Awesome! 😀 The first player to beat the first dungeon wins. I have no idea why a couple players wasted time beating enemies they could have just passed up, but they lost valuable time doing that. One player got through most of the dungeon with only half a heart left; he should have let the enemies kill him earlier to mitigate the amount of retracing he’d have to do, but no. He got all the way to Aquamentus, whose fireballs are extremely difficult to dodge with 100% accuracy, and so he died, and had to retrace his steps, and that cost him the round. The guy who did win completely surprised the commentators because nobody was paying any attention to him- they were focused on “I can beat Aquamentus with half a heart” guy instead!

The first highlight of the event!

The second round was a yet-unreleased 3DS game called Blast Ball. I’m noticing that a lot of Nintendo’s releases in the past few months have been focused on multiplayer- Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, Splatoon, and now this. It seems to be working for them as a business strategy because so far everybody has raved about these games. As for Blast Ball itself, it looks fun to play… for about ten minutes. I dunno. My first impression wasn’t fantastic. If it turns out to be a full retail game with a $35 or more price point, forget it. The thing looks like a $5-$10 eShop title at best.

The Stage 2 Elimination round was Super Metroid. The first player to beat Mother Brain and escape wins. It was extremely amusing to watch and listen to everyone agonize over the moment when the baby Metroid dies- like, the game is over twenty years old! Memories, memories. 🙂 (Of course, I didn’t play the game, so I wouldn’t understand.) Everyone freaking out during the escape sequence, watching the lead player struggling to stay ahead of the destruction behind him, was awesome.

The third round was Mario Kart 8, with the recently-released 200cc mode. This was my first time actually seeing 200cc in action, and wow is it fast! Unfortunately, my computer decided that an hour and a half of streaming at this point was abusive, so it started slowing down and pixellating the video. I fought with Firefox for a bit, trying to fix it, but realized I had to reboot the machine itself. I ended up missing a lot of the first team’s racing (I only know Arin didn’t do well), and came back in the middle of the second team, only to find that apparently a 360p stream just can’t handle Mario Kart‘s four-player split-screen properly. And the computer wouldn’t let me upgrade the quality. So whatever.

Whatever indeed.

The Stage 3 (and final) Elimination round was Balloon Fight. An extremely odd choice, frankly. It was quite the outlier in terms of the Nintendo catalog being showcased. There was no StarFox, no F-Zero… but totally Balloon Fight. Arin got knocked out of the competition here. Amusingly, the music they played while waiting for the results was the Corneria music from StarFox, so that game got some representation at least.

The fourth round game was Super Smash Brothers for Wii U. I was surprised it didn’t show up earlier, but then again I guess I shouldn’t have been. The battle between Reggie Fils-Aime (president of Nintendo of America) and HungryBox (last year’s Smash Brothers tournament victor) was hilarious, just because Reggie did so badly. “I run a company for sixteen hours a day, you play Smash for sixteen hours a day” indeed. Once that was done, the actual round got underway… and it was boring to me. The fun in watching people play games, at least for me, hinges greatly on knowing the people playing, and being able to watch them play. Sure, I don’t personally know Markiplier, JackSepticEye, or The Great Clement, but I know who they are and I enjoy watching/listening to them react to the games they play. Watching a group of strangers play Smash Brothers without being able to actually see them struggle just isn’t very fun for me. It was too anonymous. So I picked up a book and started reading while glancing at the screen from time to time. Apparently whoever was playing Shulk did a good job, because he had the victory screen twice.

And so the final round began with John Numbers and Cosmo competing against each other. The game? Super Mario Maker, and wow, now I want this game. It lets you create crazy levels in various styles- from Super Mario Bros. (NES) to Super Mario World (SNES) to New Super Mario Bros U (Wii U). I’m actually interested in that game for the first time. The competition music was the Bowser zone music from Super Mario 64, which is a very good choice for the final showdown. And, okay, yes, that game is awesome! Being able to play the levels other people create is gonna be fantastic. I can only imagine how many YouTube challenge videos are going to be made with Super Mario Maker. It’s gonna be competing with Happy Wheels, I’m sure.

Yes, Nintendo is making it legally possible to create this nightmare. No more ROM-hacks.

And this round didn’t disappoint. The first level, based on Super Mario Bros., was awesome, especially when Cosmo got stuck but then John figured it out and sped right through. And hey, we actually get to see the players reacting and struggling! Awesome! The second level, based on Super Mario Bros. 3, was challenging just because there were so many enemies, but the moment where Mario was wearing the high-heeled boot inside the clown car was hilarious. The third level was based on Super Mario World, and that was awesome- choose a door, any door. Oh, door five leads to four fire-breathing Bowsers stacked on top of each other? Right back through that door, thank you! The fourth and final level was based on New Super Mario Bros. U, which involved way too many difficult wall-jumps (which Cosmo had a really hard time getting through) and a final confrontation with Bowser. In the end, John Numbers won the championship.

So all in all, the event was fun, especially the Zelda and Mario Maker parts. Next time, though, let us see the players as they’re competing! That’s a large part of the fun!

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