Presenting The Grindies: The only way to give love to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

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As of the time that this sentence was written, my Nintendo Switch tells me that I’ve logged 22 hours and 14 minutes – with 10:52 of that time spent purely fighting – on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

(Oh, by the way: Robbie and I totally podcasted about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate this week. You should give it a listen. You should also listen to our other episode from this week.)

Through that time, my fighting roster had grown from the stock eight fighters – Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Samus, Yoshi, Kirby, Fox and Pikachu – to the robust 74 characters promised as the game was headed toward release.

At approximately 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, Incineroar was unlocked while Dark Samus was under my control. The grappling Pokemon was the final default character that had yet to appear on my fighter-selection screen.

Incineroar, welcome to the club.

This achievement was met with a few select curse words and a sense that I had achieved a good video-game thing. With 90 percent of my gaming time going to sports, that sense sometimes escapes me when going through the motions on Madden NFL or NBA 2K games.

After 552 fights – as per my Switch, though it felt like roughly 275 of those bouts were my efforts to unlock Incineroar, Palutena or Olimar  – that’s no longer the case.   

The grind is dead. Long live the grind.

To anyone who said that the unlocking of 66 characters* was a bit much, I only have this retort: “You’re wrong. Stop being wrong and embrace the grind.”

(*-OK, so three of those characters – the Mii fighters – are revealed when you create them, but who actually uses the Mii fighters on purpose when playing Super Smash Bros.?)

Grinding out the unlocks, while forcing myself to step away from my personal Holy Trinity of Smash (Ness, Jigglypuff and Kirby) to actually defeat other fighters was a wholly satisfying experience.

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Mind you, I didn’t own a Wii, Wii U or Nintendo 3DS, so while I had played Super Smash Bros. through those generations when visiting friends, the last copy of the game to get its mail sent to my house was Super Smash Bros. Melee, on the GameCube.

In just over six days from its release, I had affirmed a few things:

  • My good-faith reasoning to purchase a Switch on its release date – March 3, 2017 – knowing that a Smash Bros. title was eventually going to happen.
  • That I still love the series and its purely glorious cartoon violence.
  • Ness is still cheap as hell to use and Jigglypuff is still an absolute hammer.
  • I will still react with many swears when unfurling a combo or smashing a fighter off stage/screen. (Or having the same done to me)
  • While I learned that I can get into using a diverse cast of fighters, I’m a Ness Main through and through.

OK, time for a confession: So, I hadn’t started the single-player mode named “World of Light” yet. While that was also a path to unlocking fighters, I wanted to play through that mode/story without the pressure of unlocking some Fire Emblem or Starfox fighter that I was hardly going to use just for the sake of completion. My paths to completion are going to be kept separate to optimize replayability, dang it!

Now, my Switch tells me that I fought 210 battles using Ness and 80 more using Simon Belmont of Castlevania fame, who became my unlock ace when tasked with needing a second, third or lord knows how many tries to unlock a new fighter.

But this is about learning to love other fighters, so without further delay … I present to you, The Grindies. An award show that can only come off the top of my head with the knowledge and experience that is earned through spending the better part of a whole week, obsessively battling through and unlocking every fighter that Nintendo won’t eventually make me pay to use. These are my opinions and only my opinions, but you should impress your friends and make them your opinions, too. 

Again, without further delay …:

Category: The absolute worst to unlock.

The Grindie goes to … Incineroar.

Yes, the most recent is the worst, but with justification. It took me more than a few instances of getting tossed around like a rag doll to learn that I can’t just stand and brawl. Even when I had figured out a solid strategy, I’d get caught once and hammered into oblivion like the damage I had inflicted barely mattered. Sending him off the screen in roughly my 487th try was akin to beating BattleToads or winning the Stanley Cup on NHL ’94 with Ottawa.

Also nominated: Olimar, Dr. Mario and Roy.

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Category: Most satisfying unlock.

The Grindie goes to … Ness.

Seriously, anyone who knows that I’m a true mark for EarthBound (or Mother 2 in Japan) will have it figured out as to why I’m a Ness Main for life. Aside from being incredibly cheap once you know how to properly spam attacks, Ness is the protagonist from EarthBound and helped save the world in 199X, as per the Mother series canon. So he’ll smash you with a yo-yo and save the world … Would love to see Ryu do that.

Also nominated: Lucas (from Mother 3), Jigglypuff and Inkling.   

Category: I’d main with you.

The Grindie goes to … Simon Belmont.

As mentioned, Simon kind of became my unlock ace when I was done trying to figure out how to combat the more difficult fighters to add to my select screen. He’s not necessarily overpowered, at least at the levels of Bayonetta, but dude’s got a whip and if you time/spam that attack correctly … You might win a few battles without an opponent even getting a chance to lay a finger on you.

Also nominated: Corrin, Daisy and Diddy Kong.

Category: Why exactly are you here?

The Grindie goes to … Bowser Jr.

I’m pretty sure that Bowser doesn’t even like Bowser Jr. While there are many fighters that I might use once or twice just to get a feel for, Bowser Jr. – or the many variants of Bowser’s children that you can select like you would an alternate costume – just feels like he’s there because reasons. He’s cheap, but not all that effective if you have enough skill to beat the CPU past a level of 2.

Also nominated: Any Fire Emblem character not named Corrin, any StarFox character (fight me) and R.O.B.

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Category: Wish you were here.

The Grindie goes to … Tecmo Bo Jackson.

Fellow sports gamers, admit it: You’d wreck all sorts of shop if given Tecmo Bo Jackson on Super Smash Bros. Tecmo Bo was Smash Bros. before Smash Bros. was an actual thing. The visage of the then-Los Angeles Raiders running back hammering through defenses and even dragging those lucky enough to catch him is enough to generate warm memories or cold-sweat nightmares for anyone who had Tecmo Super Bowl on the NES. The NFL licensing can be worked around if Bo is given a slightly altered uniform to fight in and I feel like Bo Jackson would love the idea that his video-game likeness could be used to truck Pac-Man or Mario on his way to Smash glory. Smash has given us Pac-Man, Mega Man and Sonic … Now give us a crossover that we’d all embrace.

Also nominated: Pablo Sanchez and I guess I’m required to say Waluigi. 

 

Category: Best assist trophy.

The Grindie goes to … Nintendogs.

OK, the Nintendogs assist trophy – a curious puppy who gets close to the “camera” overlooking the fight area – won’t help you fight like others do … But he’s such a good boy. Such a good boy. Look at those ears! Do you want scratchies? Look at the good boy! Who’s a good boy! You’re the good boy! … Oh … I’ve been waylaid off the screen. No matter, 13/10 … Would lose again.

Also nominated: I guess I’m required to say Waluigi.

Category: If only there was …

The Grindie goes to … A Smash Bros. league mode.

OK, so this would be a sweet addition to the game. In my head, it would form to be almost like a World Cup of sorts with round-robin play breaking into bracket fighting. The tournaments feature is a step in the right direction, but a fully immersive league with a season would be fantastic fun. 

Also nominated: I guess I’m required to say Waluigi.

 

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