I participated in my first Smash Bros Tournament a few weeks ago. It was a small, intimate affair, with only about 12 entrants, half of whom were coerced into it or played for the first time that very day. The event was held at the Space Station bar in Osaka, which hasn’t gotten its proper share of respectful propers on this blog properly.. until now.
If Triangle Park is the heart of Osaka’s Amerika-mura district, then Space Station stands somewhere near its right kidney, emptying into the Dotonbori River like so many late-nite Osaka revelers. Walk north from the Rose Lips love hotel, following the smoky aromatic miasma of grilled meat and look up. If you didn’t see Smash Bros. being played through a projector onto a screen over the second floor window facing the street, perhaps you saw the Puyo-Puyo sandwich board outside, beckoning you to climb the stairs and try its wares (if not, you’re in the wrong place or it’s closed or something). Though technically a bar, Space Station is an open gaming den boasting every major video game console from the original Famicom to the PS3, and if you buy a drink, you are welcome and invited to play anything you’d like as long as there’s a free monitor and controller. The library of game titles at Space Station is large and constantly growing. The good will that patrons feel toward the bar and its owner, Matt is palpable and is often made manifest through the donation of games that the dedicated feel “belong” here. From the sentimental classics to the just released this week, games get played here, and if you’re here for the neon cyberdude epic nerdifried atmosphere, well then that’s fine, too – just make sure you buy a bunch of booze to take it all in.
It was announced that during the weekend celebrating the one year anniversary since its establishment, Space Station would host its very first Smash tournament. I immediately threw my name in the goblet and went into training. Well, that’s kind of a lie, but in the days building up to the tournament, I practiced harder than I had since those summer vacations in the basement so many years ago where your Smash determined the strength of your soul. For a ¥500 buy-in, you would have the chance to win a shitload of bar credit, which to me is a currency more solvent than gold (and usually the same color). There would be a combination of timed and stock matches, and the whole thing was arranged by video game DJ BIGT, whose organization of the proceedings guaranteed everyone a fair shot and several opportunities to participate before their final placement was decided. I was feeling good about my skills this day, winning nearly every exhibition and practice match, and thought I had a good chance of going all the way. Scores would be kept in an intricate spreadsheet, and we were just about to begin when suddenly two dudes from Norway or Hungary or somewhere walked in like unassuming Kaiser Sozes and asked if they could join. Long story short, they killed all of us, and the final match came down to the owner, Matt and one of our Scandinavian friends, Sven. You can see what happened here:
I came in sixth, which is not too god damn good, but the experience was very valuable, because this was only the first of what is sure to be a series of league competitions, and there’s no other way to shake the nerves of playing for stakes than to just go fucking do it. Talk a bunch of smack, play as smart as you can, and for god’s sake, try to get a good controller. Now I’m not saying that the Wavebird missing the rubber thumb pad is what caused my downfall, but it was a distraction – the simple acknowledgment by definition meant that my mind was not 100% on the game. However, if you’re not a fan of distractions, you probably shouldn’t be playing in a loud bar with alcohol, smoke and lots of shouting drinking and smoking people. I dug it, though. I was able to meet and play against some incredible and enthusiastic Smash people, and we now share a bond stronger than the Triforce itself… err.. okay, that’s somewhat hyperbolic. Ahem: Stronger, certainly, than the struts that hold up Luigi’s mansion – yes, that will do.
Announcement! The next Smash Club gathering at Space Station will be Saturday, June 16th. Who knows? We may even decide on a name for the organization. Smash Club kind of sounds like something you don’t talk about.