One of the my favorite games from my childhood, and many other children’s favorites, was Super Smash Bros Melee for the Nintendo GameCube. It came out when I was in first grade, and it was one of the very first games I got when I got my GameCube in 4th grade. All throughout my middle school years it was the quintessential party game; sure, I loved playing story-driven games and sports games, but if I had a friend over in middle school, there was probably a 96% chance we were playing Melee. In high school I bought an Xbox 360, and I stopped playing Melee completely. I still played my GameCube regularly (it’s the only console at my mom’s house and I keep my 360 at my dad’s) but SSBM gathered dust at the bottom of my stack of games.
Then, last year, during my freshman year of college, I was made aware of an incredible documentary - one that chronicled the history of the professional Melee scene. The documentary was eye-opening. Not only was it beautifully done and extremely professional, but it amazed me that what I had previously believed to be a simple fighting game could, in fact, be pushed to levels of intricacy that I had never seen before in gaming. The documentary became 100% responsible for me picking Melee back up, and playing it with a drive and need to get better that I never possessed when I regularly played against my friends.
I began rewatching the episodes with an obsessive quality, and began studying all the pros by watching matches on youtube. One of my hallmates was already a tournament Smash player, so his GameCube setup in the lobby which is solely used for Melee provided me with the ability to train away from home.
When I first played him (this is before becoming aware of the documentary) I played like a 4th grader: spamming the f-smash, not bothering to shield, and basically having absolutely no concept of what a combo was. My friend, who was already a tourney Smasher who knew the way professional Melee is played, obilterated me. It was worse than awful. After watching the documentary, and I began learning the game, I got better and better. That has been the most rewarding part of this - watching yourself do something and realizing that a few months or even weeks ago you could never have done it. All of a sudden, I found myself comboing my opponents off the stage, when before, I would have watched them fall, get back on the stage, etc. I found myself forcing my opponents to their death by learning how to ledge guard. I learned how to dash dance. I learned how to DI and tech. I learned how to chain grab. I learned how to combo. I chose Falco as my main, and now, if I can get to you offstage without using my double jump, it might as well be game over for you, because I learned how to dair and get back on the stage. The friend who knew professional skills and humiliated me now beats me only about 60% of the time. This documentary is wholly responsible for giving me a new hobby, because I consider Smash as a somehow separate hobby than just gaming.
But if I had already been a pro, or if I had no interest in learning from the masters, the documentary would still have been excellent. It is beautiful, poignant, often funny, and tells a wonderful story about some of the most interesting and compelling members of the gaming community. You empathize with players when you watch them lose, and you share in their joy when you watch them succeed. I’ve seen a lot of excellent documentaries, and this small-budget independent documentary about an underground gaming community is up there with the best of them.
Now, the creator of said documentary is picking the camera back up and returing to the world of Smash. He wants to tell a new story that focuses on current Smash, as opposed to the history and roots of the game. In particular, he wants to tell the story of Armada, the fiercest Peach player of all time, and his intense Bird/Magic-esque rivalry with Mango. It’s not going to be a single episode that’s roughly 25 minutes, like the documentary installments were. Samox wants this to be a feature-length film that he hopes to present in mainstream media formats, meaning Netflix and DVD for retail.
But he needs our help! With 24 days left, he still needs about 14,000 dollars to meet his kickstarter. His kickstarter for the documentary actually failed; it ended about $8,000 short of meeting what he needed, and he paid it out of pocket since he believed he would succeed in the end. Now, he’s in danger of falling short again! Let’s all show him our support for the amazing work he does and get this kickstarter funded!