The release of a new Super Smash Bros game is a momentous event, one that many of us can’t wait for. Those able to attend conventions and trade shows may get the chance to try the game out early, but what about the rest of us? Well, Nintendo and Best Buy have once again teamed up to let eager fans test out the new game. Ten stores were selected for these demo events, one of which happened to be here in Chicago. As of when I’m writing this, the only events left are in Miami and Seattle. If you’re going to one of those, I hope my recap can serve as a guide. For everyone else, here’s what to expect the next time this sort of event comes around.
Interest in the event has been high, at least here in Chicago. I arrived two hours early on the second day for this location, and the line already went around the corner of the store. Naturally, many people in line had their Switch systems out, because who wouldn’t? As the event organizers started to show up, we were told that we could get a free poster by logging in to our My Nintendo accounts and showing them a barcode. The poster isn’t anything special; just the Battlefield stage with the game’s logo.
As we got closer to the store’s entrance, we were given wristbands with a time on them. We learned that there are actually two parts to the event: free play and a tournament. The former is first come first served, and allows two rounds per person. The wristbands were for the latter; eight people would face off in a tournament each hour. The prize for the winner was a black hat with the game’s logo, which caught the eye of my friend Fluffy.
When our turn for Free Play came, we were sad to see that this was the demo from E3; as such, it didn’t include Simon or K. Rool. For the first round I went with my favorite new character, the Inkling. As I was using him for the first time, I had some trouble getting used to his playstyle. His attacks are very powerful, but you need to fill up his ink in between. For the second round, I chose my main Smash Bros character: Link, sporting his new look from Breath of the Wild (see my review of that masterpiece here.) This was the one and only round that I won, even as I found myself confused by the new bomb controls. It seems that throwing bombs doesn’t use the same buttons it used to.
After our all too brief Free Play round, we had some time before the tournament. Naturally the Switch demo station in the store was where many of us gathered, primarily for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the only multiplayer game on offer. Of course, just about everyone present had a Switch, and probably had that game too, so I’m not sure why any of us were doing that. In any case, soon enough it was time for the tournament. I wasn’t as excited about the hat as my friend was, but I still wanted to put my best foot forward. Therefore, I decided to stick with Link. Unfortunately, so did one of my opponents, with another opponent choosing an Inkling. Between the double Links and the ink everywhere, I couldn’t tell where I was half the time. My friend used Ridley, but he didn’t end up being any more successful than I was.
In the end, we only played four 2-minute rounds; we spent much more time waiting than playing. That being said, I still had a great time. Opportunities to try out major games several months early don’t come around very often (especially if you can’t afford to go to conventions), so it was a worthwhile endeavor. I’m hoping Nintendo continues this trend. I realize it would be easier if the demo was just on the eShop, but the gathering of players and the buzz and excitement they cause is beneficial to us and to Nintendo. So even though you’ll likely spend a lot of time waiting, I recommend taking the plunge the next time one of these events comes around. I’ll be there too, Switch in hand.