The Rise of Smash Bros in India :: Memoirs of Nitin Rao

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Super Smash Bros. Melee launched in North America on 3rd December 2001, 16 years ago. By today’s standards, the graphics are outdated and it is no longer available in the market. Why am I writing an article about this game though? It is because it has survived, unlike any other game from that time. In America, 16 years after its release, this game fills stadiums with it.

It is a beautiful accident, a game that was originally not meant for competitive gameplay.

Super Smash Bros. was meant to be an easy game to play. Players control Nintendo characters and fight each other on floating platform. The more damage a character takes, the further they fly when struck. When a character is blasted off the screen in any they lose a life.

Traditional fighting games, like Tekken and Street Fighter, have complex button strings that players memorize to execute a chain of combos. However, the button scheme in Smash Bros. is relatively simple, with most attacks being the A or B buttons, followed by a direction.

From America to India

Nearly every neighborhood in America had a GameCube, and Smash Bros. was a part of every person’s childhood. Nintendo has no presence in India however.

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona. Everyone in the neighborhood had a Nintendo 64 including us. The very first Smash Bros. game, Smash 64 was my favorite game since I was a child. I had a crazy number of KOs with Kirby on the stats leader-boards before I moved to India.

We then moved to India. I continued to play smash 64 till 7th grade. My friends thought I was crazy because of the “bad graphics”; I could not blame them though; these kids were brought up on the PlayStation 2.

How did Smash Bros. become popular in India then?

This is because of the efforts of the small but growing community to popularize one of the greatest games to come from Japan.

In 2015, I started promoting Smash Bros. by playing it in several bars all over the city. These
were just friendly setups and got a few people interested. It created a small fan-base of players who enjoyed the game, but at a casual level. At the end of the year, I eventually got a sponsor and hosted a tournament as a side event at Video Game Fest 2015, a yearly Indian gaming event. I managed to get exactly 32 entrants and eventually won the tournament pocketing the thousand-rupee prize pool. While some of the entrants were completely new to the game, others had played the game before. The tournament was a success and the non-existent smash community slowly started to grow.

Onward And Upwards

In 2016, I started searching for players who played Smash in India. There were people just like me, who played Smash Bros. but they were hidden from sight, drowned by the masses that stuck to their AAA games. I searched on Reddit and Smashboards and found a few players. We created a discord group for the Indian Community and people joined. The community gradually grew bigger and bigger and we used to meet up to play friendlies.

In 2017, we had our first live-streamed tournament. New Indian players came and showed off their skill. I was no longer the best player in the country – there were players better than me, and way more technically skilled than I was. Who knows, there could be players in India who are better than these guys too, but we will have to find these hidden Gods. This was our most diverse tournament too, we’ve had female players show up, some who were new but wanted to learn, and this was a great thing to implement into a new game in the city, as most of the gaming scenes here were devoid of female gamers.

We proceeded to have monthlies, more people joining the community each time. We were noticed by a few people on Reddit, and have had a player from Australia and America fly here to check out the scene. The scene was mostly focused in Bangalore, but recently we’ve had a player fly from Delhi to play us in a tournament. Slowly, new faces started popping up all over the country, we now have players from Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and even Pune in the community!

Finding Others like Myself

Why play Smash Bros. ?

When there are so many new games in market? What makes us play the same game for so many years?

Pranav Charkupalli, a player from Hyderabad says that his father bought him a GameCube when he was four years old, and he stuck with playing it ever since.

Vishal “Vishire” Rangwani, finalist at the first tournament in 2015, says that he got his GameCube when he was ten years old. However, he only started taking Smash Bros. seriously, once I destroyed him in the finals.

Vineeth “Voltusaur” Kumar, another player from Hyderabad, says that he got into Smash Bros. from the fan game known as Super Smash Flash 2.

Vishal Reddy, a smasher originally from Chennai, says that he got bored of Smash, but the Smash Brothers documentary(the video below) rekindled his love for the game. “I stopped playing melee from 2002-2016,” he said, “But the doc made me realize that this game is special, it’s so unique and it feels like the perfect game in many ways. That’s why I keep coming back to it”.

Abhinav Kerwar, from Pune, says that he got into smash through discovering Nintendo 64 emulation in 2003. According to him, Smash gave him an adrenaline rush similar to fast paced games like Quake 3 Arena.

Pranav Charkupalli, says that he got into smash and focused on the game just to defeat his rival.

Rohit Bandaru, a smasher from Hyderabad says that he didn’t care much for the game, until he played multiplayer with a friend. Then he completely fell in love with the game.

Looking for You

Of course, this is just the start. The Smash Bros community needs you. This post is just another effort to reach out to even more people who love the game, and want to join hands. Or people who want to experience this game, but are afraid it doesn’t have a community. Or people who are just looking for some fun. If you fit any of these categories, then we are looking for you.

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About Nitin Rao

Nitin “qwertz143” Rao is a 21-year- old design student currently residing in Bangalore, India. He is a competitive Overwatch and Smash Bros. player and hopes to promote games that are not mainstream in India. He is specializing in Game Art & Design at Srishti Institute in Bangalore, and hopes to create his own successful indie game.

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3 Upvotes
  • Abhinav Kerwar

    Nice article. Looking forward to seeing the Smash community grow in India. Glad to know I’m not the only Indian gamer who’s a fan of Smash.

    • Its always nice to find people with similar interests. Glad we were able to help you out.