The Nintendo launch of Super Smash Brothers Brawl early next month has been highly anticipated by gamers for over a year now. To celebrate and promote the game's release, Nintendo and Best Buy are co-hosting four regional Wii tournaments in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and finally finishing up with a Midnight Madness Launch event at Best Buy on Broadway in New York City. An old friend of mine works for Nintendo and I was able to watch the action from up above in the VIP Lounge for the San Francisco event.
By 6:30 AM Saturday, February 23rd there were serious gamers lined up in the rain outside the venue at 1015 Folsom in San Francisco, hoping for a chance to be one of 256 participants in the regional Wii tournament.
For the benefit of those non-Wii familiar, Nintendo's executive vice president of sales & marketing, Cammie Dunaway, explains: "Super Smash Bros. is one of the world's most popular game franchises because it draws in characters from across the Nintendo universe and beyond for some all-out fighting fun."
Super Smash Bros. Brawl is due to be released March 9th. The following video does not contain spoilers, but this same YouTube user has hundreds of SSBB videos up which do contain spoilers if you are interested.
Everyone in attendance at the tournament Saturday was able to see the new game in action.
The venue being a nightclub and many of the hardcore gamers being underage, the crowd lining up on the sidewalk in the cold, wet, rainy weather was problematic and Nintendo personnel tried to encourage them to come back later, closer to the time the doors opened for the event at 2:00 PM.
Utilizing 8 Wii stations there were 16 rounds of competition. The 256 brawlers were narrowed from 128, to 64, to 32, and so on in brackets, until there were just 2 gamers remaining.
The atmosphere in the VIP Lounge was far more comfortable (and smelled a lot better) than the jam-packed sweatiness on the game floor.
The warm, cozy lounge:
Not my frosty Red Bull:
Birds of Paradise on the upstairs bar:
The field of competitors narrows:
The final two brawlers were Chris and Jason, with Jason taking the top honors by the end of the night.
Chris and Jason shake hands:
Jason will represent the Bay Area in New York, where the regional winners will face off in an all-out SSBB smackdown. Included in his winnings Jason receives a round trip for 2 to the New York event as well as a crystal encrusted Wii with extra remote, a Super Smash Bros. Brawl game, signed by Masahiro Sakurai, and a $1000 Best Buy gift card.
Chris and the other top finishers also received Wii game systems (not covered in crystals though) along with the new game and Best Buy gift cards in the amounts of $500, $250, and $100.