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Smash Bros. Brawl Tutorial Videos

I made this series of ten short tutorial videos for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. They appear on the official Nintendo Channel accessible through your Wii, on Nintendo's website, and below from YouTube. Nintendo asked me to explain the game to new players in a way that shows them there is more going on than they might think. Remember, these videos are for new players, not for tournament champions and they're intended to help the Smash scene grow.

Smash Bros. sells well in the US and in Japan, but struggles more in Europe. It sells more in both the US and Japan, while the perception in Eurpose is that it's "that kids game with the Mario Kart characters." A strange and ironic statement considering that the "Mario Kart characters" aren't even originally from Mario Kart, but that game sells well in Europe so it's a point of reference for many. Maybe my videos and the reputation of my name will help increase the scene in Europe. (Note to anrgy commenters: this information is from Nintendo, not from me. The idea that my name as an expert on competitive games might help in this situation is from Nintendo, not from me, and that's why they contacted me.)

Special thanks to David "Scamp" Cantrell and Cedric "Ceirnian" Qualls for gameplay advice, Rich "FMJaguar" DeLauder for editing and secretly keeping working, and Mike "Bocci" Boccieri for his technical wizardry with video capture.

As more of the videos become available on youtube, I'll post them all below. If you're interested in these videos, you might try that new "share article" link below, for digg or one of those new-fangled link-swapping sites.


Part 1: The Two Games

Part 2: Attack Types

Part 3: Evasion and Throws

Part 4: Movement

Part 5: KOs

Part 6: The Edge

Part 7: Controlling Space

Part 8: Super Armor and Auto-Cancels

Part 9: Items

Part 10: Tournament Finals Match

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Reader Comments (174)

These tutorials have been helpful. Good job and thank you very much, Sirlin! I can't wait to see the rest.

November 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMoran

You know, I always thought you as looking differently.

Oh, and nice videos. Video.

November 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGerk

Amazingly clear. Nintendo chose the right person for this job. I might just give Smash a second chance seeing this!
What I wonder is, where do you find the time to learn so much about this game? Another thing I wonder is if you find Smash too "dexterity-based" to be your kind of fighting game.

November 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRobert August de Meijer

Although the first video was kinda... is this really a good idea kinda thing... I found this to be very well done. Good intro to smash bros.

If you are going to talk about items, I think it would be a good idea to mention that items have a 7-10 seconds window of spawning after each item in medium spawns so people aren't completely seeing this as random. It would also help if you mentioned controlling space-smash them away when you feel the item will spawn, even if they won't ko, you have the whole stage in your control and thus all items. In AlphaZealot's experience, this was a very viable tactic that allowed him to control the flow of the match in season's beating.

It might help if you talked about DI, smash di and regular di. With proper SDI, you can completely escape the smart bomb before it gives you the knockback and reduces the firebreath's damage to you. With normal DI, moves that might KO you can be avoided by moving your character to the corner of the stage. It just lengthens the amount of distance that people need to KO you from, increasing the needed percentage to KO. The best example would be Charizard's down throw. If you don't di that, you will be KOed off the stage at near 100% at small stages while with proper di, you will find it difficult to KO at even 140%.

The reason I am mentioning these things is it really helps combat items that basic people will find difficult to avoid.

November 15, 2008 | Unregistered Commenternewbwithkeyboard

IMO the best way to demonstrate/experiment with DI vs. SDI is on spikes in Stage Builder test mode. You don't gain any damage, so you can bounce up and down all day at the same height. You can then try out DI up/down/sideways without the complication of varying damage.

November 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBucky

Ok Sirlin, you really failed on knowing your stuff here. What do you know about the European brawl scene? Have you ever been in Europe? Do you know that Smashboards has an European subboard and that each of the individual countries has it's own smashsite in it's own language? The european smash scene is still really alive, and has always been so. There are still enough tournaments, both in Melee and Brawl. Just an example:
That's a 100+ man brawl tournament in the Netherlands next week. Now compare the size of the Netherlands to that of the USA, wouldn't really be fair to expect the same turnout right?

You also seem to forget that travelling in europe is a much bigger issue than in USA. Thus making it harder to organize big tournaments. You'll have to cross several countries, each with it's own language. English, French, German, Spanish, Swedish and Dutch are just some common languages that you hear at the big international tournaments; that usually happen in the summer. Besides that there are also different currencies in some countries, which makes it even worse.

I'm actually pretty sure that smash has by far the biggest fighting game scene in europe compared to other fighting games. But please name some other fightinggames that have had serious 250+ man tournaments in 2008 in Europe.

I would also like to point out that Mew2King, (one of) the best melee and brawl player(s), wants to fly over to europe to play against our top players, while he doesn't have any plans to go over to Japan. (i think)

"Both US and Japan have strong competitive scenes, while the perception in Eurpose is that it's "that kids game with the Mario Kart characters."
That's just hilarious, but you made that up right? The only thing that you're actually right at is that most of the worlds top mario kart players live in Europe.

Thanks for your time

Ivo, the Netherlands.

November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterIvootjes

Very nice work! Ironically, the thing I'm taking away most from this article is, "Nintendo knows about Sirlin." Hopefully they'll remember you when SSB4 is in the works. Can't wait to see the rest of the videos when they come out (I hope auto cancels are portrayed correctly, a lot of people seem to get it wrong).

November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSuperDoodleMan

Ivo: "I failed at knowing things." "I seem to forget that traveling in Europe is a bigger deal than US."

All I did was quote the people who commissioned these videos in the first place. I didn't do my own separate market research, I just took theirs at face value, since they are a huge company who knows exactly what they are doing and they make great products.

Ivo, you are demonstrating why allowing comments for these posts isn't worthwhile.

November 16, 2008 | Registered CommenterSirlin

Hey Sirlin,

You clearly defined a combo in your Super Turbo tutorials as a sequence of hits that cannot be blocked or avoided once the first hit connects, and yet in "Evasion and Throws," you stated that Ness' down-throw leads to combos, which it does if we're to adhere to this definition. I feel that Brawl's nearly non-existent hit stun adversely affects its competitive potential.

As you know, a fighting game consists of two distinct settings that fluctuate in a match; the push-and-pull game and the punishmenti game. The push-and-pull game is what is colloquially referred to as "mindgames," or basically anything you do to penetrate your opponent's defense. The punishment game comes into play at the end of the push-and-pull game; when the more skilled player manipulates his opponent into making a mistake, he generally punishes them for it with a lengthy combo. This is not the case in Brawl; the lack of hit stun means that the victim will quickly revert to a neutral state and actually recover before his attacker, resulting in a free counter attack that the victim did not do anything to deserve. The game actually punishes you for being good; it's explicitly designed to be more forgiving to inexperienced players. And because block stun is nearly non-existent, the game encourages campy, defensive play. I personally find this to be boring, but to each his own. The only character that can safely be aggressive due to range and priority, or is capable of true combos is Meta Knight, and that's exactly why he is top tier. Snake is second on the tier list because his moveset perfectly complements Brawl's defensive metagame.

The game's producer, Masahiro Sakurai, has stated that his goal with Brawl was to diminish the gap that exists between the "pro" and the "noob." An example from your book comes to mind; this situation is analogous with the way that MMORPG admins punish smart play by banning or suspending players that exploit programming errors or bugs; they involve themselves too deeply in keeping the game exactly the way they intended it to be played, which ultimately stifles creativity and keeps the game stagnant.

At the same time, another example from your book helps to defend Brawl: those who should win, still do. It still takes skill to win in Brawl, but certain mechanics of the game punish it needlessly. If the game re-introduced air dodging that can only be done once in the air, hit stun, block stun, as well as safer attacks with less lag, Brawl would be an incredible game that would appeal to both casual and competitive players.

As well, what do you think of the introduction of items into competitive play?

I hope to hear your thoughts on what I've said, or anyone else's input.

November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterOsman

In my opinion, Items add an unnecessary element of randomness to the game.
Plus some of them are just so broken, you cannot possibly recover.
Just having set spawn points and times does not justify their use.
Will the item spawn next to me so I can finish off this player who is clearly worse than I am, or will it spawn next to him and reward him with an undeserved kill?
Will it spawn now, or in a few seconds when he has had time to run away?
Plus the only people I can think of who are pro-items in competitive play are SRK, and none of them are even that good at the game, so it's hard to take what they say seriously.
They think that turning off items and stages is "banning" this and that.
I could go on forever about Items in competitive play, but in conclusion, they are unnecessary, especially with Brawl's nonexistent Punishment game.

November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVulcan

This video series is just the kind of tutorial I'd show to new Brawl players. They cover all the mechanics (right down to basic movement!) and don't use any unnecessary Smash jargon.

Although these videos are for newbies, I actually learned a few new things from them:

- That backward rolls have invincibility on start-up, but forward rolls don't. Very useful to know!
- That by holding up after a tilt attack, I can do a up-tilt without accidentally jumping (though I turn Tap Jump off, so I can't really use this)

Heh, if only a video series like this existed for Guilty Gear, to supplement the mindfuck that is's guide. ;)


November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAvatar Z

"All I did was quote the people who commissioned these videos in the first place. I didn't do my own separate market research, I just took theirs at face value, since they are a huge company who knows exactly what they are doing and they make great products."

And they don't care about the competitve scene, just the number of sells. If they do care about the competitve scene then their definition about competition sure is different than mine. For me the competitve scene are the people who really try to get good at the game, and go to tournaments. For Nintendo it's the number of people who buy the game and play it once in a while with friends to have some fun.

Ugh, i guess i just can't stand a combination of the phrases "competetive scene" and "nintendo market research" together. If such an article would have been released at Nintendo's site i wouldn't even have reacted on it, cause i know they're morons about competetive smash, and actually try to randomize the game as much as possible.

Oh well, good luck with promoting brawl to the "competetive" gamers out there, though i don't think that it will really have a big influence on the tournament scene. As "competetive brawl" and "tournament brawl " seem to be two totally different terms in this discussion.


November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterIvootjes

I wouldn't have taken much research to know there's an active smash scene in Europe, for both Melee and Brawl. Not every European country has an active smash community, but several do and their level is nothing to sniff at. You could've simply asked Scamp before making claims like that.


November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarc



November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarc

After I've done months of work dedicated to helping the Smash community, players like Marc and Ivo make me regret it. I wonder what the rest of the Smash community thinks about that.

Nintendo asked me, they told me the situation, and I helped. Now the results of that work are available. "You're welcome?" The videos are intended to bring more people to Smash, around the world, across many languages. I'm glad the rest of you liked them, at least.

November 16, 2008 | Registered CommenterSirlin

You make claims about our scene and even our perception of the game that simply aren't true. What you're trying to accomplish with your vids is a good thing, and that's not what my criticism was about. No need to get all defensive.


November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarc

He's not being needlessly defensive. The comment you are talking about is about 5% of the point of his text. And the text is about 2% of the point of this post, which is the awesome videos. Criticizing him for that is like not voting for Obama because even though you like his policies and think he's a smart guy, he had a pimple on his forehead one day. Grow up and don't post negative comment on sirlin's awesome site.

November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMark Conkle

I've been into Smash since the N64 version, and only lately been trying to get into the community as well, but these videos are not only great for new players, but I've found them very useful as well. Very well done Sirlin! Can't wait for the others in the series! :3

November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCalderon0311

*side note*
I think the randomness of Items in the game should be used more often, or at least have their own tournament ranking... While I usually play without items, I do feel like the game is missing out on a good portion of it's content with items off. :o

November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCalderon0311

And you didnt talk about the stupidness that is tripping WHY?

November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTimic83
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