Nintendo gave fans a taste of one of its most anticipated titles today with the first ever Super Smash Bros. Invitational. In a competition among 16 players, Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios was the ultimate victor, besting Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedema in a final one-on-one match.
Held at the Nokia Theater tonight, fans gathered to watch the first live public demonstration of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, seeing new stages, characters and assist trophies in action.
"The inspiration for the Super Smash Bros. invitational was really Nintendo wanted to give a gift back to the fans who have been so supportive of the franchise over the years," said Nintendo senior director of corporate communications, Charlie Scibetta.
Scibetta said Nintendo allotted for 3,000 fans to attend, but fans who could not make it to the invitational could watch online and also have the chance to play the game in Best Buys across the country on June 11 and 14.
"Nintendo always listens to fan feedback," Scibetta said. "The development team has heard that [feedback], and so they've tried to really listen to that and hopefully make a game that is going to be something that the community likes and feels that they were heard."
Scibetta said the response from the community was "overwhelming" as players were invited to compete. The competitors hailed from around the world, including Japan, New York and California. They fought in three rounds of competition before the final match came down to Hungrybox sparring as Kirby and ZeRo as Zero Suit Samus.
Players only got their hands on the game for the first time today, choosing their characters in a random order the morning of the event.
The invitational's focus was squarely on the fans both on stage and off, and Scibetta said Nintendo could gain as much from the invitational as fans could.
The fans in attendance included a varied mix of Smash fans. Families with small children to groups of teenagers who have been playing for years, including Sy Flores, an 18 year old who arrived at 9 a.m. for a chance to attend, cheered on the fighters.
While Flores has aspirations of playing Smash Bros. competitively, he said he was excited to be representative of the larger Smash community at the invitational.
"This'll be the first time that anybody gets to see actual footage of the game, and to be here in person is big, to be one of the few people that are here," Flores said.
To show those fans who attended their appreciation, Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai greeted them at the opening of the tournament, and Reggie Fils-Amie closed out the invitational by awarding Kevin "PPMD" Nanney the fan-favorite award and ZeRo the championship trophy.
While Scibetta did not announce any future plans for tournaments, he said this event was emblematic of Nintendo's interactions and communication with fans.
"The best way for our games to come to life is not by just announcing them but by actually getting them in front of people so they can get their hands on them and experience them themselves," Scibetta said. "Any way we can get interaction between the game while their playable and people that love the games is gonna be great for them, and in a lot of ways, just as importantly, good for us because we get that fan feedback."