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Weekly Famitsu February 4th, 2005
Vol. 89: Melee Tournament With The Famitsu Editors!
One winter day, I sped my beloved car to the Famitsu editor’s building. However, I wasn’t on my way to discuss my next column, or even to promote or talk about a new game.
Every year, the editors come together and have a “Super Smash Bros. Melee” tournament on November 21st, the day the game was released. This year marks the 4th tournament. To have people enjoy a game for so long post-release is an almost inexplicable feeling for any creator. Of course, just watching would be a waste, so I participate as well. I am the Famitsu writer “Shirataki Sakurai ,” after all…
Last year’s tournament’s finals was fought between Mr. Moge (Link), Mr. Nagata (Falco), Mr. Haryuu (Samus), and myself (Ganondorf). The winner was Mr. Nagata. In the magazine version of Weekly Famitsu, he pens the column right under mine, called “Shout of the Soul.”
If I were to point out something unique about these results, it would be that Mr. Nagata isn’t especially better at Melee than the other editors. And, Mr. Nagata and Mr. Haryuu are rivals in Melee, putting in quite a lot of time– they have over 2,000 matches against each other recorded on their save data. Moreover, they are “Smashers” who enjoy the game from the bottom of their hearts .
The two of them defeated several relatively high-level editors, and rather than skill or whatnot, their daily accumulation of experience led to their good results, culminating in a dramatic run to the finals.
However, last year’s champion couldn’t participate in this year’s tournament! Oh no! An annual tournament without the defending champ. Quitting while you’re ahead, I see (or at least, that’s what I’ll say to light a fire under him).
So, this year’s tournament consisted of 16 editors who loved Smash. We faced off in tournament format. The player who wins a single tournament advances to the finals, and this is repeated four times. Thus, it’s a format that even if you lose once, you have multiple chances.
To be frank, I did not play well at this tournament at all. I don’t have the chance to play fighting games daily, much less Melee, so I could tell that my skills had eroded considerably. When I won, I won by a lot, but when I lost, I lost big. When you’re inconsistent, you can’t survive in tournament. No wonder I placed poorly. Now’s not the time to be changing characters willy-nilly.
My last opportunity, against Mrs. Kisuko Okumura  (Link) and Mr. Tanizuka (Doctor Mario), a wife-and-husband pair, ended in a sound defeat that left me exhausted. The entire room burst into laughter. I couldn’t believe it. I’ll probably never be able to forget that game on Mute City…
In the finals, we had Mr. Moge (the Link player, who made it last year as well), Mr. Bunbunmaru (Donkey Kong), Mr. Basara Satou (Ganondorf), and Mr. Houta (a very consistent Kirby player ). Bunbunmaru-san, feeling unconfident in his play with Donkey Kong, switched to his Link and made it to the finals.
At the conclusion of the intense and very close match, Mr. Bunbunmaru took it all with a dramatic comeback with only 5 seconds to go! It was a victory earned through shrewd tactics and skill!!
Afterwards, just like last year, the winner sent a gloating, boasting email to the rest of the editors. Congratulations! But, next year won’t be so easy!
Looking Back (a retrospective on every column included only in Sakurai’s book)
Interviewer: In the end, you didn’t win a single time.
Sakurai: (laughs) I guess so. But, you know, whenever we do one of these tournaments, I always think, “I really should have made Link’s spin attack a little bit weaker…”
Interviewer: You can’t do that! If you do that, you take away my best strategy!
Sakurai: But, well, it’s already been four years since Melee was released. Thank you for enjoying that game for these four years!
Interviewer: No, no, thank you for creating a game that I can play for so long without getting bored! Although, when I think about how we’ve upgraded this room over the course of four years…you really feel the passage of time.
Sakurai: This column was written about the third annual tournament, but yesterday’s tournament was played on these two large plasma televisions.
Interviewers: I’d never have dreamed that Masahiro Sakurai would end up participating in this small, rather private tournament, though.
Sakurai: Maybe for next year’s tournament I’ll play Captain Falcon…Truthfully, Falcon is my true main…
Interviewer: But I’d never seen a Jigglypuff move so gracefully! So you were handicapping yourself.
Sakurai: (laughs). Getting together and playing against each other is fun in a very pure way, isn’t it. Oh, I wonder when the next Smash game will come out?
Interviewer: You’re the director, you can’t be the one saying that!
1. I’m honestly not sure what this means. It’s obviously a nickname of some sort. “Shirataki” means “a waterfall that looks as if it were a spilling white cloth,” like this (this is a picture of a landmark called “the Shirataki of Naso”). I suppose that means he plays like a vicious, flowing waterfall? Alternatively, “shirataki” does refer to a type of konnyaku noodle, so maybe he really just likes that kind of noodle. In the article in one response to a fan question (#52), he said that if he had a cat, he would probably name it “Shirataki.” So it’s also possible that maybe it’s a nickname based on his potentially favorite cat name (his cat’s real name is Fukura). Or he named his cat after his favorite type of noodle. Or, most likely, Sakurai is being tongue-in-cheek about this nickname anyway, so it’s really pointless to dwell on it too much.
2. The Japanese word he uses is “心底,” which literally means “from the bottom of their hearts.” He also seems to use this word/phrase fairly often–it’s come up in another one of his columns, albeit one that was written years after this one.
3. Sakurai’s wording here is confusing to me, but contextually it appears that when he says “tournament format” he means that they play four games that are 4-player free-for-alls (other than just the written context, there are pictures in the book that show four players around a single television, for example).. Then, the winner of each free-for-all advances to the finals. I opted to keep his original wording which specifically includes the word “tournament,” but I think that this is what he means (it’s at least clear that the finals of the tournament were a 4-player free-for-all.
4. Mrs. Okumura is actually the “Interviewer” in the “Looking Back” segments of each column. The interviews themselves don’t indicate this, though.
5. The word he actually uses is “like clockwork,” but I didn’t feel that there was a way to use that phrase that would be in line with the consistent phrasing he uses in this sentence, so I went with a parenthetical “very consistent” instead.