UB Smash Club creates brothers

Video game club fosters camaraderie among students of various backgrounds


Gamers have an easier time making friends than others do – simply picking up a controller and sitting down to play with someone is considered a gesture of friendship.

One of the greatest bonding and party games to date has been the Super Smash Bros series.

Taking the best characters Nintendo has to offer and pitting them against each other in epic battles, UB’s own Smash Club comes together every week for the purpose of playing the game communally.

Since UB Smash Club became official in 2001, members have come together to enjoy the game that they love to play.

Although the main focus of the club is Super Smash Bros., they also play other fighting games as well.

“The club was started to provide a central meeting place where people attending UB could go to play Smash, watch Smash, improve at Smash, talk about Smash and even just hang out,” said Jason Ripple, president of the club and a sophomore English major. “We're just a place to come chill out with a bunch of friends, old-school TVs and GameCubes.”

The club meets every Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. in the Student Union Theateron North Campus, where members play competitive games. Currently 98 members strong, the club formed when the first Smash Brothers on the Nintendo 64 was released. Today, they find themselves playing Super Smash Bros. Melee, the third installment of the game series.

Since the first Super Smash Bros. was released on January 21, 1999, it has since become a worldwide hit, earning four follow-up installments over the years and selling 37.29 million copies. The games span across all of Nintendo’s major consoles, from the Nintendo 64 to the Wii U.

Andrew Berger, vice president of the club and a sophomore economics major, said there’s more to gain than just competitive gaming.

In addition to an atmosphere of competition, Smash Club fosters comraderie. Comprised of gamers of all skill levels, the club allows players to become better and refine their skills.

Approximately 40 gamers show up per week for “free play” on Wednesdays.

Boasting non-structured meets, the club serves as a way for students to unwind during the middle of the week. They also invite students to bring their own system and TV to play other games.

“The club holds many events, mostly tournaments, throughout the year, some for prizes and some just for fun,” Berger said.

Although, outside of friendly competition, Smash Club also participates in outside tournaments says Jason Ripple.

“Right now, though, we're actually competing as a team in The Melee Games,” Ripple said. “A national collegiate tournament in which teams of the best players from colleges and universities across the United States and Canada compete with each other in a ‘crew battle’ format.”

Tournaments force teams to work together cohesively as they’re given a pool of lives between all of them.

Smash Club has won the Upstate New York division, after beating out the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and are preparing for a New York City trip to compete against SUNY Stony Brook.

Nick Palastro, a graduate mathematics student and treasurer of Smash Club, said while all skill levels are invited to play, there are no barriers or skill brackets in club gaming sessions.

“Since Buffalo doesn't have a strong Melee community it can be difficult to find high level players,” Palastro said. “Everyone is welcome to play anyone. There are soft exceptions for the sake of seeding tournaments and our challenge ladder, which is run by [Ripple].”

Buffalo has little in the way of Super Smash Bros. tournaments and club members rarely attend any regional tournaments with over 100 entrants.

Smash Club offers UB students a pool of healthy competition and the opportunity to compete for prizes on the national level.

Smash Club has shown that that the Smash Bros. franchise is more than just a collection of video games – it’s a way to earn cool prizes and a unifying tool for lovers of the game.

Kenneth Kashif Thomas is an arts desk editor and can be reached at kenneth.thomas@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KenUBSpec.