I never used to play fighting games. A small part of me just didn't like the idea, but the majority of my ignorance towards the genre was because didn't know what the hell I was doing. I played 1 round (round not match) of Mortal Kombat on the original Xbox with an old friend and got a flawless victory by hammering the high kick button, because that's all I knew that I could do. My other main interaction with the genre were the occasional Smash Bros. Brawl clashes at a friend's house where (surprisingly) I just button mashed. I used to pick Snake and just throw grenade after grenade and then hide in a box. Safe to say, my naive self I was amused.
But there was something about Smash Bros. stuck. As I was in a lot more interaction with it than other fighters, I began develop a mysticism about it. The masses of different characters and games and themes were just fun and it felt like the Mario Kart of fighting games, a game that understood what it was and wore that on its sleeves. But ultimately it was a game I couldn't play, I just didn't have the console for it.
Fast forward to the release of what is now called Smash Bros. 4, the latest instalment of the franchise that was on both 3DS and Wii U. At the time I didn't have a Wii U, but I did have a 3DS and had been meaning to play it more and make a conscious effort to widen the scope of games I play. So I check the Nintendo eShop to find that Smash Bros. was a nice price and small enough to fit on my 3DS' SD card. So on an impulse I picked it up; my first ever fighting game. All of a sudden this game that I had no access to outside of a chance occasion or two was now mine. That mysticism had become reality. I now had all of these characters at my disposal and didn't quite know what to do. It was like playing Dota 2 for the first time, which will have its spotlight soon, I had all these things waiting for me to explore.
To cut this long story short, my first fighter was Pac-Man, and now my interest in Smash Bros. has grown from that one character for a match or two, to playing Smash Bros. at least twice a day and a growing amiibo collection which currently stands at 11 figures.
The way that Nintendo crafted Smash Bros. is brilliant. As someone who never played fighting games, the concept of learning combos and special moves and then special move combos just seemed daunting to me, but Nintendo have managed to take that complexity out and leave in what keeps you playing. Each character has a certain fighting style, so brawlers deal damage up close, and sword bearers, well, have swords, you just find what you enjoy and take a deeper look. Learning to play a character in Smash Bros. is almost like learning facts about something. Each character has two types of attack: normal, and special. Each type of attack can be altered by pressing direction at the same time, i.e. up, down, left, or right. Normal attacks weaken the opponent. Special attacks can come in a variety of forms, such as launching bombs, lunging across the stage, or even dropping an exploding tin can, and each move has its own purpose.
Everything in Smash Bros. is defined and accessible. Nintendo weaves this ludic learning environment around you, and you begin to understand what a character is capable of doing by just playing. As you play match after match, you gain more of that understanding, and it soon becomes intuition. Through this way of learning you find out that Up + Special Attack acts as an extra jump to keep you on the stage, or that you can time a directional normal attack to turn into a Smash attack which are designed to launch weakened enemies off the stage. This then just snowballs into understanding different techniques that the game's community have discovered for themselves, and then the learning starts again, bringing a whole new perspective on each and every character. Brilliant.
I play Smash Bros. at least twice a day on my commute by train, as if I'm training almost, but that doesn't detract from the enjoying I'm still getting by learning new characters and trying to master them. But the most satisfying thing about my enjoyment of Smash Bros. is that someone will now watch me play Smash Bros. and gain that mysticism that I used to have, see how I play the game, and hopefully begin their own process of learning... or challenge me, that could be fun.