Forget the GameCube Controller, the Wiimote Was the Best Way to Play Super Smash Bros.
A closing note after ten years of madness.
I have a confession to make: for the past ten years, I’ve been using the Wii Remote to play Super Smash Bros.
You may be asking yourself why? Why on God’s green earth would someone devote years of their life to experiencing Smash in the (seemingly) least intuitive way? Well, my friends, it all started out of convenience.
Listen up, kids: grandpa is about to tell you a story. You see, back in my day when Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out for the Nintendo Wii, you had to use the Wii Remote to start the game. Regardless of how you turned on your Wii console, it was impossible to access the Wii’s menu screen with a GameCube controller. So, like everyone else that used a GameCube controller, I would grab my Wiimote, turn on the console, select the game, turn off the Wiimote (to save batteries!), and then play with the GameCube controller. Simple enough? Sure. Annoying as hell? Absolutely.
As you can imagine, over time this ritual became needlessly complicated. Not only did I have to initiate a multi-faceted process to play Smash, but the GameCube’s wired controller forced me to sit close to my Wii. Being that I wasn’t one of the seven people in the world that bought a WaveBird when they were still available, the only way to play Brawl with my GameCube controller was to prop an old, wooden chair in front of my television. My couch at the time was relatively far away from my television and it wasn’t uncommon for my aging, uncoordinated dog (RIP, Ginger) to trip over the controller’s wire, forcing my Wii to fall out of the media cabinet.
Slowly and without ceremony, I started to skip the GameCube controller ritual in Brawl. I would just sit back on my couch, load up the game, and start playing. While playing with the Wiimote initially seemed like a novelty, I started to genuinely like the way the controller felt in my hand.
In case you never tried it, playing Smash with the Wiimote required players to hold the controller horizontally, like an NES controller. Since the Wiimote doesn’t have an analog stick, players would move their characters around by using the D-Pad. Similarly, as the controller doesn’t have a C-Stick, players needed to smash the old fashioned way—by charging their A attacks.
Despite these drawbacks, the Wiimote ultimately became my controller of choice. There was something about using the B Trigger to shield, the minus button to grab, and the 2 button to hit. The controller’s D-Pad, for lacking the precise inputs of an analog stick, made running extremely easy. Seeing as my Smash mains tend to be fast characters (God bless you, Diddy Kong), the Wiimote just made sense.
From that point forward, I became that guy. You know, the guy that shows up the Smash party with his own Wiimote; the guy that asks you to unplug your GameCube controller so he can sync his Wiimote and get a few matches in. While friends noted that my controller of choice was an odd one, I never really got flack for my decision. After a game or two, most folks realized that I was able to hold my own in the game, regardless of the Wiimote. While I won’t be beating competitive players anytime soon (or DualShockers’ own Ryan Meitzler, for that matter), I certainly always put up a fight against even the toughest opponents.
Now that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is finally out, my Wiimote skills have forcefully been retired. Booting up Ultimate with the Pro Controller in my hand for the first time felt wrong; it was like Jimi Hendrix holding a saxophone instead of a guitar, like The Dude drinking a scotch and soda instead of a White Russian. Such is life. I’ve moved on and I’ve started to get some of my Smash chops back.
Not being able to play Smash with the Wiimote is just as significant for Nintendo as it is for me. While the company was able to move on from the Wii brand when the Nintendo Switch launched in March of last year, the arrival of a new Smash game on the Switch is all but a eulogy for the Wii U’s stragglers.
Goodnight, my sweet Wiimote. May we meet again someday.