Nine students from the University of Massachusetts Boston have taken the challenge of competing in The Melee Games. This tournament places 50 colleges in the Northeast against each other to battle, with the best school coming out on top. There are two divisions of The Melee Games — New England in one bracket and the Tri-State area (NJ, NY, PA) in the other. Then, the teams that are left to face-off and find an ultimate winner. The video game of choice is Super Smash Brothers Melee.
If you’ve never played Super Smash Bros. Melee, here’s the gist of it. It is a crossover fighting game for the Nintendo GameCube released in 2001. Characters from several Nintendo games are featured; characters from Super Mario Bros., Pokémon, and The Legend of Zelda. It's simple — you pick a character and fight to the death. The option of multiplayer gameplay is the main reason for the game’s popularity.
It is UMass Boston senior physics major, James Rasher's, third time competing in The Melee Games. His reason for entering the competition was to come together with other students who enjoyed the game just as much.
“I wanted to enter the tournament because it was something brand new a friend of ours had just set up in the Boston area, and I thought it was a great way to get to know people from the other schools, make connections, and have a good time while trying to practice and get better.”
Rasher said that the UMass Boston team doesn’t rely too much on a strategy while playing because they have such strong players. Also, practicing daily is easy for them since they are able to utilize the game-room on campus.
Rasher explained that their only technique is “to start each crew battle strong when [their] first player goes up against [their opponent's] first player, and get an early lead, then take the win from there.”
So, why choose Super Smash Brothers Melee for a tournament like this one? Rasher believes one reason is because of the large fan base of the game.
“It has tight controls, it's faster paced, and generally considered harder than the others, making it good for a competitive gaming experience.”
So far, there have only been two semesters of The Melee Games and UMass Boston has represented well in both. Rasher says that in their first semester at the university they made it to the finals of the New England division, but lost a close game to MIT. This past semester was another close one for UMass Boston, in which they almost came out on top.
“In the second semester, UMass Boston came in first, beating MIT for the New England section. Tri-State colleges joined for the fall semester tournament and the grand finals were New England vs Tri-State, which was UMass Boston vs Columbia. We also lost that game in a close match, coming in second once again.”
Don’t worry guys, we’ll get ‘em next semester.