By Brad Fauber
Press Start Video Games' annual Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament is becoming a big hit within the local community, but it isn't all about fun and games.
Well, it sort of is -- that's the main goal behind Press Start's most popular event -- but with prizes awarded to the tournament's top players, there certainly is a competitive vibe.
Last year's event drew over 100 combined participants to Press Start's Front Royal and Winchester store locations, according to store district marketing manager Gage Edwards. The Winchester-area tournament, which alone attracted 70 participants and countless spectators, was held at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, where two theater rooms were needed to house the one-day event.
"When they're in there we'll have two or four people playing, and then everyone else is watching them. It's just like they're watching their favorite action scene in a movie," Edwards said. "They're cheering, they're yelling and they're getting excited, chanting names and things like that. It's like a sporting event, and it's just huge with the community around here. They love it."
The Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament returns again this Saturday, as Press Start Video Games will be hosting the event at all three of its store locations in Winchester, Front Royal and Warrenton. The Winchester tournament begins at 10 a.m. at the Alamo, where participants will compete with one another on the big screen. The Front Royal tournament will be start at 5 p.m. at the store location on Remount Road.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl, a popular fighting game developed in 2008 for Nintendo's Wii console, is just one of a complete circuit of games ranging across multiple gaming platforms that Press Start uses for its various tournaments throughout the year.
Edwards said the store holds a different tournament each month, with games ranging from the Call of Duty franchise to Mario Kart to classic fighting games such as Mortal Kombat and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom.
"As far as I know we're the only people that kind of do stuff like this," Edwards said. "I always get people who want to talk about it, who want to do it and we want to help them promote their own tournaments and things like that, but eventually they just end up coming to us because we're the only ones with the space and the utilities to do something like this."
Super Smash Bros. Brawl remains one of their biggest tournaments, though Edwards said it is tough to determine just how many will play this year.
"It's hard to say. A lot of these tournaments are huge day-of signups," he said. "... Right now if I go look I'll have maybe 12 on my list, but by the time the tournament starts I could have 50."
Early registration, which can be done in person at any of Press Start's three locations, costs $10 per person. That price increases to $15 on Saturday.
Prizes will be awarded to the tournament's top performers.
"The top three will get a prize package, which will include stuff -- whether it's a game, a shirt, gift cards, stuff like that. We've even given away big consoles before," Edwards said.
The store has also worked out sponsorships with Red Bull, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Four Color Fantasies, McDonald's, Ledo Pizza and Winchester Parks and Recreation, all of which provide money, food and prizes.
"Red Bull is a big one of ours. They sponsor us heavily all the time," Edwards said. "At one of our other Smash Brothers tournaments they gave away a $3,000 vacation prize package to the grand winner, and he went bungee jumping off a bridge for a weekend."
Edwards said smaller prizes will be given to each person who participates on Saturday, and he encouraged every gamer to give the tournament a try, regardless of skill level.
"People always tell me they don't want to play in a tournament because they're not good or they don't think they'll win anything, but I always say you should play anyway," Edwards said. "It's always a lot of fun. You're getting your money's worth and you're getting a prize for just coming out and having a good thing to do on a Saturday."
For more information, visit Press Start Video Games' Facebook page at facebook.com/pressstartvg.