Minecraft Steve Is the PC Gaming Mascot of Smash

Throughout the years on this blog, I’ve speculated who would be a proper mascot for Western PC gaming in Smash Bros. As that series has transitioned from being “Nintendo All Stars” to “Video Game All Stars,” I’ve thought about the kinds of characters who could do a field as wide as “gaming on computers” justice. Maybe it could be the Warcraft orc Thrall, who features prominently in the real-time strategy, MMORPG genres, and MOBA genres. Maybe it could be Turrican, who comes from the Commodore 64 and Amiga era. But what I failed to realize—even after I did an analysis!—is that Steve from Minecraft is that Western PC representative. 

Minecraft is currently owned by Microsoft and on nearly every platform available, but as one of only two characters to get his start on computers (the other being Solid Snake and his original MSX debut), Steve 100% counts as a PC gaming mascot. I think the reason it didn’t even occur to me until recently is the sheer degree of Minecraft’s success. It is literally the best selling video game ever, and its presence transcends gaming. Yet, it still has fairly humble origins as a side project for a programmer working at a browser-based game company, to the extent that you might even count Steve as also the first indie gaming rep in Smash Bros. even if it is technically no longer an indie game.

As with every out-of-left-field fighter added to Smash, Steve opens up a world of possibilities in my mind. I want more than ever to just every aspect of video games from its earliest days somehow included. What about edutainment? Ryu, Ken, and Terry cover 2D fighting games, but 3D fighting games are substantially different. Reimu from Touhou could cover doujin games as well as shmups. Mobile and gacha games are such a huge part of the industry now—why not Angry Birds, or Dragalia Lost if they want to keep it in the Nintendo family? Imagine if Great Giana Sisters (which began as a Mario rip-off) made it in. Hell, why not bring in Computer Tennis

I’m aware that there are only three DLC slots left in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and that I’m wishing for the moon. Even so, it feels like we keep getting one ladder rung closer to that impossible dream, and it becomes ever so tempting to keep imagining. I realistically won’t be disappointed to see something less, and I respect all that the developers have accomplished, but nothing will stop me from looking toward the next sequel.

My Favorite (?) Anime Computer Games

I was asked via Patreon to write about my favorite anime computer games, which should theoretically be an easy proposition. The only problem: I’ve never been much of a PC gamer, and more recently, I haven’t had much access to a Windows PC, where most computer games reside. Thus, the scope narrows from “my favorites” to “the couple I actually played and remember with some fondness.” Hopefully that still counts.

The #1 title that sticks out in my mind is Melty Blood. Though it hasn’t been exclusively a computer game for a very long time, and it’s nowadays known for the running joke that Melty Blood tournaments can (or are forced) to be held anywhere and everywhere, it did start off as a doujin game on PC. I happened to be part of a fighting game forum at the time the game first appeared, and I had recalled a Japanese forum-goer singing high praises for the Tsukihime franchise as a whole. Lo and behold, here was a game that married those two forces—Type Moon and fightmans—together. 

I was never good at the game by any means, but when I think about that very first rendition of Melty Blood, I mostly recall the little humorous touches that faded away over time in favor of a more competitively robust experience. In the first Melty Blood, when Arcueid and CIel clashed with punches, it could set off a sequence that ended with both of them getting cross countered, Ashita no Joe-style. And whereas Mech-Hisui in later iterations has a more conventional forward and back air dash, she originally had a Jet Scrander from Mazinger Z, and she flew at an oddly steep angle when air dashing. It reminds me of the fictional Kujibiki Unbalance fighting game in the Genshiken manga, where the club members talk about how the game adheres so closely to faithfully capturing the characters’ qualities that the balance went right out the window. 

Another game I enjoyed a lot was MegaMari, a fan game that basically took the characters of Touhou and put them into a Mega Man clone. It was more than just a reskin, however, as the game took Mega Man’s famed platforming and added Touhou’s signature bullet hell. Nothing in Mega Man (except perhaps the abusiveness of later entries into the Mega Man X series) could compare to the ridiculous yet beautiful sprays of icicles and swords, and that was in addition to old blue bomber staples like the Quick Man stage instant-kill laser beams. I was never able to complete MegaMari on account of the difficulty, but I appreciated the marrying of two great flavors. It also introduced me to a lot of Touhou characters I didn’t know much about otherwise—Konpaku Youmu, Saigyouji Yuyuko, Reisen Udongein Inaba, and so on.

While my experience with anime computer games is extremely limited, there is one area I wish I could explore more: the Japanese home computers of the 1980s, such as the PC-88 and the PC-98. This is especially because there are a lot of secret shames buried within that time, and it’d be a fun and enlightening experience. Probably the closest I’ll be able to get without jumping through too many hoops is to just get the PC-98-inspired VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action on the Switch. Although that game isn’t made in Japan, it actually got a variety of official art made by Suzuki Kenya (Please tell me, Galko-chan!) for the Japanese release. 

Expect my thoughts on that game in the near future?

This post is sponsored by Ogiue Maniax patron Johnny Trovato. You can request topics through the Patreon or by tipping $30 via ko-fi.