The boys and I used to play a lot of Super Smash Brothers on the Wii. It’s a game where you each control a famous game character (Sonic, Mario, etc.) and you beat the snot out of each other. The characters are relatively small on the screen, so there’s plenty of room to jump around, shooting and punching and doing all sorts of craziness.

It’s the craziness that makes it fun. Each character has its own set of moves, and there’s everything from singing to chomping to sword-swinging.

When the boys discovered they could make our own characters, the game elevated to an even higher level. The moves weren’t as varied as the standard characters, but even so, the pull of making your own was strong.

After having their characters beat up on me for a while, I made two of my own (Spud and d.Fantasti). Unfortunately, Spud was nigh unbeatable, which proved to be a game-breaker. Having one character in the system that could beat all the others turned every game into a “let’s play, but nobody can use Spud” situation. That gets old really fast, and we stopped playing.

Yesterday morning, I felt like playing again.

“Aww,” my oldest said. “How about something else?”

“You pick the character I play,” I said, then listed off the ones I was familiar with. “I can be Spud, or D, or Robin, or Lucina. It doesn’t matter, any of the four. You play who you want to play.”

He grabbed a controller and dropped onto the couch. “Okay,” he said. “You can be Spud.”

“Really? Why?” I picked up a controller and sat on the floor in front of him. “Why not one of the others?”

“No, no,” he said. “It’s okay. I’ll be Destroyer.”

Destroyer is his character. He’s tough, but he’s no Spud.

“Are you sure?”

He exhaled heavily. By now the game was set up, the characters chosen, and he was picking the arena. He selected a nice open flat one, which was Spud’s specialty. “I guess.”

I figured he was humoring me, letting me have one game with Spud before we moved on to the real contest.

Spud strode confidently over to Destroyer. . . and was plastered. For the next two minutes, nothing worked. Destroyer completely crushed Spud, over and over again.

After the game was finished, I looked back at my son.

He was grinning from ear to ear. “I may have made a few improvements to Destroyer.”

“Two out of three,” I said.

“Are you sure?” he asked, in a perfect imitation of my earlier question.

“Shut up.”

He won the next game, then I took one, then he won two more. “That’s two sets of two out of three,” he said. “Maybe I should try another character. . . you know, to give you a chance.”


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