One of the features of the new Smash Bros. games that was revealed in creator Masahiro Sakurai's Nintendo Direct was the Global Smash Power system. While most people may have overlooked it as a vague ranking system, it offers much more potential than you would think at first glance.
In his semi-weekly column in Weekly Famitsu, Sakurai talked about the positive implications of employing this type of ranking system. "You could call it a 'reverse ranking'," Sakurai writes. "It counts how far you are from the bottom instead of how far you are from the top. It's simple, but in solves a lot of the problems with conventional ranking systems!"
In standard ranking systems, the goal of every competitive gamer is to be number one. The top of the heap. But as with the immortals of Highlander, there can be only one. Being number one or among the high-ranking elite is a privilege shared by only a select few, and for most other players, it's an unachievable goal.
Everyone's had that experience in online rankings. In a game where the player population is in the thousands if not tens or hundreds of thousands, most of us will find ourselves wallowing about in the zone of mediocrity. This is something we've grown accustomed to, but for a game like Smash Bros., where the objective is for everyone to have fun, this isn't exactly a positive aspect.
In the upcoming Smash Bros. games, Sakurai has removed the goal of being number one, and instead of showing you how far you are from the top, they show you how far you are from the bottom. It's basic positive reinforcement. Instead of showing you how much worse you are than higher ranking players, it shows you how much better you are than lower ranking players. "By calling [your rank] 'power,' it makes it fun to see the number rise." Sakurai notes.
This Global Smash Power will change regardless of a player's score. If more people start playing the game, a player's Smash Power may rise automatically as the player population increases, or it may fall if they are overtaken by other players.
Another benefit to the Global Smash Power system is that it is strong against cheaters. Even if a player manages to change their score through hacking the game, it has no effect on other players' Global Smash Power. Because players can't see how many people rank above them, it makes achieving a high Global Smash Power through cheating little more than a self-congratulatory pat on the back and a chance to get banned from online play.
Sakurai's system may not work for everyone, but for those of us who have grown tired of coming in 14,011th in a game, it looks to be a welcome change in making a game feel more accessible and fun. As Sakurai writes, "I believe it's a very versatile system, but what do you think? It's not just about encouraging competition."
Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U are scheduled for release this year.