Always Nintendo Speaks With Justin Lennox, the Smash Bros. People’s Challenger

Super Smash Bros. Invitational

E3 Is a hectic and exciting time, especially for Justin Lennox, winner of Nintendo’s People’s Challenger contest. Justin got a chance to do what many dream of. A VIP trip to E3 2014 and a chance to play with some of the pros at the Super Smash Bros. Invitational. We recently caught up Justin to ask him about his experience and his thoughts on Smash 4.

AN: As a competitive player, what are your first impressions on Smash 4?

Justin: Well I’m not a competitive player, but I do play a lot! Honestly I’m just a huge fan of the series so I’m going to be amazed by any addition. And you know it felt slower but it’s not finished, and nobody has quite figured out the hit stun and combos to make it seem more competitively viable. While it is closer to Brawl’s speed, I’m just hoping that the competitive scene gives it a chance!

AN: How receptive to feedback was Nintendo during the Invitational?

Justin:  Nintendo was incredibly receptive to feedback while I was there. I was playing a game with another guy on the E3 show floor and he mentioned off-hand to the Nintendo representative running the booth that there was too much landing lag off of the aerials. We were incredibly surprised when the representative took out a Nintendo notepad, which had a pre-printed Smash 4 feedback form. He made sure to take notes on the aerials, and another comment the player made about wanting to extend dash-dancing, making sure to get the terminology/spelling correct.

AN: What advice do you have for aspiring competitive gamers?

Justin: The most important thing about getting startered is going to tournaments! You’re going to lose, and you’re going to lose a lot (which I experienced first-hand playing the pros) but that’s how you learn! 

AN: Which character were you most excited to play as, and why?

Justin: I was most excited to play as Little Mac. I mean. Mac is my main. Smash is the game. You know. While he may not have been the best character (picked last in the invitational draft), there was nothing more satisfying than connecting with his KO uppercut. So while he might not win every game, he’s incredibly fun to play as, and that’s more what the game is about for me.

AN: How did you stack up against the winners and finalists?

Justin: I definitely lost! Haha no question. They’re incredible. Two of the pros played me completely wasted and still two-stocked me. They’re just on a completely different level.

AN: Which first party Nintendo character that has no previous ties to SSB would you love to see as a surprise unlock in Smash 4?

Justin: Paper Mario. The Thousand Year Door is my all time favorite Nintendo game (outside of smash). Like no doubt. He wouldn’t be a clone because of his unique art style and potentially cool move set (hammers, partners from The Thousand Year Door).

AN: How was it walking the floor at E3? What did you like the most?

Justin: E3 was the best week of my life. I’d liken it to an amusement park. For some of the big attractions the wait can be up to two hours, but for the smaller games (Indie’s mostly) you can get in in about 5 minutes. Luckily Nintendo was prepared devoted 80% of their show space to Smash. There were like 50 TV displays set up and one huge projector screen setup. The best part was that winning on the small displays got you a Smash t-shirt, and winning on the projector display got you a medal. Of course I nabbed some of those as the best E3 souvenirs. In the end, everybody is there to have a great time and play some great games, and it just doesn’t get any better than that.

AN: What are your thoughts on the reveal of Pac Man?

Justin: There was a leak a while back hinting at the Pac-Man reveal, and there was a lot of push back to it. I was a little worried because I didn’t love his more modern designs, but I’ve learned to trust in Sakurai completely. And I wasn’t disappointed! Smash is his masterpiece and he never disappoints. Pac-Man looks great and his move set looks fun, so I’m definitely hyped.

AN: If you had the ability to design your own Final Smash, what would it be? Which character would use it?

Justin: Well first off I would start by calling Giga Mac just Big Mac. I mean Little Mac –> Big Mac. It just makes sense. I guess McDonald’s got in the way. But if I had to create a new final smash… I would definitely change Donkey Kong’s. The bongos just don’t cut it for me. 

AN: How do you think Amiibo figurines will affect the competitive experience?

Justin: Competitively, I’m not sure! it depends on how much they can learn about the player’s movements and how in depth the AI is. If it’s really good, I’m guessing top players could sell their Amiibo data for less experienced players to practice with. That would be amazing. But more casually, I’m glad to have a different and more fun Single Player method of play/practice outside of your standard everyday CPU’s

AN: Did you get a chance to try the other games Nintendo had on the show floor?

Justin: I tried every game there! On my must buy list: Splatoon, Mario Maker, Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker. In the VIP E3 area they had an awesome 4v4 setup for Splatoon. I’m not the biggest FPS/3PS/Call of Duty fan, but Nintendo always surprises me. The whole human/squid dynamic is interesting, entertaining, and super fun. We were limited to just the ink gun in the demo on turf war and even that I played for half an hour (time was precious for me at E3), so I can’t wait for the expanded features when the game is completed!

Congratulations again to Justin Lennox the People’s Challenger! For more Smash Bros. goodness, you can follow him on Instagram at @justinanthonylennox.

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While I might not look all that impressive, I'll have you know that I've rescued many princesses and kingdoms while wielding various mythical blades in the process. In my off-time however, I'm an avid video game collector with over 300+ games. Everything from Atari 2600 to now! In short: Full-time cool dude, Part-time slacker.