It was August, and Smash was only a month out from launch in Japan. Hype was high and I was already prepared to duck out from the internet on the 12th of September (Smash 3DS' Japanese launch date) to avoid spoilers (I was getting the game on launch #notsohumblebrag). During the morning of August 19th, when I got online to talk to my friends, they were discussing the ultimate cancer amongst the creation community: leaks. I scoffed at the notion for whatever reason, the arrogant whelp I was. I'm not sure if I had thought that the leaks would be fake or I just couldn't resist the temptation (Gematsu imploding little less than a month ago with Robin/Lucina's debut probably had an impact) but regardless, I clicked the link.
(Remember when the roster looked like this. Poor little bby.)
Ha! Where do I even BEGIN with this tripe! (That uh, that's old me talking in italics btw.) Firstly, the roster seems a bit small. Second, where's Mewtwo, Chorus Kids, or Dixie Kong (or even Ridley *cough* sorry i could feel my asthma being triggered by that dusty ass topic HEYOOO)? Third, Dr. Mario coming back after we already introduced alts? You WISH.
Dr. Mario later went on to become my fourth most played character and I pray to our Messiah-Chairmen-Prime Minister-Commander-Overlord-Daddy~-Chancellor-Savior of the FGC Sakurai everyday that he wasn't made into an alt costume.
Dark Pit definitely doesn't have a chance, I mean, I'd definitely place him below Viridi and Magnus (looking back though, I'd say he's definitely above Magnus in terms of importance. Maybe not Viridi but DEFINITELY Magnus).
I've seen the 3DS character select screen so much now that looking back on this image it's a bit hard to put myself in my own shoes just two years ago. Back then this was a sight foreign and intimidating. It threatened the sacred sanctity of Smash and so I HAD to get on its ass.
I honestly went through a textbook definition of the stages of grief. First came denial, fighting back against with all my might. The points above about characters weren't enough, no, no! Just look at it: G&W's hand is TOTALLY entering Wario's space! And Ness! We may not be able to source where the renders come from, but the number of stripes on Ness's shirt isn't consistent with Melee/Brawl. We all know that Literally-A-God-Among-Men Masahiro Sakurai has a great sense of attention to detail, and would never let such a mistake pass him by. Not to mention he's...taller for whatever reason. Meta Knight was recently revealed so that's definitely enough time to get his render in this FAKE leak (though to be fair, people do work pretty fast on stuff nowadays). Oh, Brinstar is also on the leaked character select (for context, the stage had just been revealed literally the same day)? Pfft, lucky guess. It was brought back in Brawl, so it was an easy port over and a safe guess! And why the HELL is Yoshi smack-dab in the middle of the Mario characters (lowkey he looks nice in there)? Like hell would Sakurai put him in there so sloppily! And the select screen is boring in GENERAL. The devs have an eye for this thing you know, (especially Sakurai <333), so no way would it be left this blank and boring. And last but not least, Shulk's face is DEFINITELY using Little Mac's as a base. Humans having similar facial structure? Nah my dude, definitely more proof that the leak is fake and traced on Photoshop. Oh, by the way, "X is a Photoshopped Little Mac" went on to become an injoke between my friends and me. Not that important but still worth mentioning.
Of course coming after denial was anger. How dare this stupid leaker interfere with Smash's BRILLIANCE! I'm glad Nintendo found, and is suing him. I have absolutely no idea where the rumor that the leaker was found and given a stern timeout stemmed from, but I'm pretty sure they were never caught. Just another case of a thirst for justice/self-satisfaction blinding any sense of reality inside.
Then came the bargaining, OH THE BARGAINING. There's still hope! A-after all, some of the leakers said that there were more characters that could be unlocked or transferred via the Wii U version. That explains the absolutely fugly negative space around the bottom of the character select screen! There's still more to be surprised by! and so despite basically walking in Smash 4 knowing everything about it, I still went on leave and tried avoiding the horror of the truth. When September came around, and my school friends were discussing Smash in our club, I covered my ears saying I didn't want to know anything about Smash. Oh, if only my foolish heart didn't reject what my friend Cameron's telling eyes spoke: "You already know everything you fucking idiot."
I got Smash 3DS on launch as intended and had a great time. However, as I unlocked everything there was on like day 1 (that's an entirely different can of worms I'll get to some other time) the truth made itself apparent. I could no longer hide behind a mirage of ignorance. Dixie Kong, Mewtwo, Ridley, Chorus Kids, Lucas, Wolf, whomever: none of them were there. Everything there was to know about the roster we knew. It was pretty depressing, but I have to say I think I handled it relatively well. Smash 3DS lived up to everything I had hoped for, so this definitely pacified the blow of the ESRB leak. I was basically able to bypass depression and acceptance by extent entirely when the next phase of Smash had begun: the age of DLC. With Mewtwo coming to us soon, not only had the glory of Smash been continued (much to the chagrin of some of my friends; sorry you had to put up with all of that Thing!), but in addition, Wolf, Lucas, and even maybe Ice Climbers, ALL had a chance to say "Don't call it a comeback!".
If only I had known that this was truly my time of downfall: the beginning of the end (figuratively and literally) and the crumbling of my perfect little world. I wouldn't even describe it as the crumbling of a world—more of the popping of a bubble.