I don’t normally write a behind the scenes post for individual podcast episodes, but the Super Smash Bros. Brawl / Show Me Your News 15th Anniversary Special of The Max Frequency Podcast felt worthy of this honor. This is, without a doubt, the most audio engineer-type work I have ever put into a podcast. In many ways, making this episode felt like the culmination of 15 years of working in and around podcasts, all of which was inspired by SMYN; a sort of full circle moment for myself. So let’s go back and explore the episode’s production.
I don’t know when I realized that Super Smash Bros. Brawl was turning 15 years old in 2023, but it was early enough for me to make a reminder to ask Peter about recording an episode to celebrate the anniversary. I reached out to Peter in late November 2022 to ask if A) he’d be down and B) if he was still in touch with his former co-host and then CEO of Panda Global, Dr. Alan Bunney, aka SamuraiPanda. Peter was down for all of this and a couple of weeks later I sent Dr. Bunney a message. This just so happened to be the morning that the Smash World Tour by Video Game Boot Camp was canceled.
I won’t rehash the drama here, but the gist is that the cancellation led to VGBC blaming Dr. Bunney and Panda for the cancelation. A week later, Dr. Bunney issued his own statement and stepped down as CEO due to doxxing and community vitriol.
But now I’m the villain. The greedy corporate pig that wants to line his own pockets. The enemy of the community that I’ve sacrificed some of the best years of my life for. I’m so evil now that people are attacking my very home. I was able to create dozens of full time jobs in one of the smallest niches of competitive gaming, an accomplishment only Panda has achieved at that scale. And despite that, I spent the weekend telling my friends and family to call the police to increase patrols at their homes.
All over lies, false character attacks, and a concerted harassment campaign started from people who directly profit by destroying the careers of over a hundred people from their own community.
One could call this the worst timing ever. It sure felt that way. I would call this sad. No one deserves to be treated this way. It is a blight on the Smash community.
I did try reaching out to Dr. Bunney two more times in February. He did respond and respectfully declined. I totally understood his decision and wished him nothing but the best.
For the rest of 2022, I did preliminary research on Brawl and SMYN. It was a light affair. I found the original website for The Dojo, watched Scott the Woz’s superb video, and outlined ideas for talking points and general show flow. This process was a nice way to ease back into that 2007-2008 Smash mindset.
On January 11, 2023, I finally set up a playlist with the original 35 episode run of Show Me Your News: Peter dubbed it “The Essential Collection™.” In hindsight, I should have started this process sooner. I did not realize just how much longer the show became during its initial run. The introduction of The Roundtable would go on to triple the original run times. From then on until the episode’s publication, I only listened to Show Me Your News.1
I started a re-listen notes document and wrote my thoughts down, alongside clips and timestamps of what I considered to be classic SMYN moments. I used Overcast to save these clips as short .mov files inline with the episode titles and notes. I should have kept the later episodes at the top, pushing the older ones down. By the later episodes, I was having to scroll past a lot of notes to enter new information.
Relistening to these episodes helped remind me what the community was thinking and feeling all those years ago. These are a perfect time capsule of fan fervor. We soaked up every update and tidbit we could find. It’s hard to just remember how the community felt, but SMYN opens a portal back to a time before Nintendo Directs, mass adoption of Twitter, etc. It was a time when the traditional press was the dominant source of news and previews. This time travel I embarked on was essential to creating the anniversary episode.
Before sitting down with Peter to record, I knew I wanted to recreate the classic SMYN introduction. My goal was to mirror that iconic structure and transport longtime listeners back. I picked an episode and wrote down a table, breaking down the type of dialog and what music was playing beneath Peter’s voice. I asked a more musically proficient friend which songs these were and he quickly identified the Melee How to Play music, the Captain Falcon guitar riff (which Peter would confirm as the victory theme), and that the main song was song cover of the Brawl theme.
Peter and I briefly talk about finding the theme cover on the show. It was some long lost MIDI and at the time of recording, I had opted to use iZotope’s RX 10 to extract the music and talk over the muffled narration. After the recording, I kept listening to SYMN and arrived at the Pandacast run in the show. With Peter away on vacation, SamuraiPanda took over production. His lack of audio editing prowess led to him using the entire MIDI, unedited, as the closer. It was a gift. I swapped the extraction I made for this clean, unaltered version. The Pandacast provides!
There was one more surprise I wanted to try and make happen for Peter. It dawned on my late in my preparation that I should have some sort of Brawl Viewpoint to further encapsulate the throwback vibe. It just hit me one day, “what if former guests and fans could reminisce and say thank you?” I felt this had real potential to honor Peter and Dr. Bunney’s work and surprise them. So I set out to get in touch with some old time SMYN-jas.
My make or break ask was the first guest voice on Show Me Your News, Smash Boards user Sariku (aka Jason). He was a the voice behind the Who’s In? segment that talked about the odds of characters joining Smash. I think most of, if not all of, the fighters Jason spoke about ended up in Smash eventually. Wild stuff. I was able to track down a way to get in touch with Jason and, much to my delight, he agreed.
This set me down the path of reaching out to six more people, four of which were able to contribute. I asked them to share one or two minutes of their Brawl/SMYN memories and to thank Peter. They all knocked it out of the park. I organized their audio in the flow I thought worked best and then set out to find the perfect track to layer beneath them.
I knew that I wanted to use music from the game’s soundtrack. I had seven contenders:
- Title (Animal Crossing)
- Brewster’s Roost
- Online Practice Stage
- All-Star Rest Area
- Credits (Super Smash Bros.)
- Mother 3 Love Theme
Online Practice Stage was an early pick, simply because that tune would go on to become the closing song on SMYN (I still managed to fit it in the show). The upbeat nature of the song didn’t match the mood I was going for. The same goes for the two Credits tunes. Thematically, they make sense as songs signifying conclusion, but are too amped. The All-Star Rest theme was in the right direction, but just didn’t feel right. I remembered the song Snowman from Mother as a somber tune, but liked the love theme more. A catchier song, but not right.
Animal Crossing would become my musical haven. The low key vibes fit perfectly as background music, while stirring up emotions of long forgotten, but dear friends. The title track wasn’t right, but Brewster’s Roost was exactly what I needed. I couldn’t have asked for a better track to accompany these fine folks’ thoughtful words, like thoughtful letters to a friend from a bygone mail time.
Listening to the “final” weekly episode of SMYN gave me the perfect opportunity to take the audience back and remind them what this was really all about. Peter’s comment on the people was too perfect. I knew I could use that to set the tone and elevate the messages even higher.
Recording the show was the easiest part. It’s always a delight to talk with Peter. We did run longer than I anticipated. I’ll take this moment to apologize again. Sorry Peter! All the clips worked well and the recording went smooth.
I was surprised at just how emotionally drained I felt at the end though. The thank you messages hit me harder in the moment then anytime before. We both got emotional. After months of preparation, I think having the show in the books was a trigger to my brain to let me know how invested I was in this. It caught me by surprise.
Time for the beast. The end result was 25 gigabytes, four Logic Pro projects, and countless audio files. I know my workflow is not the most optimized, but this was the process that worked for me.
My Logic Pro project files were for the intro, the thank you, the clips montage, and the core show itself. I segmented those smaller sections out to keep my main project file cleaner. That really helped my sanity, because those files had a lot of tracks, especially the montage.
The main show itself was a standard-ish edit. I did my normal process of syncing the voice tracks, stripping the silence, and doing my full edit. The unique parts of the edit were the clips from old shows and events. I went through all the clips I saved, concerted them to .wav files with Permute, and then cleaned them up a smidge in iZotope RX 10.
I was able to strip most annoying static sounds, like a low buzz from E3 press conferences. The toughest clean up was the cell phone recording to Brawl‘s reveal trailer. I decided to strip all the music out, which cleaned up that grabble, but it sounded hallow without. So I took the trailer audio separately and layered it beneath, syncing the two as best I could, to give me some control between the levels. I think it works at effectively relaying the means to record reactions at the time without making ears bleed.
One other classic clip tidbit is that the audio of my introducing the Smash Cast was from the original recording. Turns out that I have all the original files from all those years ago. For some reason, I didn’t even clean it up. I just upped the decibels, because it was so quiet. I have no idea why I didn’t match the volume and tidy up the track. That is pure, unfiltered 13-year-old Max.
If you follow Chapter Select at all, you know I enjoy making and using episode-specific art. I knew this episode needed some as part of the celebration. Thankfully, the inspiration was much easier to find than some other ideas I’ve cooked up. I would style the art after Brawl‘s logo and box art, just like Peter did over 15 years ago.
I started by trying to identify the font that Nintendo used. The “Super Smash Bros.” part seemed to be Times Ten Bold, but the “Brawl” was original. I am still shocked that no one has made a custom font replicating this style. This sent me down the path of finding similar fonts. I landed on Osake by Stringlabs. Heck, the logo for the font itself is very reminiscent of Brawl. I am not a huge fan of the shape of the “O” this font makes, but overall the font captures the spirit of the logo.
As for the styling of the text, I actually went back and used this classic post on the Smash Boards as loose guidance / inspiration. I haven’t done too much of the text manipulation described, but I was able to teach myself. It involved a lot of converting to shapes and pixels. I probably used far too many layers, but in the end, it looks like the box. I used Pixelmator Pro and was quite happy with what I was able to create.
For the swoosh…I recreated it by hand. Don’t ask me. So many points…
With the show edited and exported, all that was left was planning the promotion of the show. I knew Peter would share the show and so would I, but I wanted to spread the word a bit more than my usual tweets and posts.
The first place I wanted to share the episode was the Smash Boards. I couldn’t log into my original account (the forgot password email did not arrive in my ancient Hotmail inbox in a timely manner), so I made a new one. Hearing Peter mention the Smash Boards so much on SMYN, it just felt right to me to post the episode in Brawl General Discussion.
Then I went to the Smash subreddit. This just seemed like the right place to get Smash fans eyes on the episode and remind them of the anniversary.
I am quite honored that I was able to produce this celebratory episode. I am proud of the show. Fifteen years ago, if you had told me that I’d become friends with Youko, that I’d actually be on Show Me Your News one day, and that I would have the privilege of producing an anniversary special, you would have blown my Dojo-obsessed brain. More than Brawl or SMYN, this episode was the culmination of 15 years of working on podcasts. Peter and Dr. Bunney captivated me with the magic of the medium. I have been enthralled ever since. I owe countless memories and friends to podcasts. I am thrilled to honor that legacy.
P.S. – The Purchase
So, I found the Show Me Your News store, and of course I had to try and buy something. Turns out, you can still nab some merch. I can’t believe I have the clock. Dreams do come true.
1. It did not help my usual podcast listening that I happened to schedule a podcast with Robert Ashley from A Life Well Wasted during this window and decided that I needed to listen to that show’s back catalog as well. I spent the first couple of months of 2023 reliving my golden podcast years of 2007/8 and 2012. It was an absolute trip.
2. I am really stretching this “P” alliteration thing, aren’t I?