I'd like to suggest that Smash is for non-tournament players too, so I believe in keeping in mind that there are aspects of the game that are more important than high-end tournament balance.
Competitive viability doesn't preclude wet and wild casual fun
- it would be pretty easy to serve both audiences, really. I believe that a symbiotic relationship exists between casuals and tournament jerks. If a game is popular with the casual crowd, a certain percentage 'trickle up' into the tournament scene, and feed stream and youtube hits which turns into more support and money for tournament events. Likewise, a competitively viable game that gets a lot of talk and event coverage entices more new players to try the game that everyone is talking about, and sustains exposure for the game through online coverage, word of mouth, etc. Hell, who hasn't seen Evo Moment #37?
Games like Street Fighter, Soul Calibur I, II, V, Smash Bros Melee, Marvel vs Capcom 2 & 3, and Mortal Kombat 9 illustrate this really well. Casual fun *and* competitively viable (they sell well too!). Games like Brawl and Mortal Kombat 4-8 have dropped the ball on the competitive end, while games like Guilty Gear, Virtua Fighter, and Arcana Heart have not been a success with
In hindsight, Brawl absolutely cannot claim to have the most balanced roster of characters, but it was never really a problem for the group of friends I played with. We're far from tournament standard, counting frames and measuring hitboxes, but we're not incompetent at the game either and we weren't ever struck by balance issues. Unless you're at the uppermost level of play (which arguably takes away some of the fun of Smash Bros. with such limiting rules), I don't think it has that much of an effect.
I don't claim to be at the uppermost level of play either (just good enough to trash people that "think" they're good
), but to me, the differences between character capability is blindly, retna-burningly obvious. I mean, once you really explore a game and find out it has problems once you get to a certain level, it becomes less fun. And it is the fault of the designer, not the player. If you never get to that level, well, that's fine, fun is fun. Why limit the good part of the game to just casual players, though?
edit: if you still play with your friends, do some friendly $5 buy-in tournaments and see how long it takes for someone to start talking about balance. I give about it 10 seconds.