I have to put this up on front. I hate to play a game in a tournament setting. The pressure amongst your peers and the surrounding audience is pretty overwhelming. Despite there being one winner emerging from a match, do all the opponents try their best to hide their poor sportsmanship? Does the person you’re going up against know the ins and outs of the game because he’s spent every living moment learning the intricacies of the game’s mechanics and flaws? I have a hard time imagining that game developers really think twice about any of this. Not until they get around to working on those hotly anticipated sequels that guarantee to bring the consumer more of the same while fixing some of the issues presented.
You may have heard of the community behind Super Smash Bros. and the surfacing of Project M. A project that is supposed to unify all three versions of Super Smash Bros. in one package giving you the most characters, the most levels, and the most features that is easily accessible to everybody through an SD card, an impressive technical feat. So why do I not care for this mod? Why do I feel a bit of a hostile attitude coming from the people behind the Smash Bros. community who are adamant about why Melee is a better game compared to Brawl? Honestly, Brawl has everything from Melee I could want while fixing some of the minor annoyances I’ve had with Melee while introducing some very nice additions.
Super Smash Bros. Melee got me out of competitive play, so it may not come as a surprise that my interests in Project M are low. But anybody who questions the existence of this brilliant piece of work is told to ignore it and move on with life. It’s a little hard to ignore, considering that the purpose and the message of the project is to correct those changes that were made in the sequel. The team behind Project M seems to be sending mixed messages of “Hey, we’re not here to change the way you play the game, but we’re going to be bringing a technical balance that was missing from this trainwreck.” This mod in question only serves the purpose of “This is how we think the game should play, and how it should be done.” But what are they basing these views on? The people behind the project are people who’ve had quite a history in tournament play. To go from Melee’s brisk, broken mechanics to Brawl’s slower paced, unpredictable tripping seems like a rude awakening to the Melee savant. People who are used to the imperfections of Melee’s gameplay can be thrown off by the changes that were made in Brawl. Several die hard Smash Bros. community members have already exclaimed their disgust of the changes in their perfect world and have made several efforts to get it back while taking the additions introduced to Brawl in their own, clumsy way. Without a doubt though, the effort being put behind Project M is technically impressive, but to the average consumer, the Wii audience, your girlfriend/spouse, basically to the person who does not have the time due to other interests or life in general, these changes will go by unnoticed. The lead programmer behind the project expressed his desire to become a game designer in the recent episode of “Show Me Your News” they were featured in. (That you can find on their website.) I can’t help but feel that he would be a person I would never want to work with on a project. After all, one of the goals of Project M is to take away some of the accessibility introduced into Brawl for people who have a harder time playing video games. It reminds me of John Romero’s Daikatana that deliberately punishes players for getting the rug swept from beneath them with irregular difficulty balances and vague objectives that gives the player a bad vibe by telling them they can’t handle the way the game plays, they’re not very good at video games and should just stop. Nintendo has had pretty good success in lowering the bar of accessibility for people who don’t play games very often. To see that they’re adamantly taking away certain functions from Brawl for the sake of tournament play is only catering to the audience that would care for these sorts of things. Is the reason because the player needs to “Use more skill,” or are they trying to keep the bar high so that people with less experience can match them on their own level? This whole project is only catering to one type of audience, the one audience that can only accept things if certain conditions are met. They may not be willing to put out the cash for it, but all Nintendo needs to do is cater to a new audience, and suddenly that one gap that would’ve made a dent in their profits has been filled up with…even more money. It’s like nothing happened at all.
I plan to go further into detail about my issues I have with the project and the people behind this mod. I could easily just move along and let them have their fun, but when these people look into getting a position somewhere in the video game industry, I can’t help but point out some of the flaws based in their message they are delivering with their efforts.
Of course, this whole piece is more or less an advertisement of the existence of the mod, and at the time of this writing, they’ve put out a demo that you can try out right now! I’ll further sweeten the deal for both you and the people behind the mod by providing a handy link to their website right here.