Project M 3.0, and why you should care. (Super Smash Bros. Brawl mod)



Project M 3.0 released the other day, an extensive mod for Super Smash Bros. Brawl that makes the game faster, changes certain attacks, and adds new characters, costumes, and stages. While many people say Project M simply turns Brawl into Melee, a better description is that it turns Brawl into a sequel to Melee. Though the game brings Brawl back up to Melee's speed, the game incorporates many of the new mechanics found in Brawl as well as coming up with entirely new mechanics. For those that have played or heard of previous versions of Project M, it should be noted that 3.0 finally includes every character from Brawl, in addition to two newcomers.

Edit: Project M 3.01 was released on 1/10, adding a new custom launcher that supports SD and SDHC cards of all sizes. This version also adds several bug fixes, as well as a new rematch option by holding L + R + Y while either paused or at the results screen after a match, and the option to reset to the character select screen from the stage select screen by holding L + R + A.

What's new in Project M?

Mewtwo and Roy return from Melee along with some new tricks

The biggest addition to Project M is the addition of Melee veterans Mewtwo and Roy. Both characters bring updated versions of their Melee movesets, as well as some new techniques. Roy's Double-Edge Dance has been greatly expanded upon, and Mewtwo can now hover in any direction after a single jump by holding the jump button, and can attack out of Teleport. Both characters are even given Final Smashes, Mewtwo's being a clone of Lucario's while Roy's is completely new. Mewtwo and Roy do not replace any characters from Brawl.

Another big addition is the inclusion of alternate costumes, a long-time desire of fans that has never made it into a Smash Bros game (Wario notwithstanding). Mario has a Doctor Mario costume (complete with pills and electrical attacks), Luigi has Mr. L, Link gets his Ocarina of Time design, Wolf has a costume inspired by his designs in Star Fox 2 and Star Fox 64, and several other characters have alternate costumes as well.

Doctor Mario, Outset Island Toon Link, and Melee Fox are just a few of the alternate costumes found in Project M 3.0

Of course, the biggest change to Project M is the gameplay. The game is in general faster, and every attack in the game has been modified to better balance the game and make every character a viable option. Some characters have entirely new moves, while others simply have the properties tweaked to buff or nerf certain moves. Entirely new mechanics have also been added, such as Samus being able to swap between her original beam and a new ice beam by doing her side taunt, giving ice properties to several of her moves. Snake has a new tranquilizer pistol that replaces the Nikita missile launcher, which puts enemies to sleep for a few seconds but requires reloading every three shots. Users can reload early by tapping L or R during the beginning of the pistol animation, a nod to "tactical reloading" from the Metal Gear Solid series. Lucario has a new aura mechanic where his hands start to glow once he's done a certain amount of damage, which allows him to do several new super attacks such as Aura Bomb (B+A), Force Blast (Forward B+A), and enhanced versions of his normal Up and Down B attacks.

In general the game has tons of nice touches that are fan servicey in the same way the official Smash Bros games are. Donkey Kong has a new dashing roll attack that you can use to roll off an edge and then jump just like the Donkey Kong Country games. After a successful homing attack Sonic now does the pose from the Dreamcast Sonic Adventure boxart. One of Mewtwo's taunts uses his cry from the original Game Boy Pokemon games. Snake is given two new taunts, a codec taunt and a taunt where he smokes a cigarette, which even does 1% damage to him and makes the same sound effect that losing health from cigarettes makes in MGS1 and 2. A lot of the other characters have references to specific games worked into new taunts and moves as well. Project M is just as much a love letter to Nintendo and video games as it is a love letter to Smash.

One of the coolest additions is Turbo Mode, a new modifier in Special Brawl that lets users cancel any move into any other move and create insane combos. Turbo replaces Curry in the Special Brawl menu, and likewise a new Turbo item replaces the Curry item in normal modes, giving players Turbo power for a limited time. You can do some crazy stuff in Turbo Mode, but even if you're just playing casually with friends Turbo Mode is still fun to mess around in or simply mash buttons to make ridiculous combos.

Masked Man Lucas on Fourside

Project M also changes a lot of the stages in the game, though there's still plenty of "fun" stages that aren't just one big platform in the middle of the screen and the mod even adds some. A few brand new stages like Dracula's Castle and Skyloft have been added (Nintendo coincidentally had the same idea for a Skyloft stage in Smash 4, but the Project M version of Skyloft has been playable in older versions of Project M released before Smash 4's debut trailer) have been added. Some stages like Norfair and Green Hill Zone have been redesigned by the team, while others like Port Town Aero Dive and Rainbow Cruise remain more or less the same as they were in Brawl. Several old stages like Fourside and Peach's Castle (both from Melee), & Metal Cavern and Hyrule Castle (from Smash 64) have also been added, complete with their original music. With a couple exceptions these new stages unfortunately replace stages from Brawl, but for the most part the Project M team got rid of the lesser stages from Brawl like Mario Bros. and 75M.

While I've given a few examples, there's way too much new content for me to efficiently go over in this blog post. You can either discover it for yourself by playing the mod, or go over to the official site for the mod for a rundown of all of the changes and additions to each character and stage.

Why don't you just play Melee?

The same reason people don't just play the original version of Street Fighter II: eventually you want to play something new. Project M isn't just a recreation of Melee, it's an evolution of mechanics from both Melee and Brawl, a new take on Smash Bros that while using most of the same assets as Brawl still feels completely different. It's mechanically rich, and it's still fun to play casually with a group of friends and items turned on. Yes, the air dodge mechanic from Melee and thus wavedashing return, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it without a competitive mentality.

Does this hack work online?

It does, but with some stipulations. For one you have to download the WiFi version of the hack. There are two versions of Project M 3.01, the "Full" version and the WiFi version. The WiFi version removes analog sensitivity from shielding, C-stick buffering, and some stage and stock options used for tournaments, as these features do not work online and will cause desync. Project M still uses Brawl's netcode because all of the matchmaking and online is done through Nintendo's servers, and thus can't be changed by the Project M team. As such matchmaking does not work, as you will more than likely end up matched against players playing vanilla Brawl and instantly desync. You can play friend matches with other Project M users, but they have to be running the same version of Project M (3.01, not specifically the hackless or homebrew version) or else you will desync. The WiFi version is also required if you want to save replays.

How do I get this to work? Do I need a hacked Wii?

Project M will work on any Wii or Wii U. The hacked version can be loaded from an SD or SDHC Card of any size, while the hackless version will only work on a 2GB SD Card.

Project M now uses a custom launcher designed by the Project M team. This launcher can be accessed through either the Homebrew Channel or the Stage Builder method. This launcher is also able to update Project M on its own, so users who have already installed 3.0 to their SD Card can download only the launcher and access it on their Wii or Wii U to update to the latest version.

If your Wii or Wii U is not hacked, download the hackless version and copy everything within the nohomebrew or nohomebrew_wifi folder to the root of your 2GB SD card. Make sure any custom stages are deleted, then open stage builder with the SD card inserted. If done right the game will boot to the Project M Launcher, and select Start Game to launch Project M. You will use this process to boot Project M every time, and this method does not modify your Wii or Wii U in any way.

This sounds awesome, I think I'll try it out!

Please do! While some might not find Project M to be their cup of tea, there's absolutely no reason not to try it for yourself. The mod is completely free and a lot of hard work was put into it. It's a great way to make the wait for Smash 4 more bearable. I've had a ton of fun with it over the last couple days, and I feel confident other people who give it a try will too.


What does it mean to be a fan of a series?

With Resident Evil 6 completely polarizing fans of the series, it's gotten me thinking about what exactly it means to be a fan of a game franchise. Ostensibly one would be drawn in by things like the mechanics, story and characters, but these are all the result of the staff working on the game, not the franchise itself. Resident Evil didn't spontaneously conceive itself and then print itself onto PS1 discs, it was the product of Shinji Mikami and his staff at Capcom who crafted the game mechanics, characters, story, atmosphere, visuals, sound and every other aspect of that game that so many people fell in love with.

With any franchise people are added or removed from the team that works on it for various reasons until eventually you don't have any of the people who helped create the franchise in the first place, and at that point what exactly is it that you're a fan of? How many of the people that worked on the original Resident Evil for the PS1 are actually still around at Capcom working on Resident Evil games? Is there anyone who links the staffs of Resident Evils 1 and 6, or even just 4 and 6 together? If not, then what is anyone's stake in that game? At that point what is the difference between Resident Evil 6 and any other shooter on the market? Sure, it has the name, and it has the characters that I know, and it has some mechanical similarities to the previous installments, but what do I care about the continuing adventures of Leon S. Kennedy or Chris Redfield when the people behind the scenes that made those previous adventures so great, be it because of the gameplay or because of the story, are no longer there?

I'm not saying that you should immediately stop caring about a game or a franchise the second it changes hands creatively, but why should someone eagerly anticipate a game with no creative links to the original games they loved so much based on name alone? Why should they be so let down when it fails to deliver when there's no actual reason to expect it to, or vehemently defend it from the detractors before they've even played it themselves? Why should someone say they're a fan of a franchise, when there's nothing linking it all together except a name? I was hoping putting this blog together would help me sort everything out, but I still can't answer that question.


What the hell happened to F-Zero?

SHOW ME A new... game... please......
Why hasn't there been an F-Zero game on a current Nintendo platform? The last console F-Zero game was released in America on August 25, 2003, and the last handheld F-Zero to come out in America was released on September 20, 2004. F-Zero Climax, the last F-Zero game ever released, was released exclusively in Japan on October 21, 2004. This means there hasn't been a handheld F-Zero game in seven years, and there hasn't been a main F-Zero game in eight.

Why was there never an F-Zero on the Wii or DS? Both systems were the first Nintendo systems to offer online, (not counting the GameCube which supported a whopping four games, only three of which were released in America) which would be a great addition to F-Zero! Imagine 30 players all competing in the same race, knocking each-other off the course as they all race for the finish! Imagine creating your own tracks and being able to share them and race on them with friends! I remember Miyamoto giving F-Zero as an example of a game that would utilize the Wii's Classic Controller, and I find it ridiculous that their one example of a game that would work better with the Classic Controller never happened.

With the 3DS out and the Wii U on the horizon, I'm worried that Nintendo is going to continue ignoring their fantastic racing series. Nintendo and their games have continually referenced the franchise during this generation, and I really hope Nintendo will one day remember F-Zero and release a new game that kicks as much ass as GX did. Nintendo could follow the trend of remaking N64 games by remaking F-Zero X for the 3DS and including the Expansion Kit content that was previously only released in Japan, (which let players create their own tracks and added two new cups) as well as adding online and track sharing capabilities, and an HD F-Zero with online for the Wii U would honestly get me to buy the console on day one. Come on Nintendo, don't let me down.

Other M was awful, and it worries me about the future of Metroid

Like many, I was incredibly excited for Metroid Other M after the game was introduced at Nintendo's 2009 E3 press conference. Unfortunately, this excitement slowly turned to doubt, and eventually horror, as the game came closer to release, and more and more details were revealed. By the time the game came out I had decided I had no interest in ever playing Other M, but after reading about that scene (SPOILERS) and watching the video in which the X-Play writer who wrote their Other M review defended their review, claiming the game was sexist and ruined Samus' character, I decided I had to see what all the fuss was about and rented the game from Blockbuster a couple of weekends after it had come out. After learning my Wii needed to be cleaned before I could get the game to work and going to Best Buy to buy the Wii Cleaning Kit (effectively doubling how much I spent on renting Other M), I started the game and immediately hated it.

Customizable controls? What hack was in charge of designing this game?!
How could Nintendo let a game this bad be released under the Metroid name? The combat required absolutely no skill, allowing you to literally mash on the D-Pad and dodge any attack, and the game aimed shots for you, requiring the player to only be pointed in the general direction of an enemy for their shot to make contact. The controls were terrible, suffering from trying to shove more functions than were found in Super Metroid onto an NES controller, forcing you to move in 3D with a D-Pad (the reason Nintendo gave the Nintendo 64 an analog stick), and not offering an option to use a Classic Controller because according to Metroid series director Yoshio Sakamoto offering alternate control options means "you really are admitting defeat as a game designer". It took Samus, often seen as gaming's first female role model, and made her into an emotional co-dependent basket-case who couldn't do anything of her own free will when her former commander was around. (For more on this, read MenTaLguY's wonderful essay on the implications of Other M as it was presented) Gone was the isolated and moody atmosphere of past titles, instead replaced with constantly being given orders by a man who had no actual authority over Samus. Rather than being focused on exploration, the game just told you where to go, and you headed down countless linear hallways with the occasional big open room that still only had two doors in it. The script sounded like it had been poorly translated, but I'm pretty sure this is just because the script is terrible, and this terribleness is amplified by the uninspired voice acting found in the American release. As a result the numerous, lengthy cutscenes are unbearable, and players aren't even allowed to skip them. This ensures that Other M shares none of the atmosphere that made its predecessors so great. Even the music is lacking, or to be more specific, is flat out missing, with the catchy tunes of past Metroids replaced with ambiance in most sections of the game, a shallow attempt to mask the game's lack of atmosphere by creating an artificial one, quite fitting considering the Bottle Ship's purpose. There wasn't a single salvageable aspect of this game outside of looking good for a Wii game, which doesn't even come close to saving this game from being terrible.

I feel like I should explain now that I don't hate Other M solely because it's different, I hate it because it's poorly executed. The idea of a 3D Metroid that tries to take 2D Metroid's gameplay and move it into a 3D environment is great, but it didn't work out. Prime was actually originally going to be third person like Other M, but Miyamoto suggested to Retro Studios that they make it first person, and it was only after that change that the game really started to work. I love when games do something original, but I'd prefer a game that's more of the same and is good to one that tries something different and fails on every level.

The big thing I hate about Other M on a gameplay level is that it's about combat rather than exploration. Although Metroid Prime eventually told you where to go, it was still very much focused on exploration. Even when it showed you the location of the room you needed to get to it still took exploration to get there. There were plenty of branching paths and big open rooms with multiple routes and you had to figure out how to get through them on your own. It was an incredibly atmospheric game, and just walking through the environments was a thrill. Other M on the other hand never really has anything where you have to figure out your way through a room, and usually boils down to killing all the enemies to unlock a door. I give Metroid Prime a pass on having a lock-on even though I criticize Other M for auto-aim because Prime wasn't focused on combat. Prime was very much about exploring the huge world Retro created and figuring out how to get to your next objective. Even with lock-on Prime took more skill than Other M though because you had to manually dodge enemy attacks rather than just be pressing the D-Pad during an enemy's attack, and counter attack at certain points when facing certain enemies. It didn't take tons of skill, but it wasn't the reason I was playing that game. (Though the boss fights are all very fun and took more skill than picking off random enemies or space pirates) Other M on the other hand boils down to running down straight corridors or through small rooms, defeating all of the enemies, and then walking through a door to go and repeat that process. Combat is a part of Metroid, but it isn't its defining aspect.

Despite all of these flaws, most people saw no problems with the game, and it received good scores from most outlets, the only notable exception being the aforementioned X-Play review. However, sales weren't what Nintendo expected, and the company doesn't know why, implying that they see no problem with the game. This is what worries me. The original Metroid Prime was a fantastic game, and both of its sequels were great games, though I felt 3 started to get away from what I feel Metroid is. I'm not alone in my love of the Prime series, as the games were hugely successful in America and Europe, and Metroid Prime's success made what was previously thought of as a dead series into one of Nintendo's biggest franchises. Unfortunately Japan doesn't feel the same way, as none of the Prime games sold very well in Nintendo's home territory. Other M seemed to be Nintendo's attempt to make Metroid appeal more to Japanese gamers, ditching the Prime series' first person action and minimal cutscenes for a laughably simple character action game and a failed attempt at an emotional story. With Sakamoto in charge (a man who went so far as to say the Metroid Prime games were in a parallel world, or in other words non-canon, simply because he didn't have direct control over them.) and Nintendo seeing no problem with Other M both on a gameplay and story level I could easily see the series continue to head down this overly simplified and story focused path. I, and I'm willing to bet many others, would much rather see the series continue down the path that Metroid Prime started, or a true return to form with a new 2D Metroid in the same vain as Super Metroid. Until that happens, all I can do is pray for a true peace in space...