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
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
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
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?

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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!

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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.