OPINION: The Idea of “Super Smash Bros. Melee HD”

Friday, June 26th, 2015

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The Idea of "Super Smash Bros. Melee HD" | EVO 2014 Doubles Melee

Image credited to ongamers.com

If we understand that a merely up-ported version wouldn’t do much for those who aren’t already converted to the gospel of Melee, what else can be done to make it an interesting package? Additional characters, while possibly attractive for those who don’t play Melee, would be disorienting for existing players and the potential tournament ruleset debate that may ensue might hurt the community and drive away an audience. If new characters were a part of competitive Melee HD, veterans might balk at this; were new characters to be disallowed, resentment might grow against the perceived stubbornness of veteran Melee players. It’s best to avoid new characters. Instead, a solid online system as mentioned earlier would be key. Smash Bros. Wii U allows for up to eight players and more teams per game rather than the standard maximum of three teams. This could be an interesting avenue to explore. Tournaments probably aren’t going to go further than Singles (1 v 1) and Doubles (2 v 2), but it’d be fun for some to try out, like whacky combinations of multiple Captain Falcons or Jigglypuffs. Leaderboards, lobbies, or spectating might make for some great icing on the cake.

The Idea of "Super Smash Bros. Melee HD" | GameCube Trophy Melee

Image credited to the Smash Bros. Wikia

It has to be said that there are some potential roadblocks should Melee HD come to pass. How many people are going to buy this game? It isn’t likely that all Melee players, whether they are top-level competitors or play for fun at local tournaments, will buy it. On top of this, not all of these players will even have a Wii U, either, so that’s another purchase that they might have to be convinced to make. Despite this, there is definitely at least a handful of Smashers who would make an aggressive push to promote the game were it to be released. While purchases will impact the commercial success of the game, thankfully Melee HD won’t impact existing players’ ability to play the new title — Smash Bros. games are overwhelmingly played using GameCube controllers, and the Wii U has supported this configuration to a degree with GameCube controller adapters and recently-reproduced GameCube controllers (though not all GameCube controllers perform the same way.)

Melee HD is an idea that would benefit from juggling the desires of enthusiasts and a new audience, but who would be in this prospective audience? Would it sufficiently attract new players? It’s hard to say. Those who play Smash Bros. Wii U at tournaments are probably aware of the Melee scene. The gameplay and general feel of the systems just between Melee and Smash Bros. Wii U are incredibly different; some Smashers who play both games avoid playing the same characters between the two, so as not to confuse themselves by being mixed up by player habits and character traits attributed to another game. With that in mind, there may still be some players who have heard of how flashy and interesting high-level Melee can be. As such a popular title in competitive gaming, once in a while there are players who develop an interest in it through word of mouth. Without access to a GameCube or with their Wii in storage, perhaps some new players just need to be eased into the world of Melee.

The Idea of "Super Smash Bros. Melee HD" | PAL NTSC Smash Melee

Image credited to the Smash Bros Wikia

What about balance? Probably one of the bigger issues of Melee HD involve which balance configuration Melee HD might adopt, between the NTSC configuration (found in North American and Japanese copies) and the PAL configuration (found in European copies.) In any fighting game, characters are packaged with a multitude of data that impact the abilities of these characters. An attack has a “hitbox” of a specific size, and enemies are “hurt” when the hitbox of an opponent’s attack collides with their character. Other values include frame data (how fast attacks come out, how long it takes for a character to return to a normal state after attacking so they can do another action) and things like running speed, shield size, and wavedash capability.

In any case, due to the delayed release of Melee in Europe, the original Melee’s development team implemented some changes in the PAL version of Melee that aren’t present in the NTSC version. While the NTSC is, by convention, the “default” due to the high level of tournament activity in North America, there are some who may argue that PAL is more “fair” since it weakens characters like Sheik and Fox. One might say both versions could be included as selectable, but then players are going to default to playing NTSC everywhere since North American and Japanese Smashers would heavily outnumber European Smashers (assuming people first start out playing the balance type of their native region,) and European players will end up playing NTSC to keep up with all of the tournaments that happen in North America. This isn’t bad per se, but I think the choice isn’t meaningful considering the target audience for this feature are people who play competitively. It’s better to just offer one version. While Peach players would probably appreciate a PAL version, rallying against NTSC as the universal standard is not a fight many people would take up since NTSC is so widely accepted. It’s entirely possible that a completely new balance setup could be implemented, but it’s not really likely. It could be quite the can of worms — the adjustments would need to be minimal so as not to sour too many existing players.

The Idea of "Super Smash Bros. Melee HD" | Smash Melee Opening

I’d like to wrap this up by saying that Melee HD could be something great, and would be an appreciated gesture from Nintendo. Honestly, I don’t think a strong commercial performance is guaranteed, but there is some decent growth potential from it. And if not… oh well! We got something amazing out of it. I mean, anybody who laments the existence of the remake Mega Man: Powered UP (one of the best Mega Man games ever) is a sick creature. And I want to note that Melee and Smash Bros. for Wii U don’t truly compete with each other as gameplay experiences because they’re both different from each other at the core. Melee HD is, at the end of the day, a chance that I’d love for Nintendo to embrace, and I hope that on this subject I covered a lot of bases within this writeup! Make suggestions of your own, too!

I will ask for one more thing for Melee HD should it come to pass — please give additional character colors! Seeing the same four Fox and Falco colors is… hard times. Perhaps eight for all, as with Smash Bros. Wii U?

About Paul Kainoa Vigil

Paul Kainoa Vigil has been playing video games for as long as he can remember. His tastes are varied, ranging from action platformers to RPG's, and even the occasional adventure game or visual novel. His gaming tastes are almost as interesting as his backlog of games, which continue to grow.


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