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Let’s Talk ‘Smash: Project M’

Liam Collins ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

With the recent release of Smash 4 on the 3DS and its upcoming availability on the Wii U, Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. game series continues to evolve. While Melee and Brawl are still popular amongst fans, the continuation of the series has both casual and competitive players excited. The newest addition to the series is not the only thing players are getting hyped for though. The 3.5 update for Project M will be available in the near future.

For those unfamiliar, Project M is a community created mod for Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008) that is designed to add intense, technical gameplay to a balanced cast of characters. It is a piracy-free mod that is playable on any NTSC Wii. The mod itself is free to download and does not require any hardware modification. All one needs to start is an SD card and a physical copy of Super Smash Bros. Brawl video game.

As a game mod, the Dev team is still under certain legal obligations and restrictions. To stay in Nintendo’s good graces and to avoid attracting Cease & Desist letters, the Dev team does not support either piracy or performing any modification to the Wii console. They encourage users to use the “Hackless” method of loading the game and have decided against the inclusion of the new Smash 4 characters.

With its first demo build released in 2011, Project M began with a goal of reworking Falco Lombardi to play like his Melee incarnation and making accessible the gameplay that founded the competitive community. Inspired by the competitive nature of Melee, Project M is entirely its own game. The Project M Dev Team created a gaming experience that offers a greater degree of control over playable characters; the mod provides players with offensive and defensive options that change depending on matchups and personal play-style. Combo potential within Project M is both challenging and spontaneous, knowing one’s characters’ options and employing both prediction and an understanding of the game’s mental game is critical. Furthermore, the risk and reward of on-stage and off-stage edge guarding gives players new options in either claiming a stock or surviving to continue the fight. Project M captures the competitive essence of Melee while employing features from both Super Smash Bros. Brawl and 64 to make a truly great game.

Project M has grown in recent years and many competitive players of both Melee and Brawl have accepted it. It is now a common feature at tournaments across the United States. Project M’s popularity has had it featured at several national tournaments as of 2014, such as the Zenith series, The Big House series, and Apex (as seen above).

But, what truly makes Project M great is what it has brought to the community. The Dev Team brought many universal changes in gameplay that bring players a new experience when they pick up their controllers. The removal of forced tripping and the inclusion of elements like L-canceling, glide tossing, aerial glide tossing, and many more additions give Project M fluid and multifaceted gameplay. The Dev team also made sure to include favorite stages such as Dream Land, Hyrule Castle, and Fountain of Dreams to replace arenas that were not used or liked. In addition to these changes, Project M battles matches are default 4 stocks with an 8-minute timer running. With the advent of the 3.0 update of Project M a turbo mode was introduced. This new gameplay mode allows for players to cancel moves into one another to perform devastating and spectacular combos.

In addition to the Dev Team’s many universal changes each character has received several individual adjustments in order to properly balance the game. Project M’s roster of 41 playable characters (Zero Suit Samus, Sheik, Squirtle, Ivysaur and Charizard all received their own slots on the character selection screen) has created a broad collection of viable characters each with their own strengths and weaknesses for players to explore. To better balance the game characters, Project M had certain moves nerfed (changed to reduce their usefulness) to try and expand the ways certain characters are played. Dependence on repeated use of single moves or a limited set of moves had limited the potential in characters like Meta Knight in Brawl. The playable Project M characters have properties and moves based on a mixture of their iterations from both Melee and Brawl or entirely new additions. For example, high tier Melee characters like Fox and Peach are mostly reverted to their past formats with some adjustments for balance while Lucas and Snake have been modified with new move-sets and properties. Gameplay elements like normal and special moves, properties such as stage gravity, character weight, run speed, and air mobility have all been looked at and tweaked.

Project M offers both newcomers and veterans looking to level up their skills a great opportunity to do so. For more information on the upcoming changes in the 3.5 update go to the game’s main site: http://projectmgame.com/en/. For character guides and resources sites like Smashboards (http://smashboards.com/) and Eventhubs (http://www.eventhubs.com/stats/projectm/) are great places to start.

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