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Super Smash Bros.: Will Melee Survive the Coming of Ultimate?

Smash Bros. on Nintendo Switch

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is less than four months away, and as Smash 4 winds down, Super Smash Bros. Melee fans are sure their game will hold its own. Will Melee survive the coming of Ultimate? Or will it lose all it has built?

Melee is already 17 years old, yet it still carries a massive following that never gets tired of the game. It is the most beautiful accident ever. Intended as a party game, its fans pushed past the guidelines, creating a complex and competitive experience.

Ultimate is ready to hit the ground running in December. Masahiro Sakurai is tailoring this game as a jack of all trades. For the first time, we can see him acknowledging the competitive community through his additions. It is intentionally going to hit the hardcore fans in a storm. The game has rallied undivided support towards its quality additions such as: removal of stage hazards, Battlefield stage toggle, change of standard settings, increased damage in a 1 vs. 1 setting, and its diverse set of characters. It is safe to say that Sakurai has really outdone himself on this one.

Technical Side

Ultimate takes a massive step in improving the technical aspect of its concurrent predecessor, Smash 4. Its additions don’t change the game drastically while adding some spices into the mix. Judging from what is known, we will likely have a game that will have its fair share of techniques, while still keeping its accessibility.

Super Smash Bros.: Will Melee Survive the Coming of Ultimate?
By pressing jump and air dodging into the ground you can perform a “Wavedash”, one of the most used techniques in Melee, Image: Kotaku

In the Melee world, everything changes. Years of discovery and experimentation create a massive number of techniques. There are pages and pages of these that help the game perform at its peak shape. It is crazy to see the potential held by this old GameCube game. Melee keeps blowing away the casual audience, as they see a completely different game from what they remember. The amount of inputs are similar to what a pro Starcraft player performs, and the way talented players put it all together is a work of art.

Melee’s technical side will forever be one of its defining differences between the Smash Bros. games. It is at a level which only years of being in the lab can bring it to. The clunky physics engine allows the game to be broken apart by the players that dream of becoming the next EVO champion.

Super Smash Bros.: Will Melee Survive the Coming of Ultimate?
Leffen, the 2018 EVO champion, can be seen on the left. Image: ESL

Melee’s Fast-Paced Gameplay

Melee’s pace is undeniably fast. “Wavedashing” allows players to move very quickly and do crazy things. Its hit stun allows combos to have a great potential. Melee carries a fast flow that only its hardcore players are able to tap into. The crazy amount of time they have put into the game allows them to break the game’s limits. A casual player picking up a controller can never keep up with a professional mastermind. The pace enhances the competitive experience as the pros push past the games barriers.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s pace improves on his predecessor, but it can’t compete with Melee. The demo showcases key changes that dial up the overall speed of the game. Seeing as aerial lag was reduced and air dodge lag was increased, we are guaranteed to have better combo game in the mix. Edge guarding also picks up a notch as most of the mechanics that made recovering easy in Smash 4 have been changed. Of course, the game could be be seeing some dramatic gameplay changes in the next couple of months, but this is how it currently looks.

History vs. Hype

Super Smash Bros.: Will Melee Survive the Coming of Ultimate?
Super Smash Bros Ultimate game portrait, Image: Screen Rant

The narrative that a game carries pushes its scene very far, and Melee has all it needs. Starting at the land of underground tournaments, Melee grew. A nucleus of talented players sparked multiple rivalries, creating a series of defining moments that are kept dear in every player’s heart. Eventually reaching the heights of MLG, and then having it all being taken away – the game has gone through periods of drought, followed by moments of revival. When EVO finally picked it up, the community was ecstatic. The game they loved had made it in.

Ultimate brings to the table an insane level of hype. During the first year of its release, everyone and their grandmother will pick it up. The numbers of players trying to “get good” will be off the charts. Nintendo is finally pushing on its marketing department, and its payoff will be huge. A lot of young players will pick this up as their first game while veterans will be happy to take it to the limit. Next year’s EVO will be a sight to behold as thousands of players clash, all with their sights set on the trophy.


Naturally, all of this is up for debate. At the end of the day, the fans decide. With this in mind, Melee tournament price pools are still short of holding a respectable amount of money. Everything can change when the clock ticks the night of Ultimate’s release.

What do you think about Melee and Ultimate’s future coexistence? As always, feel free to join the conversation and let us know!


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