"Melee modification" of Smash Ultimate generates controversy

gt-ultimatemod-00.png

When competitive Super Smash Bros. players were unsatisfied with the floaty physics and combo-hindering mechanics of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, they took matters into their own hands, modifying the game to build Project M, a game that ported Super Smash Bros. Melee mechanics such as L-cancelling and wavedashing into Brawl. Though Project M’s growth was eventually stymied by the spectre of legal action from Nintendo, the game experienced a renaissance during the mid-teens, drawing interest and support from top players from both the Melee and Brawl scenes. However, a similar modification in the works for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has faced significant pushback from vocal members of Ultimate’s competitive scene.

On January 4, Chilean musician and Melee player Felipe “Nyx The Shield” Montero posted a video showcasing a modification of Smash Ultimate that would allow players to wavedash and slide off of platforms using wavelands. He followed up a few days later with a video of a Melee-style dash dance in his Ultimate modification.

Unfortunately for Nyx The Shield, some competitive Ultimate players reacted negatively to his modification, seeing it as another example of an ungrateful Melee player trying to alter a game that they perceived as already being well-designed for competitive play. Semi-retired top Fox player Matthew “Xzax” Liberatore led the charge, alleging that even modding the game to add new music and character skins would be “a little much.”

In response, Nyx The Shield blasted his critics in a Twitter thread, citing his many years of experience in the Smash scene as a justification for the fact that his attempts to modify Smash Ultimate were done in good faith.

Though it’s true that Project M threatened to supplant Super Smash Bros. Brawl during that game’s competitive lifespan, it’s unlikely that a Smash Ultimate mod would threaten the competitive lifespan of Ultimate. Legal issues aside, vanilla Ultimate is already wildly popular; Genesis 6, the game’s first supermajor, has already broken attendance records with its Smash Ultimate bracket. Furthermore, a similar attempt to modify Smash 4, 4XM, saw a brief spike in popularity when it was released but did not become a significant presence at tournaments. Whether or not modifying Ultimate is respectful to the intentions of the game’s creators, a fear that the mod might replace the original game is almost certainly misplaced.