The last twelve months have seen the rise and fall of the Universal Controller Fix (UCF), a software modification of Super Smash Bros. Melee intended to level the playing field by allowing all controllers to have consistent dashback and shield drops. After its first use at a major at Shine 2017—where the modification briefly incited controversy after it was mistakenly left off during a Top 8 set between Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez and William “Leffen” Hjelte—the modification became all but standard at Melee tournaments of all sizes. Unfortunately, fears of legal action by Nintendo led to a decrease in the usage of UCF at majors towards the beginning of 2018, and recent major events, such as Shine 2018, have reverted to vanilla Melee for tournament play.
In January, Aziz “Hax$” Al-Yami released a video in which he explained his plan to bypass the potential legal restrictions imposed by Nintendo sponsorships by teaming up with Melee player Stephen “Streamlord” Kasmir to build four-port arduino adapters that would recreate UCF’s effects in hardware form.
Since Hax$’s announcement, the New York-based Fox main has stayed relatively quiet about his efforts to develop and produce these arduino adapters, instead focusing publicly on the development and legalization of box-style controllers. However, he, Streamlord, and their associate Kyle “Simple Controllers” McDowell have been hard at work behind the scenes, and beta versions of the adapters have been available for testing at Shine 2018 and some local tournaments.
Last week, supermajor series The Big House 8 announced its intention to crowdfund a batch of arduino adapters for official tournament use. Though this would make The Big House the first major series to standardize the use of hardware modifications, its adoption of the arduino adapters is contingent on its ability to raise $5,000 for the manufacture and development of the arduinos via its smash.gg compendium. Despite this caveat, it appears that the manufacturing team is confident that this goal will be met, as they have already begun manufacturing the adapters in good faith.
Hax$’s arduino adapters are undeniably a more unwieldy solution to the “controller lottery” than the Universal Controller Fix, but if they help the community strike a balance between its desire for fair and balanced competition and its interest in Nintendo’s support and attention, their widespread use would be a great benefit to the scene. If you want to try them out at The Big House—or just aid in the growth and refinement of Melee as an esport—consider heading over to the compendium and purchasing some limited-edition experiences or merchandise to help fund the event!