A quick overview of Project M demo v2
The Super Smash Bros series has some of the most passionate fans in the entire gaming community. Competitive players naturally gravitate to fighting games and SSB is highly unique in the genre. It was originally designed by Kirby creator Masahiro Sakurai. He was annoyed that most fighting games required complex button sequences in order to win. He wanted a game that could be accessible for casual players while deep enough to allow skilled players to compete; a fighting game that everybody could play.
Time to dust off Ol' Reliable
In many ways he succeeded, every one of the titles in the franchise has seen record sales. Fans put on tournaments, upload videos to show off, and a few have even created webcomics set in the universe. However, not all fans were happy. Many of them were disappointed with the gameplay changes Brawl made from Melee. Because of this a group of programmers have joined forces to produce a mod called Project M. The demo v2.0 was recently released and is free for anybody in America or Japan (sorry PAL users).
First and foremost, while the mod is free this is not a “free version” of the game. You don’t have to homebrew your Wii or rip the game disk onto the hard drive. All you need is a 2GB (or smaller) SD card, a copy of Super Smash Bros Brawl, and access to the internet (which you would have to have to read this article anyway). You simply download a zip file onto your computer, extract that on to the SD card, and then boot up the game with that SD card in your Wii. In a clever move, the game will play completely like normal. It is only when you try to access the custom levels feature that the Project M installer activates. In less than a minute, you will be treated to the modded title screen and ready to play.
It's not the size that counts ... it's how you use it
From here you can play the game almost like normal. You can still access the solo parts of the game (Classic, All-Star, Subspace Emissary, etc.) as well as the Versus modes. The main adjustments are that the overall game physics have been reset to those of Melee. Gravity is increased so characters don’t feel as ‘floaty’. The overall speed of all character movements and attacks is increased. Tripping is dead (hooray!). All this combines to make the game feel very fast-paced, and where you feel like you always have control your character. You know, like a fighting game.
The first thing that you will notice will be the reduced roster. The mod is still considered to be in its demo form and as such they have not finished adjusting all of the characters. In order to retain balance they have chosen to not include any character they haven’t yet tweaked. So, sorry Samus, Olimar, and Diddy players… you’ll have to wait. However, you still get to choose from 29 out of the original 39 playable characters from Brawl, which isn’t too shabby.
What happens in Castlevania ...
Here I will very, very briefly give you a rundown of the changes each of the included characters have undergone. Even if you aren’t a ‘hardcore’ tournament player many of these changes will still be noticeable. All adjustments were done with the concept of figuring out what each character’s fighting style was and making sure their move-set supported that. Their focus was to make all of the fighters strong and capable, removing many of the nerfs what were placed upon them.
- A moveset that was reset to Melee’s version of the technical speedy character.
- Reset to Melee, with a few of the more exploitable maneuvers toned down.
- Her Rest move has become very powerful again.
Sheik (can still transform into Zelda but gets her own character slot)
- Her aerial moves are back to Melee’s power, making her a quick combo machine again.
- His sword’s range has returned to Melee’s length.
- Her down smash twirl move is back and her turnips no longer disappear when hitting a shield.
- He once again gains his second jump back after an aerial Falcon Kick and can generally recover better.
- Reclaims many of his Melee abilities and (like Captain Falcon) enjoys much better recovery abilities.
- Fludd is dead and gone, reset to his Down+B tornado. His properties are now a blend of Melee’s Dr. Mario with Brawl’s Mario.
- His aerial agility and strength has been improved, he even regains his N64 back-aerial move.
- Improved his ability to grab and juggle opponents. A new dash attack that resembles his Barrel Roll from Donkey Kong Country helps him get up close and personal with ranged characters.
- Returned to a Melee moveset but buffed in overall power. His fireballs go farther and his attack range is slightly improved.
Melee's Hyrule Temple has undergone a bit of remodeling
- His normal attacks are a little faster and a little stronger. His specials have been altered to improve his ability to control his opponent’s placement in battle.
Zelda (can still transform into Sheik)
- She is largely the same tank she already was in Brawl. Her Din’s Fire attack now allows up to three fireballs to be suspended in air where they can be ran into in the few seconds before they self-detonate.
Mr. Game and Watch
- Has been further developed into a glass cannon. Many of his moves are some of the most potent in the game, but he is also one of the lightest characters with one of the worst defenses.
- He hits stronger and can take more punishment. He’s become a bulldozer turtle tank that can’t be stunned as easily while attacking.
- He has had his power from the N64 version returned along with some recovery assistance.
- His weaponry now controls the battlefield even more potently, but his weight has been returned to that of a human's. He can no longer brute force his way in a match, he must be strategic.
- Much of the Wario Ware Inc inspired moves have been replaced with ones inspired by his Wario Land series (you know, the one where he actually did platforming). He has been refocused as a trickster with solid power.
- Very minor tweaks. His Jet Hammer now charges faster but his Super Jump recovery move no longer has super armor, making his recovery less unstoppable.
- Completely overhauled. Being a steel/fighter type Pokemon he has been made to work more like a “standard” fighting game character that relies on chaining combos to get ahead. He no longer gets stronger based on how much damage he’s taken, instead he gains additional special moves based on how much damage he has dealt.
- He has been reworked to take elements from the 64 Link, Melee’s Young Link, and the Brawl Toon Link, which gives you the best of those worlds without making him unnecessarily overpowered.
- His Up+B and Side+B moves are now a Robo-Booster, inspired of all things by the indy game Cave Story. This improves the robot’s mobility in the air while working as a projectile deflector on the ground.
- His Side+B has been replaced with a gliding launch to improve his character’s ability to shift from playing evasively one second to offensively the next. His Up+B is now a damaging shield blast that works more as a finishing move than a recovery move.
- His land speed has been increased and his aerial moves adjusted to make him very powerful at juggling opponents.
- Largely unchanged but is made more potent thanks to the Melee-like environment. His homing attack now travels in a straight line instead of that odd curved approach.
- His Quickdraw (side+B) attack can now be canceled by jumping but is no longer an automatic attack. He breaks through opponent’s shields faster but is easier to prevent from recovering.
Charizard (independent of Trainer)
- He can no longer be swapped out with Squirtle and Bulbasaur, instead his Down+B activates a glide. He has been refocused to take full advantage of being a fire breathing flier. Personally I do hope the final version keeps the Pokemon Trainer as the 3-in-1 character is very unique and makes for a very unpredictable fighter.
- He benefits from some of the same tweaks Ness has with one major difference: his neutral B move is now called Offense Up and charges much like Samus’ Charge shot. When fully charged, whichever smash move he performs next will do much greater damage, knockback, and shield breakage. This charged state continues as long as you continue to connect with an opponent.
This is what we like to call a "cozy" stage
Along with these character tweaks, there are also some stage tweaks. Many fan favorite stages have returned, including some that have not been seen since the 64 version. Some stages are tweaked to remove (or reduce) some of their more random stage hazards. A few stages are not new to the franchise but have not been available for selection in multiplayer before, like the Metal Mario stage from 64 (pictured above). They have even added a stage based on the Castlevania series, which has an appropriately gothic feel with hovering platforms that gradually but constantly shift to help alter the environment.
Many of the advanced tactics from Melee, which were lost in Brawl, have been restored. Things like dash dancing, L-cancelling, and yes even wavedashing. Just because you can do them doesn’t mean you have to. I never really got into wavedashing but was still able to defeat opponents who did. It is all about choice and I’ll gladly go back to a world of wavedashing if I can forever leave tripping as a bad memory.
What Peach wants ... Peach freakin' gets.
Casual fans can still enjoy the mod just like they could enjoy Melee. You still have all of your items and the item switch. There are still active hazard filled stages as well as the more standard Final Destination levels. There is also a change in the behavior of A.I. opponents - they won’t wavedash but they will perform more advanced tactics than the original game, especially when you crank up the difficulty level. This makes playing through the single player content feel like a whole new game, especially since it will also substitute different stages in Classic and All-Star mode.
Fans of Smash Bros should definitely give the mod a try. It makes the game (that released back in 2008) feel fresh all over again. It costs nothing and is extremely simple to use. Best of all, even if you don’t like it, you haven’t damaged your original game at all.
You can download it here: http://projectm.dantarion.com/downloads/