Sunday, 27 May 2012

Project M - The True Final Send-off for the Wii?

Today I'll be writing about something a little different. Granted, the subject of this post is still related to gaming, more specifically Nintendo gaming, but the core subject is all but official and not in ties with the company. In case you're not aware of Project M, or think I'm referring to Metroid: Other M's code-name, allow me to enlighten you: This is a new evolution of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, completely fan-made and completely legal thanks to the clever, safe method used to launch what is essentially an unlicensed modification. In fact, scratch the word evolution from that last sentence, because in essence this development of Brawl is more of a devolution, and I certainly don't mean that in a negative way. You see, the main goal of the project's group of experienced developers is not to add new stages, items and characters, but to modify them to balance Brawl into an evolution of Melee, hence the M in the title of the project. Nicknamed Melee 2.0, this interesting project is anything but a step-backwards for Smash Bros. In fact, it might just be a worthy send-off for the Wii, even after the already flabbergasting Skyward Sword.

If you read my review of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, you'll know that I and many others believe it is among the greatest Wii games of all time, and I mean that as it's highly unlikely that it will be topped what with the Wii U coming along to replace the console soon. Project M is essentially a free expansion of the title, adding new stages and alterations to the character roster to balance things out. However, the main goal of the project is to bend Brawl more in the direction of Melee, adjusting the gameplay to make it much more fast-paced, skill-based and ultimately similar to the GameCube iteration of Smash Bros. As the project's official website (found right here) clearly states, however, Project M doesn't intend to be a full 1:1 Melee clone, and instead a brand-new version of the brawling experience we know and love; One with rich, free-flowing fighting mechanics, L-canceling and all. Excited? So am I. The second demo of the mod has been released, but unfortunately it's NTSC only - In other words, currently inaccessible to those playing on a Europe-based Wii, yours truly included. Americans, eh? Those lot get everything before us. Except Xenoblade. Ha.

Even the menus have been modified to mutate Brawl's shell into that of Melee. Looks fancy, no?
Thanks to the release of the demo and some in-house play-testers of Project M, an number of combo videos that pretty much speak for themselves have surfaced on YouTube and the official site of the project. Just from taking a few seconds to peek at one of these videos, you'll see that this modification is very true to Melee's skill-based gameplay, with many rich, tactical elements infused into the fighting that put the epic clashes of skilled Brawl players to shame. Almost everything has been changed, and what's more is that the mod isn't even finished yet. So, let's start with the brand-new stuff implemented into the mod. Two new stages, both of which are accessible in the demo, have been added. One of these is based on Skyloft, the floating central island of Skyward Sword, the stage of which is similar to Delfino Plaza in how a floating platform takes a tour around the sky-bound island. The other is Dracula's Castle, which of course is based on nothing other than Castlevania. Both look very slick, and as if these two stages (and probably more by the time the mod is completely finished) aren't enough to show that the developers working on Project M are highly experienced, the thousands of revisions to the characters should be. Movesets, movement speed, unique tactics - everything has been modified to make each fighter more like a part of Melee's roster than that of Brawl.

For the purpose of keeping this post short but sweet, let's take a look at just one character, namely Lucario. One major alteration made to this previously tame fighter is what the developers are calling the Super Meter, their own awesome take on the Aura system of the original version of Brawl. After the fighter has taken 50% damage, and a following 50%, the deadly Pokemon's gauge fills up to two times respectively. Added with the intention of encouraging a more aggressive play style, filling up the Super Meter allows Lucario to perform several new super-powered attacks - The Spirit Bomb, a massive, instantly charged version of the fighter's Aura Sphere, and the Force Blast, a powerful potential finishing move. And yes, the names of both of these techniques are clearly based on Dragonball and Star Wars respectively. Anyway, In activating the Power Meter Lucario also sees an increase in several other attributes, such as speed and overall strength. In short, he powers up to godly levels before you can say 'Super Saiyan', but brilliantly in a still balanced manner. It's stuff like this that can only be found in Project M, and it's only one change among the many that have been made thus far.

Lucario's Super Meter is but one of the new gameplay elements added to Brawl's roster with Project M. Take a look at the Characters page on the website if you're interested in looking into alterations to other fighters.
If you haven't already, I urge you as a beloved reader (or stranger, for that matter) to check out Project M. And if you're in this case lucky enough to be Japanese or American, download the demo by following the instructions on the site (again, found by clicking this link) and try it yourself, as that bloke from Art Attack would say. All you need is a blank SD Card and a legitimate copy of the game, so why not give this exciting new look at Super Smash Bros. Brawl a shot? I'll be honest, I've never been very good at Smash Bros. Melee, but regardless, I sincerely hope that the developers of Project M can find it in their heart to release a PAL version. On the subject of hope-filled anticipation, the next piece of writing you'll see here on the blog is my predictions of Nintendo's E3 2012 conference, which should be good. Until then, be sure to check out Project M by clicking one of the links I've riddled in this piece, and be sure to drop a comment right here! Once again, this is me signing off.


Conor said...

Read about this a while ago, can't remember where. It's such an awesome idea.

Nice post, man.

Kezz said...

That does sound like a pretty awesome idea. Hope they do release a PAL version. Good post. :3

Noodle said...

Thanks for the comments, folks. Much appreciated! n~n