5 things Melee needs on Switch if Nintendo wants to attract competitive players


Eurogamer‘s Tom Phillips reported earlier this week that the Nintendo Switch will have GameCube Virtual Console (VC) games, and that one of the first available titles will be 2001’s wildly popular Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Phillips suggested that “the desire within Nintendo [is] to continue making Super Smash Bros. Melee easily playable”, and that this version of the game is aimed first and foremost at the competitive audience.

As a member of this very audience who’s mostly followed Melee’s competitive scene as a spectator rather than a player, I believe that there are quite a few things that Nintendo has to do if they want competitive players to even give VC Melee a chance.

Melee players are extremely finicky about their game, and there’s a reason why it’s being played more than ever fifteen years after its release: it’s a beautiful accident the competitive community mostly considers perfect as is.

So without further ado, here are the five things the Super Smash Bros. Melee for Virtual Console needs if Nintendo hopes to attract competitive players to that version of the game.

1- Top-notch emulation

By top-notch, I mean truly top-notch. VC Melee has to run without a single hitch. Here’s a video I always like to use to show people how fast and how precise Melee is at its highest level.

What you see in the above video requires insane precision and muscle memory. Many of Melee’s advanced techniques are nearly frame-perfect (meaning that they must be executed with close to 1/60th of a second’s precision) and have been practiced ad nauseam by the world’s best players. Don’t expect them to move away from their GameCubes if timing changes (or worse, varies) because the Switch’s GameCube emulation isn’t up to snuff.

This is a very real possible issue, seeing as the Wii U’s SNES and N64 emulators were pretty terrible in their own right, and had input lag issues. Input lag is every Melee player’s worst nightmare, which is why the game is still being played nearly-exclusively on CRT TVs (GameCubes have terrible input lag on HDTVs), and which is why VC Melee also needs…

2-  GameCube controller support

With GameCube controller support, competitive players migrating to VC Melee will have a wired controller to play the game, which greatly reduces input lag: this is one of the main reasons for which most competitive players use the GameCube Controller Adapter for Smash Wii U.

The second reason for this is the fact that these players have used this controller for over fifteen years to play their game, and it is once again a question of timing and muscle memory. If they cannot use actual GameCube controllers (and not GameCube-ified Joy Cons), don’t expect the pros to use VC Melee in tournaments.



There exist two main versions of Melee: North American (NTSC) and European (PAL). There are also different versions of each version, but I digress – let’s just focus on these two main ones.

There are a few notable differences between the NTSC and PAL versions, the most notable of them being the removal of certain glitches, less lag, and many character-specific tweaks that change the game’s balance.

The Melee community generally plays the version that is specific to its region, but nearly all international tournaments use the NTSC version, regardless of the fact that PAL came out later and is generally seen as the “more balanced” and “updated” version of Melee.

Balance-wise, PAL would be a better choice, but since most of the competitive Melee audience is North American and that the NTSC version is widely used in big tournaments, Nintendo must use that version on Melee for the community to move from GameCube to Switch.

4- Not changing what doesn’t need to be changed

This point is kind of similar to the first one, but I think that it needs its own space on this list.

Even if the emulation is perfect and even if Nintendo uses the NTSC version for VC Melee, they have to remember not to do anything to the game’s various glitches and imperfections. Melee is heavily physics-based, and the competitive scene relies on all sorts of little quirks in its engine to play the game at the highest level.

What may be seen as a glitch to Nintendo is, in the community’s eyes, just a part of the imperfections that make Melee as good as it is. Nintendo cannot allow itself to alter any elements of Melee’s base gameplay for its VC version.

Am I saying that VC Melee basically has to be the exact same game as it was 10 years ago? Yes, but Nintendo could still allow itself to change one of Melee’s characteristics without enraging competitive players.

5- Make the C-Stick Great Again

One of Melee’s main problems for casual and competitive players alike is that the C-Stick (right stick) is friggin’ worthless in single player modes, as it controls the camera rather than the player’s Smash Attacks and aerials.

Changing this would make the game more accessible to beginners, and would also give competitive players a way to train alone without having to resort to the Name Entry glitch shown in the above video.

What would you like to see in Super Smash Bros. Melee on Nintendo Switch Virtual Console?

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8 thoughts on “5 things Melee needs on Switch if Nintendo wants to attract competitive players

  1. This game is way too overrated, as it is, and nowhere close to a perfect fighting game, let alone a perfect Smash game.
    Its development was rushed, and its programming incomplete, to a point that is UNACCEPTABLE by today’s standards. Any game that was released with a similar amount of glitches and exploitable flaws, from the PS3/360 generation onward got ripped to shreds by reviewers AND players. Yet, the Melee community praises their game for being broken, because it gives them a greater degree of control than any fighting ever has, even though fighting games are not about having more control than given.

    There’s a reason for that: Fighting game balance, and skill, is acheived by there being limitations. Ideally, each character has different limitations on top of universal limitations. Mastery is attained by learning how to excel depsite those limitations and overcomming your character’s weaknesses to win.

    The Melee way is overcomming limitations by removing them altogether by exploiting many of the game engine’s parameters. Its literally “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”. That corrupts the spirit of fighting games, to say the least.

    You know what a human without limitations is? A robot. Perfect and efficient.
    A fighting game without limitations? Broken, unacceptable, imbalanced, Melee.

    The Melee community needs a lesson that all adults learn: To not be resistant to change or restrictions and to WILLINGLY adapt to inevitable changes in circumatances. You can’t always fight change, yet the Melee community would cry and outrage over the prospect of changes to Melee, the idea of giving their spotlight to a Smash that they don’t see as deserving (aka. a Smash that actually stays true to its inception), or Melee no longer being recognized as relevant and dropped from events like EVO and APEX.

    They can’t play this imcomplete, 15-year-old game, as it was, forever. And yet, many Melee players would sooner give up playing anything than attempt moving on or playing a game that was actually designed to have a lot of mobility options without exploits (like Melty Blood and other Arc Sys fighting games) or games where wavedashing was purposefully implemented into the design.

    They just want to do all that stuff in a game that wasn’t supposed to allow it. And they laud the rushed product as the best fighting game ever, disliking anything that isn’t similarly flawed and broken (from a design/development standpoint).


    • Lolwut

      Melee is extremely polished at a casual level. The “glitches” are only encountered at competitive levels. Modern games are far more glitchy and “rushed”, especially because they know they can just patch things in later.

      Huge day-1 patches of several gbs… They don’t even finish their game in time for launch anymore. Melee “unacceptable” for today’s standards? Lol.

      And why shouldn’t the community keep playing the game if they enjoy it? It’s fantastic. If Nintendo decides to change anything, the community can stick to playing the original. That’s their choice. If EVO decides to drop it, they can still continue playing the game. What’s the problem here?


    • Melee characters still have individual limitations to overcome, you know. Movement options are the main reason the game is what it is today, but ultimately, like any other fighting game, Melee is more than just that.

      And there are many competitive games with unpatched or unbanned exploits. Take UMvC3 or Halo 2 or etc for example. The only issue I see with the game’s design is how stratified the tier list ended up being as a result of said exploits (game is not balanced around them).

      Of course, that was ultimately the community’s doing, and I think it’s a shame how resistant to change many of them really are. Do I think we should remove the exploits? No, because that simply wouldn’t be for the best. Things aren’t so simple. Given the pervasive nature of the exploits in melee’s meta, the community wouldn’t just “learn to deal with it,” nor should they after so long.

      It’s an interesting topic though. The game would possibly be long dead if it weren’t for exploitation.


    • It’s still the best Smash game. The fact that it’s a bit rushed doesn’t matter. Also we have no evidence that the programming is incomplete. Wavedashing was intentionally left in after being discovered, and L-canceling is completely intentional.


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