If you’ve been watching the Smashosphere over the past few months, the name ‘Wavedash Games’ may seem somewhat familiar to you. Formed of a team of game developers, Smash fans and tournament organisers, this new game studio is currently in the process of developing a platform fighter to rival that of Super Smash Bros, building it from the ground up with competitive play and eSports in mind. News has been fairly meagre up to this point, besides tweets about the early development process and announcements of professional Smashers and former members of the PMDT helping out on the project as community/development advisors. However, two members of the Wavedash Games team recently took to Reddit, holding an AMA on r/smashbros to answer questions about the project so far and actually give some concrete information about this new platform fighter.
First off, there is a working prototype of the game. General Manager of Wavedash Games, Jason Rice, was keen to tell Smashers that the core game engine was in place, with it having all the basic features to classify it as a ‘platform fighter’. According to Rice, ‘normal attacks, specials, shields, grabs, ledges, and yes, platforms are all working’ in this early development build, as well as wavedashing (shock horror) and DI. There is fledgling online and server technology, along with a working training mode with the ability to toggle hitboxes and DI projection on, which is something that is drastically needed in traditional Smash. Stage designs and art are still in the early stage, with the project going for a cartoony 2.5D artstyle, with a mix of light-hearted and dark character art. CEO of Wavedash Games, Matt Fairchild stated that this game is targeted as ‘the spiritual successor to Melee‘, but containing modern day design elements similar to a game like League of Legends, as well as tools for commentators and streamers to use right out of the box. It is planned as a free-to-play release, using the aforementioned League monetization model when it comes to characters and vanity content, with characters on a free rotation with special events like weekends where the whole cast is available to play. Fairchild made it clear that ‘the roster would rotate, and you would be able to unlock the ones you like permanently through playing the game,’ but that this would take a decent amount of time to achieve. The initial release is planned to have 6-8 characters, with regular updates adding more stages and fighters, similar to Killer Instinct’s seasonal content model. With this game also being targeted as an online fighter, players would be able to pay for ‘entry to online tournaments’ with this monetization model, which is certainly interesting for the future of tournaments.
Throughout the AMA, both Rice and Fairchild made it clear that this as yet untitled platform fighter was going to be more like Melee or PM, rather than Smash 4. As mentioned before, members of the Project M Development Team are advising on the project, with one of the lead PM devs Warchamp being recently announced as one of the community advisors, alongside Melee players HugS and Cactuar. It is clear that Wavedash Games are courting the hardcore Melee and PM scene and not necessarily following many of the design decisions made by the less technically demanding Smash 4. This is not to say the game will not be accessible to Smash 4 players like myself, but expect Melee level execution to be present if you want to dedicate yourself to getting good at this game. What really doesn’t help is that the project still doesn’t have a name yet, or even a working title. It makes sense to call it Project Wavedash at this point in time but it would really help establish the game as something more than just a closely guarded prototype, if it actually had a name.
So far, Xbox and PS4 controller support are working for the project, with Gamecube controller support on the development roadmap. Rivals of Aether was able to let players use the Mayflash Gamecube adapter in order to play with their old controllers so hopefully, Wavedash Games will able to accommodate the usage of everyone’s favourite 14 year old controller. The project is still in very early days however, with a beta planned for summer 2017 and maybe demo units appearing at game shows later this year. It is clear that this platform fighter is designed as a service, similar to League of Legends rather than a single release title like Melee. There will be iterative updates, character balances and additions as the game stretches into its life cycle. Actively working with the competitive community is one of Nintendo’s weakest areas when it comes to Smash so hopefully, Wavedash Games will show the Big N how it’s done.
The AMA has loads more information on what character archetypes will be present in the full game, whether design quirks from Smash like port priority will be in the final release along with a whole host of other very precise questions concerning the competitive nature of this project. It still seems very ethereal at the moment, with there being no tangible artwork, very raw gameplay footage or even a name to put all these details too but if Wavedash keeps to their promises, this game could be the rival that Smash has been desperately waiting for.