A little over a month ago it was discovered that Gamecube controller support had come to the Nintendo Switch. Fans around the world rejoiced with the news, despite it’s slightly less than conventional design it was well received and a huge step up from the travesty that was the N64 controller.
Fans in general were pleased but I imagine that the fans of the slightly aged Super Smash Bros. Melee were especially pleased. Smash Bros. has a pretty rocky past with Melee being the favourite child among fans. The newer entries into the series have been far less well received and for a variety of reasons. Brawl had a great character roster and the Subspace Emissary mode was a blast to play through. Personally I never got hands on with Smash 4, but the idea to allow crossplay between 3DS units and WiiU online was an inspiring and encouraging leap.
Why these entries weren’t taken to by fans appears to lie in the fact that Melee is a buggy piece of shit but they’ve learned how to manipulate it. Watching a competitive Smash event, either in person or online, you get to see some incredible feats of what can only be considered art. You see players move slow characters like lightning and the faster characters with such precision it boggles the mind. Manipulation of the game engine to such a high degree only comes with time, practice and patience, something these guys have mastered.
So why is GC controller support so important? Because quite frankly, Melee’s competitive days are numbered. Lack of funds, input from external sources, support from the Nintendo itself, and the communities focus on “grass roots”, has lead to a decaying competitive scene. Not to mention the shrinking player base and how difficult it is to obtain new controllers making it challenging to maintain a stable community, let alone allowing it to expand. Supporting the GC controller on Switch is exactly the breath of fresh air the Melee scene needs. It means that there’s potentially a new Smash Bros. in the works for the new highly portable system.
Although a new Smash game is likely to be met with the same resistance die hard fans have met the others with, it’s an encouraging sign. The Switch is a great piece of tech, the portability is a huge advantage and the multiplayer capabilities have already been tested with Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
The Switch has been shown to be receiving ports of past games so it’s not entirely implausible that Smash Bros Melee would make a return to the modern age library. Ideally a modern Smash game would be the best thing to revitalise the series and give new life to the currently dying competitive scene surrounding Melee at the moment. But bringing the old classic into new light and exposing it to the current generation of players on a more accessible system? Could just kickstart a (and I hate this phrase) New Age Melee scene. Not to mention bringing the old hands back into the fray.
It would be a shame to see these players fade away into obscurity given the burgeoning eSports profession that is taking the world by storm. Smash will never be able to compete with bigger titles like Overwatch or Street Fighter but given the chance it might at least appear on a big stage one day and the Switch may just be that chance.
All being said though? This is simply speculation and just one fans’ hopeful theory of how to revive a sadly shrinking community as the news that GC controller support was a bit of a surprise to even the Nintendo themselves. So with that in mind, is there actually a new Smash title in the works? Possibly not but it wouldn’t be surprising as there’s been a new Smash every generation since the N64, including the unloved Wii U. It goes without saying that the Switch is being far better received globally and is most likely going to continue winning good faith with fans. Meaning it’s likely to receive a staple of the Nintendo library and if that’s the case then maybe, just maybe, it will be the much needed adrenaline shot necessary to propel Smash to the forefront!
One thing is for sure, this forgotten child of a bygone age needs to desperately receive something from the industry inorder to keep it alive. Without it the competitive Smash scene will burn out, faced with dwindling resources and shrinking player bases. It’s an unsustainable situation which could definitely use a boost. Hopefully Smash for Switch, if/when it happens, it’s the helping hand it needs.