Can 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate' Dethrone Melee? Pro Player Weighs In

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has quite the legacy to live up to. The game series that features Nintendo's cuddliest critters getting the crap beat out of them by their friends, villains, brothers, sisters and rivals is one of the most storied brands in gaming history. The series started in 1999 with a handful of Nintendo franchise staples, but quickly ballooned to a roster of dozens from all corners of pixelated history. Ultimate plans to take every character that's ever up-smashed on Final Destination onto the Nintendo Switch, hoping to captivate Smash's eclectic fan base.

At E3, Nintendo pulled back the magic curtain for the first time, allowing fans and pro players their first chance to see and play SSB: Ultimate. At the iconic Belasco Theater, Nintendo had dozens of systems set up for players to tinker with and figure out if the game could stack up to its predecessors. Gamecube controllers, which became a staple of the franchise since Melee, were hooked up through special adaptors. Hardcore Melee fanboys, N64 classic purists and Smash 4 protegees all wanted to know which Smash game Ultimate is closest to.

Jigglypuff HungryBox
Hungrybox's Jigglypuff puts in work Newsweek

"It's a new Smash game, with a lot to be explored and uncovered," Juan Manuel "Hungrybox" DeBiedma told Newsweek. The most consistent Jigglypuff player in the world for Super Smash Bros. Melee has won multiple titles and dominated tournaments like EVO, Dreamhack and Smash Summit. "Nobody has any idea what's going to happen, it's totally up in the air right now."

Ultimate is more comparable to Super Smash Bros. 4 for the Wii U than Melee, according to Hungrybox. There's a lack of techniques like crouch canceling (crouching right before an attack lands reduces its effects), wavedashing (jumping then air-dodging, slamming on the ground to move quicker) and the hundreds of other staples of Melee techniques removed from later Smash games. That's not to say you need to be any less mechanically proficient to compete, it's just a unique type of smashing.

"Melee is a very different game," Hungrybox said. "I guarantee you the community is going to be stretched, broken into two sides. All the Smash 4 players are going to move to this game while Melee players will try it out but still stick with what they know."

Nintendo wants to move towards creating a successful esport. If it wants SSB: Ultimate to excel, it needs to invest in its players and their story lines, Hungrybox said. "(Nintendo) needs to celebrate the hype, invest in tournament circuits and build on the esports formula that's already been proven to work.

super smash bros cast
Most of the cast of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Nintendo

The Splatoon 2 World Championship held at the same venue seemed like a test run for Nintendo pro gaming. Teams from all over the world wore splashy jerseys and competed with their inklings, while commentators and analysts gave audience members play-by-play. Nintendo still has a lot to learn though, there was no monetary prize pool for the event and participants merely got a trip to E3. If Ultimate is to succeed as an esport it's going to need a lot of support, something they failed to do with games like Pokken Tournament.

Whether Hungrybox is correct still remains to be seen. He sees himself sticking with Melee , though he wants to try and commentate on the burgeoning Ultimate scene. "Anyone can do it and you don't necessarily have to good," Hungrybox said.

Either way, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be a must-play for Smash fans. Everyone's going to try it and maybe 50 percent will stick with it," Hungrybox said. "100 percent of Smash players will try it."