At the end of 2018, Nintendo released the Switch's offering to the Super Smash Bros. universe, Ultimate. As you would expect, it is the biggest and most expansive chapter in the franchise to date, and it's not done growing yet. New DLC has been added to the game since its release, and we still have the arrival of Banjo-Kazooie and two more yet to be revealed DLC characters to look forward to. One question remains, though. Can Ultimate finally dethrone Melee as the franchise's sweetheart?
Despite the fact we are quickly approaching the 18th birthday of Melee, and two other Smash games being released between it and Ultimate, it is still a firm fan favorite. So much so that it has remained a mainstay on the fighting game competitive scene to this day. There are still major tournaments and conventions where Melee is a cornerstone and major prize money is on the line.
So what is it about Melee that has kept gamers fighting its corner after all this time? It's not often that players will be given a new, updated, and hopefully better version of a game and turn their noses up at it. The trouble is when it comes to Melee, that hasn't happened. Just because Brawl and Smash 4 came after doesn't make them better. Melee fans believe the roster, the gameplay, and the mechanics of the game were perfect, and that they haven't been improved upon since. Honestly, we tend to agree.
That's not to say that Brawl and Smash 4 weren't given a chance. Brawl, in particular, was a highly-anticipated title. How could it not be after the success of Melee? However, even though both titles looked as if they would take Melee's place eventually, neither managed to endure. After deciding that they preferred Melee, pro players quickly decided that Brawl and Smash 4 were not improved versions of the iconic game, and so continued the Melee obsession.
This year, EVO, the biggest fighting game convention around, decided to take a stand. Despite it being the first time Ultimate would appear at the tournament, it decided to scrap Melee altogether. EVO has now come and gone, and for the first time in six years, there was indeed no Melee to be seen. Instead, the world's best Smash players battled it out on Ultimate. Some of those players were extremely perturbed over Melee's exclusion. We'd also hazard to guess that some even skipped EVO due to the change.
Everyone has to move on at some point though, right? Well, maybe not. If the game has remained a firm favorite for this long, and outlasted two games that were designed to replace it, who's to say that trend won't continue? Pro players have decided Melee was perfection, and clearly, it is going to take something pretty special to change their minds.
If any game is going to finally dethrone Melee on the pro scene, then we believe it will be Ultimate. Eight months on from its release, and we are still pretty obsessed with it. Nothing will ever be Melee, but we can't think of many things that could improve on what Ultimate already is. EVO has taken steps to make that change on the pro scene, but ultimately, if players want to continue competing on Melee, there will always be a place for them to do so.