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Dual Threat: Picking Up a Second Game

CTQ - December 12, 2017

So, you're already a SSB4 player. However, you've surely heard of the other Smash games. So, why not give them a try? I can tell you firsthand (as someone who played all SSB4 up until about a year ago) that adding a second game to my repertoire has been fun, and a great way to meet new people. The question then comes up: Which? Here, I'll be going in-depth on each non-SSB4 Smash game (except for Brawl because, well, you know), and give pros and cons of each. Don't worry: At the end of each section is a TLDR in the form of a simplified pros/cons list.


Super Smash Bros. Melee

Easily the most popular Smash game, Melee can be a great, simple choice for a second game. Many Melee players, most notably Mew2King and Hungrybox, have begun to play SSB4 at some tournaments. Likewise, several SSB4 players got their starts through Melee, including ZeRo and Larry Lurr. It is a very different game, but to be fair, all of these are. However, Melee is possibly the most different, and that is one thing that can deter potential players. While all of these games have techs like L/Z Cancelling or wavedashing, Melee also has many character-specific things to learn how to do and how to fight against, be it waveshines, chaingrabs, short hop double laser, and many more. However, that also plays into one of the potential strengths for it: You don't have 58 characters to learn. Really, you only need to learn 8-10 characters very well, with at least a general knowledge of others. There are also some characters that don't require many difficult techniques at low levels, such as Sheik or Puff. However, you'll still need to learn how to avoid these techniques. One great way to help learn is SSBM Tutorials. They have hundreds of videos, covering everything from as basic as how to pick a character or play a set, all the way up to tricky techs like Yoshi's parry or Sheik's Sami stall. There's quite a bit to learn, but some of it you already know. SDI is the best example of this. You're probably better than another low-level Melee player because you already know SDI from playing against Bayo; just apply the same to Fox's uair, Falco's dair, etc. Most simple facets of the game, like recovery and neutral, are also improved from SSB4 experience.

Pros: most popular game, not many characters that need to be learned, helpful resources are available
Cons: most difficult/technical game, must know those top/high tier characters very well


Project M

Many SSB4 players got their start in Brawl. While Brawl is sadly dead, why not try Brawl 2.0? This is probably the biggest selling point on PM: If your SSB4 main is mostly unchanged from Brawl, there's a good chance they're mostly unchanged from Brawl to PM. Depending on the character, you might be able to already of a good grasp of their playstyle. Of course, some are changed greatly from Brawl, but some are almost the exact same. One downside is the opposite of Melee: Since a large amount of the cast is viable, there's a lot of characters to learn. Some are difficult to learn, but again, some are simple. There is again tech to learn (although some, like DACUS, you might already know from Brawl), but as always, there are some simple characters. Some characters you might know from Brawl, even though they weren't in SSB4. Want to reminisce about Wolf, Snake, and Ice Climbers? (Well, maybe not that last one, but I digress.) If so, PM's the game for you. One subtle con is that the ruleset may be unfamiliar to you. There are, at least in most rulesets, nine stages (5 starters, 4 counterpicks), and characters are chosen before the stage, unlike SSB4. One more small con is setup. Unlike just popping a disc in, you will have to have Brawl, as well as download PM onto an SD card. This can be done simply in Dolphin by following this tutorial, but setting it up on your home system might take some grunt work. One last thing to note, since you might be thinking about it: No, PM isn't dead. Memes like the classic "gimr killed pm" might make you think that, but I can assure you that PM is going strong.

Pros: feels much like Brawl, SSB4 main might be mostly unchanged, play lost characters like Wolf and Snake
Cons: many characters to learn, tricky ruleset, could take some work to set up


Super Smash Bros. 64

Looking to go real old-school? 64, despite being out for over 18 years, still has a fairly active community. With only 12 characters and only a handful of advanced techs, it is simple to learn. However, you will have to re-learn some things you thought you knew. DI is almost a non-factor, characters play completely differently than SSB4, and there are strange strategies that don't seem like they should work, but do. Combos are very important. With so much hitstun, your combos will flow easier than in SSB4, and I can assure you, it feels quite satisfying. However, a small downside comes with this: It is somewhat easy to get destroyed. Playing someone far better than you can feel like they're just comboing you across the map, and you're powerless against them. One of the most major downsides is setup. To play it at home, you will either need an N64 and the game, or a 64 rom and a GCN->64 adapter. Both options require some work and money to be put in before you can begin. If you can overcome the opening challenges though, you might have found yourself a game that will last you 18 more years.

Pros: very few characters to learn, simple combos, not too many advanced techs
Cons: characters are completely different from SSB4, money probably must be put into setup


Rivals of Aether

None of these games seem to strike your fancy? Well, maybe try going off the grid a bit. Rivals is a Smash-style game, popularized by its presence at big tournaments such as Genesis, Smash Con, and Summit. The game itself, being designed for competitive play, has many great qualities. Characters, or at least some moves, will feel familiar to you. There are also tutorials for each of the characters to give you an eye into their tricks. However, this leads right into one of the biggest cons: In making all the characters unique, every character has some character-specific techniques that don't make sense unless you know them (Kragg's dash attack cancel, Zetterburn's Gatling combo, etc.). The tutorials help a lot with this, but since every character is viable, every character must be learned to become good at Rivals. One more large detriment is in community size. While PM or 64 may struggle wherever you are, Rivals really can struggle to garner a scene. If you're looking to play Rivals, I would first insure that your region has a scene, either pre-existing or started by you. One last pro to wrap it up is cost. For all of these games, you'll most likely have to buy a CRT, a N64, or possibly the game itself if you don't own it. For Rivals however, it is far less costly. It is only $15 on Steam (and being on Steam, there are occasionally sales; I got it when it was just $5), and only requires a general GCN adapter, which you probably already have for SSB4.

Pros: familiar characters, built-in tutorials, less cost than buying a Smash game
Cons: small communities, lots of character-specific nuances


Well, that's all the games that still have relevant communities. I hope this blog has inspired at least some of you to try out a second Smash game. Many tournaments offer several different games and allow you to enter multiple, so why not give it a shot? Personally, I bounced through all of these games before I figured out which was best for me. Today, I would consider PM to be just as big for me as SSB4, something that me of a year ago would have never imagined. Even if this doesn't happen for you, having a second game can open up some great experiences. Through PM, I've met several friends, convinced one or two more SSB4 players to try it out, and had some of my most memorable tournament moments. All of those great things started by me saying one day, "Hey, maybe I'll try this out." I hope that you say the same. 

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