Dark Light

Project M is a community-made mod for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. 

The mod integrates elements from the GameCube’s Super Smash Bros. Melee. including gameplay balancing, new levels, character changes and enhanced speed of play.

The mod is playable on Wii without any hardware modification, instead running from an SD card with a copy of the original game disc. We spoke to the Project M team to find out more.

Where did the genesis for the mod come from?

After being obsessed with free games to win real money for a while, Project M had finally started as a hobby to try to replicate Falco’s functionality from Melee inside of Brawl. This began late 2009 as a collaboration between just a few interested modders. Since then, the scope of the project increased greatly. Interest in the project exploded into an international effort across more than ten countries, with over twenty people working on it on a daily basis.

How big is the community?

We recently hit over 32K downloads for the US version and we’ve seen side tournaments pop up all over the country (and even one in England) for it.

How do you agree and manage the changes you are making?

In general most of the group is on the same page as far as changes go. On any particular character we often have our ‘designers’ come up with a concept for a character, it’s then discussed among a few people, and then the idea is coded and animated until we have a build available to play test. We’ve had to scrap a few ideas, but most of the time what we come up with is enjoyable and well-designed. A few issues here and there have had some heated debates, but if it gets too out of hand we simply put it to a vote.

Running the mod requires no hardware or software modification, was this key?

Interestingly enough, the stage builder method was actually discovered before work began on the project. We’ve found that it was every important in getting people interested in the project. Over 70% of our downloaders choose the Hackless method. Some of our play testers don’t even have software-modified Wii’s. Lastly, IGN certainly would not have featured us if it weren’t for the lack of modification to the Wii.

What has been your favourite change to the game?

While there are several key mechanic changes that many of us would put pretty high on our lists, I’d say Taunt Cancelling, the ability to cancel a taunt with the teetering animation and have the Sound Effects continue, is a very popular addition to the game.

Which character do you feel has been improved the most? 

Probably Bowser. He wasn’t very formidable in any official Smash title, but in Project M his design has been reworked to truly be a “defensive powerhouse”, as he was meant to be. His armor fits his character design and it was tweaked to ensure it wasn’t overpowered or detrimental to the game.

How has the response been from the wider playing community?

The wider community, outside of the Smash community, has for the most part actually been really positive. There’s a few negatives here and there saying things like, “Why don’t you just go play Melee?” or “Stop modding Brawl! It’s fine the way it is!” but overall it’s been extremely positive.

I don’t think we would have hit 32k downloads in under a month if the wider community had disliked it. Mostly everyone is just excited about how the characters feel, how they play and also how they play against each other. The more casual crowd likes it just as much as the competitive crowd likes it.

And what are your future plans for the mod?

Without going into too much detail, we obviously are going to continue to strive for good balance with the last 10 characters. And also, of course, we plan to continue to further the engine to be closer to Melee (there’s still some very big components we’re missing, like the actual Light Shield).

The wait for another batch of characters will definitely not be as long as it was going from Demo 1 to Demo 2 (which was a whole year and two months). Aside from that, right now we’re working to squash as many bugs as we can with Demo 2.

You can find out more and download the mod at the Project M website.

Note: this interview originally appeared on Careers Arcade.