Uber Entertainment engineer/Chatty poster examines balance in Super Smash Bros.

Regular Chatty poster/Uber Entertainment senior software engineer Forrest Smith recently examined the concept of character balance through the past decade of Super Smash Bros. Melee. Check out his findings.


With Super Smash Bros. for Wii U arriving today, the Shacknews Chatty community has been preparing for its imminent arrival in different ways. In the case of Chatty's lord cecil, also known as Uber Entertainment senior software engineer Forrest Smith, he's taken a look at the series' core design.

His detailed article, centered on the GameCube classic Super Smash Bros. Melee, focuses on the 1v1 competitive scene. It specifically examines character balance, looking into character uses and trends, observing their fluidity despite Melee having never received a single patch.

"I think a large part of what enables this depth to be found in Smash Brothers is that the game isn't balanced," Smith says. "It's not a small roster of perfectly tuned characters. It's a big game with lots of characters that creates a huge and unexplored problem space. It's up to the players to explore the nooks and crannies and see what treasures they can find. I find that incredibly exciting and compelling."

Smith examines this phenomenon of player-created 'balance,' in comparison to games like League of Legends, which receives character buffs and nerfs on a regular basis.

"Riot changes LoL all the time," he adds. "Characters are regularly buffed. The nerfhammer is swung with reckless abandon. Ability sets are completely redesigned. The meta is meticulously influenced between seasons. I just can't help but wonder how the game would evolve if it was left alone like Smash. What would it look like after five or ten years? What amazing team comps would be found? What metas would develop? We'll never know, and that makes me a little sad."

The analysis is fascinating, especially given that Nintendo is now going in a more modern direction with regular patches. The most recent patch was released a few days ago for Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. Visit Smith's article to check out detailed power rankings charts for both Melee and Brawl and debate the merits of balance patches versus simply letting players find balance in it themselves.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 21, 2014 1:30 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Uber Entertainment engineer/Chatty poster examines balance in Super Smash Bros.

    • reply
      November 21, 2014 1:38 PM

      Good stuff, lord cecil!

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      November 21, 2014 2:37 PM

      It was interesting even to a non-Smash player.
      Inf-ing and commenting here in the Official Shacknews Article Thread.

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      November 21, 2014 3:47 PM

      The text on for the charts is still unreadable. Nice article though.

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        November 21, 2014 4:51 PM

        What browser/platform? It's pretty fubar in internet explorer. A program manager from the IE dev tools team actually responded in the comments that he submitted a bug report for it. :)

        As far as I know it works correctly in Safari OS X, Safari iOS, Firefox Windows, and Chrome Windows. I don't have any other platforms to test on personally. And I'm sure there are some cases where even those browsers are broken. Webdev sucks.

        It might also help if you took a screenshot and sent it to me or uploaded to imgur. I'm very curious what you're seeing.

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          November 21, 2014 9:19 PM

          IE11. Here's a snip of what it looks like. The highlighting of the line seems to work fin, it just looks like the font is squished.

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            November 21, 2014 10:13 PM

            ah. yeah. the whole thing is squished 50% on IE. Because IE sucks. It's just a straight up bug. My post caused a bug report to get filed which is kinda cool. =D

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            November 21, 2014 10:24 PM

            The bigger question here is why are you using IE? :(

            The only acceptable answer is you're on an oppressive-work computer!

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              November 21, 2014 11:21 PM

              IE11, sounds like a ms tablet

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      November 21, 2014 10:24 PM

      Great article, though I wonder if the wild jumps and dips in popularity indicates great balance, rather than poor balance.

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