Super Smash Bros. Melee refuses to die. Over 18 years after it first arrived on GameCube, it continues to draw massive crowds at tournaments across the globe and enthrall both newcomers and veterans with its lightning-fast, execution-heavy gameplay. Thanks to a new fan project, this popular fighting game finally has what it was always missing: competent online play.
Slippi, which is designed to function alongside the GameCube emulator Dolphin, is the brainchild of a small group of developers who came together to “bring Super Smash Bros. Melee into the future and invigorate the sport surrounding the game.” And it couldn’t have come at a better time. With the covid-19 pandemic putting a halt to physical events, competitors have been left in the lurch, forced to contend with Dolphin’s less-than-perfect online multiplayer features.
In addition to giving Super Smash Bros. Melee rollback netcode—the importance of which can’t be overstated when it comes to developing a competitive online experience—Slippi also includes built-in matchmaking for finding nearby opponents and automatic replay saving. There are also tools for tournament organizers, like stat tracking and improved streaming video quality.
Community reactions to Slippi have been overwhelmingly positive. Evo 2018 champion William “Leffen” Hjelte, who tested the application, released a 20-minute video explaining how Slippi works with footage from a match being played between his home country of Sweden and the east coast of the United States. Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson, who is considered one of the top five Super Smash Bros. Melee players in the world, said that using Slippi felt like playing offline. Melee god Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman said he was impressed with the netcode after testing it for over nine hours.
Many believe Slippi capable of ushering in a new generation Super Smash Bros. Melee players thanks to the way it allows for legitimate matches from home. As fighting games have grown more popular and real-world circumstances have kept folks from playing in the same room, the competency of their online modes has only become more vital to the experience. And while a surprising number of developers still fall short at implementing robust online multiplayer technology, projects like Slippi prove that passionate fans are often capable of stepping in to figure out their own solutions.