Tips to Make the Switch from Ultimate to Melee

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It’s been more than 4 months of quarantine. Hopefully, you’ve been staying inside this whole time. Unfortunately, with the loss of in-person play comes quite a terrifying prospect: online Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. For a cool $20 a year, you get to enjoy some of the best online netplay has to offer, including laggy Zeldas, laggy Roys, or really just any character in lag. But if you’ve been paying attention to the Melee community, you’ve probably heard of Project Slippi. For a full description, you can check our previous article on the subject here. In short, it has revolutionized Melee Netplay, making cross-country connections feel sharp and responsive. There’s never been a better time to try out the older brother in the Smash series. While it may be daunting to start up a brand new game, here are a few tips that’ll help you out.

You Don’t Have to Buy a GameCube Controller
It’s likely that several of you don’t play Ultimate on a GameCube controller, instead opting for a Switch Pro Controller. But the only way to play Melee natively is with the previously mentioned GameCube controller. The idea of spending an arm and a leg on a brand-new controller to use in just one game may be enough to put you off.

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$73 dollars on a non-wireless controller for one game. Yikes

Fortunately, we’re not playing Melee on a GameCube or a Wii, we’re playing it on our computers. So, if you’ve only got a Switch Pro Controller, you can connect it to your computer via Bluetooth or USB and manually map all your buttons as a temporary solution. Granted, you probably won’t be able to do this in-person once the pandemic ends, but for now, it’s a good enough solution to let you try Melee and see if you really like it. Later down the line, if you're invested enough in the game, you can think about buying an official GameCube controller.

You’ll Need a New Main (and They’ll Need to be Good)
There’s a good chance your Ultimate main isn’t in Melee. And even if they are, it’s unlikely they’ll play the same way. So there’s no getting over it, you’ll need to find a new main.

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Don’t go lower than E tier, please.

It’s a widely held consensus that character viability tapers off after C tier, meaning that only 10 out of the 26-character roster are good enough to play with. For those engaging in more competitive play, I’d be inclined to agree. Here are a few suggestions as to which characters would be the best based on who you played in Ultimate.
Any sword character mains (Marth and Co., Cloud, Shulk) would probably enjoy playing Marth or Sheik. They use their long hitboxes to space their attacks on shields and focus on controlling space. While Sheik may not have the same range that Marth does, she’s easier to learn and has more consistent kill power in her Forward Air and Down Smash.
For zoners, Falco or Samus would be your best bet. Falco has a much faster playstyle, but he can use his lasers defensively to keep opponents at bay and force them to approach. If you want the more conventional turtling experience with powerful and varied projectiles, Samus is the way to go.
Grapplers (or half-grapplers) will be at home with Captain Falcon or the Ice Climbers. Captain Falcon can get amazing combos off his grabs and can put on tons of pressure. For pure grab reward, there’s no character like Ice Climbers, who can kill you off a single grab, thanks to Wobbling.
And finally for the rushdown players. You’ve all flocked to Melee to pull off some insane combos and exert pressure like no other. A playstyle like that takes a lot of practice and skill to maintain. With that in mind, you’ll probably want to try Fox, Falco, or Captain Falcon. Fox has been considered the best character in the game for years, and the pressure he can exert is unmatched by anyone else on the roster. Falco loses out a bit in pure ability, but he gains it back in style. There’s nothing more satisfying than pulling off some amazing pillar combos. And finally, Captain Falcon. This is where it all began, where he became a legend. With crazy tech-chases, insane combos, and style, he may not be as good as Fox and Falco, but he’s a blast to play.
As for Pikachu, Peach, and Jigglypuff, they don’t fit as cleanly into the aforementioned molds, but they’re fun characters in their own right. Pikachu isn’t as good at playing the rushdown game, but he has an amazing recovery that keeps him from being gimped early. Peach has big, hard-hitting hitboxes and vegetables are great projectiles, but she’s incredibly technical and not the most beginner-friendly. And Jigglypuff plays a unique defensive game of walling out with her great air mobility and big hitboxes, with the potential to pull off devastating punishes. So if the other characters don’t seem to click, give these three a shot.


Practice the Movement

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This could be you (eventually)

You’ve probably heard a lot about Melee’s smooth and fluid movement. But odds are when you start up the game, it’ll feel like your character is swimming underwater. Your inputs seem to never register, and even the simplest things will feel impossible. This is because of the lack of an input buffer. In Brawl, Smash 4, and Ultimate, your inputs are stored in a buffer in case the character is in the middle of an animation and are carried out the first frame after the animation ends. This helps the game feel smoother and easier to play. Melee will offer you no such respite. Once you get over that, things like L-Canceling, Wavedashing, and SHFFLing (Shorthop Fast Fall L canceling) will take a while to learn. Make sure to stick through it, because what awaits you really is some of the best movement in any Smash title. Practicing the movement for a few days should be enough to give you a fighting chance. Maybe just watch some YouTube or listen to a podcast while just moving around the stage. And make sure that you prioritize learning the movement over doing cool combos; if you can’t start them, those combos won’t matter.

(TIP: The C-Stick doesn’t work in Training Mode. Instead, try to play against a Level 1 CPU or register an empty port in VS Mode to an active player.)

Find Some Friends to Practice With

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Colorized image of a rookie Melee player before and after finding a practice buddy

While Melee is certainly a fun game, it can be a lonely experience starting all the way from the bottom. The skill gap between you and the average online player can be huge, and getting your teeth kicked in can get old fast. So, try and find some other Ultimate players you know who may be interested in joining you. Having someone at your level to practice with can make the experience much better, as you improve alongside each other. Your matches will be close, allowing you to spot your mistakes and remedy them. And coming from the same game, you can both give each other tips and tricks about how to translate your Ultimate experience into Melee.

Hopefully, these tips should help you make a smooth transition into Melee. It’s certainly going to be different from Ultimate, but you’ll be glad you tried it once you get the hang of it. Maybe once is quarantine over, you’ll switch to being a full-time Melee player. Who knows? Good luck, and happy smashing!

Author’s Note: If anyone has other tips for getting into Melee as an Ultimate player, feel free to add in the comments below!

Credits
Editing (@Thirdkoopa, @Scribe)
Graphics (@Zerp)
Social Media (@Zerp)
Special Mentions (@EmaLeigh, Heeew)
 
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Arcain

Comments

#3
Yeah, not like the net code suddenly makes the game balanced or even what Ultimate players want. Why take the time to learn wave dashing and L-Canceling anyway if you're just playing to kill time until you can get back to Ultimate tourneys? Though, I guess that would kill time.
 
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#4
Chances are, if you like Ultimate and the primary thing that bothers you is lag, switching to Melee probably just won’t be fun. I played hundreds if not thousands of hours in college with Melee and while I enjoyed it since I love the series in general, Ultimate to me is more fun than any of the predecessors.

I’ve recently tried it again and it just feels janky (though I get that’s the appeal). And good luck if you don’t like spacies, Marth, Shiek, Peach, or Puff. Not trying to stop anyone from trying it, please do so you can come to your own conclusions.

Obviously people that love Melee will always love Melee, but man, I dunno. I personally won’t be putting away the Switch anytime soon.

Nicely written article, though.
 
#5
Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world that thinks Ultimate's online is usually ok.

Obviously the net code could be better, but I've played with plenty of people in arenas with solid connections and mostly minimal lag. I've also played against laggy players on slippi (shout out to you, teleporting marth).

I think most people just haven't come to terms with the reality that half of the people in America have garbage internet connections that will lag no matter how good the netcode is and Nintendo isn't helping by not including an ethernet port on their console.
 
#6
Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world that thinks Ultimate's online is usually ok.

Obviously the net code could be better, but I've played with plenty of people in arenas with solid connections and mostly minimal lag. I've also played against laggy players on slippi (shout out to you, teleporting marth).

I think most people just haven't come to terms with the reality that half of the people in America have garbage internet connections that will lag no matter how good the netcode is and Nintendo isn't helping by not including an ethernet port on their console.
Also, to be fair, while the netcode could stand some improvement, I think people may underestimate how hard it would be to do. Or that it may, frankly, be nigh impossible to get the same results as you can while running an almost 20 year old game on a modern computer compared to a modern game on a Switch.
 
#7
Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world that thinks Ultimate's online is usually ok.

Obviously the net code could be better, but I've played with plenty of people in arenas with solid connections and mostly minimal lag. I've also played against laggy players on slippi (shout out to you, teleporting marth).

I think most people just haven't come to terms with the reality that half of the people in America have garbage internet connections that will lag no matter how good the netcode is and Nintendo isn't helping by not including an ethernet port on their console.
I actually also don’t have a problem with online most of the time. I’ve played roughly 8,000 matches, mostly Quickplay, some Arena, and 95% of them are very playable. It’s as you said, home WiFi with interference and bandwidth sharing is more likely the problem. People who I know have setups similar to mine (Ethernet, lots of bandwidth), even if they’re across the country, are pretty good.

Now sure, there are probably improvements that are possible, but I wouldn’t keep playing and enjoying online if I was having a miserable time.
 
#8
Now really is one of the best times to get into Melee. If you have the capability, you should definitely give it a try sometime. And if you are just starting out, I'd recommend not just immediately jumping into quickplay as that's a very easy way to get discouraged since you will most likely run into people with years of experience. Instead it might be good to play with a friend or maybe even search for a community of players that are of a similar skill level to you (like this beginner melee discord).

(TIP: The C-Stick doesn’t work in Training Mode. Instead, try to play against a Level 1 CPU or register an empty port in VS Mode to an active player.)
The C-Stick does actually work in training mode if you're using Slippi.
 
#9
Again though, why learn an old game that could just mess you up on the game you play more? And some people may not be comfortable emulating.
 
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#11
To be fair, modes is probably the main reason to play Melee casually these days. Mainly Adventure and Break the Targets though Race to the Finish might be fun some too. A more classic Classic Mode serves as a change of pace and an actual All Star Mode. Though, not sure any of that is online.
 
#12
Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world that thinks Ultimate's online is usually ok.

Obviously the net code could be better, but I've played with plenty of people in arenas with solid connections and mostly minimal lag. I've also played against laggy players on slippi (shout out to you, teleporting marth).

I think most people just haven't come to terms with the reality that half of the people in America have garbage internet connections that will lag no matter how good the netcode is and Nintendo isn't helping by not including an ethernet port on their console.
I'm with you, I don't have any problems with it, I think it should be fixed, plus saying it's the worst online as many others say is over exaggerated

Do I think it should be better, yes, but I'm gonna switch to melee, Never (Don't hate Melee, One of My favorite Gamecube Games ever)
Besides Melee has only like 4-6 characters that are good, where as ultimate has way more then that
plus I don't know how to emulate dolphin.
 
#13
I mean, why keep playing a game with 80+ characters, most of them competitively viable, with HD graphics and more modes/stages than ever before when you could play the two-decades-old version that has 70% less characters, only about 10 viable, and tons of exploitable glitches that people call "tech"?
Just because a game has more content than the other doesn't necessarily mean it is a strict improvement over it. It is entirely possible for someone to dislike Ultimate and prefer older smash titles. Me for example: I respect Ultimate as a game and love seeing the amount of work they've put into putting in such a diverse cast of characters, but I honestly despise playing it. A ton of content and a somewhat competitively balanced roster doesn't make a game fun, the mechanics/gameplay does, and whether or not one likes the mechanics/gameplay is largely up to personal preference. I personally dislike Ultimate's mechanics and I know other people who share the same opinion.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that just because a game is new and shiny doesn't automatically make it more likable than previous games. One could polish a piece of crap to the point where it's the coolest looking piece of crap on the world, but at the end of the day it's still just a piece of crap. Maybe some people will think that piece of crap is the coolest thing on the planet, but there will still be people who are disgusted by it.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
 
#14
Just because a game has more content than the other doesn't necessarily mean it is a strict improvement over it. It is entirely possible for someone to dislike Ultimate and prefer older smash titles. Me for example: I respect Ultimate as a game and love seeing the amount of work they've put into putting in such a diverse cast of characters, but I honestly despise playing it. A ton of content and a somewhat competitively balanced roster doesn't make a game fun, the mechanics/gameplay does, and whether or not one likes the mechanics/gameplay is largely up to personal preference. I personally dislike Ultimate's mechanics and I know other people who share the same opinion.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that just because a game is new and shiny doesn't automatically make it more likable than previous games. One could polish a piece of crap to the point where it's the coolest looking piece of crap on the world, but at the end of the day it's still just a piece of crap. Maybe some people will think that piece of crap is the coolest thing on the planet, but there will still be people who are disgusted by it.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. I, for instance, have the polar opposite view that you have of Ultimate. Sheer roster size aside, I think people like you grossly underestimate the importance of having so many competitively viable characters in one game. And yes, one could easily argue/prove that half the roster is viable. That's 40ish characters. . . as in more than the entire size of Melee's roster by almost double. It adds a huge dimension of diversity instead of watching 90% of the competitive scene being nothing but Fox, Falco, Shiek and Marth. It means more than just winning matches, but winning matches with some of the hypest picks in existence like Cloud, Megaman, Pokemon Trainer and so many others.

And you want to talk about mechanics/gameplay making things fun? I can't tell you how awesome it is having frame-perfect combos thanks to an actual buffer system as well as virtually any attack/grab option out of dash without having to learn the exploitable glitches of wave-dashing, etc. The EASE of Ultimate's movement and mechanics makes it far more approachable than Melee ever was. Like you, I respect Melee as a game, but just as you despise playing Ultimate, I would never go back to playing such a painfully outdated game. The hardest part for me would be to even find a friend to consistently play it with in the first place since literally every gamer I know or associate with has moved on. I suppose if someone wants to earn the e-cred of the few thousand diehards left that play it, then all power to them. Meanwhile, I'll be balling it up with the 14 million+ players that have gotten with the times.
 
#15
And you want to talk about mechanics/gameplay making things fun? I can't tell you how awesome it is having frame-perfect combos thanks to an actual buffer system as well as virtually any attack/grab option out of dash without having to learn the exploitable glitches of wave-dashing, etc. The EASE of Ultimate's movement and mechanics makes it far more approachable than Melee ever was. Like you, I respect Melee as a game, but just as you despise playing Ultimate, I would never go back to playing such a painfully outdated game.
I think the really precise inputs and speed of Melee is something that really clicks for some people. I find the game fun, but without learning and practicing more advanced movement and tech like wavedash, jump cancel, and SHFFL the game isn't offering much that I can't also get in Ultimate.

I think for some people the process of grinding out the timing and getting it into muscle memory is part of why the game is fun.
 
#16
Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. I, for instance, have the polar opposite view that you have of Ultimate. Sheer roster size aside, I think people like you grossly underestimate the importance of having so many competitively viable characters in one game. And yes, one could easily argue/prove that half the roster is viable. That's 40ish characters. . . as in more than the entire size of Melee's roster by almost double. It adds a huge dimension of diversity instead of watching 90% of the competitive scene being nothing but Fox, Falco, Shiek and Marth. It means more than just winning matches, but winning matches with some of the hypest picks in existence like Cloud, Megaman, Pokemon Trainer and so many others.

And you want to talk about mechanics/gameplay making things fun? I can't tell you how awesome it is having frame-perfect combos thanks to an actual buffer system as well as virtually any attack/grab option out of dash without having to learn the exploitable glitches of wave-dashing, etc. The EASE of Ultimate's movement and mechanics makes it far more approachable than Melee ever was. Like you, I respect Melee as a game, but just as you despise playing Ultimate, I would never go back to playing such a painfully outdated game. The hardest part for me would be to even find a friend to consistently play it with in the first place since literally every gamer I know or associate with has moved on. I suppose if someone wants to earn the e-cred of the few thousand diehards left that play it, then all power to them. Meanwhile, I'll be balling it up with the 14 million+ players that have gotten with the times.
Thanks for the response, I'm glad we could find common ground in that we both respect each other's game while also hating each other's game lol.

I definitely get where you're coming from. Melee as a game is incredibly difficult to play compared to the other titles, and I can see why the more simplified/streamlined movement of Ultimate might be more appealing to some. Melee is an outstanding game, but it's definitely not for everyone. I'm not sure why you would call the game outdated though. The mechanics are still amazing by todays standards, and even the simplistic graphics have aged pretty well surprisingly.

I do have one question for you. If you don't like melee, why even make the effort to post here in the first place?

I think the really precise inputs and speed of Melee is something that really clicks for some people. I find the game fun, but without learning and practicing more advanced movement and tech like wavedash, jump cancel, and SHFFL the game isn't offering much that I can't also get in Ultimate.

I think for some people the process of grinding out the timing and getting it into muscle memory is part of why the game is fun.
This exactly. Pressing buttons is incredibly fun. And the precision of the movement in Melee is incomparable. Even Ultimate, a game that put effort into making the movement precise, pales in comparison.
 
#17
Thanks for the response, I'm glad we could find common ground in that we both respect each other's game while also hating each other's game lol.

I definitely get where you're coming from. Melee as a game is incredibly difficult to play compared to the other titles, and I can see why the more simplified/streamlined movement of Ultimate might be more appealing to some. Melee is an outstanding game, but it's definitely not for everyone. I'm not sure why you would call the game outdated though. The mechanics are still amazing by todays standards, and even the simplistic graphics have aged pretty well surprisingly.

I do have one question for you. If you don't like melee, why even make the effort to post here in the first place?
To answer your question, I suppose for the same reason you responded to my post in the first place. Each of us is passionate about our game of choice and feel that some justification is needed. As for my "outdated" comment, I meant that in the literal sense of Melee being 20 years old and 3 Smash generations removed. To its credit though, I have to say that the game and its dedicated fanbase have endured way longer and stronger than any other game I can think of. If there's anything we can agree on, it's that the Smash franchise is a god among fighting game franchises.
 
#18
I find the feel of the game an important factor when deciding to switch or not. Yet, I also believe you should try Melee and decide for yourself if you can manage a switch. I rarely even play smash any more, but I do not discourage a switch if you decide it will be fun after weighing the pros and cons.
 
#19
This exactly. Pressing buttons is incredibly fun. And the precision of the movement in Melee is incomparable. Even Ultimate, a game that put effort into making the movement precise, pales in comparison.
I think Melee is sometimes too difficult for it's own good. For people who really enjoy the grind of practicing crazy tech Melee will never be replaced, but most people who have the option it seems will choose to play something that isn't asking them to be frame perfect to do ordinary things like shorthop aerials or dash back. UCF is a testament that even dedicated Melee players have to deal with the trouble of the game asking too much of the player.
 
#20
I personally find the barrier of entry just to be decent in Melee too high. I'm happy to play it on a purely casual basis. But anything more? Not happening.
 
#21
I think Melee is sometimes too difficult for it's own good. For people who really enjoy the grind of practicing crazy tech Melee will never be replaced, but most people who have the option it seems will choose to play something that isn't asking them to be frame perfect to do ordinary things like shorthop aerials or dash back. UCF is a testament that even dedicated Melee players have to deal with the trouble of the game asking too much of the player.
Melee is way too complicated for beginners like me, plus there only like 6 characters you used, not a lot of variety
 
#22
I just don't care enough to spend hours learning something like L-cancelling or wavedashing. It's been enough for me to learn Ultimate, where I don't have to worry about that stuff.
 
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