Jun 13 2014 - 9:00 pm

Will Wii U's 'Smash Bros.' win over the 'Melee' crowd?

The international phenomenon that is the Super Smash Bros
Imad Khan
Dot Esports

The international phenomenon that is the Super Smash Bros. series will finally see its fourth iteration released later this year. Tentatively titled Smash Bros. for Wii U, the game will feature more characters, more stages, and improved mechanics. But many are wondering if competitors will embrace this new game.

Right now, the competitive scene is still playing the 2001 GameCube release, Super Smash Bros. Melee. It's an excellent game, and rather amazingly suited for tournament play. The speed and mechanics allow for a lot of creativity. When Super Smash Bros. Brawl was released in 2008 for the Wii, players looked at it with confusion. It was too far removed from the fast and frantic play of Melee.

Masahiro Sakurai, the game’s director, wants to bring back the Melee crowd without alienating those who preferred Brawl. What he’s helped create is a game that’s a little bit Melee, a little bit Brawl, and ultimately really neither.

Nintendo allowed me some extended hands-on time with the game upstairs at their E3 booth. I was able to play against some employees as well as by myself to try and dissect some of the mechanics. I used the characters Greninja from Pokémon and Zero Suit Samus from the Metroid series. Fast and agile, both favor my style of play.

The game is clearly much faster than Brawl, but not quite as fast as Melee. In Melee, a popular technique to throw off your opponent is to dash dance—essentially, making the character run from left to right really fast. It was less a feature and more of an exploit of the game’s mechanics, so in the new Smash, unsurprisingly, this was impossible to do.

In Melee, L and R dodging were critical to combat. The dodges were fast, and they could also be done in the air. For example, say your character was airborne, and another character was coming up for an attack; you could press the L or R button to have your character move in pretty much any direction you wanted it to.

In the new Smash, dodges really can’t be used that way. When the player presses L or R, the character just air dodges in the direction it was already moving. So if a character is falling to the right, it will also air dodge to the right.

Via Eric Guan’s YouTube Channel

Degree of movement is probably the greatest complaint about Smash Bros for Wii U. Although the game moves things in the right direction, it falls short in several ways, which may prevent it from becoming largely embraced by the Melee community. For an arena fighter like Melee, finding ways to expand your movement around the stage is critical for gaining an advantage over your opponent. In limiting some of these degrees of movement, Nintendo may have prematurely fated the game to not being featured as a favored esport.

Speaking of esports, the curse of the Smash Bros. series is that Nintendo made a party game for players to have fun, and then the community turned it into a sport. Sports like baseball and basketball seldom have their rules changed. With Smash, each iteration is different from the next. That’s not conducive to creating a proper esport. There needs to be a level of consistency that neither Sakurai, nor Nintendo, really cares to bring. And with Brawl, Nintendo even went so far as to make make drastic changes to the formula just to curb competitive play.

Having Smash Bros for Wii U become an esport featured in Evo, the biggest fighting games competition in the United States, or Major League Gaming, is not high on its priority list. Fans need to realize this.

Is the new Smash good? Yes, surprisingly so. Will the game replace Melee? Probably not. Could Smash Bros. for Wii U become an esport in and of itself? Probably. I wouldn’t be surprised if both Melee and Smash Bros. for Wii U were both featured at tournaments. I could definitely see Smash Bros for Wii U garnering a strong following—much stronger than Brawl at the very least.

In talking with some of the competitors after E3’s Super Smash Bros. Invitational Tournament, consensus was unsure. Yes, the gameplay was different than Brawl, and it did favor Melee a bit more, but really each player needs more time to break down the game's mechanics and find exploits. It’s mastering those exploits that made Melee such a blast to play. It will take a few months after Smash Bros. for Wii U’s release before players can come to a conclusion on if the game will be worthy of professional competitive play.

Image via Nintendo

Today - 1:25 am

Get your Red Envelopes ready—the Lunar Revel event in League starts today

Riot is kicking off the 2017 Lunar Revel with some slick new skins.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Image via Riot Games

The Lunar New Year is a sacred, historic holiday that is celebrated by nations in the far east. It marks the beginning of the year based on the cycles of the moon. There’s dancing, festivals, parades, but much more importantly: A special League of Legends event. Why is that so important? Because you can get sweet new skins, of course!

The Lunar Revel Event is a yearly occurrence in League that features shiny new goodies to buy in-game. The event was announced and started today, so after you update the client, you’ll be able to take part in the festivities.

1) Free Icon

That’s right, for the small cost of going to the official Lunar Revel web page, you can claim a free Summoner Icon! The interactive home page acts as the hub for the Lunar Revel event, and you can click through the menu to see all the features. There’s even some lore tying each of this year’s Lunar Revel skins to their respective champions.

2) Champion Skins

There are three skins coming out for the Lunar Revel event this year: Garen, Azir, and Vi. Each has a matching Summoner Icon available in the store.

Garen’s sword and rad man-bun make this skin what it is: Awesome. When he spins to win, a green dragon swirls around him. When he ults, the giant sword that falls from the heavens... well, it’s green.

Azir seems to be more of a themed skin specific to this year, as it’s the Year of the Rooster—and Azir is as rooster-like as any League champion gets. His soldiers are also made to match his skin, sporting golden armor.

Vi’s theme is “the green demon” and when she ults, a big green dragon swirls up into the air and slams back into the ground as she does. This one’s our favorite, but mostly because it’s the only time we’re ever going to see Vi in a ponytail.

Not only are those three new skins available now, but past Lunar Revel skins and bundles are in the shop as well.

3) Crafting

A brand new Lunar Revel crafting system will also be in the client until the end of the event. It uses the same crafting page as usual, where you open chests with keys you earn from playing games and combine shards to form skins and champions. You can buy a Revel Red Envelope for 250 RP and visit the crafting page in your client to turn it into a skin shard and one random relic.

The relics come in three types: the Pauldron Relic, the Golden Relic, and the Gauntlet Relic. Once you have all three, you can combine them into Epic Skin Shards (1350 RP skins), random skin permanents, Gemstones, or Hextech Chests and Keys.

4) Merch

Finally, you can visit the Lunar Revel merch store to check out some IRL event goodies. Want a shirt featuring each Chinese Zodiac with League champions instead of the usual animals? Well it’s in the merch store, as well as a collectible figurine of Lunar Revel Azir.

The event is running from now until Feb. 2, so be sure to log into the game and check it out!

Today - 12:27 am

University of Toronto students can now apply for an esports scholarship

Who said gaming was a waste of time?
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Image via CC 3.0

Canada's top-rated university will begin taking applications for an esports scholarship to be awarded next year.

University of Toronto alumnus Victor Xin started the scholarship program as a way of providing extra support to students who want to hone their skills in competitive gaming. While this is the first such scholarship to be introduced in Canada, several U.S.-based universities such as University of California, Irvine began offering esports scholarships in 2016.

Xin works at Toronto-based wealth management firm Athena Capital Partners, which also funds the scholarship. He told the university that students that display competitive drive through computer games shouldn't be distracted from trying achieving success in the world of esports.

"There are trailblazers on campus who are rallying a different set of students to build campus organizations focused on an alternative way of learning to lead and succeed in life," Xin told the university. The former student, who graduated in 2008 after studying at its Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, began following StarCraft during his tenure at the institution and also founded the University of Toronto eSports Club. For Xin, the fund is aimed at making sure that students who show drive and leadership through esports won't "fall through the cracks."

Are you thinking of applying for the Victor Xin scholarship? The requirements are: That you're an undergraduate at the university's Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, you've got a 3.5 GPA, and participate regularly in gaming-related extra-curricular activities. If it means we get to play League of Legends during school hours, we're totally in.