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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Project Madness

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A cautionary tale of corporate involvement

It wasn't too long ago that Nintendo completely ignored not only the competitive Smash community, but pretty much the entire Smash community as a whole. Any events or tournaments that fans created were summarily dismissed; the Big N never mingled with the fan base they had created. The 'Smash Bros.' community would simply dive into the grassroots, powered only by their love for the game and the support of each other.

However, before the release of 'Super Smash Bros. for Wii U,' Nintendo suddenly took an interest in the workings of their fans. They held an invitational tournament, pulling from the cream of the crop of the competitive community, asking for feedback and just celebrating the hype of the first new 'Smash Bros.' game in six years. It seemed like after years of wallowing in obscurity, this passionate fan base was coming into the spotlight.
There was, however, apprehension about a different section of the 'Smash Bros.' family: 'Project M.' 'Project M' is a mod of 'Super Smash Bros. Brawl' that brings the speed and complexity of 'Super Smash Bros. Melee' to the defensive playstyle of 'Brawl.' Needless to say, it's been a huge hit, with tournaments springing up for it all over the country. With Nintendo starting to take an interest in the competitive side of their flagship brawler, would the legal gray area that 'PM' stood in become a decidedly black-and-white affair?
There was never anything overtly said about 'PM's' fall from favor; in all honesty, most 'PM' fans thought that everything was going to continue as normal, with Nintendo boosting 'Melee' and the newest Wii U title and simply refraining from saying anything that would put them in a sticky legal situation by addressing 'PM.'

One of the biggest reasons for 'PM's' success was its inclusion in the major tournaments that also featured the other 'Smash' games. There were plenty of players that dipped their toes into 'PM' because of its facets that were familiar to both 'Melee' and 'Brawl' players. However, once Nintendo started getting into the mix, 'PM' quietly started to get pushed out of larger events. Then a major tournament streaming team said they weren't going to be showing any 'PM' matches on their channel anymore. Suddenly, the blossoming 'PM' community was being cut off from the rest of 'Smash' by the mere presence of Nintendo.

To this day, the 'PM' community finds itself in a state of disarray, cursing Nintendo for getting involved and trying to scrape together tournaments to keep this little mod that could alive. The 'Project M' development team is still pushing forward with new updates and stages, even with their legs being taken out from underneath them. The community is still passionate, but misdirected, and still trying to dig themselves out of this hole that Nintendo bumped them into.

Maybe it comes down to Nintendo having archaic rules about what fans do with their games; maybe it's just that fans were so excited to have Nintendo on board that they didn't think of the potential consequences. In the end, 'Smash Bros.' fans have learned to be careful what they wish for, because they just might get it, and it can single-handedly decimate a budding fan base.

Aaron Waite is watching through 'Scrubs.' Again. For the fourth time.


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