Super Smash Bros community debates which game is harder: Melee or Ultimate?

▲ Image via Nintendo


It's a debate as passionate and divisive as keyboard vs. controller. One the Super Smash Bros. community has argued about for years: Which game is actually harder to play and master: Melee or Ultimate? 


The majority of the Smash community has accepted that Melee is more technical. This seems to be an undisputed fact about competitive Smash. There's wavedashing and other exploits to master, which all take a great deal of timing, reading, reflexes, and quickness. The gameplay itself also seems to be a lot faster and requires more precise movements and faster reactions. 


This has led some in the Smash community to say that Melee is harder. But does this actually make the game harder than Ultimate? Or just more technical? 


A debate broke out on Twitter recently that decided to question the standard acceptance that Melee is harder to play. While Melee is more technical, it was argued that Ultimate is actually more difficult to master since it has so much more to learn and more variables. 


That's when all hell broke loose. 



The biggest point in Ultimate's favor when it came to comparing the difficulty of the two platform fighters is that the roster is larger. In Melee, you will usually see five or fewer fighters in the top sets in a major. There are only a handful of characters on the roster that are deemed worthy of playing by the majority of the playerbase.


Meanwhile, Ultimate is a bit more balanced in the sense that almost every character on the roster has a chance in the right hands. This means you'll often see a wider variety of characters — from swordies to spacies and everything in between — even at the highest level of play. Learning all of these matchups, along with all of the nuances and calculations and specifics that come with them, is a challenge. 


This led some in the Smash community to claim that Ultimate was harder for "all the wrong reasons."


The roster size was seen as a detriment to the game for Melee players, who prefer to master a handful of matchups to the extreme rather than be surprised by a sudden Ridley in pools. But the reality is that seemingly random characters have potential in the right hands (see MKLeo when he dominated with mid-tier Byleth). This is something that can happen and only the best of the best are prepared to face so many different variables in a single tournament. 


One Smash player pointed out that Ultimate has a lot of teenagers and new faces in the top rankings. Players are able to break in with enough skill and practice, he noted. This is different than Melee, where nobody has really been able to break into the top 10 unless they have played for years.


One of those "Gods," however, decided to discuss the topic. Juan "Hungrybox" DeBiedma offered up some insight, stating that he's one of the few who has grinded both games. 


With so much back and forth on the subject, it seemed that Hungrybox wanted to possibly end it in a draw: "Melee is for sure more technically demanding in terms of raw inputs. But Ultimate just has so much stuff you have to know in so many match ups it's exhausting." 



So is it harder to master Ultimate due to its large roster? Is Melee harder to master due to its technically demanding gameplay? This is currently still up for debate and probably will be until the end of time. For now, it's really a matter of preference. 

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