This past weekend’s EVO 2017 tournament included announcements from all of the major games on show – except for Super Smash Bros., because Nintendo.
Stepping up to fill that gap? Meet Icons: Combat Arena, a new game which looks… exactly like Smash.
The similarities are no coincidence. Icons is being developed by Wavedash Games, a group formed from Smash Bros. fans – including a few of the talented folk behind the popular Project M mod, plus team members with professional experience at Riot, Blizzard and BioWare.
Project M is a mod for Wii game Super Smash Bros. Brawl which came to life after fans felt Brawl lacked the finesse of series-favourite Melee. (16 years after release, Melee is still played at EVO, alongside its Wii U successor.)
As an independent (and ultimately commercial) project, Icons features no Nintendo branding or characters. It’s designed as a free-to-play game and an open beta is planned to launch on Steam this autumn.
As for the game itself, it’s a platform-based fighter which immediately evokes memories of Smash Bros. Many of its characters offer similar movesets to those on the standard Smash roster. You can battle off the stage and charge back on. You can edge hang. And yes, you can wavedash.
Reaction to the footage has been mixed, however. Perhaps due to the standards of the competitive scene, to which Icons is tailored, any attempt to replicate Smash is going to have a high bar to meet.
Smash fans have also criticised the near-cloning of character movesets from Smash to Icons.
“Waited a year just to see single move clips of redone smash animations,” one viewer commented.
“God damn it all that hype build up for this to be another clone instead of this being its own style of platform fighter,” wrote another.
Icon’s development team has already said it will listen closely to the fighting game community’s response to the game. It’ll be interesting to see if changes are made before the game’s beta release.