Project M is a gameplay modification of Super Smash Bros. Brawl designed to make the gameplay more closely resemble that of Super Smash Bros. Melee, as well as Super Smash Bros. to a lesser extent. Project M's primary change from Brawl is that the speed of gameplay has been generally increased and the character landing lag is shorter, alongside the restoration of many Melee mechanics and elements, such as the addition of Mewtwo and Roy after their absence in Brawl. Project M's development team was partly descended from the original developers for Brawl+, later known as the PMDT, or Project M Dev Team (formerly the PMBR, or Project M Backroom), having members from over ten countries. Development of the mod officially concluded on December 1st, 2015, with version 3.6 being the last official release of Project M.
Project M has been commonly featured at several national tournaments, such as the Zenith series, The Big House series, and Apex 2014, and it remains the most popular gameplay mod of Brawl in tournament settings. Starting in 2013, Project M saw a rapid rise in its popularity as more characters became playable and the mod became more familiar at Smash tournaments. By 2014, it began to develop its tournament scene, with the number of entrants for Apex 2014's PM singles event notably surpassing the number of competitors for Brawl. Despite the end of Project M's official development, it still has been able to maintain its tournament presence separate from Brawl, including the formation of its Backroom, the New PMBR, on July 21, 2016.
Project M only supports NTSC versions of Brawl, and no PAL build was ever released. As a result, running Project M outside of NTSC regions requires either homebrew as to allow the Wii to run an NTSC version of the game; or an imported Wii.
Changes from Brawl
Project M has two different versions: Full Set and WiFi. The former has Stock Control and Input Assistance as new features, which allows newer players to use advanced techniques better and have a stock advantage over experienced ones. However, Replays and online play do not work properly as a result of L and R button light-presses causing online desynchronization. Replays are now functioning with the inclusion of Fracture's replay mod. The WiFi version allows these two things to work properly, and while it keeps the former version's battle features, these are not implemented for online play, likely because Stock Control would have caused potential griefing within matches (by the distant opponent always choosing the maximum amount of stocks). If a Project M replay is in regular Brawl, it may cause malfunctions when beginning a match, possibly because of the stage replacement.
Both versions massively alter the original Brawl gameplay to more closely resemble that of Melee, along with other changes to make the game more competitive in general. It retains the techniques Brawl has, such as crawling, wall cling, and DACUS.
Melee based changes
The following mechanics have been altered to match their Melee forms:
Brawl based changes
Aside from Melee restorations, the following techniques and mechanics from Brawl have also been changed:
Other changes and gameplay tweaks
In addition to the many universal changes, every character received several individual adjustments in order to balance the game properly. The roster was largely buffed overall, creating an extensive collection of viable characters with varying playstyles, strengths, and weaknesses. However, certain moves were nerfed to further flesh out some fighters and break their dependence on repeated use of a single move or small set of moves. Some Project M characters are based on their appearances in Melee (such as Captain Falcon and Jigglypuff) while others are modified from their Brawl versions or a mixture of their iterations from both games.
The sourcing of previous versions of a character depends largely on previous attendance and performance, with high tier Melee characters being mostly reverted to their past formats (with some adjustments to add more balance for the other characters). This includes both normal and special moves, properties such as gravity, weight, run-speed and air mobility.
Aesthetic changes such as sound effects and costumes were included in more recent versions such as version 3.0 and were revamped in 3.5 and 3.6.
The entire cast was overhauled to match the physics of Melee. Characters that suffered from weak attributes and movesets in both Melee and Brawl (such as Bowser, Kirby, and Zelda), had their positive attributes from each game merged and are given entirely new and original buffs. Some returning characters, like Ganondorf, were given a completely revamped moveset to reference their abilities from their home series further and to distance themselves from characters from which they are cloned. New characters, such as Sonic and Snake, are given completely original buffs, nerfs and even entirely new moves to increase their variability and versatility.
Giga Bowser, and Wario-Man are optional playable characters, as they are selected if the player holds the shield button when selecting Bowser or Wario on the character select screen.
Based on the Brawl roster of 39 characters, Project M gives Zero Suit Samus, Sheik, Squirtle, Ivysaur and Charizard their own slots on the character selection screen (the latter 3 replacing the Pokémon Trainer) while including Mewtwo and Roy (who were both absent in Brawl) for a total of 41 characters (43 if the Final Smash forms Giga Bowser and Wario-Man are counted). Furthermore, a leaked development build indicated that development on four new characters was in progress at the time of the project's cancellation. This shows a planned total of 45 characters; these characters are Knuckles from the Sonic universe, Lyn from the Fire Emblem universe, Isaac from the Golden Sun universe, and Sami from the Advance Wars universe. Knuckles would later be added in the mod's successor, Project+.
List of characters
Bold denotes characters not in Brawl.
Project M contains 42 stages selectable normally, and 27 alternate stages (that appear in a small preview under the main stage preview and are selectable by holding L before pressing A). Two stages, Peach's Castle HD and Hyrule Castle HD, have a second alternate stage that does not show a preview and is selectable by holding Z instead of L.
Among the normally selectable stages, 3 are original to Project M, 11 are altered layouts of Brawl stages, 6 have minor changes from Brawl, 4 are ported from Melee, 6 are ported from Smash 64 and mostly given HD revamps, and the remaining 12 are unchanged from Brawl (including Past Stages).
Among the alternate stages, 1 is original to Project M, 1 is an altered layout of a Brawl Past Stage, 1 is ported from Melee, 8 are ported from Smash 64, and the remaining 16 are unchanged from Brawl (including Past Stages).
In version 3.0, the Curry effect was replaced with the "Turbo" effect. In Turbo mode, players can cancel any successful attack, upon hit or shield, into any other action except the same attack, and all aerial attacks auto cancel when landing if they hit. Certain moves, such as Farore's Wind, consist of multiple actions and can thus be canceled into themselves. Turbo Mode has been compared to the Marvel vs. Capcom series because it enables skilled players to perform extensive combos.
Turbo mode is selectable from the Special Brawl menu, or temporarily granted by the "Turbo" item, which replaces Superspicy Curry. While in Turbo Mode, characters emit faint purple flame effects (compared to the red flame effects of Curry).
Turning Input Assist on removes the same-attack restriction.
Notable Turbo-related resources:
The PMDT did not publish an official tier list. On March 26th, 2014, CLASH Tournaments published a preliminary tier list for version 3.02, followed by a finalized tier list on November 14th, 2014. Mewtwo notably received a perfect score of 10 out of 10, putting it in its own tier, the God Tier.
No tier list was ever released for version 3.5, though it was a general agreement that only two characters could be considered "bottom tier": Olimar, whose recovery was too unreliable, and the Ice Climbers, who suffered from a physics glitch that often caused Nana to self-destruct.
Version 3.6 fixed the Ice Climbers' and Olimar's issues, and a second tier list for version 3.6 was later released. Many fighters that did poorly in Melee and/or Brawl saw large improvements in their tier placings. Examples include Mewtwo going from the low tier in Melee to the top tier in Project M, and Captain Falcon notably going from the bottom tier in Brawl to the top tier of Project M.
The Project M Backroom released a third tier list for version 3.6, which, published September 9th, 2017, is the most recent and widely accepted one. Donkey Kong, the Ice Climbers, and Sonic rose the most on the tier list, while R.O.B., Roy, and Fox dropped the most. Mewtwo entered the top three again, while Kirby and Bowser remained the second-worst and worst characters in the game, respectively. This was the final tier list published for Project M version 3.6.
Released February 8, 2011
Released April 17, 2012
Released May 23, 2012
Released December 29, 2012
The following are in the release, but not limited to:
Released January 6, 2013
Released July 17, 2013
The PMDT announced Project M 2.6 along with their new website design.
Released August 15, 2013
Released December 9, 2013
The mod officially leaves the "Demo" development and is now a full mod. 3.0 also marks the first version to contain the entire Brawl roster, along with Roy and Mewtwo, and becomes the final roster onward.
Released January 11, 2014
Released January 13, 2014
Released November 14, 2014
Various character changes to adjust game balance, most especially to nerf recoveries and burst movement options that were seen as overpowered in previous versions.
Released June 24th, 2015
Released August 16th, 2015
Due to Project M's focus on the competitive aspect of the game, the mod experiences some errors and abnormalities regarding non-competitive aspects:
The mod can be downloaded here and requires only an SD card, non-PAL Wii or Wii U, and a non-PAL Brawl disc.
The team has dissolved after ending the development of Project M, but they are of course still credited.
The legality of Project M is ambiguous: by itself, and much like any other hack, the mod is a derivative work, for it branches directly off of a copyrighted product. While derivative works are not inherently breaches of any law or rule, the patch files for the mod include various copyrighted assets not present on the original disc, such as the Fountain of Dreams stage. In addition, the act of launching PM relies on exploiting the console to run unofficial code on it, thereby breaking the console's end-user license agreement. Likely as a result, Project M has not been featured at any tournaments sponsored by Nintendo, as doing so would essentially be sponsoring hacking their own consoles and misappropriating their assets and characters.
Though Nintendo has not given a formal response to Project M, policies enacted by the company have suggested that it does not approve of the mod. One of its policies included issuing bans for mentioning Project M by name on any of Nintendo's Miiverse channels for constituting "criminal activity". This had the potential to result in erroneous bans when talking about other subjects such as the development team of Metroid: Other M, which was also named "Project M"; bans could also be issued for using the abbreviation "PM", even if it was referring to another game or series such as Paper Mario (although this was allowed on the Paper Mario community) or when used for miscellaneous purposes (such as denoting the daily time-span between noon and midnight).
In October 2014, it was announced that Project M would be dropped from the lineup of Apex 2015, with many qualifying tournaments also suspending their Project M events. While some qualifiers did feature Project M, no official online streams were available for such events apart from B.E.A.S.T 5, which was streamed on VGBootCamp; commentators on streams provided by VGBootCamp were also reportedly instructed to not mention Project M while on air. These were strongly suspected to be a result of intervention from Nintendo, which had previously begun involving itself with the competitive community, such as through the Super Smash Bros. Invitational at E3 and a video presentation from Nintendo of America's president Reggie Fils-Aimé at the conclusion of EVO 2014. A later announcement in January 2015 stating that Apex had officially partnered with Nintendo for Apex 2015 gave further credence to this theory.
Throughout the rest of 2015, Project M continued to decline in presence. Many major tournaments dropped Project M from their rosters; VGBootCamp, which became well-known for popularizing the mod, later announced that they would no longer stream Project M, and subsequently removed all such content on their channel; and monetized streams on Twitch faced difficulties regarding streaming the mod and its questionable legal status. On December 1st, 2015, the Project M Development Team ultimately chose to conclude the development of the mod, shutting down their official page, removing the download links from the site, and leaving a farewell message on the main page; the site itself was later taken down. Officially, the developers felt their work on the last version of Project M was complete, and the numerous group members chose to follow their original endeavors. However, this message was contradicted by the fact that various art assets, such as additional alternate costumes, had been posted to the team's Facebook page following the release of v3.6 with a planned inclusion in a future version, as well as by the fact that a PAL version was explicitly planned though never released. Although a tweet claimed the end of development was not the result of legal issues, a later statement from a former member of the development team argued that Project M's development was in fact shut down as a preemptive measure for fears of potential legal action from Nintendo.
Though the decline of Project M was commonly thought to be a result of either avoiding litigation from Nintendo or the company directly forbidding it, it was not until November 2020 that this theory was formally confirmed. In the 24th of that month, an anonymous "informed Smash insider" posted a Twitlonger explaining Nintendo's history of inhibiting the Smash community, which several members of the community would go on to corroborate. According to the Twitlonger, many companies and esports organizations began attempting to work with the Smash community, only for intervention by Nintendo to halt many of those efforts. Nintendo reportedly told them that they refused to work with the community for featuring Project M, but even after support for the mod waned, there was no major progress in establishing them. Later that day, former Smashboards writer Linnea Capps made her own Twitter thread revealing that Twitch's efforts to form a circuit required that they remove and ban all Project M content on the platform, including Apex's tournament for it. Twitch offered to help director Alex Strife make an official statement on the matter to avoid any extended criticism he would get, but following allegations of him harassing other players, the offer was rescinded. In an unreleased interview Capps conducted with Strife months after Apex 2015, he revealed that players tried and ultimately failed to receive payment from Twitch in exchange for no longer streaming the mod. She further detailed that hitbox.tv, a platform that rose in popularity for streaming PM content after Twitch gradually phased it out, even hired someone specifically to coordinate with the Smash community, only to suddenly fire said coordinator after a failed attempt to create a circuit with Nintendo's help and gradually remove PM content from its site as well.
CLASH Tournaments founder Chia also published a TwitLonger explaining how Twitch had given her and many other streamers one last major Project M stream before being disallowed from ever streaming the mod again: CLASH Tournament's final Project M stream was March 2015's Shots Fired. Twitch had also forced her to not mention anything about the situation or she'd risk losing CLASH Tournament's partnership with Twitch. In an attempt to make it easier on the streamers, Twitch asked them to provide financial analytics of how much they earned with streaming Project M and promised that they'd pay similar amounts of funds for a short time, but this also never came into fruition; Chia wrote that she believed Twitch did not want to follow through with this and only did so after pressure came from Nintendo.
The reveals of the tumultuous history of Project M's decline, alongside the cancellation of The Big House Online in the same month, served as a catalyst for the "#SaveSmash" movement on Twitter. Later on, someone from the PMDT put the site back up with the hashtag, while urging its community to stand in solidarity.
Despite the cession of development in 2015, Project M inspired several successors. These successors built off of Project M, then introduced new characters and stages.
Legacy TE is a tourney-viable modification of Project M 3.6 that aims to add new content while also keeping core, fundamental gameplay unmodified. It features a variety of tourney-safe alternative stage skins, costumes, and quality of life features. This includes shortcuts to edit a players' controls without leaving the character selection screen, an improvement to character files to reduce crashing likelihood, and an improved menu interface. A debug menu made for the mod allows players to train their skills for professional tournaments. For example, there is an option to show DI lines that show how directional influence affects where an attack sends an opponent, with a clearly defined end point that either aims to the ground or stops in the air. A variety of tools and resources have also been made for the mod, allowing tournament organizers to easily customize their builds, including changing the stagelist, replacing costumes, or editing brand assets on menus. Legacy TE has received worldwide adoption and is generally considered the go-to edition of Project M by tournament players. Version 2.11 was released in January 2019. Version 2.5 was released on August 26, 2019, and features 15 costumes per character, stage alt toggle options in the code menu, and many other features. On March 13th, 2020 the Legacy Team announced that development of Legacy TE had concluded and that Version 2.5 was the final release.
Legacy XP is a modification of Project M 3.6 that includes more characters, 700+ additional stages and new modes. While the characters from Project M were mostly unaltered (Yoshi and Link received some non-PM 3.6 moveset-fixing edits and Snake got the ability to walk while using his box taunt), 10 more fighters were added: Young Link, Pichu and Dr. Mario, returning from Melee; Ridley and Lucina, who would make their official debuts in games released after Brawl; Waluigi, Geno, and Metal Sonic, who were added in the beta build released in September 2016; and Shadow and Mage Ganondorf (inspired by his Ocarina of Time appearance), released in version 2.0 Full in May 2018. Version 2.1 featuring some balance changes was released in March 2019. Another minor update, Version 2.11 was released in January 2020. On March 13th, 2020 the Legacy Team announced that development of Legacy XP had concluded and that Version 2.11 was the final release.
Legacy XP Lite is a combination of Legacy XP with some of the more competitive friendly stages from Legacy TE greatly reducing the number of stages and the mod size from over 5 GB to under 2 GB. Version 2.1 was released in March 2019. Version 2.11 was released in January 2020.
Project+ is a modification of Project M 3.6 (based on Legacy TE) with the aim to improve the balance among the cast by making small moveset changes to all or most characters. Project+ is currently the main mod over Project M in several tournaments, most notably and recently Blacklisted 5, Low Tier City 7, and The Encore. Project+'s development started in 2018, with the latest patch (v2.29) releasing on August 20, 2021. Version 2.0 brought many new additions including a new character, Knuckles.