Icons: Combat Arena is looking to be ‘the next genre-defining platform fighter’.
These are the words independent game publisher Wavedash Games uses when describing the game they are are developing and their mission statement as a company.
Born from the shared vision of Matt Fairchild and Jason Rice, respectively CEO and Creative Director, and some key members of the platform fighting community, Wavedash Games’ goal is to expand the platform fighter genre by making its game more accessible and non-console exclusive.
The fighting game genre has several long-lasting series such as Street Fighter, Tekken, Dragon Ball or Injustice for which the developers have dedicated resources towards the professional circuits and competitive scene in general. The exception is of course the Super Smash Bros series, which despite its global popularity throughout the years and active esports communities, doesn’t have an esports program supported by Nintendo.
This means that while pros in other fighting games switch to the new iteration, the Smash series is stuck with two esports scenes: Super Smash Bros. Melee and Smash 4, Super Smash Bros on Wii U. The announcement of Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii was a sign of hope for the Melee players who were more then ready to take their beloved game to the next level on a recent console. Unfortunately, Brawl removed key elements that had contributed to the competitiveness of Melee, making it less mechanically demanding and fast-paced. Many players were disappointed by the update and stayed on the old Melee which is still very much followed 15 years after its launch.
Jason Rice (left) and Matt Fairchild (right)
The lack of a pleasing update for the Melee community means there is a spot for a modern Smash-like game in the platform fighter genre to which players could migrate as the update they were waiting for when Brawl was announced. Games like Rivals of Aether and Brawhalla have tried to take the spot by replicating the Smash formula and implementing ideas of their own but neither has managed to become the next ‘genre-defining’ game.
In comes Wavedash with Icons and their $6M in funding vision. The publisher wants to create the game Melee players never had the chance to play while making it accessible to a wider audience. Wavedash is very much aware of the opportunity it has, which is also what prompted its founders to embark on this journey to create what Nintendo left missing. With Esports and the challenges that come with making an esports-ready game in mind, as well as a passion for the community and its content creators who have been left with little to nothing to work with, Wavedash is putting together experienced people from the industry and the genre’s scene to get as many things right as possible and come out with a big hit.
Only time will tell if Icons can become Melee’s successor given the love the latter has received for 15 years already. But there is a hope that with an improved experience through the right gameplay, modern features, and a dedicated developer who listens to the community, Icons could well turn out to be the next iconic platform fighter game.