Rivals of Melee

Finally I’m writing about a game that just came out.

The Indie Fighter

Don’t let the pixel graphics fool you. Rivals of Aether is a Super Smash Brothers inspired fighting game created by Dan Fornace that was fully released Tuesday.

To call it a clone or a knock off of the still popular Super Smash Brothers: Melee would not do it justice in the least. Yes, it is a fighting game where damage is taken in the form of percents. Yes, the objective of each fight is to knock the other player off the screen. Yes, it has many technical similarities to SSBM such as wavedashing and teching. But it’s creativity, balance, and innovation sets it apart from being merely a “knock off.”

Most games that try to be like SSBM aim for their game to be a fighting game with mascots. Much like how SSMB features characters from various Nintendo games like Mario, Link, Fox, and Samus, Playstation tried to do the same thing with their game All-Stars Battle Royale, which featured characters from various Playstation games.

Fornace, of course, doesn’t have 20 or more years of unique games under his belt. So Rivals of Aether features original animal characters. While the characters do have backstories and the game features a story mode, the game is focused more on the technicality of the game rather than watching Mario fight Sonic, which is not the essence of Super Smash Brothers, but it is what other industries see and have tried to replicate.

“We have seen some Smash-style games in the past,” said Fornace in an interview with Kotaku, “but often, they are looking to replicate the ‘mascot brawler’ aspect of Smash and not the ‘platform fighter’ aspect that we see at tournaments.”

Rivals of Aether appears to be more of a game of skill than a game for a party. This is probably because it borrows some of the technical moves and techniques from SSBM and combines them with original movesets and characters. Some of the characters do have moves that are similar to those from SSBM, for example the fire lion Zetterburn has a special move that looks identical to Fox’s from SSBM, but the rest of him is so unique that you can’t say, “he’s just like Fox,” or “he’s just a Fox clone.”

To say that the game is perfectly balanced would be a lie. Nothing’s perfect. But it does really well.

When I was playing the game with my friend, I was pretty upset with two of the characters he would play: the ice summoning bear Etalus and the rock summoning beetle Kragg. Both had what I called “stupid combos,” meaning he could do a simple move three times in a row and then do a stronger move to defeat me early.

I wasn’t liking the game too much because of that. But then I realized that every character had a “stupid combo.” Some were just not as obvious as others. So then it became a game of who could pull off their combos first and who could read their opponent better to pull off more.

There are ways to avoid those combos, but I soon learned that I am simply not that great at the game.

Nevertheless, it is one of my favorite indie games next to Shovel Knight and Undertale and definitely one of my favorite Smash games next to Project M.

But that’s just my opinion.

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2 thoughts on “Rivals of Melee

    1. It’s only $14.99, so it’s a pretty good price already. I bought it as early access so I could get some cool skins when the game released. If you want to be competitive with it, I could say getting it now at full price would be a good idea so you can keep up, but honestly the skill ceiling isn’t that high, so it’s not that urgent to get it. So you can wait for a sale if you want, but I feel it deserves it’s full price, which again, isn’t that much.


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