If I was a betting man, I’d put my entire accumulated fortune of [single, chirping cricket inside a wallet] on the idea that there have been several very serious conversations inside Blizzard about the idea of a Smash Bros.-like fighting game starring Overwatch characters. In the meantime, one fan has made that idea a reality.
Overwatch player Ajfis3 has dubbed their Workshop mod Super Smashwatch, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a side-scrolling fighter in which Overwatch heroes build up damage percentages until they can boop one another off the stage. Everybody has access to most of their moves from regular Overwatch matches, though some, like Reinhardt’s shield, are disabled.
Ajfis3 told Kotaku that they decided to make the mod because they don’t have a Switch and can’t play Smash Ultimate on their own, but they do enjoy playing it with friends. “I figured, why not make my own?” they said in a Reddit DM.
The biggest challenge, said Ajfis3, was the camera. Typically, Overwatch’s camera is literally inside characters’ faces or following them at a close distance. Smash’s camera, by contrast, is pulled out and constantly on the move to keep all players in frame.
“Trying to work out how to keep all players in frame, but also having it zoom in as they close and out as they separate was not easy,” they said. “Thankfully, with some help I managed to solve the geometric problem I was having and devised a formula for the coordinates that the camera needed to be positioned at and looking at at all times.”
Ajfis3 credits another collaborator, a player named Xefoxmusic, with assistance on knockback mechanics, another cornerstone of Smash.
While the basics are there, the mod is far from finished. In my time with it, I found it to be amusing but janky. The default controls are awkward, given that even on a 2D plane, Overwatch still acts as though characters are moving in 3D. This means that you’ve got to move forward and backward with the W and S keys (or the equivalent gamepad buttons) even though, in 2D, you’d expect those to move you up and down, not forward and back.
The characters, meanwhile, aren’t exactly balanced. You might think Reinhardt and his big ol’ walloping hammer would be ideal fits for a Smash-style game, but in Smashwatch, his hammer doesn’t do much damage, and longer-range characters (read: most of them) can just spam him off cliffs.
“In future I’m looking to address the major problems that Smashwatch is currently having, making more maps available, adjusting the code so the server is less likely to crash when there are excessive players joining, ironing out small bugs that some people are reporting showing up, and finally, spending A LOT more time on trying to balance the heroes,” Ajfis3 said.
In the meantime, I can offer one ringing endorsement. I played a handful of Smashwatch matches against Kotaku’s resident Super Smash Bros. aficionado, Cecilia D’Anastasio, and I asked her if she felt like her Smash skills carried over.
I didn’t think they would, given that so many Overwatch heroes rely on ranged abilities, and Smashwatch isn’t exactly fine-tuned yet. To my surprise, she answered my question by saying she felt right at home.
“Well,” she said, “I’ve been trash-talking you for the past 20 minutes.”
And I had been losing for exactly that long.