The Year is 20XX
If you’ve heard this phrase before, it will most likely have been from one of two video games: Mega Man or Super Smash Brother Melee (SSBM). The term “20XX” was first coined in Mega Man, the year that the original series ended. More recently, an SSBM player named Aziz “Hax” Al-Yami used the term 20XX to describe a compelling theoretical ending to the competitive metagame of SSBM, that will be discussed here.
To fully understand 20XX, two important aspects of SSBM must be known:
1. Despite the game being nearly 15 years old, it remains in constant development. Top level players continue to learn new things as they become better at the game. The peak level of play for the game has not been reached.
2. Fox is the best character in the game. He has a move that comes out in one frame and is invincible for that frame, has high priority aerials and superior killing power.With that in mind, here is the concept of 20XX, as stated by Hax:
“The year is 20XX. Everyone plays Fox. And there’s this whole post-apocalyptic universe that is built off of Fox being the only viable character left. Humanity has reached its pinnacle. The peasants are living in poverty. And there’s these monasteries where these Fox monks just levitate and TAS Fox with one controller in one hand, and win a tournament with the other. And the tournament metagame has gotten to this point where everything is played out to theoretical perfection, so they Rock-Paper-Scissors for port priority, and that’s the set. And everyone gets really excited about the port priority RPS, so RPS’s metagame has really evolved to where it’s really just like RPS tournaments are now. And then we have warriors like Kevin Toy desperately trying to prevent the apocalypse, the Fox Apocalypse, from happening with their Marths.”
In summary, 20XX describes a post-apocalyptic version of the game where everybody plays to perfection. In this reality, Fox becomes the only viable character and matches are essentially decided by luck. Rather than playing the game to decide a winner, tournaments are determined by rock-paper-scissors.
Hax coined this term as a joke nearly two years, but switched his main from Captain Falcon to Fox in the following few months. Many players have been following suit, which most notably includes Armada, one of the greatest players of all time who switched from being a Peach main. He now uses Fox as a main and Peach as a secondary for certain match-ups. As a result, there has been reasonable concern in the SSBM community that 20XX may become a reality. However, there are many reasons to believe that 20XX will not occur; Fox is technically demanding, he is not unbeatable and he is not the best character at every single matchup.
Fox is technically demanding
At high level play, playing with Fox requires many rapid, precise inputs to be used effectively. Since human error is inevitable, even by the best players, Fox will never be played at the highest possible level. In addition, playing as Fox excessively may lead to hand pain, a complication that is rapidly affecting those in the Melee community. Players such as Fiction, Chillindude, and Hax have encountered major hand pains by playing as Fox, with some having required surgery to fix these issues. Therefore, it is difficult for many players to solely rely on playing as Fox, making it necessary to alternate with other characters. In the future, it may even become advantageous to play less technically demanding characters such as Jigglypuff and Sheik, as they will not cause hand pain.
Fox is not unbeatable
While Fox has amazing match-ups against most of the cast, there are some characters that are capable of beating Fox. Most notably, Falco and Marth are currently considered to have even match-ups against Fox. An argument can even be made that Marth has a winning mathup against Fox. His ability to chaingrab is very useful, as it allows for consistent 0 to deaths on Final Destination. As a result of this, Marth is considered to have a winning matchup against Fox on Final Destination. On other stages, Marth still has the tools to combo Fox and do well.
Furthermore, Falco has several tools that can be used effectively against Fox. He has lasers that have hitstun if they connect, which can lead to deadly combos. The lasers are also an effective tool in giving Falco positional advantage. If a laser is fired by Falco, Fox needs to either shield or dodge it, which can be easily exploited in-game. Falco harnesses an amazing combo game against Fox; theoretically, Falco can 0 to death Fox consistently with his down aerial shine combos.
It should also be noted that even if a character has a losing matchup against Fox, it is not impossible to win. If somebody has great reaction speed, they can use Sheik to react to Fox’s rolls by consistently grabbing and killing Fox. Therefore, although Sheik currently has a losing matchup against Fox, she can theoretically do well if the Sheik grab metagame continues to develop. Even Jigglypuff, who has a 30-70 matchup against Fox, is capable of winning against Fox. Hungrybox, the top Jigglypuff player, has beaten all of the best Foxes in the world before. As a result, it is clear that choosing Fox in SSBM does not guarantee victory.
Fox is not the best character for every matchup
Although Fox has the best aggregate match-ups in the game, there are cases when he is not the best character to select against various members of the cast. For instance, Fox is considered to have an even matchup against Marth, whereas Sheik is considered to have a winning matchup against Marth. With this logic, using Sheik against Marth is more effective than using Fox against Marth. Other examples of this include: Peach is better than Fox against Ice Climbers and Jigglypuff is better than Fox against Peach. Therefore, it may actually be more optimal to have multiple characters at a high level, which will allow for more advantages when counter-picking.
In summary, 20XX is an entertaining concept when treated as a joke. Reading Hax’s tweets and comments regarding 20XX is quite enjoyable. There is definitely a little bit of truth to the idea, as Fox is the clear best character in the game. However, it is highly unlikely that the SSBM metagame will develop to a point where Fox is the only viable character. This is due to Fox being extremely technically demanding, beatable by Marth and Falco and not the best character for every matchup. Other characters are capable of winning, most notably, Falco, Marth and Sheik. These three characters, along with Fox, will always remain relevant characters in the SSBM metagame.