Icons: Combat Arena (found inaccessible platform fighter PC game; 2017)
The header image for Icons: Combat Arena on the Steam store.
Date found: 17 Oct 2019
Found by: Chris Kovalik
Icons: Combat Arena was an Early Access free-to-play platform fighter PC game released in 2017 by Wavedash Games, a company composed of the individuals behind Project M (the popular mod for Super Smash Bros. Brawl). The game was intended to be played competitively during esports tournaments. The game had an always-online DRM, which required an internet connection to play even if someone would want to play against bots. On November 11th, 2018, Icons: Combat Arena's servers were shut down, making the game unplayable. Later that year, the game was made no longer available on Steam at the request of the publisher as of November 20th, 2018.
Icons: Combat Arena is a platform fighter for up to four players that takes great inspiration from Wavedash Games' previous work on Project M. The objective of the game is that players must attempt to knock each other out of the arena. As opposed to using health bars, the players would be given a percentage meter which would raise as the player would take damage, which would make them more liable to be launched by opponent attacks. Players would be able to play against one single opponent, a four-player free-for-all, or a team-based two-versus-two matchup. These were made available both locally or against online opponents. The game featured a range of eight different characters with customizable appearances, all with their own distinctive styles of play.
Icons: Combat Arena received negative reviews after its Early Access launch and has never brought the Super Smash Bros. competitive crowd in as much as the creators had hoped. It was criticized for having a generic art style and being far too similar to Super Smash Bros. Melee. The game never had consistent frames per second and always seemed to have an input delay that many in the competitive scene deemed near-unplayable. On top of this, the game only allowed for two of their characters, Ashani and Xana, for free. This forced the players to purchase the other six remaining cast members using microtransactions. With all of these complaints, the game was not very well renowned by the Super Smash Bros. professional players that the company wanted to target.
Because of the game's less-than-desirable reception, on October 5th, 2018, Wavedash Games released a public announcement that they would be laying off the majority of their development team and that they had planned to release a version of their game known as Icons: Definitive Edition, which would contain all of the content in the game, a few balance changes, and a new stage. However, the company never released another version of the game, and a post was made on November 11th, 2018 on the Icons: Combat Arena official Reddit page stating that the servers would be shut down "until further notice". On November 20th, 2018, the game was made no longer available for download on the Steam store at the request of Wavedash Games themselves. Later that next year, the official webpages for both Icons: Combat Arena and Wavedash games were eventually also shut down and have been in complete silence on all official social media. Furthermore, the developers are evidently not allowed to say information relating to the game because of Non-Disclosure Agreements and the official Icons: Combat Arena Discord has become inactive and has only been used as a medium to promote other new platform fighting games that the developers have been working on.
As stated before, because of the shutdown of the Icons: Combat Arena servers, the game is both no longer playable nor downloadable from the Steam store. There is no way to play the game now, and unless Wavedash releases the promised build that they had been working on or if a third party can manage to hack the game to get past the DRM, it is very unlikely that it will be in a playable state again.
On September 12th, 2019, a post relating to Wavedash Games was made on the blog for Vortex Rising, a project by many of the Icons team. It detailed that, following the company's shutdown in October of 2018, the owners had decided that they should sell all ownership of licensing of the Wavedash Games brand and all related products. The company was sold at an auction to Chris Kovalik, a supporter of the company and co-founder of Vortex Rising. His post detailed that he and a small team of ex-Wavedash developers were working on Icons: Combat Arena, but did not go more into detail.
However, on October 8th, 2019, Chris Kovalik made another post on the Vortex Rising blog stating that he has the fullest of intentions to release the new build of the game, which will be under the new title Icons: Legacy Edition. This new release will include all previously released characters with their related cosmetic items (previously gated behind lootboxes), as well as the unreleased character Ezzie. The new version will supposedly not have server connections, which removes the DRM that gated players before and promotes peer-to-peer connections. Icons: Legacy Edition is slated to come out "Ideally, no later than the end of October."
On October 17th, 2019, Icons: Legacy Edition released to the public with a fixed price tag of $4.99. The game has been released with all of the promised content from above, as well as the inclusion of a new 6-player online feature in the form of 3v3 or 5v1 matches. As expected from the previous promises, all microtransactions in the form of loot boxes have been removed from the game and the netcode has been updated to be able to handle the 6-player matches as well as online spectators.
- Icons: Combat Arena's Steam store page. Retrieved 04 Aug '19
- Icons Combat Arena: Project M's Failed Successor. Retrieved 04 Aug '19
- A DualShockers article on Wavedash Games Laying off a majority of their staff. Retrieved 04 Aug '19
- Vortex Rising blog post on the future of Wavedash Games. Retrieved 08 Oct '19
- Vortex Rising blog post on Icons: Combat Arena Legendary Edition. Retrieved 08 Oct '19
- A Reddit AMA with Chris Kovalik detailing changes in Icons: Legacy Edition. Retrieved 17 Oct '19