Smack Studio is a 2.5D sandbox platform fighting game with powerful built-in creation tools, allowing players to draw and animate their own pixel art charactersOur goal with Smack Studio is to allow players to customize nearly every aspect of the game,  including stages, movesets, special effects, character abilities, and game modes.

Players also have the option to download creations made by others in the community, meaning that players who aren’t interested in creating their own content can still have a blast while exploring a potentially unlimited amount of characters and stages from other creators.

Game Features

Battle mode

  • 1-8 player offline VS: Enjoy local play with up to 8 players. Participate in free-for-all mayhem or play on teams.
  • 1-4 player online VS with rollback netcode: rollback is crucial for a lag-free online experience, and provides a much better experience for users than delay-based netcode (as seen in other fighting games). This article covers rollback in more detail.
  • Gameplay designed for competitive play: Gameplay is fast-paced, with fluid movement options and high combo potential. Before the creation of our animation tools, our intention was to create a purely competitive fighting game.
  • Devastating ultra attacks: players execute these by dealing damage to fill up their ultra meter, and then pressing Attack + Special. Player can animate custom ultras as they would any other attack. Ultras for our default roster will be designed with balance in mind for competitive play – different than the final smashes seen in Smash Ultimate.
  • Play using any USB controller: DirectInput and XInput controllers are both supported (it’s worth noting that even GameCube controllers are supported, via the MayFlash USB adapter or similar product. This is the ideal way to play).
Base roster
  • Granite – Smack Studio’s flagship character. He’s surprisingly agile with fists that pack a wallop.
  • Cora – A deadly array of blades and projectiles – if you manage to avoid her up-close swipes you’ll have to dodge her long-range shots.
  • Kaien – A well-rounded shoto who can unleash a flurry of kicks and fiery punches without breaking a sweat.
  • Spry – A glass cannon space animal, with some tricks up her sleeve. Her agility and movement options make her hard to catch.
  • Dagen – A dagger-wielding vampire. He can transform into a bat to assist in recovery. His foes quake at his terrifying bite.
  • Tate – An athletic armadillo who loves to move. His claws allow him to dig underground, and his ball form cranks up his speed.
  • Galvan – An electric dinosaur who’s chomping at the bit for victory. Use his electrifying attacks to shock opponents.
  • Lotus – A demon girl with a unique rage mode mechanic. Past 100% damage, her strong attacks are even more powerful than normal.

Character Editor

  • Create pixel art animations with 3D depth and rotation, using a new approach that maps 2D images to bones in a 3D skeleton
  • Take a character from concept to fully playable character in less than 30 mins, by using one of our templates (or characters created by the community)
  • Animate frame-by-frame to add polish and customizations
  • Create custom projectiles and special effects
  • Add unique functionality using actions added directly to your animations – a form of simple but effective coding!
  • Export your animations for use in any project you like: we hold no legal claim over any IP created in Smack Studio, and we’d love for artists to create, share, monetize, and do what they please with their creations
  • Upload and download creations via Steam Workshop: budding animators can upload their creations to Steam Workshop, and players can browse community characters and add them to their roster

Stage Editor (planned)

  • Use voxel editing tools to shape 3D terrain for your stages (voxel editing tools allow for some incredible flexibility in creation)
  • Drag and drop 3D objects
  • Paint using pixel art textures (even custom ones)
  • Customize the lighting and visual effects in your scene for a more cinematic feel
Release timeline
  • 9/20/21: Smack Studio launched in alpha on Steam Early Access for free.
  • 1/17/2023: Character Editor visual overhaul
  • 2/1/2022: Kickstarter went live & got funded
  • 2/2/2022: Two new characters, grab mechanics, and Steam Workshop support added
  • 3/30/2023: Smack Studio Beta released – victory screens, entrances, new soundtrack, heaps of fixes
  • Q2 2023: Two new characters, two new stages, 250+ Workshop characters
  • Q3 2023: Rollback netcode closed beta testing
  • Q4 2023: Online play is live with nearly 800 Workshop characters
  • July 2024: Full game launch with stage editor
Our unique approach to animation

Creating pixel art animation is normally a slow process and requires a great deal of skill from an artist, but Smack Studio seeks to make animation more accessible by providing automation tools that speed up the animation process significantly for players (and for professional artists).

Animations can be created in Smack Studio by drawing each body part only once, and attaching the body parts to an animation rig. The software then handles redrawing of the body parts. This process is shown in action in this video.

As of August 2023, our animation tools feature patented tech to rotate 2D sprites in 3D using a new animation technique. It’s the first software on the market capable of rotating sprites in 3D, with no need for a 3D model.

The GIF below shows an animation created in Smack Studio using our 3D pixel art rotation method, without the use of a 3D model:

Here’s how our 3D rotation works, at a high level:

  • The player provides a 2D image for each body part (head, torso, etc)
  • The player maps the images to bones in a 3D skeleton (the skeleton can be created custom, or reused from another character)
  • Depth maps are generated automatically for each image, and can be edited by the player
  • When the player moves the bones in the 3D skeleton, a compute shader running in UE4 redraws the sprites to match the bone configurations
A game and a creative platform

After getting positive feedback about our 3D rotation tools from the community, we decided to allow exporting animations from Smack Studio so that they can be used in other games and projects.

This capability is included in our free Early Access launch back in 2021, so players and artists can start using the tools immediately! We hope that this will benefit the indie games community, and also help to spread awareness of our project.

Players and artists can export their animations as sprite sheets, where each cell in the sprite sheet represents one frame in the animation, as shown in the example below:

Founder and Lead Developer Alec Dutch began working on a fighting game engine in 2012 in Adobe Flash. Originally, he sought to make a Super Smash Bros. fan game with additional characters outside of the normal roster. But with much experience gained, he decided to create his own fighting game project, Smack Studio.
In January 2018, Alec started the Smack Studio project in Unity 3D  (later ported to Unreal Engine 4) with the goal of allowing players to  create and edit all content in the game, including characters and stages. After three years working solo, he left his full-time job and began to recruit a team of talented developers and artists to work toward the game’s launch.
The team attended PAX West 2021 as an exhibitor in order to show the game publicly for the first time, and the response from the community was incredible! Although attendance at PAX was smaller that year due to COVID, thousands of players were able to play Smack Studio for the first time.
At PAX the team met David V. Kimball, who had was of the Smash Bros. modding scene. He expressed interest in helping work on Smack Studio and a couple of weeks later signed on as the Director of Marketing and Community for the project.
Smack Studio’s alpha build was soft launched via Steam Early Access in September of 2021 with a beta launch in March of 2023. Since then we’ve enjoyed a growing community of artists (with 800+ custom character created!!) and fighting game enthusiasts who have exceeded our expectations in creativity and skillful play alike.


Smack Studio Kickstarter Trailer

VS. Mode Screenshots

Character & Stage Editor Screenshots

3D Pixel Art Showcase