Review: Super Smash Brothers: Melee
Posted 11 Apr 2003 at 22:16 by Shane
There is no doubt about it, the Nintendo 64 suffered from lack of fighting genre games and the ones that were released were less than stellar hits; they had clunky animations, old and tired gameplay, bland characters and unimpressive graphics. In the last console war there were no Tekken games released in cartridge format, no Dead or Alive under the Nintendo license, and basically none of the great fighting games for 'nintendophiles' to experience. This was not a major problem to Nintendo financially due to their own first and second party games and loyal player base; but many of the older and less loyal players were disturbed and forced into buying a Playstation to play the great fighting games of the last generation. That was until a game from Nintendo and developed by HAL was released, the frantic multiplayer giant that was Super Smash Brothers.
SSB was undoubtedly one of the great fighting games of the last generation, of all fighting genre games on any console. Sure, Smash Bros. didn't have all the blood and gore of the other fighters but its fresh and new gameplay dynamics along with its innovative control scheme helped it win over the young and old audience alike. Back at the passing of E3 2000, Nintendo announced the sequel that everyone was hoping and waiting for - Super Smash Brothers: Melee, for the wondrous piece of hardware called GameCube. With the newfangled hardware in the GameCube, HAL took the Super Smash Bros. series to new heights unforeseen by the media and public alike.
With the new incarnation of Super Smash Brothers HAL is treating all Nintendo fans and casual gamers with a whole new set of some of the most noticeable characters in the gaming industry. Including returning SSB contestant Mario, his delightful damsel-in-distress Peach, and even the very character that puts Peach in that very troublesome distress, Bowser. There are also many other characters that have a much less noticeable roll in other games, remember the old Ice Climber game for the original Nintendo Entertainment System? You can now put that uncomfortable, rectangular NES controller down and pick up a smooth, sleek GameCube controller to get your Ice Climber lovin' on! Along with the original set of characters you can also rise to the challenge of unlocking over ten secret characters!
Having a large number of characters doesn't matter much if all you are doing is playing on a square, lifeless arena, does it? That is why you now have the ability to play an arena or two inspired by each of the (unlocked from the start) characters in Super Smash Brothers: Melee. Take a trip to the jungle in Donkey Kong's levels, or go check out the Hyrule Temple, inspired loosely on Zelda 2 for the NES. You can also battle it out in an all-new Pokemon stadium – complete with large screen at the back of the level to add to the arena type effect! How about an F-Zero racing track complete with F-Zero cars whizzing by at a blistering 350+ miles per hour? With over 20 multiplayer arenas inspired by the characters contained in SSB: M you will never get bored of playing this game!
Included, For a change of pace you can sit down by yourself and play a true single-player mode for each character, complete with platform jumping elements! Would you like to relive the good old days of simple gaming like Ice Climber as much as me? Then this mode will be a godsend for you, play a small but sweet single player, platform game based on each of the characters. You can also take other characters to another characters level!
Even though Super Smash Bros. Melee would be worth the purchase with all these single player aspects, the real enjoyment is to be had in the VS mode. You are given the chance to play original and new gameplay modes like Coin mode, Decision mode, Tournament and many other modes of play that are included. Coin mode is a simple collecting exercise, whoever collects the most coins win, easy enough? Not so, you may also attack the other players at the same time, it adds a new depth to the collecting mode of play, huh? Decision mode is one of my favorites. It is a mode in which you are given points based on the move you perform. If you do the same move too much your points lower for unoriginality. It forces you to perform unique combos and interesting special abilities that make the character you chose unique. It's much like the point system in the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games that I am sure the majority of you have played and loved. Tournament mode brings in a whole new aspect that allows you to turn an exceptional fighting game into an exceptional party game. In the tournament you are allowed to take on up to 64 other players and CPUs in a HUGE tournament in order for you to prove your supreme Smash Bros. skills.
Also new to the Smash Brothers series is the Trophy Room! You can earn/buy trophies of classic Nintendo characters that are from the extremely well known to the ones that will having you scratching your head trying to figure out who there are. A few examples of these characters are the obvious like Mario, Luigi, Pikachu, Peach, Bowser, and so on. The ones that have you scratching your head are characters like the Mach Rider, and perhaps even the cute Ice Climber Eskimos, if you weren't addicted (like I was…) or at least played Ice Climber on the NES.
I bet you didn't think it could get better from there, right? Well, I'm about to prove you wrong, on top of all the aforementioned HAL also has given great new moves to all the characters returning from the first incarnation of Super Smash Brothers! An example of the new moves you are able to perform is the 'Yoshi Chew', now when you eat someone you can either swallow them and put them in an egg or chew them and spit them out causing some actual damage. Samus is another great example of the new moves implemented in the new Smash Bros. Game. Samus now has the ability to shoot homing missiles are her enemies, causing stress of a missile following you then a follow-up of severe pain and then some real life yelling… for me at least :P.
Another example of the refinement that this game has undergone since its first incarnation is that SSB: M is not a totally full frontal assault and brute force fighting game. You are now able to evade, and block with special defenses, along with the ability of some to reflect projectiles and the universally available shield.
The control setup is very like its predecessors control setup, A and B are still used for primary attacks, you move with the control stick, and so forth. The graphics are much improved from the original; the player models are more detailed than anything seen on the Nintendo 64. Remember that you also have up to four of these models fighting at the same time. Alongside the very detailed models SSB: Melee features: curved surfaces, FSAA, real-time lighting, reflections, great shadowing effects, much higher quality textures, and more, all of this running at a smooth 60 frames per second with no noticeable slowdown.
With these new and improved graphics you are able to enjoy some great audio to back up your superb graphics. Orchestra-style music and finely tuned sound effects liven up the battlefield quite dramatically and are executed extremely well; I just simply love the music for the Pokemon Stadium stage. HAL also added new items, such as a block of ice that you may slide across the level to knock your opponents around and cause a bit of damage. The new parasol is also another new item at your disposal that you may smack your opponents around with, but these are just two examples of the many new items that are available to you. During E3 2000 people were given the first chance to play Super Smash Brothers: Melee, and they had nothing but positive opinions about this title, at E3 2001, more were enthused about this title, and now, the rest of the world can decide once and for all.
N-Europe Final Verdict
With everything in mind, Super Smash Brothers: Melee is a superb game; if not currently the pinnacle of GameCube software.
Loads to do
Lots and lots of characters