2001. It was an exciting year for gaming. The 6th Generation Of Gaming, which officially started in 1998 (1999 in America) with the release of the Dreamcast, was really kickstarted in 2001 with the release of the Microsoft X-Box, Microsoft’s first foray into gaming, the Nintendo GameCube, when Nintendo finally created a CD based system, and the Game Boy Advance, which was like a portable SNES in terms of graphics and audio, ports, and overall quality. Sega announced that they were dropping out of the console market and reinventing themselves as a software only company. Online gaming was getting more and more popular. Grand Theft Auto III came out and revolutionized the sandbox genre and turned a popular series into a legendary series. The N64 and PS1 were at the end of their life, but great games were still coming out for them. Consoles were now able to play DVDs. In the middle of all this excitement, a fighting game was released. This wasn’t any ordinary fighting game, either. No, this fighting game was special. Sure, maybe it didn’t change the face of gaming forever like the other things did, but it didn’t have to. It was an extraordinary game that wound up being the GameCube’s best selling title. That game was Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Released in 2001 (Obviously. I mean, I did say that in the paragraph above), Super Smash Bros. Melee is the sequel to the wildly popular N64 game, Super Smash Bros., updated for the Nintendo GameCube. Just like it’s predecessor, Melee was one of its systems most popular titles. In fact, SSBM was the best selling GameCube game of all time, with sales around 7-8 (no sources seem to agree on the exact sales) million copies, beating the original Super Smash Bros., which itself had sold over 5 million copies. We know it sold extremely well, but how good was the game itself? Let’s find out.
Super Smash Bros. Melee is just incredible. Nintendo and Hal took everything that was great about Super Smash Bros. and improved it massively. The thing Super Smash Bros. was known for more than anything else was its roster of popular Nintendo characters. Well, compared to Melee, Super Smash Bros. roster is downright tiny! While the original had 12 characters, the sequel more than doubled that number, packing a whopping 25. The new characters included fan favorites such as Bowser, Princess Zelda, and Mewtwo, as well as lesser known characters, like Ice Climbers, Marth, and Mr. Game & Watch. And they didn’t just add new characters, either. They brought over all the great items from the original, like the devastating Poké Balls and the Beam Sword, but also added new ones, like the Super Scope and the Warp Star. The better to beat the shit out of Nintendo mascots with, right? The 9 (well, actually 12 if you include 1 player only stages and don’t include Target Test, Board The Platform, and Race To The Finish stages) stages (many of which were sadly never seen again) was increased to 29. Yes, Nintendo added 20 freaking stages to the mix. And the stages were all great, too, like the large Hyrule’s Castle, which is great to camp on, and Big Blue, which takes place on a moving hovercar.
Besides just expanding the roster, items, and stages, Melee also adds a lot of entirely new features to the experience. The biggest additions are the new modes. Yes, it has the Classic Mode from Super Smash Bros., but it also adds Adventure Mode, which is longer and has actual levels as opposed to stages (though it does have stages), as well as a trophy grabbing minigame and hidden fights, like giant Kirby. The Event Mode adds 51 Event matches that each have a different objective. This mode is actually very addicting and you can unlock some characters that way. Once you unlock all the characters (Mewtwo is a bitch to unlock), there is also an All Star Mode, where you face every character in the game. The Versus Mode is also expanded, featuring options such as Giant Melee and Lightning Melee, which makes everyone go fast. You can even set up tournaments in Tournament Melee. How cool is that? Another all new mode it adds is Multi-Man Melee, which has several different variations. There are 10 and 100 Man Melees, 3 and 15 Minute Melees, Endless Melee, and Cruel Melee, which is a much harder version of Endless Melee. And one thing that Melee added that I absolutely love is the trophies. You can unlock them by playing in the various modes or by spending coins earned from said modes in the lotteries. Collecting trophies itself is very addictive, and each of them gives you information about the character, object, or location. Watching your collection grow is satisfying, and Nintendo nerds will love this feature.
How good is the game itself? In a word, amazing! The graphics are good. They may not be the most delicious eye candy on the planet, but for its time, they were really good, and I love the 2.5D feel of it. I prefer Melee’s graphics over the gritty, brownish graphics of Brawl. And the music is fantastic, offering a plethora of classic Nintendo tunes. This is a perfect game for those who like video game music. The gameplay is very fun and chaotic. It’s slightly faster paced than the N64 version. And I love how many items you can use to beat the shit out of other opponents, as well as heal yourself. The Poké Balls are probably the best items, unless you get a Goldeen, who totally sucks and doesn’t do anything. Like the other Smash Bros. games, it doesn’t use a health bar like most fighting games, but instead features a unique percent based damage system. The object is to knock the opponent out of the stage, and the higher the percentage of the opponent, the easier it is to knock them out. Despite it’s massive accessibility, the gameplay is actually surprisingly deep, and there are several techniques you can use to gain an advantage, though I admit I don’t know a lot of them, as I mostly just play for fun. The best part of this game is definitely the multiplayer. Sure, the single player is fun, but nothing quite beats the thrill of dominating your friends. And with the various Versus Mode options, and the high customizability of your multiplayer experience, why wouldn’t you? This is a game that needs to be experienced with other people. There is perhaps no finer multiplayer experience out there.
Super Smash Bros. Melee is a fantastic fighting game that all gamers should play. It has good graphics, fantastic music, and the game is extremely fun. There’s a lot for Nintendo fanboys to love about this game. The Smash Bros. series defines fan service, and Melee is no exception. It’s also the best multiplayer experience on the planet. If you ask me, Super Smash Bros. Melee is the greatest fighting game ever made.