Super Smash Bros. Melee
by Nintendo Reviewed by: Jim Weber
Since the release of Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64 in 1999, fans haven't been able to get enough. With its impressive multiplayer capabilities, combining a solid balance between characters and an intuitive control system, over five million copies ended up being sold. When any game can put up those kinds of numbers, a sequel is usually placed in the pipeline and Super Smash Bros. is no different.
One issue that all developers must battle when generating a sequel is finding the balance between differentiating their new creation from the original and not losing the essence that generated its initial success. Nintendo has managed to do just that, not only by keeping the essence of the original intact, but also drastically improving weaker areas, adding immense amounts of single player options and other extras. These options are more then just filler and none come across as extra options to merely fill space. What you'll find are challenging and interesting modes of gameplay, from a new adventure option to an updated classic mode to an event mode where different scenarios are staged for you to complete. Chances are Super Smash Bros. Melee will have similar success to it's predecessor and as you'll see, Nintendo once again proves its ability to generate top quality games.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
To start, most of the new improvements come in the form of single player options, where the adventure mode is the largest standout. Here there'll be a mix of regular battles and side scrolling mini adventures, taking you through some of the more famous games from Nintendo. Games like Super Mario Bros., F-Zero, and Metroid all have worlds recreated for the side scrolling mini adventures while other favorites like Donkey Kong and Zelda make appearances as regular battles with the backdrops from their respective games.
The side scrolling levels in particular are extremely entertaining as significant attention was paid to detail, creating a realistic atmosphere for the recreations of these old classics. You'll also notice that besides trying to reach the end of a level, other obstacles must be overcome like defeating world appropriate opponents before progress can be made. Once the end is reached or opponent is defeated, a debriefing of the level is given with coins and points awarded. The points given also create some interest as they'll be handed out and subtracted for a variety of reasons. While using the same move repeatedly or standing in once place may take points away, having multiple knockouts or grabbing plenty of objects may add points. The sheer amount of scenarios that cause point additions and subtractions help keep the game fresh and add extra entertainment value.
Besides the Adventure mode another option called Event Match was added. Here different matches are set up often with more requirements then just defeating an opponent. There may be time limits, only Pokemon balls may cause damage, or you may have to protect a princess for a specific amount of time to complete the level. In addition, some levels also force you to use specific characters to finish. For example, one level requires Yoshi to protect an egg while being attacked by three other opponents and although Yoshi isn't usually the character of choice, you're forced to successfully use him to pass this level. There are also up to fifty different levels that can be selected, but most aren't available until the previous levels are completed. For the most part, each level is fairly challenging with some being defeated quickly and others taking a larger number of attempts. The place where this really stretches the game farther is requiring certain characters to be used. Now players who mainly use one or two characters will get exposed to other characters, possibly generating more interest.
If the classic single player game in the previous version was more to your liking, you won't be disappointed as it makes a return appearance. For those not familiar, it's set up like old Street Fighter games where you progress up a ladder as each opponent is defeated. In addition, bonus stages are also included to break the battles up. Unlike the Street Fighter games, here your opponents vary from battling single opponents to multiple opponents and even team fighting is included. Random backgrounds are also implemented to keep the mode from becoming stagnate.
As if that wasn't enough single player options, there are other less involved selections. For instance, there is a home run contest where characters try to smash a sandbag the farthest distance, target tests are available where targets are destroyed while not falling off the screen, and a multi-man melee is possible where up to 100 opponents are fought. Although not overly exciting by themselves, they do increase the longevity of the game and are great additions to the other options.
Besides the large variety of options, most gamers will be happy to know the control system is as solid as before. With an intuitive layout, it doesn't take long to become comfortable and effective. The control stick moves and jumps, the left and right buttons shield the character or grab when combined with the A button, while the C stick zooms the camera in single player mode and performs smash attacks in multiplayer modes. The B button performs special attacks unique to each character, the A button performs standard attacks, and the Y and X buttons also jump. With that being the basic control structure, it's the simplistic format that stands out. Don't be concerned with the number of button combinations, however, as it's implemented extremely well and is arguably one of the best control systems around.
Not leaving out what brought Super Smash Bros. most of its success the first time, the multiplayer capabilities are as strong as ever. With similar gameplay as before, this promises to set new standards for multiplayer games. In addition, there are a variety of different ways to play, from regular melee to Tournament to special melees, it'll be quite some time before you're ready for something else. There are even options in the special melees where super sudden death matches are fought with all players starting out with 300% damage or giant melees where all players fight giant-sized.
Although the gameplay and options may have been drastically improved, if the graphics don't hold their own, the game could have been a disappointment. This isn't the case however, as a high level of detail and creativity was involved in its remake. There are backgrounds and screen scrolling boards that do a great job of grabbing the essence of these classic games and the special effects like explosions are impressive and eye catching. Overall, it's on target with expected graphics for next generation systems and they should meet most expectations.
Without a doubt, the sound brings the game together. With Super Mario or Zelda themes especially, they really increase the enjoyment while playing. Other sound effects are also impressive and help to immerse you in the game. For instance, when Donkey Kong is hitting the ground, it creates a sound with enough bass to pop the fillings from your teeth.
For any person who grew up playing these classic Nintendo games, there is going to be little reason they wouldn't enjoy this. With solid gameplay, numerous options, and loads of extras, most will find their money well spent. Even the graphics and audio are impressive, leaving little to be desired. Fans not traditionally interested in fighting games would be hard-pressed to pass this one up.
Review Posted On 22 January 2002.
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