GameCube NintendoSpin.com / Reviews / Super Smash Bros. Melee

Posted on April 25th, 2004 - 9026 Reads

Rated Teen Super Smash Bros. Melee GameCube Review Silver Award

-- Written by Michal Zuk



Super Smash Bros. Melee is the second installment in the Smash Bros. Series. The first was Super Smash Bros on the N64, which allowed players to take top Nintendo stars and fight them in a melee of punching, kicking, biting, shocking, shooting and grabbing. Melee does the same and lots more. Ever want to see Mario get beaten by Bowser or how about a match between the two fighters who never seem to be full, Yoshi and Kirby. Nintendo's famous mascots fight each other to try and prove that they are the best once and for all. So how does a game based on such a concept fare the second time around?

Gameplay: Fighting Style
There are many ways to play Super Smash Bros. Melee such as Classic, Adventure and Event Matches. Super Smash Bros. Melee is a fighting game in which, when you hit your opponent you deal a certain percentage of damage, the total percentage they have is shown on the bottom of the screen along with the amount of stock or coins sometimes depending on the type of match. The percentage ranges anywhere from 0 to 999. The higher the percentage of a character is the farther he will be sent when hit by an attack. The objective is to weaken your enemy and send them off the edge of the map, into the distance or hit them hard enough to cause them to hit the front of the screen. The movements of the characters are smooth and allow you to fight with maximum efficiency. This is one game that will really test your reflexes as you will be required to launch attacks at the last time and avoid or counter enemy attacks before getting hit. There are a variety of items that may appear at your disposal when necessary and you can use them to heal yourself, damage your enemies or trick your enemies. You can set the frequency of items and choose which ones you would like in your matches. There is a whole arsenal of stages and characters you can choose from. Different characters have different attacks such as Mario's fireballs, Kirby's copy ability and Pikachu's thunder.


There are so many options that you can set to enhance your fighting experience in any way you like. Nintendo and HAL certainly tried to give the gamer as many options as they possibly could including things such as item selection, a whole bunch of special melee modes, different color themes for characters, coin mode and many other interesting things. There are a whole bunch of characters and stages to choose from compared to the original Super Smash Bros. Most of the characters have their own abilities but some of them have cloned abilities but other than that the character selection is a huge improvement. The stages are also designed better and differ greatly ranging from tiny to gigantic, flat to full of platforms etc... The fighting style in Super Smash Bros. Melee is near perfect in every way, shape and form.

One-Player Mode
Super Smash Bros. Melee has many different modes you can play. Classic relives the original Smash Bros as you battle your way stage-by-stage fighting characters, teams of characters and completing bonus stages. After you complete a stage you will simply be sent into the next stage to fight with someone else. This is fun to try and complete on high difficulty levels and with a wide variety of different characters. It does get sort of boring after a while though. Adventure is a totally new experience incorporating both the elements of Classic mode and a platform game. You complete a stage to go to the next stage but it isn't just fighting character after character. Adventure mode has more depth but still gets boring after a while. There are 51 Event Matches for you to play through which include different gameplay elements and pair up some characters against their rivalries. Expect to find things like levels full of explosives, Pokeball madness, Mario vs. Bowser and more in these. The event matches record your top time/score so you can keep playing them trying to do better than other people. Then you have the stadium, which gives you the option of Target Test, Home-Run Contest or Multi Man Melee. Target test gets you to hit all the targets in a stage as quickly as you can. It isn't really fun and can be tedious trying to get the lowest time possible. Home-Run Contest is a bit better as you select a character and use the item, bat to hit sandbag as far as you can with a smash attack. Great for a while but also quite tedious. Multi Man Melee is where the fun is at as you must fight male and female wire frames in a series of different contests such as endless melee where you try to get the most KO's possible or cruel melee where you also try to get as many KO's as possible with near impossible enemies attacking you. Multi Man Melee is a great place to try and try again to score as high as you can while keeping the game still fun. If you want to just destroy an enemy with a set level of resistance such as no movement or walking movement just go to training. You can then set a whole load of settings to determine how you destroy your opponent such as set their damage to 999% or make them just stand there. Training is used to practice your attacks and combos when needing to fight better against other opponents. You can change lots of the training mode settings during the actual training easily making this the perfect experience in attack and weapons testing. One-Player Mode offers a lot to the gamer with very few flaws although the real experience in Super Smash Bros. Melee comes from the multiplayer.


VS. Mode
If you can only get one GameCube multiplayer game, this better be it unless they make a sequel. Melee mode pitches you against the computer opponents or some of your friends (guess which one is more fun). You get to set the options such as characters, items, stock, stage, handicaps, teams and more. You can customize a match in almost any way you and your friends want. As you read earlier the fighting style in Super Smash Bros. Melee is superb so having so many different options just adds to the fun. The intense fighting, trash talking and overall fun in Melee mode is beyond comprehension unless you're one of those wimps who can't handle it. Lets hope you aren't. Up to 4 characters can play on the match and if the characters are farther apart the more of the screen you see. This allows all players of the game to know where they are unless their eyes have some how fallen out. After the match the results are shown allowing the players to see who the winner is and allowing the winner to rub it in his/her opponents faces. Wait it gets even better. If you want you can play a tournament melee in one of three ways (tournament, winner out and loser out). Winner/Loser out kicks out the player who wins/loses and allows a waiting player to join the action. This is a good thing when you have more than 4 people eager to play. Tournament is your classic ladder tournament with the amount of opponents, difficulty of computer opponents and other things up to you. Great if you have a lot of people to see who gets where? Ono to the special melees we go. These matches contain a whole bunch of custom rules to make the gameplay a bit more interesting. Such as Stamina where you fight with HP instead of damage percentage or Single Button which only allows you to use the control stick and the A button (great for beginners). There are many of these strange and extremely fun melees for your enjoyment and you can still set many of the options in them. VS mode will be one great experience for you and your friends. It's some of the best multiplayer action you'll ever get to play.

Trophies
Super Smash Bros. Melee offers the gamer an excellent way to fully complete the game. This method is expressed through something called trophy collecting. Trophies can be found in many places through out the main gameplay modes. They are also earner for having completed certain tasks, some more bizarre then the last. The trophies are usually characters, items, stages and other things from classic Nintendo software and hardware. There are enough trophies for you to collect to keep you satisfied for a long time. Each trophy comes with a description detailing the origin of the thing it is portraying. You can also zoom in and out, rotate and move the focal point of a trophy to get a better look at something. You can view your trophy collection easily and cycle through your personal collection so far. Some trophies are easer to acquire than others so you may have 5 or 6 of a certain trophy and only one of another 1. You can also view your collection as a whole with all the trophies you have standing on a table in front of a bunch of classic Nintendo consoles. The lottery may come in handy for collecting trophies also. You use the coins you collect to use it and the more coins you put in the higher the chance of you getting a trophy you don't yet have. The trophies are a great addition to this game and really give you something to aim for when trying to complete the game. The trophies themselves are great rewards and great to read up on some Nintendo history.


Graphics: When you first start the game you will get to view a beautiful short movie of the characters in Super Smash Bros. Melee. This is FMV though so it isn't really part of the in game graphics. The title screen is a bit gland but the menus are neat and very well organized leading to know complications. The characters in Super Smash Bros. Melee are very well detailed and don't have any unnecessary sharp edges. The characters movements are almost perfect and don't distort the graphics in any way at all. Sometimes a character and an item or part of the stage may intertwine such as an arm going into a barrel or kick going into the wall. This is very minimal though and hardly noticeable at all. The items that appear are designed well and are all in proportion as compared to the rest of the screen. Most of the platforms on the maps look good and work well with your character. Some of the stages may have poor graphics but this is intended as they are supposed to look like they're from Super Mario Bros or Kirby 64. The only real problem in Super Smash Bros. Melee is that some of the backgrounds in the stages are a bit fuzzy and disorganized or a mixture of good and bad graphics. The backgrounds in most stages are fine but some of them need some work. Excellent graphics on the characters, items and stages but the backgrounds may require some work.

Sound: As soon as the game starts you're treated to some excellent music and sound in the FMV video and it doesn't worsen as you keep playing the game. The many attacks the characters send at each other and in rare cases themselves sound crisp and uninterrupted. The explosions, blocks, deaths and stage alterations all give off the right sounds preventing you from hearing something odd that shouldn't be there. When your character performs and attack or gets hit you may hear things such as "Hiya!" and "Ahh!" which add to the overall affect of the sound. These things don't become annoying though; so don't worry as the sounds are made at exactly the right time. If a sword attack is blocked you may hear a "Clank!" sound or if someone hits a mine the explosion sound effect is triggered at exactly the right time and sounds like it should. When your character is doing especially well you may hear the crowd shouting the characters name in approval. One problem is that the crowd won't shout the enemies name if he/she is winning but then again some people wouldn't like encouragement for the enemy. Then you have the classic announcer who adds more depth in to the game saying things like SUPER SMASH BROTHERS MELEEEEEEEEEE at the beginning of the game or yelling out the character's name when you select him/her. The announcer doesn't have an annoying voice; actually the voice is perfect for this game. The music in Super Smash Bros. Melee is essentially music from other classic titles and plays in the right stages. You don't have to worry about things like Zelda music in Pokemon Stadium. A great soundtrack overall combining Nintendo's best in music. Super Smash Bros. Melee has some of the best sound and music ever in videogames.


Control:
Super Smash Bros. Melee has a very high learning curb discouraging some people when they first start playing it. Some may call it a button masher but it's far from ever becoming a button masher. I guarantee that if you button mash a skilled player will be able to take you out in a couple of seconds. You have to have patience at the beginning in order to succeed in the future. I'll start off simply by stating that navigating your way through the menus and setting up the match of your choice is a walk in the park and a 5 year old would have little trouble figuring it out. In the actual melee, the A button is used for standard attacks while the B button is used for special attacks. You may say that's simply but it's really not as the A and B buttons both are used to perform a whole series of standard and special attacks. Such as a character may use just the B button as just a gun while pressing B and pressing the control stick up and B at the same time may cause the character to attack as a ball of flame. Once you get familiar with the game you should be able to recognize which A or B move to use at what time. If you use the same attack all the time your opponent will destroy you so you have to time your different attacks well. You can also perform a charged variation of an A attack by smashing the control stick a direction while pressing the A button. This takes a while to learn though and most people won't bother as you can just use the C stick for a quick smash attack in VS Mode. You can push up on the control stick, press Y or press X to initiate a jump with your character. Using the control stick to jump doesn't work well and it's a lot more trouble than just simply tapping Y or X. The L and R buttons incite a shield to protect your character from incoming attacks but the shield does die down and you really don't want it to burst while using it, trust me. You can also press L/R and the A button at the same time to grab an enemy and attack him/her but the Z button is much more efficient for this. If playing in One Player Mode you can use the C to control the camera not that you'll need to, as this game's camera is perfect. Lastly pushing the control pad incites a taunt from your character, these are great after KO'ing someone. The control in Super Smash Bros. Melee is great once you learn it well but the high learning curb may turn some people away.

Lasting Appeal: The lasting appeal in Super Smash Bros. Melee just keeps on going and going and going... In other words, you'll be playing this game for a very long time. With so many trophies to collect, tasks to finish, things to discover and more you'll be playing for months or even years to come. If you use no strategy guide I'll take you a very long time to figure out what to even do to get some of the trophies and how to unlock certain things. Besides anytime you have nothing to do you can just pop in the Super Smash Bros. Melee disk and play a quick match against the AI or play through Adventure mode. The real fun comes from playing this when your friends are over as it is the perfect party game considering the awesome gameplay and great multiplayer options. You and your friends will fight each other for a long time at first and then later one you'll still have matches from time to time or when you have lots of people over. After playing for a long time, you'll become a great Super Smash Bros. Melee player. This game will last you forever or until a sequel with even more options and gameplay modes is released.


Final Say: Super Smash Bros. Melee improved on the original in almost every way possible and added almost every new feature possible. It truly is a masterpiece and should be enjoyed and purchased by every single person with a GameCube. With many characters, stages, items and trophies you'll have loads of fun for a long time. You and your friends will play constantly at first and still play often later. After collecting everything you'll still play with your friends over who's better and just for fun. There are many things to experiment with and the unique and excellent fighting style makes it all worth your while. Buy it, as you won't be disappointed.

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