GameCube Fighting Game of the Year: Super Smash Bros. Melee
One of the two big titles to emerge on the GameCube in its first few months of life also happens to be one of the best fighting romps we've played in a very long time. Super Smash Bros. Melee steals the GameSpy GameCube Fighting Game of the Year award, and indeed, very nearly won the overall GameCube Game of the Year award too. Japanese developer HAL and Nintendo took it upon themselves to code up an absolute stonker of a sequel to the very popular, and quite unexpected N64 brawler -- Super Smash Bros. The concept of pitting Nintendo's most popular characters against each other in mortal combat is incredibly appealing to Nintendophiles and regular gamers alike so let the carnage commence!
When Pikas Attack
First, try to maintain calm. Where there is one Pikachu there are frequently dozens of others, and your screaming will only indicate to them the weakness of the prey. Now then, make sure that you are properly grounded. Rubber-soled shoes and rubber gloves can save you from the Pika's most devastating electrical attacks. Pikachus will attack en masse and latch themselves onto exposed limbs, so try to flick them off into puddles of water.
Finally, memorize these key phrases in Pikachu's native language:
Pika pi? Pika pika. - "Ow, that's my leg!"
Pika pika, chu. - "I will eat you like an Easter Peep."
PIKA! - "There is a Jigglypuff in my pants, and I am not afraid to use it."
Super Smash Bros. Melee is brimming over with class, spit, polish, and raw adrenalized gameplay. Four-player tussling is really where SSBM scores massive points as this method of play really brings new meaning to word "fun." Screaming, whooping, and hollering are most commonly overheard here at the GameSpy HQ when a crowd gathers around the big plasma screen to watch Link, Mario, Pikachu and Fox McCloud duke it out in glorious 60 frames-per-second action. Boasting a massive 25-player roster of fighters (14 initially playable) and equal amount of fantastical arenas/levels, SSBM has it all.
The single-player game has been improved dramatically and serves as a decent way to break newbies into the frantic gameplay experienced in the inevitable multiplayer madness. There's the regular Classic mode from the first game and an all new Adventure mode which forces you to pick a character and romp through levels from Mario's games, Link's Hyrulian Kingdom and even Captain Falcon's F-Zero race tracks. SSBM introduces a cool collectable element to the proceedings thanks to the Nintendo Trophy Gallery. There are close to 300 of these little suckers in the game that can be collected and won as you progress through the single and multiplayer modes and each one is either a character, item or piece of memorabilia taken from games throughout Nintendo's illustrious publishing career.
Nintendo buffs will be in heaven when they listen to the amazing sound track that has been inserted into SSBM which features tunes from Metroid, Pokemon, F-Zero, Super Mario 64, Mario Bros., Yoshi's Island and many, many more. The graphics are fantastic too with the character models being expertly rendered in power GameCube 3D although some of the level backgrounds do tend to look a little bland at times. The controls are a little on the sensitive side to begin with, but become second nature after a few hours of playtime.
There are added moves for all the characters such as the new Charge and Dodge moves and each character enjoys a wide selection of unique attacks too.
Secrets are abundant in SSBM with hidden characters, stages, menu options and the like -- all of which add to the addictive quality of the game. You'll need three friends, four joypads, and a week or so of vacation in order to really get stuck into the action, but we believe you'll be hard pushed to find another GameCube game as entertaining as this one anytime soon. Like we said, it was a close call, but Pikmin stole our hearts in the final moments of the Game of the Year awards.