Malik (4/21/04)

Super Smash Brothers Melee (GCN)


This review originally was presented on lazy.GEEKS (7/2/03)

Well, this game is an oldie, but judging from my own experiences and from sales charts, it must still be popular enough for me to post a review.  

Super Smash Bros. Melee (hence-forth called Smash) was released only a couple weeks after the Gamecube was released, way back in 2001 (December for Smash, and November for the Gamecube). I first took notice of this game when I used to play the original (N64) with my friends back in college after my old room-mate picked it up. The original blew my mind with it's simplistic, yet addictive game play that made it simple to complicate the game play into a vast variety of playing styles and strategies. 

Then, a few years later, I still found myself playing this with most of my friends on a daily basis, and Nintendo started to post information about the sequel (Smash) and some elusive screenshots started to circulate the internet. I started to take a lot of notice, but figured the Gamecube looked like crap, so I'd never play it. 

That's when Nintendo surprised a lot of people by throwing it's pre-release parties around the country, including one here in Seattle. I ended up attending it one night and found myself hooked (after I waited for what seemed like a year for people to stop playing the demo and thus I could get in a few games). Smash, along with Star Wars Rogue Leader and Monkey Ball soon convinced me to get the Gamecube and soon after, Smash. 

Even after a year and a half has gone by, I still find myself playing this game with some of my friends at least for a couple hours per week. Also, I just saw some sales figures for the top selling Gamecube games out there, and lo and behold, Smash is still up near the top. 


I always start with the story in my reviews (I'm an RPG person at heart), and thus I will once again. Long story short (or should that be short story even shorter), there is no real story. All it is is a bunch of Nintendo heroes and a few villains brawling. This, however, is not a bad's actually quite good since I feel stories just get in the way of party or fighting games, and deep down, Smash is the king of party and fighting games...sorry Microsoft, you'll never overtake party games as long as Smash is around. Story, in 2 words: None, good. 


The original was designed with very simplistic polygon characters that looked good in their time. However, that was N64 and this is Gamecube. Which means it's good that these characters have all sorts of details, abandoning their polygonal looks to take on a more refined shape. You can see details from the joints of Roy's armor down to (for your perverts out there...I know you're out there since I play Smash with some of you) the frilly look of Princess Peach's underwear. 

Also, the special effects have refined themselves greatly in the last few years since the original. Fire no longer shows up as a blob of orange polygons, but rather looks like fire. The bullets and projectiles look more like they are supposed to look like, and special abilities look well refined, especially when you choose to pause the action and rotate the camera around the events going on. 

Which brings up my favorite feature of the visuals. When you pause the game play, you can select who to focus the camera on and then rotate and zoom as you see fit. This means you can get down to smaller details and check out the finer points of the superb work done in programming the visuals...not to mention freezing the action to look at some rather silly and stupid things (like I mentioned, for the perverts, underwear or other perverted looking Jigglypuff emerging from a character's arse or how Yoshi can get his head into a rather wrong position...thanks, I think, to my friends for pointing these out to me...sigh...). 


Nothing really special or bad in here, audio-wise. The voices of the announcer are rather well done in terms of telling what type of match you're setting up, what character is being selected, etc. Also, the sound effects used when a special ability is performed or an item is used sounds like it should (I charge up of a super-scope sounds impressive, a sword slashing sounds like a sword cutting through the air, etc). Like I said, nothing special, but definitely nothing bad. 

The truly great thing about the audio is when you change the system language in the game options to Japanese and can hear the Japanese names for a few characters (Bowser becomes Koopa, Jigglypuff becomes Purin), and best of all, the taunts and victory sayings in Japanese. Mewtwo sounds like a daemon when he wins, Jigglypuff sounds stranger than usual taunting, and the crowd (who will occasionally shout for their favorite) sounds downright insane as their shout for Purin. 

Anyways, in a few words; Nothing special, but insane in Japanese. 

Game Play 

This is what Smash is all about; game play. To begin with, you have countless modes to play in. In single player, you have survival, special challenges, adventure mode, and classic mode (like the 1-player mode in the original). Then in multiplayer (or single player plus computer) you have melee (free for all), team melee, elimination tournaments, giant mode, small mode, invisible mode, one button mode (only one button functions; the normal attack button), invisible melee, coin melee, lightning melee (turbo mode), slow-motion just goes on like that for a while more. In the long run, besides adventure mode, it is you versus a bunch of pissed off cute Nintendo mascots. 

Adventure mode, however, is rather cool and unique for your first dozen times playing (it offers a good chance to learn the controls in a safer setting). You pick one character and then play through a bunch of levels, like a normal Nintendo game, from various games. You have a Mario type level filled with koopas and goombas, a Zelda dungeon with re-deads and octorocs, the end of Metroid (where you must escape the planet in a short time by ascending a vertical hallway as a timer ticks down), etc. You'll rarely go back to this mode after you've beaten the game a few times, but it's fun when you first start, and it's a good and easy way to unlock some new characters.

Speaking of which, there are plenty of characters to unlock. The original had a dozen characters (8 to start with and 4 to unlock), and this Smash is no different. You start with the characters from the first Smash and can unlock more than a dozen more. Most of these characters are easy enough to unlock by just beating the one player modes with various characters or by successfully finishing different challenges. So within a few hours of starting you'll have around 20 characters to use. Some of the characters, though, will require some skill. To get Ganondorf the quickest way possible, you'll have to play through the special challenge scenarios until you find him in one of them. After you meet the requirements you'll then have face the character you're about to unlock in a non-on-one battle and win. In the end you'll have a good selection of characters with a wide range of playing abilities. You'll have the quick finesse fighters, the slow tanks, the long range snipers, the short range berserkers. Overall, you'll find a character type to meet any playing style. 

Like the first game, you'll encounter many different stages (many of the stages from the first one come back along with around 20 or so new ones) with themes of all the main characters (except there is no level tied in to Roy or Marth...boooo!). In these stages you'll also find a ton of power-ups and items both new and old. Most of the old items have been tweaked to make them more balanced. Best of all, some characters hand items in unique ways. If Falcon has a star rod, he can fire three stars at once and if Peach has a beam sword, she has some variation to its usage. 

Long story short, this game will offer enough variation in stages, characters, items, battle types that you will be able to come back and play this game for years (I know, I've played for the last year and a half and still go back for more). Just make sure you have friends to play with and some controllers to sacrifice (they will get worn down/broken on this game). 

In a word: Fun 


Well, after a year and a half, Smash Brothers Melee still is selling good and keeping all of my friends (except Velveta) thoroughly entertained; and with good reason. Smash is a perfect blend of party type fun with a brainless fighting brawl. The graphics and sound never take away from the game play, and the lack of story only helps to keep your brain off and your adrenaline on. So, for Smash Brothers Melee, I give a score of 9.5 out of 10.  This is the ultimate party experience if you have the friends and the controllers to expend.