Super Smash Bros. Melee
Released in the United States in 1999, Super Smash Bros. went on to sell over five million copies worldwide. It should be no surprise that Nintendo has zealously readied its sequel Super Smash Bros. Melee for release just shortly after GameCube launch. Originally thought to be a minor upgrade to the original, SSB Melee returns chock full of so many options and features it will make you dizzy. It is easily in an entirely different league than the N64 version and is equally one of the most impressive GameCube titles to date. Unlike the launch titles before it, SSB Melee is polished and nearly perfect for what it is.
- The ultimate sequel to the top-selling Nintendo 64 fighter
- A cast of 14 famous Nintendo characters and 11 hidden fighters for a total of 25 franchise fighters
- All-new single-player mode provides an old-school side-scrolling adventure
- Classic arena-by-arena single-player mode
- Hidden single-player mode for Smash fanatics
- Unique new Event Match mode lets players fight in objective-based situations
- Stadium mode includes Target Test, Home-Run Contest, and Multi-man Melee
- Practice combos and explore the items list in Training mode
- Fighting engine allows for all-out four-player mayhem on the same screen
- Versus mode features is filled to the brim with options and special features
- Fight in 18 available arenas and unlock a plethora of secret arenas
- Special Melee mode allows for Giant-size Melees, Slo-motion melees, and much more
- Slick graphics engine displays high-polygon characters at 60 frames per second
- Stunning audio includes orchestrated tracks of your favorite Nintendo classics and other high-quality beats
- New tournament mode lets you custom create your own SSB playoffs with friends
- Enter your name and keep track of how many times you've KO'ed friends and foes
- An uncountable amount of statistics tracks Vs. records, bonus records, and many more
- Buy trophies of classic Nintendo characters and items including The Ocarina of Time,
- Pit, and Excitebike for a total of nearly 300 trophies
- Take snapshots of matches in Camera Mode and save your favorites to memory card
- Records archive keeps track of exactly what time and date you unlocked secrets
- Progressive scan mode for HDTV users
- Deflicker switch lets you choose the more crisp aliased look or a softer anti-aliased display
- One to four players
It's very rare that a developer outdoes itself, but HAL has done just that with Super Smash Bros. Melee. Upon booting it up you will see basic options including a single-player mode and versus mode. At first glance it appears to be very similar to the N64 version with a larger selection of characters and more levels, but as you peel back the surface you will find an overwhelming amount of features and options. There is so much that deserves recognition it's hard to sum up in our review, but that's not going to keep us from trying.
On the Nintendo 64, Smash Bros. was primarily a multiplayer game. If you could gather four friends together there were hours and hours of entertainment awaiting to be had. The single-player wasn't bad, but it was fairly straightforward and lacked depth and variety. HAL immediately recognized this and has given Smash Bros. fans everything they could ever want and more with the single-player mode in the sequel. The main modes are Adventure and Classic. Classic mode is a more fleshed out version of the original single-player mode. You move from arena to arena fighting a semi-random set of characters until you reach the final boss. Interleaved between the fights are bonus stages such as Break the Targets, Race to the Finish, and the all-new challenge that has players attempting to knock falling trophies into a container in the center of the ring. Indeed it feels very classic and true to the N64 version.
In an attempt to give lone players more to chew on Nintendo has created the Adventure mode, which is definitely a retro gamer's dream come true. Basically this mode combines side-scrolling exploration with arena fights. Everything falls under a specific theme, so you'll pounce on Goomba's heads and perform lots of platform jumping to reach Princess Peach's Castle (taken from Super Mario 64), where you will have to duel with Mario and Princess Peach to advance forward. As you progress you'll explore a dungeon from Zelda, race out of the self-destructing Planet Zebes, and fight over the Green Greens of Kirby's Dreamland. It still has plenty of arena based fighting, but the exploration and platforming aspects are a refreshing departure from the more limited Classic mode. There are not unique adventures for each playable character, however. Every character advances through the same set of areas and faces the same final boss (different from Classic mode).
Taking a closer look at these modes you'll notice that HAL has a bonus points system that gives you awards for everything imaginable. Didn't fall the entire match? Rock Steady: 3000 points. Accidentally let go of a level edge and fell? Cliff Diver: 500 points. Finished with 3:33 minutes on the clock? Lucky Threes: 3330 points. You name it and you can get bonus points for it. There are hundreds of these bonuses and you'll constantly be seeing new ones as you replay the adventure mode.
Still not willing to give up on creating a rewarding single-player experience HAL devised perhaps the most clever idea yet. Event Match: Over 50 goal-based matches. You begin with only 10 available matches and unlock up to 30 as you complete the goals. To unlock the total 51 matches you'll need to uncover the secret characters and levels first. So in this mode alone you can clock a lot of hours. Goals range from fighting the bomb-happy Samus and Link where explosive Bob-ombs and Pokeballs rain from the sky to dueling on top of a giant Goomba for the trophy. One of our favorites involves quite a bit of strategy which has you attempting to separate and defeat only Nana the Ice Climber and not her brother Popo. Because Popo is the dominant character, you have to devise a good plan to keep the two separated. Want to relive the glory of fighting a certain shadow character from Zelda II? No problem, it's all in here. Packed full of clever goals such as these, Event Match is an absolute delight, perhaps even more amusing than the Adventure and Classic modes.
However, this is hardly all that's available in single-player mode. You can take all the characters directly to the Break the Targets stages and practice, brush up with the home run bat in the Home-Run Contest, or indulge in multi-man melees where you can attempt to defeat 10, 100, or even an endless amount of opponents. Finishing some of these modes such as the 15-minute melee will unlock special stages, so they are indeed well worth your time. Still not content with all these single-player options, the developers added the all-important Trophy mode. Throughout the game you can earn nearly 300 different trophies. All of them are gorgeously modeled -- sometimes intentionally retro -- and can be viewed with text descriptions of their origins. You can even zoom in on them, rotate them with the C-stick, and change the lighting. With so many trophies, it is a virtual library of Nintendo's past franchises.
Ever heard of Ayumi Tachibana from the Japan-only Famicom Detective Club Part II? You can view her in the trophy mode. Why? We don't know, but she's there for fans that care. You can earn at least two different trophies of each playable character by conquering the Classic and Adventure modes, where you can also find random trophies hidden in the levels. Additionally you earn coins that can be spent in a Trophy Lottery. Here you can press your luck in hopes to earn new trophies. A percentage counter is displayed at the top of the screen, so if you're willing to spend enough cash you can almost guarantee yourself a new trophy. For Nintendo fanatics, this will become an addiction.
While the aforementioned does a good job of demonstrating the work that has gone into SSB Melee, it's only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many subtle additions that help to make this a worthy sequel. Looking at the game as a whole you can see a huge amount of polish on everything. The single-player has been improved drastically, but the developers have also taken a lot of time to flesh out the control mechanics. The frantic four-player heavy title is based on simplistic yet equally sophisticated controls. Many are quick to call Smash Bros. a button-masher, but that is an underestimation of what it is really about. On its most basic level attacks are performed with either the A or B buttons in combination with a direction on the control stick. It's the act of smashing the control stick in a particular direction and timing the pressing of the A or B button to get the full-power attack. In the midst of all this you can of course block attacks, throw items, and toss opponents off the edge of the arena. Not satisfied with this setup, the developers have included new, more complex controls for advanced Smash Bros. players. You can now dodge attacks/items in midair and on the ground, as well as deflect items and certain attacks with clever use of your shield.
It all comes together for a really well polished single-player and multiplayer game. It's uncommon that a game has so many features we're blown away, but SSB Melee does just that. Though, there are some things we would have liked to see. The one-player Adventure mode is enjoyable, but barring the Mario, Zelda, and F-Zero stages the focus is still on arena battles. After playing through it with a few characters it will become stale if you're not a big Smash Bros. fan, because nothing changes. Additionally, Nintendo still doesn't seem to understand the value of a good ending. The opening FMV is absolutely stunning and we expected similar endings for each character. Sadly, getting a character's trophy is about as thrilling as things get. There is about 15 seconds of blurry, compressed real-time footage of your character of choice doing random things, but it's not nearly as rewarding as a full-blown FMV could have been. So, if Nintendo ever decides on another sequel there is still plenty to do. While fighting games historically aren't known for their rewarding single-player mode, Nintendo has taken a step in the right direction and we'd definitely like to see this continue.
The heart of Super Smash Bros. Melee is of course the multiplayer mode. Here you will have access to 25 Nintendo characters. From the get-go 14 characters will be selectable, these include the following:
- Donkey Kong
- Captain Falcon
- Ice Climbers
One would think that all the characters would give way to an overlap of styles, but in truth almost everyone feels different. There's a delicate blend of speed and power with each character that translates into distinctive fighting styles. Even some of the secret characters, which are clones of some of the regular characters, feel different despite sharing similar moves. This leaves a lot of techniques to be explored and mastered. Along with these there are roughly 30 different stages to choose from. There are 11 main themes with two stages apiece. So for example under Zelda you can fight at the Great Bay from Majora's Mask and in a Zelda II temple in Hyrule, whereas for Metroid you fight in a revamped version of Brinstar on Planet Zebes and then there's a secret level to unlock, which is extremely impressive. But we'll let you uncover that.
Like in Super Smash Bros. on the N64 you can create a custom set of rules for multiplayer matches. You can play Time and Stock (lives) based matches, but there are now all-new Coin and Bonus settings for a more unique type of play. In the coin mode the objective is to knock coins from your opponents and collect them up as fast as possible without losing to many yourself. The richest player at the end of the timed match wins. Bonus mode is a little different and has players vying for the aforementioned bonus points. It's a truly odd way of playing, but refreshing now and then because it's so unpredictable. Of course, the game wouldn't be complete without a set of completely off-the-wall Special Melee modes. You can duel with friends in slow motion, fight as giants, and even face off in a unique Stamina Mode which is based on hit points, making for a completely different type of match. There are a total of 10 melee types and they're all one-of-a-kind.
Hardcore fans will be happy to know that you can now enter up to 24 different names and track every statistic possible including KO's, falls, longest distance jumped, how many times you KO'ed a certain buddy, etc, etc. With everything included in the game, did you really think such an important feature would be left out? Add to that an extensive collection of offensive and defensive items (and the ability to customize their frequency), and you've got one of the most addictive multiplayer experiences around.
Super Smash Bros. Melee is vastly improved over the N64 version. The models, now smooth and crisply textured, are recognizable from farther distances away and don't blend into the background. Everyone comes with a reflective lighting map and sometimes even bump-mapping or other texture effects. There's even a hidden level which uses cel-shading for that soft shaded cartoon look. The stages, while only moderate in polygon count, still look great thanks to the art style. Everything has the subtle touches you'd expect from Nintendo. For instance Kanto Pokémon Stadium is just a simple arena in the middle of a stadium, but it changes according to the different elemental types in the Pokemon games, like rock, grass, fire and water. So one minute you'll be playing on level ground and the next you'll be standing atop of a windmill. Even with four players on the screen the game engine cranks out at a blazing 60 frames per second.
Overall, though, SSB Melee isn't necessarily a graphical feat so much as it is a programming feat. There are a lot of physics calculations involved and the programmers did a top-notch job of bringing it all together for a balanced play environment. More impressive, though, are all the particle effects and animations. Everything that moves creates a dust cloud or a vibrant and items and Pokémon all have distinct graphical touches. And, of course, all of the characters animate smoothly and often cleverly. You'll see subtle touches like still animations from characters, Princess Peach wipes dirt from her dress and Captain Falcon shakes his fists in rage. It's all top quality work that you would expect from Nintendo. There is even a deflicker switch that lets you choose the more crisp aliased look or a softer anti-aliased display. Featuring support for progressive scan TVs as well, it has all the options you would want.
Occasionally Nintendo releases orchestrated versions of popular themes in soundtrack form. For Super Smash Bros. Melee Ninteno has gone all out and created one of the most impressive soundtracks we've ever heard. It has taken many of its most popular themes and orchestrated them or remixed them, which would warrant almost any hardcore Nintendo fans purchase just for the music. We don't disagree after hearing powerful remakes of themes from Super Mario 64, Star Fox, Kirby and many more.
For sound effects Nintendo spared nothing either. All the players come with their own unique library grunts, screams, and taunts. As well, many of the items carry different sounds that are always recognizable such as a charging Super Scope or the laying of a Proximity Mine. Everything blends together perfectly.
source IGN Cube
Number of Players