Review by Sprock
"Violence is the answer."
When the first Super Smash Bros. game was revealed, the concept dumbfounded me. As much as I'd always wanted to beat up Pikachu with Link, the idea just sounded stupid as hell, and I was not the only one suspicious. Lo and behold, the game turned out to be a blast. Soon, people were knocking the living daylights out Kirby with Donkey Kong's super punch. Characters would duke it out in classic Nintendo arenas like Yoshi's Island and Hyrule Castle. Each character had their own unique attacks and abilities. Classic Nintendo items like Koopa Shells and Pokeballs would add to the frenzy. It was an excellent multiplayer experience, and yet its sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee, completely dwarfs it in terms of content. People don't want cookie-cutter additions and a re-polishing of textures here and there in a sequel, but rather a similar experience with new additions that pushes the series in a whole new direction, and Melee is exactly that.
Super Smash Bros. Melee features the return of all the characters in the old game, plus many new ones to the battlefield. New characters include Peach, Bowser, Zelda, the Ice Climbers, and more. The main formula remains the same, but with many new challenges and features. Melee brings the aptly-titled Classic Mode from the original game, featuring a series of randomized fights that can be quickly run through. New to the world of Super Smash Bros. is adventure mode. The character that you choose will fight his/her way through 12 stages. Many of them are set up like they were in the games they first appeared in, such as a side-scrolling Mushroom Kingdom world that has you pouncing on other classic Mario enemies. Another pits you in a maze-like Zelda dungeon. Adventure mode is fun, but it's probably the weakest aspect of Melee, as the originality gets really lazy after a few worlds with the stages just turning into standard fights. It's a neat concept that is not fleshed out enough.
Luckily, Melee gets just about every other new addition right. Like the first Super Smash Bros. many of the battlefields are famous Nintendo game landmarks, such as Peach's Castle to Onett from Earthbound to Kirby's Fountain of Dreams. Various obstacles will appear in certain arenas, such as the rising acid of Brinstar or the Arwing firing lasers on Corneria. These obstacles are sometimes an interference, but most of the time they actually expand combat beautifully. The item system is another aspect that sets the Super Smash Bros. series apart from traditional fighters. For example, if you pick up a Bob-omb, you can throw it at an opponent, and a huge explosion will occur, severely damaging all players within the radius of the explosion. Melee also sports some new items, like the Super Mushroom, Earthbound's Mr. Saturn, and Metroid's Screw Attack.
In addition to returning mini-game Target Test, Melee introduces some new ones. Home Run Contest involves whacking a sandbag (appropriately named Sandbag) with the baseball bat as far as possible. Event Matches are another new addition to this installment. Each of these have a special, unusual mission for you to complete, such as beating your opponents with Pokeballs only or defeating 128 miniature Mario clones. As you progress, some of the event matches will become VERY challenging. Many rewards are included in the event matches like additional stages and trophies you can't get anywhere else. Speaking of trophies, they are probably my favorite new extra feature in this game. Trophies are collectible models of countless Nintendo characters in Nintendo's history. The characters date from the time of Melee's release back to Nintendo's early days on the NES. Each trophy has its own brief description which gives brief background history and info of the character or object. Trophies can be obtained many different ways. They can be found on the ground in adventure mode, won through event matches, or purchased at random with coins that you win from battles through the lottery.
Unlike in the original, single-player content is pretty beefy. If unlocking all the characters isn't enough for you, the event matches will consume a lot of your time, and mastering the classic and adventure modes with different characters will net you new trophies. Of course, Super Smash Bros. Melee shines even more brightly in the multiplayer department. Up to 4 players can participate in an all-out brawl at one time. Multiplayer's options can be adjusted accordingly. You are given the option of setting how long the match will last, or whether you want an every-man-for-himself match, a tag team match, or a survival round. You can even create a sudden death match, and can also choose which items you want to use, if any. Melee still impresses visually, and even more musically. You'll recognize many remixes of classic Nintendo themes throughout this game, some familiar and others more obscure.
Super Smash Bros. Melee was one of the first multiplayer games released on the Gamecube and was probably never dethroned. As good as the original Nintendo 64 title was, it looks anorexic on content compared to this sequel. Everything here is bigger and better, from the character selections to the stages to the various modes of play. The trophies are a brilliant addition for those wishing to unlock everything a game has to offer. The adventure mode does not quite live up to its full potential, but the multiplayer more than makes up for it, having so many options to suit your preferred methods of play. Plus, it's quite simply one hell of a lot of fun, and that's the biggest praise I can give Melee whether playing alone or with friends, the game is a blast and will give you hundreds of hours of entertainment.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/16/06, Updated 01/23/14
Game Release: Super Smash Bros. Melee (US, 12/02/01)
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