Review by Galactus21
"Mario, Link, Samus, Oh My!"
One of the best classics on the Nintendo Gamecube is none other than Super Smash Bros. Melee. There is no other way around it. Smash Bros. first started on the N64 and it garnered numerous fans. At the time, it was a great game, but there were a few holes in the game. With its sequel, Nintendo was able to polish the formula further and tighten the controls to make it the ultimate party game. Not only is it an all out brawl, but the amount of strategy behind it is surprisingly deep. Playing by yourself wouldn't give the game justice, but if you get a few friends together, then this game becomes one of the best games on any system. Smash Bros. pits some of the most well known and loved characters in an all out battle. With up to 4 players in each match, the mayhem is pure awesomeness.
The character lineup include the likes of Link, Mario, Samus, Fox, and many others. This all star lineup provides gamers with beloved characters and lets you play them like never before. The amount of depth in Smash Bros. is vastly underrated by many. For those that question the depth has never played against a skilled player or tried anything other than button mashing. Playing without items in SSBM differentiates the skilled players and those that button mash.
Although SSBM sports tremendous depth and uniqueness in its combat system, it probably only truly shines in multiplayer. After a while, the enemy A.I even at its highest level isn't very challenging at all. For button mashers, the A.I will continue to be a challenge. But for those that start to develop a strong sense for the system and learn its chains of combos will hardly find the even toughest characters on the highest setting very challenging at all. The single player while fun for a while will become more of a practice session if anything else. It isn't until you have a group of people who are well versed in the game, where you will sense the amount of depth that SSBM is packing.
The game play mechanics of SSBM is a bit chaotic. The core concept is to raise an opponent's percentile. Once it is raised, it gives you a higher chance to know that character further. The object is to knock it out of the arena. With a higher percentage it lowers the chances of that opponent coming back. Certain characters will have certain advantages. For example, Jigglypuff may seem weak, but under a person who has mastered her would give that person a distinct advantage. Also, I find that characters like Marth and Link are better at close combat than someone like Samus. The mishmash of characters gives Smash a great variety of characters.
What is special about SSBM is the ability to set up different moves. For example, when using Link, you can knock an opponent high in the air and proceed to jump in the air with his sword pointing up to inflict more damage. Playing with someone like Link shows the amount of depth in the system. A lot of times, I would use Link's projectiles like boomerang or bombs to damage an enemy then follow it up with a powerful, dashing sword attack. This is just one way to chain up different moves. As you figure out the moves, you can link them together at your own discretion.
This is what makes SSBM so special. When you first play the game, it feels like a button masher, but the more you play, the more you will understand how to fully utilize the combat system. The game also features a shield encasing that allows players to block. By doing this, it makes the game even more strategic. Instead of roaming around the battlefield, trying to inflict as much damage in the shortest time, it forces you to take into dodging and blocking into account. Playing good defense can add a lot to the depth. Another great feature is the ability to throw an opponent. There are different types of throws. For example, Link throws out a grappling hook and Mario needs to get in close to grab someone. By utilizing throws, you can turn it into different attacks. By using Link as an example again, it shows how he can capture someone with his grappling hook and then follow it up with a sword attack.
The level design in this game is also a big plus. Some levels are more condensed and require far less platforms for you to climb. Others will require you to move all over the place. There will be a few levels from the previous games, with a bunch of new ones. The new levels are brilliantly design, with consideration to how the game plays.
There is also the ability to have items in a match. An item can contain something like a homerun bat, bomb, pokeball, etc. However, with items, it makes the game feel less strategic. With items, it seems that people focus too much on getting the items rather than utilizing the strengths of their characters. Items are still a ton of fun to just have a chaotic match, but to have a fully in depth match, playing without items would be more ideal. Some items are stronger than others. For example, a homerun bat can give someone a huge advantage over a person new to the game. If one single person can grab multiple pokeballs, they can fill up the screen with Pokemon. This would make it hard for others to maneuver.
Other additional features within SSBM include a home run contest, where there is a bag to hit. During this even, you are given a time limit to deal as much damage as possible on this bag. Before the time runs out, you try to smack it with a powerful hit from your bat. The higher percentage of damage dealt within the time limit given will give you a farther hit. For example, someone like Ganon can hit the bag extremely far by spamming his up kick that launches the bag high in the air. Just before time runs out, you can rip the bag across far distances. A record will be kept, so you can have friends challenge your all time record.
Even with all the positives I mentioned, SSBM is more of a party game where you play with friends. This is because no matter how in depth the combat system is, the single player eventually gets repetitive. Mainly because as you improve, you will find the hardest A.I controlled character to be a pushover. When this occurs, you will find playing against the A.I is more of a practice session. While this can be said about many games, SSBM's single player mode isn't as varied. Like most fighting games, it's a repetition through similar stages. Most of the single player portion is used to practice and unlock items. With things like trophies and extra stages to be unlocked, it becomes the main incentive to play through it.
Although an adventure mode was added on to allow some reenactments of Nintendo games, it doesn't bring much to the table aside from bringing nostalgia. There are also events for you to complete. One includes going through a F-Zero track by timing the right moment to jump on a platform to ignore oncoming vehicles. While this gives you a bit to do when you are playing by yourself, it still doesn't compare to playing with friends. Each event has its own unique characteristics, but playing it once should be enough for most people.
Nintendo was able to meld together its plethora of characters. Through blending everything together, they came out with a game that utilizes their characters with great success. The various characters give people choices on the type of player they want to be. Someone like Fox has more speed for you to take advantage of, while someone like Marth will require you get in close to lay out damage with his sword. Characters like Donkey Kong or Ganon are in contrast to someone like Fox, where you give up speed for brute power.
With Luigi splattered against the screen after a huge Donkey Kong punch shows off some of the graphical capabilities of the game. Character models look great, with each character sporting unique characteristics that people recognize. With all the action that occurs, the game runs incredibly smooth with no dips in frame rate. Even with all the events that occur at once, the game still sports some luscious visuals. Having multiple pokeballs go off at once could lead to a beautiful showing of visuals. While some of the backgrounds could have used a bit more detail, for the most part, the graphics looked great.
The musical soundtrack is absolutely fantastic. With classical tracks from previous Nintendo games that give you nostalgic feelings during your all out battle with Nintendo characters, the tracks fit right in. By utilizing previous Nintendo games as a basis to its soundtrack, it felt like the perfect tune as you mash someone's head in with the baseball bat. From Link's battle cry as he swings his powerful master sword to Kong's powerful punch that sends an opponent flying, it shows the incredible detail put into this game. Each character is given some recognizable voice or sound that improves the quality of the game.
With the amount of events and hidden stages, coupled with its multiplayer aspects, SSBM is a long game. There is plenty of replay value, as this game will become one of the main draws when you have friends over. It's easy to get into, so it allows you to break friends who are not accustomed to the game. Even when you finish unlocking the games many hidden features, you still have the multiplayer aspect. The multiplayer aspect will keep you busy for a long time.
In the end, Super Smash Bros. Melee is perhaps the best multiplayer game on any console. The game focuses on its multiplayer aspects and it does not disappoint. While playing by yourself may be fun for a while, it eventually fades, as its multiplayer mode becomes the main draw point. It's not that Hal did not try to make the single player modes more interesting, but it simply lives in the shadow of a superior multiplayer mode. As long as you have friends to play, it is easy to get into and a blast play. It's user friendly for newcomers, while still having plenty of depth for the more hardcore gamers. This is what makes Smash one of the best games around. The Gamecube has better games for single player, but when it comes to multiplayer, there is no better. In fact, there may not be a better multiplayer game anywhere else.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/16/07
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