Review by EJRICH
A couple of years back; I really wanted a Game Cube system. It was because of a couple of reasons, but the main one that I remember the most was the fact that I really wanted to get my hands on a copy of Luigi's Mansion. I used to be a complete Mario fan, couldn't get enough of it to be quite honest. There was one gigantic problem though-I wasn't old enough to get a job yet. That basically meant that I had to rely on my parents for any money that I got my hands on, or at least most of it. My dream of playing the new Mario game was slim to none, and it hurt. Thankfully, after months of grueling torture I managed to get my Mom and Dad to buy us the system. Soon after, I was playing the new Mario game that I had waited for such a long period of time to finally play. The game didn't exactly make me that happy, but looking back on it I can see that hype probably had a great deal to do with it. In recap, I'm sitting there with a new system and a game that I'm not happy with. Money's tight, and I can't really buy anything else. Things were looking hopeless, until this game showed up at least. We were walking through my local BB one day and saw it on the shelf used. I had a gift card with me, so I bought the game.
Simplicity is definitely something that can drive a game along. If it's too challenging, then it restricts the entry of new players to the franchise; if it's too easy, then it drives away long time veterans. In terms of SSBM, it adeptly uses simplicity to furnish itself with a strong system of battle. In most fighting games, you are required to actually put in intense button combos to pull off moves-in this game you simply have to press a single button or two to pull off characters moves. I'll be really honest; this won't appeal to everyone, mainly because you can get through this game by simply mashing a button. I love games like Soul Caliber for the first reason in particular; I like to master those button combos. It is nice once in awhile to sit down and play this for fun, mainly because I can actually enjoy some quality time with my little brother. He's not exactly at the age yet where he can master intricate combos on a controller; heck, I wasn't until years later. The point is he can mash a button, and he can get used to the controls that this game has to offer. It's things like that that Nintendo truly takes advantage of-bringing the family together on all levels.
One big thing that caught my eye was the fact that they added in a new Adventure Mode. Have you ever wanted to travel the fields of the Mushroom Kingdom as Samus? Run a marathon on the Blue City race Track? They did this and more, and it truly catered to the fans. If you really pay attention, it is linear; but that's not the point. The point is that it adds more to the game than there already was. Previously, you had the ability to just play through the Classic Mode, something that allowed you to fight other characters in a match setting. Because of this, you don't have to all of the time; you have the ability to do other things. That's the point I'm trying to make-you can choose what you want to do.
It doesn't just end at Classic and Adventure either; new modes were readily added to this title. The Home Run Contest, Melee Contests, Event Matches, All-Star Mode-everything fits in perfectly. Probably what caught my eye the most were the Event Matches. They truly where a joy to play, mainly because the challenges were fun; trying to outwit a insane Jigglypuff, Luigi vs. Doctor Mario and Nurse Peach-everything really added up to a unique experience. Best thing of all is that you have the ability to play 51 of them as you unlock more characters, which adds to the amount of game time that you can have on your card.
What probably pulls people in the most is the horrifically fun multiplayer mode-it was simply outstanding to be quite honest. Up to four players can compete with each other at once depending on the amount of controllers you have, and even if you don't they still wisely decided to put in a tournament mode this way everyone can get a turn. The stages that you play on fit each environment honorably, and each is curtailed to a unique play experience this way you never can get the same feeling when playing another stage. Some are small, some are large-the point is that each is meant to be played with a different number of players. This was a hidden fact, but it is true. You really don't want to play a two player match in Hyrule Temple, mainly because it will take forever to catch the person and eliminate them. Combine that with the fact that items run rampant and you have a genuinely fun yet chaotic multiplayer experience.
Although the game play is what drags many people in, you can't forget the music and graphics. Behind every good man is a wife they always say, and it's true in this as well. The graphics received a huge boost in terms of quality, sporting a much higher pixel count than the previous title. Characters aren't even rough around the edges any more, which was a big improvement. When you first turn on the game, you are greeted with a beautiful CGI cut scene that breaks the boundaries from what you could even expect from the Cube. To top it off, hundreds of trophies are brilliantly illustrated for the player to collect. There were some problems though, mainly in the fact of stuck screens. This doesn't happen too often, but on occasion it has been reported that the character selection screen can become locked in an awkward position that makes it incredibly hard to choose a character. Through my own experimenting, if it happens in that screen it happens in the stage selection screen as well. What's funny is that about 95% of the time it reverts back to normal, so if it happens to you then I suggest you just back out of the screen and try again.
Aside from that, there were a couple of other slight problems. The game itself has been reported to be pre-set in a different language in some rare circumstances. Normally, all that the player has to do is just toggle it to English from the language selection menu. The big problem is that if this is your first time playing the game, then you won't necessarily know where that menu is, and this creates chaos. On top of that, rumors have been spreading around that some inappropriate material is shown in the trophies section. I won't go into it now, mainly because this isn't the time or place. All I can say is that you won't know it if you don't play with it. Aside from those minor problems, everything else is much better than it previously was. Characters move at a much smoother pace, jumps look realistic, and item throwing has never been better.
Who couldn't honestly get a chuckle out of some of the sounds in this game? Young Link's taunt of drinking milk is plain out hilarious, as well as the burp-fart that DK does on occasion. On a more serious note, everything once again was given a major overhaul to fit the system to a much better degree. Possibly the only real problem was the fact that some characters grunts sound very muffled-probably almost like that of a blender.
With that though comes the cheerful melody of various character stages. You'd be truly surprised to see just how many tracks Nintendo took from the various games that the character's themselves came from. Each of these tunes is effortlessly ported from their original versions, which just makes things that much better. What sounds good to one won't necessarily sound good to another unfortunately. Some tunes are distracting while you are playing a match with someone else, and it can throw you off. Still, that's the least of the problems that this game could have had happen to itself.
In conclusion, SSBM truly bought my family together for a ton of fun. Just the thought of finally being able to play something with my little brother that we both agreed on was great, let alone the fact that he genuinely enjoyed it. I may like more complex games, but this definitely takes the cake. If you haven't bought this yet, then I suggest you do. Brawl is on the way, and you want at least a little practice before you get whopped, don't you?
Get it, get it, get it, get it, get it, get it, get it, get it, get it, get it, get it, get it ,get it, and if you still don't get it, think about getting it.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/01/07, Updated 01/04/10
Game Release: Super Smash Bros. Melee (US, 12/02/01)
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