Review by Shirow
"Far from worship"
Firstly, I will state that this isn't a fighting game. Now, let me now explain why it is far from worship, something which shouldn't be very difficult to do. I simply cannot understand why this game is so overrated ? Is it because of a lack of titles in the genre on the GameCube or is it just because the game is by Nintendo and it's the sequel to Super Smash Bros. ? Either way, SSBM falls short of being a worthy addition to the library and I don't recommend it to anyone.
Big cast doesn't mean more fun !
Super Smash Bros. Melee (man, is that a long title !) is a beat-em-up/party game featuring one of the most amazing casts ever. Mario, Luigi, Pikachu, Donkey Kong, Link, nearly all of Nintendo's characters meet in this party game just for the sake of hitting each other. Now, this would seem to give the game an exceptional lifespan since there are so many characters and you need to spend several hours unlocking all the secret ones. And I will not even mention how certain people thought it would be funny to submit false codes to achieve these and others found it funnier to verify them when they didn't even work.
So, the game may have an incredible cast but the problem resides in the fact that most of them have the same moves and the same commands. This makes the 'wonderful' cast pointless as having several characters share the same moves takes away all the surprise and the excitement which I originally felt after unlocking the first secret character. However, as time passed and I tried each character that I successfully unlocked, I was more frustrated because one character would control just like the previous one and thus offer nothing new. As a matter of fact, I eventually considered the whole quest to unlock characters to be boring since I was not even being rewarded for all my efforts and the hours I spent playing the game.
Trophy collecting and other challenges are fun…the first time !
SSBM is packed with event challenges and the trophy collecting is without doubt the longest and the most addictive mini-game. These are well-done and will literally glue you to your TV for hours on end as your thirst for trophies is never satisfied. The problem here is that they are addictive only the first time. Complete everything once and what does that leave you ? Only a multi-player game. In short, don't rush through the challenges because otherwise, the game doesn't have a very long lifespan.
And even the multi-player mode suffers from serious flaws. Sure, bringing a bunch of friends along -usually 3- and being able to use items, power-ups, bombs and everything else is fun but it loses its charm after a while due to its repetitiveness. The controls let it down even more. Throwing a bomb leaves you open for anything and most of the items that let you attack an opponent have the same drawbacks. Thankfully, the relative easiness of the moves makes up for this but that's a no-no in my book !
SSBM has nothing to offer after one week!
I was particularly disappointed with the way the game loses all its charm after a short while. Heck, even the multi-player mode isn't even fun and becomes boring after barely 30 minutes. The game is way too easy with pathetic moves and ''combos'' that any scrub can pull. Moreover, the game features (dodge, shield,…) have been rushed and although there are quite a lot of features, they are all basically the same such that you'll have mastered everything within hours. Where is the variety ? The game lacks depth and barely manages to be interesting although it can still be fun at times. The CPU's low AI makes things even more pathetic. It doesn't really take long to figure out everything in the game and anybody will grasp every aspect in a short time.
Why have good graphics and an excellent soundtrack when the game is so shallow ?
The shallowness of the game is extremely surprising indeed considering how the visuals and the soundtrack of SSBM are excellent. All the characters look fabulous and are well-detailed. They still have that unique feeling they had back in their original game although everything is a bit too colorful. The backgrounds are very nice with amazing light effects. SSBM is really a masterpiece when it comes to the visuals. Well, coming from Nintendo, this isn't really a surprise.
The soundtrack consists essentially of the older themes which haunted our childhood days in games like Mario Bros, Zelda, Donkey Kong. They really give the game a nostalgic feeling and if you liked the original themes, you'll really enjoy the soundtrack of SSBM. This isn't necessarily good in some cases since some of the music wasn't meant for a beat-em-up but thankfully, the majority managed to blend in perfectly.
The controls don't fit in properly though. They don't respond well and do not suit each action that perfectly. There even seems to be some randomness thrown in which makes everything really frustrating. The lousy GC controller doesn't help things either but this problem doesn't show that much once you are accustomed to the game (which doesn't take long as I already said).
Overall, SSBM is a good title but it sadly lacks replay value. The fun-factor is tremendous the first time you play it but isn't worth playing a second time. Even the 4-player mode becomes boring and the controls will rapidly turn the fight into a real one -- watch out for black eyes ! The challenges lose all their interest on the second try such that you'll be left with a title that will only collect dust along with those obscure titles. Rent it first !
+ Great visuals and soundtracks
+ Events challenging the first time
- Lousy controls
- No replay value
- Absolutely no depth
- Characters too similar
~ Score: 4 ~
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 02/14/02, Updated 11/09/02
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