Review by Archmonk Iga

Reviewed: 05/08/07

99% of my time playing the Gamecube was with this game.

We had a Gamecube. We went through many a game. We loved some, we hated others. But there was this one game... this one, little, special game, that will always hold that ever-growing place in my heart. Owning it since our Gamecube was purchased, it was the one game that was almost always in the system, outlasting even the tough-as-nails videogames that thought they could put it in its place... only to fail. This is a game that will never get old, that is always ready to be played, and that will almost never leave the Gamecube. This is a little story about a big game--Super Smash Brothers Melee.

My story begins with... ahh screw the story thing. I'm just going to review it. The presentation in this fighter is very unorthodox in comparison to pretty much all the other fighting games on the market. There is no story whatsoever—just, you know… go ahead and beat each other to a pulp Sometimes, it’s what you don’t do that makes the game better. So many fighting games have crappy stories that they should try and take a little piece of SSBM and get rid of any ideas for a plot whatsoever. That’s not to say the characters are shallow losers whom have no edge to them—they are mostly very familiar faces from many Nintendo games of yore. First and foremost, we see Mario, the first person you think of when you hear someone say “Nintendo.” Then we’ve got his damsel in distress-no-more, Peach, along with everyone’s favorite reptile, Bowser. But it’s not just Mario games—we’ve got the lovely Samus from Metroid, some Starfox action, and a few adorable Pokemon. Hey now, that’s not even the half of it. There are 26 Nintendo characters to choose from overall, most of whom are unlockable, and all of whom will appeal to different gamers.

Not quite as important, but still very noteworthy are the new levels. There are a couple returning favorites (Yoshi’s Story, etc.), but some of the latest stages blow the old ones out of the water. Rainbow Cruise is an intense stage where the characters not only have to watch each other, but also where the camera is moving. Hyrule is an enormous level that will cause your fights to last insanely long. Most of these levels offer crazy little quirks that mean you’ll have to always be wary of your surroundings, adding yet another level of entertainment.

The variety is simply impeccable. When it comes down to it, SSBM is a pure blast—no more, no less.

If SSBM sinks a wee bit low in any department, it’s in the visuals. Hey now, I’m not saying the graphics are bad at all—they’re actually very nice, even today. It’s just a little disappointing to see some bland backgrounds in the stages. Yes, there’s a lot going on behind the action, but the whole 2-D background thing is pretty much identical to what they did years ago on the Nintendo 64. Still, it is always a pretty sight. The characters look very nice and move quite fluidly, each of them having neat little animations. Some of their special moves are quite a sight to behold, too (PK Flash comes to mind). SSBM may not be the best-looking game on the ‘Cube, but it ain’t too shabby either.
GRAPHICS: 8.5/10

Hearing all your favorite Nintendo music in revamped form is quite a treat. For the most part, there is no original soundtrack, but when we’re playing a game starring classic Nintendo characters, we’re going to want to hear their respective classic music. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Cowering in comparison are the voices and sound effects. Voices all sound very impressive, though at times, certain characters will get on people’s nerves (Ice Climbers, anyone?). Actually, some sound effects were recycled from the characters’ original games—fireballs, hammers, etc. It may sound weird with all the high-tech noise going on, but it certainly adds more personality to the game, which is great.
SOUNDS: 9.5/10

Sit back, relax, and get ready to either kick someone’s derriere or have yours handed to you. The way to play is you choose one of the many characters, and basically go all out with whatever you have at hand. For the single player, we have the classic mode, adventure mode, and all-star. Classic has many new features that make it way more fun than the original. The first one had a set order of the opponents you must face, but this one has them randomly generated. No more exclusivity in the Yoshi team—it could be something as intense as a Peach team. Metal Mario isn’t the only sub-boss either, since we can have any other metal character just as easily. The bonus games are different too. “Break the Targets” returns, but “Board the Platforms” is no more. Instead, we have “Grab the Trophies” and the returning “Race to the Finish.” I liked BtP more than GtT, but oh well. Master Hand also makes a return, and, depending on how good you are, he might bring a friend along.

Adventure is very interesting in that you have your character progress along a side-scroller of sorts. In between each level (we have Mario World, an F-Zero raceway, etc.), you must face that area’s respective character. It is very fun, but after the tenth character it may get pretty old. All-Star is a cut-and-dry unlockable mode where you face off against every single character, one right after the other. Definitely the toughest of the three, but also probably the most fun.

Like the original, Melee gives you countless bonuses based on how you complete a battle. If you run a lot, you’re a Marathon Man, if you use a lot of air attacks, you’re a Bird of Prey, etc. You’d be surprised at how much you think about these bonuses as you’re fighting your opponents, since they can really affect your final score once you beat the game.

Another special single-player mode is the Events, which slowly get unlocked as you play more and more. These all involve a single level with certain guidelines. For example, you may have to use Kirby and defeat all your opponents in a certain amount of time. There are 51 of these events, and they are all increasingly difficult.

Some more single-player modes are less involving but still very fun. Home-Run Contest has you pick a character and hit a sandbag as far as you can with a homerun bat, and Multi-Man Melee has you fight as many virtual opponents as you want.

And that’s just the single-player, which will take up hundreds of hours of your time. Multiplayer will no doubt take up even more. Along with the time and stock battles, you can also play “Coin Melee,” in which the winner is determined based on how many coins he/she has at the end. Another mode is “Bonus Melee,” where characters win based on the amount of bonus points they receive (they use the same ones used in the single-player). It may seem like it was just thrown in there, and it may have been, but I’ve found myself enjoying this mode from time to time. There is also a tournament mode if you have a bunch of people coming over to play. Then there are the special modes—Fixed-Camera, Tiny Melee, HP Mode, and so many more. You’ll probably do the stock battles the most, but sometimes it’s fun to diverge a little bit into the wackier gameplay. Another plus is the fact that you are the one who sets the rules for the vs. modes. How long should the match last? What items should be available, if any? It’s nothing that spectacular, but it will add more fun based on people’s personal preferences.

So the new modes are all well and good, but what about the core gameplay? How is the control improved upon from its predecessor? Quite a bit, my friend. Quite a bit. Instead of three special “B” moves, everyone now has four. You can also do mid-air dodges, roll, and, most importantly, charge your smash attacks. All of this is done with controls that are infinitely tighter than on the 64. More strategy, more speed, and more action make SSBM one of the most fun fighters of the Gamecube generation.

And then we have all the bonuses that are provided. Trophies are anything but insignificant—there are around 300 of these, each acquired in a different way. They are of SSBM’s characters, other Nintendo games, and even some games that were never released in the US. And if you ever want to admire your lovely collection, you can do so in the several viewing options—look at single trophies with a movable camera to see all the details put into them, or look at your entire collection of trophies on a wooden table. Trust me, you will only forget about collecting trophies once you have all of them (which will take forever). But trophies aren’t the only unlockables—of course there are secret characters and levels that will have you constantly playing, not to mention how you’ll certainly want to unlock all of the single-player events.

Anything the original did, the Gamecube version does way better. It’s just the way it is, whether you like it or not. More characters, more levels, more modes of gameplay, and much better controls are what make SSBM one of the most popular games the Gamecube will ever see.

You don’t need to read this section, since it’s assumed my score will be a ten. Go on; skip to the “overall” section. Go ahead and do it. I won’t get mad.

This game lasted me longer than all my other Gamecube titles combined. Almost 30 characters, each of which would take years to master, along with almost 20 unique levels. Fellow Smash lovers will probably also vouch that you will love this game for all time. Really, there isn’t a whole lot more to say. Let the game speak for itself—you’ll see. Trust me.

One of my favorite games of all time for multiple reasons. The game looks amazing, sounds amazing, but most importantly plays amazing. You will never want to get rid of this game, and if you do, you’re probably an old geezer who doesn’t care anyway. Putting the original to shame, I honestly can’t see how a video game can get much better than this.
OVERALL: 9.9/10 (10/10 when rounded)

Thanks for reading =)

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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