Review by SuperSmashBro13
"This game is much better with friends, but should you be caught without them, the game's demons come to light."
I got Melee years ago. Years ago was also the same time I joined GameFAQs. As such, I was an inexperienced reviewer, and not only that, I didn't give enough time for playing the game to legitimately review it. About seven days in, there I was, a little thirteen-year-old boy tapping away on the keyboard, writing zealously for his favorite game ever. I didn't get bored or annoyed with it within the first week as some people will tell you, but at some point I realized that the game was heavily flawed. Not that it got boring or old, as, again, some people will tell you, but that it was seriously FLAWED in almost every aspect. The game's not so horrible that you wouldn't get an ounce of fun out of it, but it certainly doesn't make the category of "good" in my book.
GRAPHICS: 8/10. This was one of the GameCube's first games, so I can cut them some slack. Some nice detail has been added, such as Mario's denim overalls. There's nothing blocky, nothing choppy, and really nothing that could be considered "lacking." I should point out, however, that what they DID with the graphics is rather questionable. It looks like they tried to mash tough and macho with childish and lighthearted. The result is an awkward mess of babyish tough guys. Link is especially bad. Suffice it to say he looked more manly in the FIRST Super Smash Bros., where the graphics were significantly more primitive. That aside, the graphics certainly do their job, and the stages you play on look fantastic. Take a look at Rainbow Cruise, Fountain of Dreams, and Big Blue (once you unlock it). There's a bit of eye candy for you.
SOUND AND MUSIC: 8/10. Like the graphics, the music in this game is pretty good--not outstanding, but pretty good. Some stages have two possible songs, and you can listen to the alternative by holding some buttons. These various melodies are remixes of songs from games gone by, like the Super Mario 64 obstacle course theme or (I shudder to think of it) the DK Rap from Donkey Kong 64. The sound's reasonably good, too, like speeding F-Zero vehicles, explosions, and Banzai Bills boring their way into a castle. What really gets me is some of the voicing. Luigi still doesn't have his own voicing (it's still Mario's voice on helium), and Peach's high-pitched, girlish voice will have you tearing at your hair. Her "Peach Bomber" move is accompanied by a grating "Ha-CHAH!" yell which may have you scrambling for your TV's mute button if it gets on your nerves too much. And don't let Peach win. Please, don't. Her victory taunts ("Oh, did I win?" and "This is fun!") make you want to destroy her all the more. And we all know that, in Ocarina of Time, Link shrieked his little head off with everything he did, but now he sounds like he's on as much helium as Luigi. If we can ignore all of this, the game's audio is very nice.
GAMEPLAY: 5/10. As it's been more than ten years since the franchise started, you've no doubt heard about the gameplay already, but just in case you haven't, I'll give you a basic description. Loads of Nintendo's greatest characters come together to battle. Rather than hacking away at one another until your enemy's health reaches zero, you'll engage in a kind of king-of-the-hill type battle. The more you attack your enemy, the higher their Damage Meter will go up. The higher their percentage, the farther they'll fly when hit. If you hit them hard enough, they'll fly out of the stage's invisible boundaries (or fall to their deaths). There are four different modes you can play: Time, Stock, Coin, and Bonus (the last two of which are new to the series and the last one of which won't return in Brawl). In Time, you try to kill as many of your opponents and lose as few lives in order to get points within a time limit. In Stock, you set the number of lives each character has and try to be the last one standing. In Coin, you attack your enemy and try to pick up the coins they drop. Whoever has the most coins in the end wins. Finally, in Bonus, you get various point bonuses for things you do, such as being the first one to attack or posing when the match ends, and whoever has the most points wins.
Now then, let's get down to business. No doubt you've heard that nearly all of Melee's unlockable characters are "clones" of already-existing characters. They are. Seven out of the eleven locked characters are, in fact. What "clone" means is that they have the exact same moves, only those moves might have slight tweaks (like less damage but quicker execution). Thankfully, in Brawl, the clones are no more (with only a slight resemblance to their bases), but it's maddening in Melee. In the first Super Smash Bros., we had one clone: Luigi. For some reason, HAL went to town on that and made nearly every locked character a clone.
If you have Super Smash Bros. Brawl or have heard about it, you are likely aware that many people call it "slow" and that they prefer Melee because it is "fast." Let me clarify why it IS fast. It is fast because it is stupid. Characters sink through the air like a rock through water, which leads to more suicides and early deaths than I care to state. It is very easy to die from a weak attack at 30% damage. Pathetic. This doesn't seem like such a big thing, reading it in a review, but it's just one factor that helps ruin the game.
The next factor is the horrible, HORRIBLE AI. Not many people have pointed it out. I suspect this is because they always play with friends and not robots. I almost always play with the latter, so I have seen it all. A computer, in general, uses about three attacks consistently throughout the match; the simple A attack, throw, and maybe a Smash Attack here and there. This pattern gets old--REAL old--real quick. There is no strategy, no thought, no combos pulled. Just...A. A. A. A. Throw. A. A. A. A. Smash Attack. A. A. A...I think it's safe to say HAL slacked off in the AI department. But that's not the end of it. I only wish it was. Some computers, like Zelda or Bowser, will actually get Stale Moves penalties if you let them. A "Stale Moves" penalty means that they used the same attack about thirteen times in a row. You'd think computers would adhere to the rules, but apparently not. Zelda does her stupid lower leg kick, and Bowser breathes his fire more than he ought to. And speaking of which, characters like Zelda and Bowser (again) will use long-range moves even when there's no one in front of them. You could be on the opposite end of Hyrule Temple--the biggest stage in the game--and they'd use it anyway. It seems like HAL just gave them a few simple directions for combat and left it at that. I can imagine it now...Mario reading a book called "Super Smash Bros. For Dummies."
There's also the Adventure Mode, new to the series. Anyone who tells you that you can expect side-scrolling action in this mode is telling a great big fib. Out of the nineteen areas ("stages" isn't accurate as the stages are divided into smaller parts), only four were side-scrollers. They really, REALLY should have done more with this. The few side-scrollers they DID give us were so freakin' awesome that we'll want more. One stage is a maze with the exit randomly placed. Another takes place on an F-Zero racetrack, which naturally means you'll have to duck for cover before fifty vehicles come zooming into your backside. But that's all the innovation they have to give us. The rest are pretty straightforward battles with the other characters, sometimes with a minor twist, sometimes not.
The last thing I'll cover in the gameplay section (as it's pretty hefty at this point) is the Event Mode. I've long held that Brawl does almost everything better than Melee. This is one area where that doesn't apply. Brawl's events were terrible. Melee's events are so well-designed that I can spend loads of time redoing my favorites. (Some people claim to get bored of them very quickly. I'm not some people, apparently.) In one event, you race at insane speed through the same F-Zero racetrack in the Adventure Mode. In another, you're using Poke Balls with nothing but legendary Pokemon in an effort to win. In still another, you're squaring off against Master Hand and Crazy Hand at the same time. There are fifty-one of these events, and going through them all is fun and exciting.
REPLAY VALUE: 7/10. Let's take "Replay Value" to mean that you've unlocked all characters, stages, events, and options. The replay value remaining is actual a bit slim. You'll go mad with Trophy hunting, that's for sure. Trophies, also introduced in Melee, are little figurines of different characters, items, or something else from Nintendo's games. To get them, you can pick them up in the Adventure Mode, insert coins into a slot machine, or fulfill special requirements. You can also set new records in the Stadium (Target Test, Home Run Contest, and Multi-Man Melee). And...um...that's really about it. The game's combat is pretty bad, as is the Adventure Mode, plus the crappy All-Star Mode you can unlock (where you face multiple cheap, overpowered opponents in a hopeless effort to win). Seeing as those are pretty much the core fundamentals of Melee, that's pretty bad.
CONTROL EASE: 6/10. Whenever you attack, there is a slight pause time where your character recuperates. It doesn't take long before you realize that Mario isn't shooting fireballs when you ask him to, or that Roy isn't countering when you ask him to, or that any of your characters aren't quite responding the way they should. (Need I say that this is done away with in Brawl, as well as the clones, stupid AI, and useless All-Star Mode?) The quick falling really doesn't help, either. If you want to leap over a pit, hit your enemy who is trying to get back onto land, and midair-jump back, think again. You will sink to your doom before you can even respond.
TOTAL SCORE: 34/50. If not for the pretty good graphics and music, this game would have a much, much lower score.
CONCLUSION: Is Melee not worth your time? I can't say. After all, it appears that only too many people enjoy it. Look at all the 10s this game has gotten. I'm in the minority, it seems. I would not call this the single reason to get a GameCube, or the best game of the year, or even a good game in general. It is not terrible. It is just extremely flawed. You can squeeze some enjoyment out of it. If this review has you a bit confused, perhaps you should rent the game first and try it out. Just don't go into it expecting everything to be perfect as so many reviewers would have you believe.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 12/06/07, Updated 07/25/11
Game Release: Super Smash Bros. Melee (US, 12/03/01)
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