Review by Tenshi No Shi

"You'll have a smash playing this game with your friends!"

I assume I can forego the formalities here. We all know this was one of the most anticipated games for the GameCube and I don't need to relate to you how much I wanted this game or for what reasons I had to buy it. The simple fact is, most of you reading this already own the game and have your own stories to tell. So, for the few of you left out there who don't already own one of the best party games ever crafted, I will use the next seven paragraphs to convince you to buy it.

There is no given explanation for Nintendo's best (and in some cases obscure) mascots to be beating the stuffing out of each other, so I can't really offer more than speculation on the plot. If you were to go by the first game, you are actually taking part in a child's vivid imagination involving toys, based on Nintendo game characters, fighting in mock battles. The only hint to this found in the sequel is way the game shows the combatants transforming from and into trophies. The real question you have to ask yourself is 'who cares?'; when else are you going to get the chance to beat the crap out of Jigglypuff?

Graphically, Super Smash Bros.: Melee really shows that the GameCube has a lot of promise. You have up to four different, beautifully detailed characters with high polygon counts fighting for survival in equally detailed, interactive stages with nary a hint of slowdown or stutter. Special effects are abound- such as explosions, reflective surfaces and ethereal transparencies- giving the player almost too much of a distraction during the frantic-paced gameplay. It's amazing to see this level of detail and polish so early on in a system's life cycle- I can't even begin to fathom what GameCube games will look like in four years if this is the standard for a first-generation title.

Hearing updated remixes of familiar Nintendo tunes is worth the price of admission alone, especially when they sound this good. The audio effects are equally as impressive- each unique sound instantly recognizable with its associated action. It's the light-hearted, almost cartoonish, sounds that really make this game stand out as much more than a brawler. Hal really wanted players to have fun with the Super Smash Bros.: Melee and it shows when the game never takes itself too seriously. The only complaint I have is with some of the voice acting. Peppy and Slippy do not sound anything like the voices used in Star Fox 64. It might be nitpicking, but I am a huge fan of the Star Fox games and it really bothers me that they couldn't bother to get the sound a little more authentic.

If you're familiar with the Nintendo 64 version of Super Smash Bros., then you should be right at home with it's super-charged update. The controls are identical in nearly every respect, with a few tweaks here and there to improve gameplay. And thanks to the nearly perfect design of the GameCube controller, you won't have any problems coming to grips with the new layout of buttons. I still have reservations about the placement (and use) of the 'Z' button, but it's something I'll get used to over time.

What can I say about the design of this game that you can't already tell by just looking at it- Super Smash Bros.: Melee is, quite simply, one of the most polished games I have played in a long time. The menus are never tedious or confusing, nor are the amount of options you have at hand ever over-whelming. The variety of game modes, mini-games and bonuses all have a cohesive feel to them that makes nothing feel like it was thrown in at the last minute or it just doesn't quite belong. In fact, Hal has included extras that I would never have thought of, let alone included in a fighting game. This game represents everything a developer should strive for in a next generation title for any console.

There is an almost infinite (well, not quite) amount of things to unlock and discover in this game. Everything from hidden characters and stages, to new play modes and options are waiting for the die-hard player to discover. Oh, and there's also the small matter of nearly 300 trophies to collect as well, representing a large selection of nearly every Nintendo game ever released. This game was made for serious Nintendo fans and the sheer amount of bonuses shows it.

If you own a GameCube then you should own this game. It represents everything fun about Nintendo and stands out as an A-List title that should be in every gamer's library. Don't like the kiddy premise scare you away- this is for hardcore players.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/10/09

Game Release: Super Smash Bros. Melee (US, 12/03/01)

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