Review by Unleashed Vortex

Reviewed: 01/21/05

Finally, I get to beat up Pikachu.

Nintendo decided to take a trip down memory lane again. After the success of Super Smash bros on the N64, they probably thought it would be a good idea to revamp that popular game on the big N’s new (at the time) creation. After gathering the key stars and grouping them together for the first encounter, Nintendo decided to go even further into their library of forgotten and not so forgotten classics. The N64 version provided the player with a substandard cast of fighters, focusing on the true gems that Nintendo has harvested over the years. The sequel went even further back into time and dug up some characters that most people had forgotten about.

Super Smash bros was a fighting game, a basic and varied game which differed from the fighting game norm. It removed the traditional health bars and replaced them with percentages, it also removed the aspect of defeating your opponent by knockout, instead you had to defeat your opponent by booting them off the side of the screen or kick them vertically into heaven. All players started of with zero percent and when they got battered the percentage rose. When you are getting the fudge kicked out of you you’ll notice that as your percentage increase your ability to control yourself when you are hit decreases. For example, if your percentage is at zero then a basic punch will barely doing anything, while if your percentage is three hundred or above that punch could be the key to your downfall.

The controls are quite simple to grasp. A allows you to execute a basic attack, like that punch I was talking about earlier and B allows you to pull off a special move, such as Bowser’s ability to breath fire and Ganondorf’s slow yet devastating warlock punch. The shoulder buttons act as your means of defence as they allow you to shield yourself form attacks from foes. If you are a stinky cheater who likes to block all of the time then leaving your finger on the button may give your character a shocking experience, leaving your character dizzy for a while and wide open to an attack.These controls are easy to grasp and master but unfortunately there are two parts of the controls that are a little cranky.

First of all is the jumping mechanism which is a bit disorganised to say the least. Both of the X and the Y buttons are used for the jump, which seems a little wasteful. I’d rather be able to pull off another move instead of having the pain of jumping again. The way the characters jump simple enough, and if cannot get high enough you can press jump again straight after to perform a double jump and even follow that up with a triple jump.The only problem is that the majority of the time you’ll end up jumping way too far and miss your selected target, quite possibly falling off the edge of the level and into the pit of oblivion. Oddly, this applies to only certain characters and a minority of the fighters will have a good set of jumps like Pikachu while others can only pull off a jump twice.

The throw ability was something which seemed useful but turned out to be a pain and a half. The Z button is an awkward button to get due to the poor design of the Gamecube controller. This makes throwing opponents a nightmare to do, you have to be up close to the foe and then you have to press Z quickly.It’s a stupid button to reach and in a hurry the chances are that you’ll hit the block button and end up screwing up your plan of attack.

Super Smash bros features an all-star cast from all of Nintendo’s finest achievements. It holds a great blend of legendary characters like the Mario bros, Link and Donkey Kong. It also holds a few obscure creations like the Ice climbers, Ness and Mr. Game and watch. The roster is somewhat improved from the original and holds 25 combatants. It sounds impressive but unfortunately you’ll find that a few characters are simply tweaks of other fighters. Dr. Mario is pretty much the same as Mario except that he throws pills instead of fireballs, young Link is an agile version of Link, who uses fire arrows and instead of normal arrows and Pichu is simply a suicidal version of Pikachu. He’s so hardcore that he hurts himself as well as his opponents. Those three characters were a waste of space and better Nintendo characters who were left out could have been added, like Wario or King Dedede. It’s those flaws that spoil the roster of fighters, apart from that the rest is gold.

There are three main one player modes of the game, two are already waiting for you to play them and the third one remains locked. In order to open the secret All-Star mode you’ll have ride through Adventure and Classic with every single character. Classic mode is just like the mode on the original, you choose your fighter and go through a series of fights. Some of the fights are regular one vs. one matches while others may be a team fight or three fighters against a gargantuan version of another. After battling through this variety of battles you’ll face an onslaught of the same character over and over, luckily they are really easy to eliminate. This is followed by a trickier battle with a metallic version of a fighter and the final fight locks you against the Master Hand, a giant hand who’s ready to slap you senseless.

Adventure mode is a little more complicated and offers a game which mixes the concepts of a plat former and the smash style of fighting. In this mode, you will have to travel through various stages which are derived from the various games that SSBM plucks its characters from. With your chosen fighter, you will have to walk through various levels and fight the boss of the level. For example, you walk through the mushroom kingdom, kicking koopa troopas and jumping on Goombas and when you get the castle at the end, you have to brawl it out with Mario and Peach. Other levels simply but you in the multiple character fight, like the Pokemon stadium which barrages you with Pikachu’s. After conquering levels which are spin-offs from Zelda, Metroid and F-Zero you’ll go head to head against Bowser for the character trophy. It’s fun and original but it does get very strenuous when you have to complete it with everyone.

If you brave both of these modes with all of the characters you’ll be given the All-Star mode. This makes you fight every single character in the game in one on one, two or three match ups. All of the characters, including your selected player will feature here. If you manage to conquer the characters you’ll be thrown into a contest with a huge amount of Mr. Game and watches. Once again, you have to clear this with all of the characters to collect all of their trophies, an optional task if you want to finish the game 100%.

When you get sick of playing alone then you can switch to vs. mode which allows you to play various types of melees for fun, alone or with a friend. There are three basic modes of play, time match, in order to win you have to get the most K.O’S on the opponents in your selected time slot. Stock matches plays like a classic mode match where you have to kill your opponent by knocking him out the fighting arena, you can alter your or your opponents stock in the options and give him a few extra lives to boost the challenge. Or you can drop all of the stock on you instead, giving you the immediate advantage. The final style of play is coin match, every time you hit an opponent you get a handful of coins, gold coins are worth ten, silver coins are worth five and bronze coins give you one. If you eliminate a person then they will lose half of their coins. Basically, the person at the end of your selected time limit wins the contest.

Smash bros also has various types of special melee which include a ton of special match types; some are great, others are annoying, some are just plain crap. The best is stamina mode which puts up to four fighters in a melee, however in order to win all you have to do is to get the percentage of a character from 300% down to 0%. You don’t have to worry about kicking them of the screen, you can simply concentrate and kicking the living daylights out of them. Camera mode is by far the worst, not only does it limit the game to three players but it takes up valuable space on your memory card, GC memory cards really suck so you really need to keep as many blocks free for other games. It takes up space for pointless snapshots, although monitoring the camera can be fun ,I’d rather have a better game saved instead.

Event matches are important for unlocking characters, backgrounds and trophies. There are 51 event matches for you to complete and they all have to be done in a certain order. For example, in order to unlock event match 11 you have to finish the first ten event matches. Basically, event matches are small missions which you have to complete. You may have to face an onslaught of Mr. Game and Watches or fight an oversized Bowser with Luigi. Some of the matches are very specific, for example in a three man melee you have to K.O characters in a certain order to win, others are called “All Star matches”, here you’ll have to fight a list of characters one after another. Completing the event matches will give you access to new trophies, new characters and new backgrounds which you can unlock. Sometimes you have to unlock certain characters to progress in these matches but that’s not often. After finishing all fifty matches, you’ll be thrown into battle with a Smash brothers regular, in a way you’ve never seen him before.

There are various items you can collect during combat which can aid or hinder your victory. You’ll find most of the items are either from the previous game or from the various series that SSBM covers. You get mushrooms which increase or decrease your size making you harder/easier to be knocked out. Baseball bats, light sabres and laser guns usually lie around the battlefield and you can use these to pummel your foes mercilessly. There are many others but the ones that stick out the most are bomb-ombs which are the walking bombs from the Super Mario brothers’ series, these do a lot of damage and they can also completely throw the foe off the screen into oblivion. These can be a pest if they get you instead of the opponent as they can eliminate you in seconds. The greatest item of the lot is the poke ball, throwing this will release a random pokemon which can cause mass destruction or do nothing at all. You can release Entei, a legendary dog which will throw fire everywhere, spewing out damage. Don’t rely on these all of the time because you end up getting a Goldeen, who splash around the scene doing nothing.

Trophies are models of various Nintendo characters and paraphernalia, such as special items from various Nintendo hits like the Ocarina of Time. Each playable character has three trophies which you can collect by completing the first three one player modes of play. Others can be collected by doing specific tasks like playing one thousand versus matches or completing the 100-man melee. Collecting trophies are for people who like to finish things off one hundred percent and when you finish you collection you don’t get any new features, just well deserved bragging rights. You’ll find that majority of trophies are random and can be picked up on all three 1P modes. If you collect coins, from winning matches and so on, then you can go to the lottery and win trophies there. The more coins placed into the machine in one sitting will give you a greater chance of winning a new trophy but it runs out after you’ve got them all, so don’t even bother trying to get the challenging trophies via lottery. Certain trophies can only be gained by doing certain tasks, like completing the game in hard mode and you cannot win them in the lottery. It’s a long and winding road to walk down but when you’re friends come over to play, you’ll be the talk of the town.

If you get sick of playing the main game or duking it out with friend then you can access the stadium. This mode offers a variety of gameplay styles which you can use to gain new trophies or just to beat your personal best score. You can play multi man melee which unleashes a continuous assault of wire frame guys. You can have a ten man, a one hundred man one, an endless one and a cruel melee. Cruel melee unleashes a handful of psyched up frames who appear and kill you in a second. You better be fast and furious here otherwise you won’t have time to blink.Other stadium games include trying to hit a sand bag really far and destroying targets in a time limit. These modes are fun for a little while but are no way near as enjoyable as the other modes mentioned. The only reason to play them is to finish your collection of trophies, if you’re not interested in finishing the game completely then it’s not worth the bother.

The game offers a slick range of visuals, which make the original look very rusty and (at the time) showed off the power of Nintendo’s new creation. Every frame of animation for each character is superb and captures each one’s personality vigorously. The movement is astounding and incredibly smooth, the blocky residue of the previous N64 game has been perfectly polished to create smooth and pristine reincarnations of the characters. The animation on the characters captures the character’s personality brilliantly. Bowser’s rampaging stomp, Link, with his shield and sword out and Kirby squatting around comically all picture the characteristics of that respective fighter. The backgrounds are something that are genius, the F-Zero track has a ton of racers shooting past it and the animation on the waterfall on DK jungle is almost mesmerising. A rich gallery of smooth animation, perfect detail and a gigantic variability make SSBM a graphical feast.

Nintendo used a mix of new music plus remixed versions of classic theme songs to create a solid soundtrack. Classic tunes from Super Mario bros, Metroid and Zelda are back in a modern remixed form. They sound just as classic as before and with the tweaking they sound even better. Some oldies like Ness from Earthbound and the Ice Climbers have tunes dragged up from, their NES days and brought to life on the Gamecube. Every character has about two tunes from their own series so you’ll find the soundtrack of Super Smash Bros. a perfect balance of classic nostalgia completely modernised.

The sound effects are impressive but they can get quite annoying after you play the game for a while. Mario’s voice is back as it was before but it is so annoying to listen to when you’ve played the game for a while. Each character has his own scream or cry when he dies or pulls off a move. Most of them, like Pikachu’s “pika” and Link, who has the same cry form the “Ocarina of Time” sound very authentic. It just gets annoying to hear these cries over and over again with a mesh of battle noises and items being thrown around, if a poke ball is opened then the pokemon will come out screaming. It can give you a headache but apart from that the sound effects do follow the voice patterns of each character and have realistic battle noises, just don’t have your TV on too loud.

Super Smash Brothers Melee is a great addition to the Gamecube library and has a huge mass of replay value. Finishing event matches, collecting trophies, unlocking backgrounds take a long time to do. It’s great if you have a lot of friends to play with as well, not only is it fun to kick the crap out of your friends it can help you get certain trophies as well. The controls could do with a change as they are a bit awkward on occasion and are poorly laid out and the cast of characters could do with shuffle, Wario would be a great inclusion if a sequel is produced. Super Smash Bros. Melee isn’t the perfect fighting game but it’s worth picking up. It’s not worth buying a cube for but it’s something that most gamers will find reasonably fun.


Rating:   4.0 - Great

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