Review by Light_Inside
A mutant turtle has me by the throat...!
Super Smash Brothers Melee for the Nintendo Gamecube was probably one of the most anticipated games by myself, so as soon as it hit the shelves I shot out and brought a copy, regardless of what any reviews may have said (which in actual fact are positive). This was due to the simple fact that I had played the original Super Smash Bros. game for the previous Nintendo console - The Nintendo 64, and I found the game very entertaining, both as a single player, but especially on a multiplayer level.
I won't drone on about the packaging of the game, but it arrives in a quality rectangular case with a very colourful front and back, which has various screen shots on the back from the game. I wasn't surprised to see the brilliantly rendered graphics on the screen shots, as I had spent hours online before the game's release drooling over screenshots of the game which I have located due to the fact I trawl no end of video game related websites. The manual inside the case is also of a very high standard, with all the characters moves and game options highlighted and explained, all of which I will explain in detail later on.
Once upon placing the disc in to the Gamecube you will be greeted with a graphically stunning opening sequence featuring a majority of the game's characters which is accompanied by excellent music and sounds which alter accordingly to fit the various scenes on the opening movie. After this ends, press "start" to find yourself at the main menu. If you have played the N64 version, this will not be alien to you, although there are a few various new features.
Perhaps before going through all the options, the main aim of the game should be stated, it is a fighting game, but unlike the majority in which you must reduce your enemies energy level to knock them out for the count. This game revolves around battling on various stages (a lot of them are floating in mid-air), and inducing damage to the enemies causing their percentage count to increase to dangerous levels, once it is high, a simple tap from you can send them rocketing off the stage in to oblivion. Nobody gets knocked out - but knocked off the face of the stage instead! Also, there are no rounds (unless a sudden death is reached, which is quite rare), you simply battle one round with each contender, until either of you lose all of your lives.
You now know the aim of the game, but who are the stars? Well, there are much more characters to chose from than the original, which is brilliant, not only does it allow more scope for interesting character battles, but it allows your interest in the game to expand too. There are in total 25 characters (of which 11 are hidden and need to be unlocked through various methods; finishing the game with a certain character on a certain difficulty setting, etc) and all of the faces, bar a couple will be very familiar to Nintendo fans. To name a few, selectable characters include Super Mario, Donkey Kong, Kirby, Link, Yoshi, Fox, Captain Falcon (from F-Zero), Pikachu and more. Newer additions include Princess Peach, Princess Zelda (who can morph in to her alter ego Sheik, doubling up as the 26th character), the gigantic flame breathing Bowser and the psychotic pokemon Mewtwo. On the whole, the character line up is very pleasing and you are bound to find one or two, possibly three firm favourites you wish to master using. It is also possible for multiple players to select the same character, and in such an event the chosen character will drastically change colour so you can differentiate between them.
The game does not fail to impress in terms of level selection either, you only battle on various stages to begin with (both when against the computer and multiplayer modes), however, as you unlock the stages through various methods (same idea as unlocking characters), then the new stage will make appearances in the actual one player battles against the computer, and can also be selected in the multiplayer options. If I recall correctly there are about 30 stages in which you can battle on, and all are based on various worlds of past Nintendo games For example you can battle atop Princess Peach's castle, on and around a log raft trapped at the top of a cascading waterfall in the jungle, in a Pokemon stadium, around Princess Zelda's castle. The stages are also much more interactive, for example: One is based around a busy F Zero track, and as a result, F zero cars will pose as a potential death threat. 'Binstar Depths' is Samus' (a selectable character also) and a lethal substances rises and falls over the stage, which results in a scuffle from the battlers to get and stop on the safe top platforms. A giant ice mountain sees a scaling upwards camera take charge and you must constantly jump up the platforms as well as battle to survive, many more levels like this exist in the game and all are rendered beautifully and contain many little surprises.
Controls wise, it is an easy game to master. Each character possesses four special moves that they can perform, and a host of other normal moves can also be used by every character in the game. Each character handles differently, but sometimes in the case of a clone the characters will handle very similarly. A clone is a character that has the same moves of another character, but may have different stats than that particular character. A prime example of a clone is the character Young Link, he uses virtually the same moves as normal Link, however he is faster and less powerful.
Examples of specialised moves include Link, whom can pull a bomb from under his clothes and throw it and even use a bow and arrow. Bowser can breathe fire where as Pikachu can conjure lighting bolts to strike the enemy. My favourite character to use, Yoshi can toss eggs in various directions which can provide very useful, especially if the enemy is already in mid air and almost off of the screen. One simple pop from an oncoming egg and the end is for them. Each character can also perform a jump, and then a mid air jump in an attempt to save them from plummeting to their doom. An introduction at the start of the game explains this in great detail and is accompanied by on screen visuals so this makes things even easier.
Pressing the Z button provides you with the ability to grab a character, then by pushing a direction on the analog stick you can throw the character (possibly to their doom!). Pressing the L and R button creates a temporary shield, but careful not to hold the shield on for too long, as it decreases and eventually shatters, which leaves you vulnerable.
There are a fair few and here they are:
Classic Mode: You battle the computer characters. Luckily the battles are in a random order and this stops repetition. You can chose the computer difficulty and how many lives you have. The chances are that if you complete the game on a harder setting with minimal lives, you will uncover rewards. Believe me, the very hard really is very hard. It is definitely advised you work your way through each difficulty.
Adventure Mode: Now this is a great idea. Again you select difficulty and the amount of lives you possess. On this mode, you go along a majority of worlds (from various games) in a side scrolling method, battling various characters and enemies (also from various games). Levels include an underground maze, based on the Zelda series; you battle Zelda themed monsters and need to find the triforce in order to pass on the next stage. It is very interesting and very playable and great how specialized characters and worlds have been implemented especially for this mode.
Event Match: This mode is excellent, you start at the first event match, and eventually work your way to the 50th. Each event is different and generally has twists to them. For example on some events you are forced to be a certain character, in some you can only harm enemies with certain weaponry and on others you must battle giant sized enemies and in some cases miniature ones. It is a lot more exciting than I can describe it here, but your efforts will be worth it as it results in various options and characters being unlocked.
This is the standard multiplayer mode, you choose your characters, choose opponents, choose options, and even select the stage. You can also select a difficulty level for computer players as well as team battles. For example, you can have 3 human players against 1 computer character, or visa versa. There are other small options that can be tweaked here also to add little twists to the battles, such as "coin mode", where you must battle and collect as many coins along the way. Regardless of deaths, the winner is the one with the most coins.
Tournament Melee takes place between 64 characters. It isn't a mode I have really bothered to play so can not comment on it too much. Battles are generally standard and no major benefit is gained from this mode. It's purely for fun. (I know this due to reading forums related to the game, so there isn't a contradiction there).
There are other modes too, but if I was to go in to them all and break them all down in to small sections like they are then you'd be reading a LONG review indeed. Suffice it to say they are interesting to try out and play occasionally, but nothing too special.
A nice addition to this game is the trophies shaped as characters/items/worlds from Nintendo's never ending catalogue of games which can be acquired throughout. Collection of them can be through adventure mode, bonus stages reached at various points of the game and through a slot machine on the main menu. Trophies range from common to very rare. They are once obtained added to a gallery, which you can browse and read information about them.
Graphically the game is stunning, and this is apparent from the lush and smooth introduction from the moment the game is switched on. To take a peek at the graphics during a battle, press pause to pause the game - you can control the camera angles and zoom in and out. The waterfalls look brilliant on the levels which house it, and I give great praise to the graphic artists that created the liquidized visual that is apparent once an item that induces invisibility is collected. When compared to the N64 version this game obviously wins hands down, due to being on a 128 bit console and not a 64 bit one. The characters do not look polygonal, and characters look round where they should! In a certain section of the game you fight against 5 enemies and there is no slow down at all.
Every character has their own animations; one of my favourites has to be when Princess Peach whacks an attacker with a frying pan. This mix of comical effects amongst the lush breath taking backdrops of the stages makes for this being a visual treat throughout. However, some backdrops on stages look very limited in detail, but this is done for nostalgia reasons, and not reflective of poor graphics. To argue my point of detail even more, check out Fox's fur, Mario's denim stitched dungarees and Samus's metallic armour. This game wields arguably some of the most detailed graphics on the Gamecube.
Where to begin? This game is jammed pack with relevant sound effects, and many of them mimic noises from their respective games. For example, Mario's trademark "boing", as he jumps, Princess Peach's somewhat "sugary" voice and Samus' electrical robotic whirs as she jumps and attacks. The noises are far from annoying also, and have been brought up a tone since the original - when you hit a character at full force you sure hear about it! There are plenty of obscured noises throughout, especially if you are using one of the many weapons that appear on the battlefield to attack. For example, pick up a giant hammer (originally from the original DK game, where Mario has to jump up platforms to reach the Princess) and listen to the vintage styled music as it bleeps away.
As for music, it is beyond fantastic. Remixes of originals from past Nintendo games appear here, from soft tranquil pieces from the Kirby series of games, to the electric guitar rock filled soundtrack of the Mute City level (based on the F Zero theme tune), which has to be my ultimate favourite. Other highlights music wise include the electronic computerized soundtrack of the more mysterious later levels.
Overall the game is exceptional, it is fast and furious, and especially more so with friends playing. Although there is enough to keep you occupied and allow you to hone your skills through different events an such, there is no doubt about it that battling with up to 3 other human friends that is the most exciting part. It is an ideal game for nights in with friends, and it is also great exercise - for your hands anyway! You will find yourself having to play through the one player modes in order to unlock all the characters and stages, but you will enjoy every minute of it. There is something about smashing your opponent flying off the screen and hearing them yell that is strangely rewarding. There is no question as to why this game has gone platinum. You don't need to be a fan of fighting games to enjoy this; I am not one especially, but due to the fact a lot of well known Nintendo faces appear here, it is interesting to play just to see how they cope in this game of battling.
The game will last forever, it is ongoing really, especially as there is no way you and your friends will ever get bored of fighting one another, and with 150 trophies to collect, I feel that you will be busy for a long time.
On its release it was around £30, however now platinum the price has dropped and can be purchased from anything from £10 - £20 in any game shop. Ebay often has a stream of copies of this game also.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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