Super Smash Bros. Melee Review

I remember the days way back when Nintendo wouldn’t even think about releasing a fighting game under the Nintendo label. Super Smash Brothers on the Nintendo 64 changed all that. Not only did Nintendo release a great fighter, they released a fighter where all the Nintendo mascots we know and love got together and beat each other silly.

Now with the Nintendo Gamecube, we finally get a great sequel to an already fantastic fighting game.

The graphics in SSB:M are basically very well done and show off the power of the Gamecube quite well. All the player models are very well designed, and basically have an amazing amount of life and detail to them. So detailed in fact, you can pause the game and zoom in onto the character and pick out individual teeth.

The animation of the characters is superb, with every character having their own kind of style behind them. Mario is the energetic person we all know and love from his many games, while Pikachu is quick and light on his (its?) feet. The animation even gets into small little things like watching Fox’s gun actually reload between each and every shot and watching Pikachu wince when his own lightning bolt blasts him.

The backgrounds unfortunately take a hit so the character graphics look great. While they don’t look bad, they are definitely not up to the same quality and detail that the characters have been given. Of course, most people aren’t going to take a close look at the backgrounds since they’ll be too busy fighting to do so.

SSB:M also fully supports Progressive Scan mode that is available on a High Definition TV and by owning the Composite Cables from Nintendo. It also looks a great deal better with it as well.

The first thing that you’ll notice (other than the amazing graphics) is the wonderful musical score that underlies the individual stages. Nintendo and Hal Labs has done a fantastic job taking the musical scores we know and love from games 10 years ago, and turning them into full fledged symphonic soundtracks. Even better is once you open enough hidden stages you get a sound test so you can listen to the music without the battle interfering with your musical enjoyment.

The audio in general is great as well, with each fighter having his or her own set of voices to pull from. Quite a few of the characters’ voices are pulled directly from the games where they are best known (Mario from Mario 64, Link from the N64 games, Pikachu from Pokemon Stadium, etc), and others were done for the sake of this game. The general sound effects like hits, smacks, explosions, and other things are clearly sampled and have sufficient bang in them so they fit perfectly into this game.

The controls are easy to learn as well. Every character has the same set of ground moves, the same air moves, and the same number of special moves. Once you’ve learned the basics of one character, you know the basics of all the characters. Fortunately each character is very different from each other, so it will take some skill to master them all.

Now this is where the game truly shines. SSB:M is a 4 player fighting game, and one of the few 4 player fighting games on the market. It is also a true party game with a Tournament mode that supports up to 64 players.

For those who don’t have 3 friends to play with, you can either fight against the computer, or play specially designed 1-player modes. You have a Regular Match mode, where it’s just you verses the computer in progressively harder stages, Adventure Mode, where you take on side scrolling platform levels of character’s stages, and fight mini battles in-between. You also get multiple training and gaming modes, from a mode called Break the Targets, where it’s just you and a specially designed stage where you have to break 10 targets as fast as possible, to Home Run Contest, where it’s you, a baseball bat, a bag, and 10 seconds to send that bag flying as far as you can. You also have Event Mode, where you have to take on preprogrammed events against the computer.

The single player modes will definitely keep you occupied if you don’t have many other friends. The best part is those single player modes are mainly there to unlock other characters and stages.

Also included in the game is a Gallery mode, where you earn trophies of characters, objects, and Pokemon from just about every Nintendo game ever released. You earn coins by playing the regular games, and use them to earn these trophies. It’s amazing to see the characters in the game close up and fully rotational, and it’s a blast to see gaming figures from way back when like the Ice Climbers, Pit from Kid Icarus, and even figures from games that never made it to American shores.

SSB:M is a fantastic fighting game for any console. But you’ll only see it on the Gamecube, so you’ll have to live with that. With 25 characters and 29 stages, and only half of that available at start, you have a fighting game you’ll be spending lots of time in. With almost 300 trophies available, you’ll be spending lots of time trying to gather all of them as well.

Ultimately, if you even remotely enjoy fighting games, you must get this game. If you enjoyed the original SSB, you must get this game. If you are looking for a fantastic party title, you must get this game. If that doesn’t sell it for you, keep in mind that this game is almost selling at a 1 to 1 ratio with Gamecubes sold in Japan.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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