Still great even after five years!
Review written by
When it first came out on the Nintendo 64, Super Smash Brothers soon became a hit... but it wasn't without its share of pitfalls. The game played slowly, what one-player content there was was very shallow, the C-buttons made air combat somewhat difficult, and many favorite Nintendo characters weren't included in the game.
Two years later, Nintendo comes out with what is quite possibly the best game they have ever made that isn't tailored on a specific franchise. Smash Bros. Melee soon became the Gamecube's game of choice, managing to outsell the likes of Mario, Zelda and Metroid alike, becoming not only the most popular but also the best selling Gamecube game there ever was.
While admittedly it seems odd to review a game five years after it came out, anticipation is high for the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and it might be a good idea to revisit just why it is that Smash Bros is so highly anticipated.
Part of why the original Smash Bros. was not as highly praised as its sequel was due to the fact that many wanted more characters than Nintendo gave. Well, Nintendo delivered in spades... for the most part.
The character count is now more than double it was in the original game, and this includes all of the original characters (Captain Falcon, Luigi, Ness, etc). Many Mario characters appear, including Peach and Bowser; a number of surprising additions also fill the ranks, including Ganondorf, Prince Marth (who had never appeared in America before Smash Bros.) and a real blast from the past in Mr. Game and Watch.
Some of these characters however, are somewhat disappointing. Quite a few of them are basically earlier characters just drawn differently. For example, Falco Lombardi is essentially Fox's double save that he's a little faster, Ganondorf is almost identical to Captain Falcon, Pichu to Pikachu and Mario has two clones in the forms of Dr. Mario and Luigi. Nintendo, please get rid of some of these characters when you make Brawl!
As for the gameplay, it's essentially the same as it was in the original game, but it feels a lot more... polished. Characters are faster and more responsive, there's almost NO slowdown, and there are quite a few new items in the arsenal. Overall, it may seem the same but after spending time with it, you'd probably say it's a better game.
While the original Super Smash Bros. may have somewhat answered the question over who would win in a fight between various Nintendo characters (or not), Melee feels like a Nintendo fan's dream come true. This is partly due to the wide variety of characters, some of which were never seen in America before, as well as the remixed music of classic tunes (but I still don't understand WHY they wanted to remix the horrid DK rap from DK64) and great gameplay (with thankfully much better graphics) but probably the biggest reason is due to the one-player content and the connected trophy mode.
Melee offers single players not one, not two, but THREE different modes of exclusive play. The first is Classic mode, essentially a remixed version of the original Smash Bros with giant enemies and of course, Master Hand. That's not the fun part though. Melee also offers an 'Adventure' mode in which the game really starts to shine. After choosing one's character, players go through a variety of stages very similar to old time Nintendo games, but include a lot of fights as well. The first stage is almost an exact replica of a 2-D Mario stage, another is taken straight out of Zelda 2, an escape from Planet Zebes and an almost exact recreation of the original Ice Climbers game.
When you've finished Adventure mode with every character, players are given a new 'All-star' mode which essentially boils down to a normal fighting game's survival mode. Players fight every character in the game, trying to make sure that they don't run out of time as well.
As if all that weren't enough, a special Scenario mode is also included. I was pleasantly surprised by this mode, as it is essentially a simplified version of the Scenario mode seen in Soul Calibur. Various scenarios are given to players to complete and let me tell you, a lot of them are harder than they sound. While most of the time you can finish these with any character, quite a few of the 51 scenarios can only be done with certain characters and may bring back memories of old games. These include such fights as Link Vs. Dark Link (from Zelda 2), Femme Fatales (player Vs. all female characters), Space Invaders (Ness Vs. every character in the game from space i.e. Fox, Samus, Falcon) and Bombs Away! (Player Vs. Samus, tons of bombs littering the field).
Finally, the Trophy mode is where long-time fans will truly become giddy. About 300 trophies are collected throughout the game, most of which obtained through the one-player modes (75 are obtained by just finishing the three one player modes with every character) and usually are about one of the player characters or something a bit more... fun. Many of the trophies are of characters never before seen in America, and it was very interesting to learn about the other games that Nintendo has come out with. It was also a bit frustrating, because they aren't releasing said games over here! Still, with the success of Roy and Marth prompting a release of Fire Elmblem and the popularity of the Advance Wars series, I imagine that we won't be getting held back too much longer.
Well that's that. SSBM is a great game, and if you haven't played it, WHAT IN THE HECK ARE YOU WAITING FOR! Let's hope that Brawl comes out sooner rather than later, because I am dying for some opponents!
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