One of the first Japanese videogames I ever imported was the original SUPER SMASH BROS. on the Nintendo 64. The game was a smashing success both here and in Japan and Nintendo quickly realized that a GameCube version of the four-man brawler would do just as well. SUPER SMASH BROS. MELEE was born, and it's a Nintendo fanboy's dream come true.
SMASH BROS. is the most fun you'll ever have playing a fighting game. You play as all-star characters from across the Nintendo franchises (such as Mario, Dr. Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Peach, Link, Zelda, Kirby, Pikachu and even more obscure characters like Ness and Roy). The gameplay is relatively simple: you try to knock each other off of the level with several differing moves. Each character handles differently with different jumping and special moves. The A button is the standard attack (varying in strength and speed for each character) while B unleashes specials. The R-button is your shield and is also a grab and throw move. The X and Y buttons serve as jumping moves (critical for getting back to the level).
At first glance, MELEE appears to be a mere upgrade of the original game. But each character has new moves, there are more levels, the graphics are updated, and most important are the new modes. First off if the Adventure one-player mode; this allows you to go through traditional side-scrolling levels on the way to boss fights. It makes the game a lot more interesting at times and is a fanboy's dreams (classic Zelda and Mario levels!). There are other great levels such as Home-Run Derby, endurance modes and, of course, all sorts of multiplayer modes.
The biggest addition though is the trophy system. Throughout the fights, trophies will occasionally appear and one mini-game prominently features trophies as its goal. You can also spend earned coins on trophies (using more coins in order to ensure that you get a new one) and completing different sections of the game with different characters also gets you more trophies. So what's so cool about them? They feature different characters, items, and levels from all the Nintendo games. There are nearly 300 of these items and the trophies range from games like old-school BALLOON FIGHTER to new GCN title PIKMIN. I have already gotten the Ducks from DUCK HUNT, and stuff from the cool Mario game WRECKING CREW. It's truly a Nintendo fan's wildest dream.
I guess it still boils down to the incredibly addictive multiplayer. SMASH BROS. MELEE continues to be one of the best party games out there and something that can be enjoyed for hours on end. Even if you're alone, the sheer amount of options, trophy collecting and hidden characters make this game worth playing again and again. It's easy to learn but incredibly challenging to master and collect all the trophies.
This is a simple 2D-fighter so it doesn't exactly push the graphics on the GameCube. But it delivers some high quality textures, animations and a very clean, colorful appearance that looks awesome on the GCN. Nothing here is going to blow your mind, but the graphics look very sharp and the game comes together quite nicely.
Somehow Nintendo dug up all the classic music from their games, updated them, and plugged them into the game. You'll hear the DK Rap, the classic Mario Bros. music, music from ZELDA II, and tons of others. Again, Nintendo fans will love it. The sound effects are all good and pulled from the last game.
SUPER SMASH BROS. MELEE will satisfy the demands of any Nintendo fan. For everyone else, it's an awesome party game that might lead you to go pick up some of the "classics" that you missed before.
ESBR Rating: Teen
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Fun Factor: A+
Reviewer's Wild Card: A+