Super Smash Bros. Melee is a platforming tournament fighter for the GameCube and is the second game in the Super Smash Bros. series. As such, I’m assuming that you’ve either read my review of Super Smash Bros. or already have previous knowledge of such. Also keep in mind that I haven’t played the game in a few years now, but I did play quite a lot of it. So excuse me if I miss a few details here and there. So if you’re still with me then let’s get this party ball rollin’!
The basic gameplay of the game is similar to its predecessor. You perform moves to increase the damage percentage of your enemy to try and knock them off of the map. There are platforming elements, stage hazards, and items all based on Nintendo franchises. The combat has received some new tweaks. Now there are side specials that you can do by hitting B with left or right. You can charge you smash attacks by holding the button longer now. The longer you hold the button, the more damage you’ll do, but there’s a limit and at this point the attack will trigger regardless. There is also a dodging mechanic that you can do by shielding in the air or by hitting a direction at the same time as you shield. This allows you to evade damage for a short period and even keeps you free from being grabbed unlike the shield. The downside is that it will leave you vulnerable and unable to jump afterwards. In general, the combat is also much faster-paced. This time around there are also even more stages, more items, and more characters. On top of that, there are more modes as well.
There’s still the Classic Mode, where you fight through a series of opponents and fight an all-new final boss. And of course, there’s the standard multiplayer for humans and computers alike. Plus there are many more options for customizing your multiplayer battles including a Coin Mode which has you knocking money out of your opponents. The player with the most money at the end of the match wins. One of the new modes is All-Star Mode where you fight all of the characters in the game in a series of battles. Each battle tends to have multiple characters and between the fights you’ll be sent to a resting area where you can use a limited amount of healing items to recover from your damage in the fray. There’s also Adventure Mode, which will put you into scenarios fighting against minor enemies and characters from certain franchises within their appropriately themed universes until you reach the end. The Target Mode is back, but the Board the Platforms Mode is now absent. There’s a Home-Run Contest which has you picking your character, building up the damage percentage of a sandbag on top of a platform, and giving you a homerun bat to launch the bag before the time runs out. The goal is to see how far you can blast the bag. Event Matches make their debut here. An Event Match is a fight with specific characters, stages, and sometimes even custom rules that are made to challenge the player in creative ways. The one other mode is Multi-Man Melee. Here you can pick from a number of matches to face off against fighting wire-frame characters in matches based on their stock, difficulty, or an allotted time limit. So do your best to set those records.
If beating your best records isn’t enough to keep you playing, you can always try to collect the trophies that are hidden throughout the game. Playing and completing different modes will reward you with trophies that you can later examine. Each trophy represents something from a Nintendo game and comes with a small piece of information on it. This goes along with the increased roster of characters to introduce players to even more new games and franchises they didn’t know about before. More great advertising that’s combined with the collection element to keep players hooked. The faster, tweaked gameplay makes for intense fights that require constant attention. The new representations of characters and stages look wonderful even to this day. The music includes a lot of remixes of recognizable tunes. This game is loaded with details, fan service, and gameplay galore. It blows the original out of the water! But it isn’t without its flaws.
I’ll admit upfront that most of my complaints will probably just be my own. Just… do me a favor and hear me out. Now I understand the appeal to the quick nature of the gameplay, but I found it to be too fast for me to keep up and control the character at times. I also found that it feels less satisfying. Everything is fast, but it seems that most of your attacks carry little weight until a certain damage threshold, at which point characters seem to go flying without much of an in between. Also, every character seems to have at least one move that is faster and launches enemies more efficiently than smash attacks. All of this, coupled with the sounds and visual effects, leaves the combat feeling unsatisfying to me. I appreciate the range of modes available, but I’m not a big fan of hitting homeruns or breaking the targets. They still feel a little tacked-on. Also, the clone character situation arose here. Clone characters are generally characters that tend to have nearly identical sets of moves. Some examples are Fox and Falco, Mario and Dr. Mario, and even Captain Falcon and Ganondorf. While they may have different speeds and strengths, they share most of their moves, which makes them a rather lazy addition. At least Ganondorf is known to have magical powers, but he never is seen in the Zelda games doing magical punches or kicks. Plus, why would a racing bounty hunter and a an evil warlock from two diferent universes have the same set of fighting techniques? Perhaps it was done to show related roots in some, or maybe it was just to save some space or some time. Whatever the reason, it puts a bit of a blemish on this remarkable game.
All that being said, Super Smash Bros. Melee is still an incredible experience that’s even bigger, better, and more polished than its predecessor. It’s easily one of the best sequels ever made. If you like GameCube games, tournament fighters, and Nintendo characters then pick yourself up a copy of this game. I’d only recommend maybe thirty bucks or less for it, but I’m a bit harsh on it as it’s my least favorite of the series. That in no way means it’s a bad game, though. The series is great. So great, in fact, that I think we should continue talking about it with the next entry. Stay tuned for more. Same Smash time. Same Smash channel.