Am I my brother’s smasher?
The din of the battle was thunderous. Screams of bloody murder arose from the
battlefield like smoke from a fire, yet my fallen comrades’ pleas for help fell
on deaf ears as I doggedly chopped a path through the enemy to reach my goal:
the evil Rat King. His death would end the war.
His minions had swarmed over my homeland in a matter of days, hypnotizing
the young with their bright
colors and exciting, foreign names. The invaders made slaves of the parents
as well, forcing them to forfeit their possessions in order to satisfy the needs
of their enslaved children. My country had once been proud and strong, but now
all bowed before the electrically charged might of the ferocious yet warm and
cuddly yellow rodent that stood before me.
backed away like a caged animal, pausing for one brief moment to examine his
new foe. The creature seemed unsure of what to make of my cherry red hat, my
tight suspenders, my bushy mustache and plumber’s boots. Was I another king?
Another ruler? Another god? The Rat King couldn’t seem to figure out why I had
survived his onslaught, and why the gleam in my eye was not fading into fear.
With a gleeful ‘Kiyai!’ and the swing of a bat, I sent the giant mouse back
to its maker. The war had ended. We had won…
…or so I thought, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted another warrior,
a pink, bulbous one, a warrior who for some strange reason looked a lot like
a big pink gumball…
Welcome to Super Smash Bros. Melee, the only game in the world that
lets you finally take out your aggression towards the sickeningly sweet mascots
that have terrorized gaming consoles since the dawn of the computer age. Finally,
a way to get back at Pikachu for ruining Burger King!
In truth, there’s more to enjoy about Super Smash Melee than just kicking
mascot butt. This is a well-designed and very smooth upgrade to its
N64 forebear. While it surely won’t appeal to the Tekken
heads, it’s a great fit for those who swear by Samus and die by Donkey Kong
The cast has expanded greatly since the first game. In addition to famous
stars like Mario, Link, DK, Pikachu, Peach and Starfox, you’ll also get old
school favorites like The Ice Climbers, Ness, and Captain Falcon. With a slew
of unlockable characters as well, there’s nice variety.
The basic gameplay is largely identical to the original. You pick a mascot
and begin whomping other mascots into the stratosphere using an assortment of
simple fighting moves and tons of power-up items. The Classic game mode is the
same as the old game, taking you through a series of battles culminating in
a boss battle against, once again, the dumb Giant Hand.
Super Smash Melee offers some new modes, however, that buff out the
single-player experience. The most notable is Adventure mode, which adds a few
little platform levels to the Classic mode. You’ll scroll left to right jumping
on some Goombas, fight an occasional battle, then run off to explore a small
underground maze, after which you’ll fight another battle, etc. Adventure mode
certainly has its moments – playing as Samus feels a little like old Metroid
games – but the adventure is the same regardless of the character you choose.
I wish they made this character-specific as it would have greatly extended the
life of the mode. Instead, it’s just a longer version of Classic mode.
There’s also a collection of single-player events like ‘Home Run Contest’
where you smack a sandbag as far as you can and ‘Target Test’, in which you
must smash 10 targets within a certain time. There’s also a collection of ‘Event’
matches that pit you in special situations, like beating a character within
10 seconds. The wealth of modes makes this a much more fulfilling game to play
core fighting is the same as before. Each character has the same attack buttons,
though the effects vary from fighter to fighter. This makes it easy to switch
characters, but it takes time to familiarize yourself with the more useful moves.
As you beat up other guys, their damage percentile increases. When it gets high
enough, you can wallop them off the level by smacking ’em with a strong attack.
Again, it’s pretty much a rehash of the original.
But not in terms of level design. Though the first game had intersting levels, the new game offers a wider variety. Some feature stunning background animations, while others are multi-tiered (the Zelda Castle level just rules). A few levels even move around and require you to stay on the screen, making you battle gravity as well as your opponent. These wind up being more irritating than fun, though.
Although it feels the same as its predecessor, Super Smash Bros. Melee
takes advantage of the Gamecube’s power with unbelievably smooth action. The
fighting takes place on 2-dimiensional levels with 3-dimensional characters.
In other words, the fighters look great but the combat is strictly 2D. The framerate
is rock solid, the colors are vibrant and fun, and the explosions and lighting
are nifty. The quality is palpable and classic Nintendo.
The game also sounds right, with the appropriate character specific growls
and dialogue. You’ll hear some familiar old themes along the way, like the Metroid
theme and, surprisingly, the theme from Legend of Zelda 2 on the NES.
Tack on enough multiplayer options to satisfy a gaggle of Yoshis and Super
Smash adds yet another feather to its hat. In addition to basic Vs. mode,
you can set up a 64 player Tournament or beat up buddies in the 10 Special Melee
matches, which include styles like ‘Giant Melee’ (giant-sized fighters) or the
entertaining ‘Slo-Mo Melee’, which lets you watch each move in its animated
But again, Tekken and Virtua
Fighter fanatics will find the combat system too shallow to be very fun.
I think that’s sort of unfair, as Super Smash plays more like a party
game than a traditional fighting game. It supports up to 4 at a time, and since
you’re all on the same screen there’s no problem with split-screen slowdown.
It can get a bit hectic, but it’s genuinely fun smacking each other about on
the smart levels.
Although the heart of the game has changed very little, Super Smash Bros.
Melee offers enough new modes and characters to be considered a worthy sequel.
Fans of the original simply must own it, and I’d recommend newbie Gamecube owners
to give it a shot. Even if you hate Pikachu with a passion, take solace in knowing
you get to kick his ass a little.