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Super Smash Bros. Melee
Super Smash Bros. Melee - North American Boxart
The North American boxart for Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Developer(s) HAL Laboratory
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Release date JP November 21, 2001
NA December 2, 2001
EU May 24, 2002
AU May 31, 2002

NA August 25, 2002 (Player's Choice)
EU April 4, 2003 (Player's Choice)
NA August 15, 2005 (GameCube Bundle)

Genre(s) Fighting
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer
Ratings ESRB: Teen
Platform(s) GameCube
Previous game Super Smash Bros.
Next game Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Super Smash Bros. Melee is a popular crossover fighting game released for the Nintendo GameCube shortly after its launch in 2001 (2002 in the PAL region). It is the sequel to the 1999 Nintendo 64 fighting game Super Smash Bros., and was followed by the 2008 Wii game Super Smash Bros. Brawl. It builds on the first game's broad appeal and improved multiplayer and single player modes, adding new features. Super Smash Bros. Melee is currently the best-selling game for both the Gamecube and the series. The game brings back the original 12 playable characters from the original Super Smash Bros. and introduces new playable characters to the series.

Gameplay

Like its predecessor, Super Smash Bros. Melee is different from most traditional fighting games in that simply inflicting damage does not always mean victory. In normal play, a player must force the opponent beyond the stage's boundaries, referred to as a "Knock-Off" and abbreviated in the game as a KO. Most attacks both inflict damage and can—if enough damage is dealt—knock back the enemy; inflicted damage increases that distance, so sufficient damage must be accumulated before attempting a "KO". Each character's health is measured by a percentage damage counter. The higher the percent value, the weaker the player is, and the easier they are to knock off the stage. However, he or she may be able to jump back to the stage (recover) using multiple "mid-air" jumps and special moves, and continue to fight. Unlike other games of the same genre, almost every single move in the game can be accessed via one-button presses and a joystick direction.

During battles, items related to Nintendo games or merchandise fall onto the game field (e.g., Super Mushrooms, Heart Containers, Poké Balls and Screw Attacks). These items have different purposes such as inflicting damage on the opponent and restoring health. As well as this, most stages have a theme relating to a Nintendo franchise or a specific Nintendo game and are interactive to the player. Although rendered in the third-dimension, players cannot move along the Z-axis in any of the stages. Some stages have to be obtained by the player by meeting particular requirements.

Single player

Single player mode provides the player with a variety of different fighting and side-scrolling challenges. The applicable modes range from Classic Mode, which involves the player battling against opponents in multiple stages until he or she reaches the boss character, to the Home Run Contest, which is a minigame involving the player trying to launch a sandbag as far as possible with a Home Run Bat. Some of these modes are personalized for the character, for example, the Target Test sets out a specialized area for a character in which they aim to destroy ten targets within the given time limit. These areas may include references to that particular character's past and legacy. Adventure mode takes the player to several predefined universes of characters in the Nintendo franchise. Like the battle stages in the game, they also make references to some conventions of particular series, for example, in a stage based on the Metroid series, the player has a time limit to evacuate a building—a recurring theme in the Metroid series.

Multiplayer

In the multiplayer mode, up to four characters of players or computer players may fight, either in a free-for-all or teams. All characters may be controlled either by humans or the computer. CPU characters' AI difficulty is ranked from one to nine in an ascending order of difficulty. There are five ways in which the victor can be determined, depending on the game type. The traditional mode is "Stock mode", which is a solo or team-based battle in which the last player to lose their lives wins, but this can be changed to less conventional modes like "Coin mode", which rewards the richest player as the victor; they must collect coins by hitting enemies and try not to lose them by falling off the stage. A number of other options are available, such as determining the number and type of items that appear during the battle. An example of a drastic change in the rules is "Special Melee", which applies special rules; "Giant Melee", for example makes all characters constantly large.

Playable characters

Super Smash Bros. Melee features twenty-six characters, of which fourteen are available initially. Every character featured in the game derives from a popular Nintendo franchise. All characters have a symbol that appears behind their damage percentage during a fight; this symbol represents what series they belong to, such as a Triforce symbol behind Link's damage percentage and a mushroom behind Mario's. Some characters represent popular franchises while others were less-known at the time of the release—Marth and Roy represent the Fire Emblem series, which never had a game released in the West at the time. This led to a rise in popularity and awareness of games and characters that were more obscure than such series as the Mario series. All of the characters—except Mr. Game and Watch—are characterized in three dimensions even though their game of origin may have been drastically different to the graphical style of Super Smash Bros Melee. The Ice Climbers, for example, had only appeared in basic two-dimensional form in games of the 1980s. References are made throughout the game to the relationship between characters of the same universe; in one of the events from "Event mode", Link and Zelda battle together to defeat Ganondorf, the main antagonist in The Legend of Zelda series. Furthermore, each character has recognizable moves from their original game, such as Samus's variety of firearms from the Metroid series and Link's arsenal of weapons.

Trophies

Trophies ("Figures" in the Japanese version) of various Nintendo characters and objects can be collected in the game. These trophies include statuettes of various playable characters, accessories, and items associated with them, as well as secondary characters not otherwise included in the game. The trophies range from the well-known to the obscure, and even characters or elements that are or were only released in Japan. Each of the trophies includes a description of the particular subject and details the year and the game in which the subject first appeared. Super Smash Bros. had a similar system of plush dolls (Biographies); however it only included the twelve playable characters.

There are three more trophies in the Japanese version of the game than in the NTSC and PAL versions. One of the extra trophies can be obtained by normal means in Japan, but the other two were rewards for a "Melee" tournament in Japan which was a promotional event. The two finalists had these trophies written into their memory cards.

Each of the playable characters is represented by three trophies: one showing their common appearances in the original series from which they came, and two showing how they look like in Super Smash Bros. Melee (both dubbed Smash), where one shows the character's default color scheme and the other presents an alternative one. Most single-player modes in the game allow the player to obtain multiple trophies as a reward.

Development and release

Super Smash Bros. Melee was developed by HAL Laboratories, with Masahiro Sakurai head of production. The game was one of the first games of the Nintendo GameCube, and demonstrated the advancement in graphics from the Nintendo 64. The developers wanted to pay homage to the debut of the GameCube by making an opening FMV sequence that would attract people's attention with the graphics. HAL Laboratories worked with three separate graphic houses in Tokyo to make the opening sequence. On their official website, the developers posted screenshots and information highlighting and explaining the attention to physics and detail in the game, with references to changes from it predecessor.

On the game's website, the developers explain reasons for making particular characters playable and explain why some characters weren't available as playable characters upon release. The main character of Mother 3 for the Game Boy Advance, Lucas, was supposed to replace Ness, but Ness was kept because the game was delayed. Video game developer Hideo Kojima originally wanted Solid Snake, the protagonist of the Metal Gear series, to be a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Melee, but the game was too far in development for him to be included. Lucas and Snake were instead placed into the game's sequel, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Roy and Marth were originally intended to be playable exclusively in the Japanese version of Super Smash Bros. Melee. However, they received favorable attention during the game's North American localization and were included in the Western version. For the Ice Climbers, Sakurai stated that there were four other games that were suggested to represent the Famicom or NES era until it was decided that the Ice Climbers would be in the game.

The game was first shown to the public officially in the E3 event of 2001, in which a playable demonstration of the game was available. The next major exposition of the game came in Spaceworld 2001 in August, in which a playable demo was featured that had updated upon the previous demo displayed in E3. Nintendo offered a playable tournament of the games for fans in which a GameCube and Super Smash Bros. Melee were prizes for the winner. Prior to the release of the game, the Japanese official website of the game included weekly updates on the game, including screenshots and character profiles. Nintendo followed this trend with Super Smash Bros Brawl, in which there are daily updates by the game's developer, Masahiro Sakurai. The popular Japanese magazine Famitsu reported that Nintendo advertised the game in between showings of the Pokemon movie across movie theaters in Japan. In January 2003, Super Smash Bros Melee became part of the Player's Choice, which was a category of the best-selling games on the GameCube that had been reduced in price. In August 2005, Nintendo bundled the game with the GameCube for $99.99.

Super Smash Bros Melee featured tracks from games in the series that were featured in the game. Nintendo released a special musical album in 2003 called Smashing...Live! which it gave away as a bonus for subscribing to Nintendo Power magazine in North America, and also as a free gift in an issue of the British Nintendo Official Magazine. It is not music taken directly from the game like most video game soundtracks but, rather, a live, orchestrated performance by the New Japan Philharmonic of many of the songs from the game. It was released for sale only in Japan.

Reception

Super Smash Bros. Melee received very positive reviews from most critics, including a 9.6/10 from IGN and a 9.5/10 from Electronic Gaming Monthly. It currently has an aggregate score of 93% at GameStats, and a 90% at Game Rankings.

Many reviewers felt that the game was vastly improved over its predecessor with more customization and characters as well as more polished graphics and improved gameplay. Fran Mirabella III of IGN in particular noted the additions of the Event and Adventure modes, which he said added hours and hours of single player gameplay.

Legacy

Super Smash Bros Melee has been the subject of several high-profile gaming tournaments. In March 2003, the IVGF NorthWest Regional Gaming Festival and Tournament was hosted, the first corporate sponsored tournament. It was held in Seattle, Washington. During this time IVGF gave out a record $US 12,500 for the top three finishers of Super Smash Bros. Melee, a record that would be held for almost three years. In 2004, Super Smash Bros. Melee was added to Major League Gaming's (MLG) tournament roster. In the summer of 2005, a crew in Mishawaka, Indiana hosted Melee-FC3, a tournament with nearly 200 participants from 30 states, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. In two separate issues, Nintendo Power covered the independent and corporate Smash scenes, including Smashboards, MLG, and FC3. Shortly thereafter, MTV ran a special titled True Life: I'm a Professional Gamer featuring MLG Pro Smasher KillaOR. Smash Brothers Melee also made it into the Evolution Tournament of Fighting in 2007, a fighting game tournament held in Las Vegas, considered to be one of the largest fighting game tournaments in the world.

Trivia

  • If one views the back of Princess Daisy's head on her trophy, one will notice a third eye.
  • Viewing the bottom of the Barrel Cannon trophy has the characters "2L84ME" (Too Late for Me). Possibly a reference to the barrel's high difficulty of escape.
  • The Menu music in this game sounds similar to Bowser's Road from Super Mario 64 at parts
  • This is the first Mario game to be rated T by the ESRB.
  • All of the other Nintendo characters with the exception of Mario, Luigi and Bowser make their first Gamecube appearance. All the other Nintendo characters make their first playable in a Gamecube game except for Luigi who was first playable in Luigi's Mansion before Melee's release.


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