Super Smash Brothers Melee Review – Arise, Chosen One!

Boy did this birthday gift turn out to be worth it! A new black Nintendo Gamecube and a Super Smash Brothers Melee copy…even without a memory card, I was set. I made that b*tch work.

As far as games I’ve played the most in my life, this one is up there. My current memory card, which is my third card overall, reads at about 120 hours. So, blue sky guess, I’m very likely over 600 hours played of Super Smash Brothers Melee for my life so far. That’s a lot of smashing, amiright?

Seriously, there was a years-long period where this game was my domain. I would go on 100-live rampages against two computers and lose 4 lives or less. I’d take on anyone that thought they were good at Smash and show them a real benchmark. I’d take on two or three people at a time. During my heydey (and yes, I kept track) I had a versus record of over 1500 victories to 3 loses. Each of those loses was in a tournament with some amazing players. I breathed Super Smash Brothers Melee.

And what a resume booster that’s been….

Despite my candy ass now being easily defeated at a tournament (trust me, I checked), I still look upon this game as one of the best sequels of all time. There was more speed, more power, more targeted damage and tactics available, and a wider range of character moves to pull from. This was an obsession because that’s what it took for me to get gud. Unlike the original, which you could carve clear favorites from in a weekend, Super Smash Brothers Melee took time to master.

Super Smash Brothers Melee
I mean…what?

Look, to say that I love this game would seem belittling at this point, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see the faults. Standard you against the A.I. matches boiled down to memorization of moves, which is my specialty. There wasn’t yet adaptable A.I or even a worthy challenge after getting used to the speed of your character.

That was the key difference for me between the generations and entries: speed. Power didn’t really come into play until Brawl when the speedy characters were brought down to earth, so characters like Fox, Sheik, and a certain subset of Pichu/Pikachu users had a clear advantage. The tiers and tournament scene reflected that for years from the local levels on up. If you weren’t using one of those characters (or Marth I’ve seen thanks to his counter), you were seen as a secondary challenger.

Super Smash Brothers Melee
The virtually meaningless numbers return from the original.

No matter which of the Super Smash Brothers Melee characters you chose, the winner was always decided by who had the angles and could get to them the fastest. A character like Fox (who is still the best character) is fast with sharp kicks that can nail the back of a character’s head and send them flying at fairly low damage, or can use his reflector as a close-range bouncer at the same range of damage. It’s all about location, location, location, which is how he is seen as the best. If you can take out his vertical game, say with Ganondorf, Captain Falcon, or Ice Climbers, you limit his angles and basically clip his wings. Fox is less effective in a head-on brawl.

That’s the kind of shallow rabbit hole you can wet your beak on in digging into the metagame. If you want to dig into physics exploits the developers didn’t intend for, then you have a whole different layer of this deep cake. This is the only fighter I’ve ever seen to have such a following for so long, giving rise to so many priceless moments and new strategies that the code just keeps allowing to happen. This is a game built for distance and time sinks to truly, completely understand it if you ever can.

Super Smash Brothers Melee

As I said though, I fully appreciate how unbalanced everything is from the top down. On a casual level, hardly anyone would notice that Bowser and Kirby are considered low-tier so the fun is just there to be had. Thankfully, I still think this entry has the best single-player content out of any of the others. Trophy collecting is the common thread throughout that’s been expanded upon later, giving you a weird, truncated history lesson of Nintendo.

The two modes I really enjoy still in Super Smash Brothers Melee are All-Star and Adventure Mode. Adventure is SPace-Emissary but trying way less to be cohesive. You’re just rummaging around crafted sections of each fighter’s realms looking for objectives and collectibles. It’s a fun romp that can be challenging if you ask for it and a breezy side-quest if you don’t. All-Star is the same steadily-increasing difficulty of taking out every character on the roster with limited healing. It serves as a nice right of passage for yourself or friends, and gives you a final gauntlet to take every character through for trophies.

Over the years I’ve had this love in my heart for Super Smash Brothers Melee, I’ve always been fully aware that it’s been broken by gamers that have had more time with it than Nintendo ever dreamed. The code just can’t hold up, and even if it could, more balanced Smash entries ave come out since then, offering an inherently more balanced field for everyone. Buuuttt, I can’t help but love this aged piece of mangled mascots. For all the times we’ve had, and all the times future fighters have yet to discover.

Super Smash Brothers Melee Score:


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