(Nintendo/Hal, December 2001)

This is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Nintendo 64 action fighter Super Smash Brothers, and it's still the fun and crazy fighter that most of us all know and love, but now the Game Cube game version is packed with even more stuff. There are new fighters, more one player exclusive games, more multi-player options, and tons of cool bonus stuff too. Don't forgot the graphical and sound improvement thanks to the power of the Nintendo Game Cube as well here. If you liked the first Smash Bros. then you're going to love this special GC version.

The main objective in Super Smash Bros. Melee is to beat up your favorite Nintendo characters so bad that you can hit the characters and try to knock them out of the arena or screen. The more damage a fighter takes than the easier it will be to send them flying after a good hit. Each fighter (well, some fighters anyway) has their own set of unique standard and special moves plus there are various throws and blocks to master including a new air and side block made exclusively for the sequel. Don't be afraid to pick up some of nasty weapons and items to help gain a edge but watch out for those nasty walking bombs.

All the original Nintendo characters return from the first game to be part of the starting line up of 14 fighters including good ol' Super Mario, Link, Ness (from EarthBound), Captain Falcon (F Zero), Donkey Kong, Fox McCloud, Pikachu, Samus (the chick from Metroid), Kirby, and that douchebag Yoshi, but now there are new faces like Princess Peach, King Bowser, the Ice Climbers, and Lady Zelda joining the rest of default characters. I love most (but not all) of the new guys because they add something new for the veteran Smash Brothers player.

Princess Peach is a little on the weak and slow side like you would imagine but she has some great defensive techniques to outwit her opponents like her ability to float in the air for about 5 seconds just like in Super Mario Bros. 2 for the NES. Her umbrella air strike will give her a safer landing as well making the Princess tough to knock out. Peach also has some sneaky power moves like her butt bomb attack so if you give her a chance she can put up a good fight.

King Bowser also makes the jump to the Smash Bros. series too and he's easily one of the most powerful characters in the game. Bowser's super slow and is a rather large target but he can sure dish out a lot of power in his throws and claw strikes. Bowser also likes to squash his opponents.

The Ice Climbers are from a crappy old NES game released in 1985 that I still have around the house. Trust me, the game wasn't all that good but here they are in this game anyway. These little guys act as one character but they still have tag team-like moves to really confuse their enemies. They can even be separated in combat and fight alone like if the female character is eliminated than the male guy can still fight, but if the male Ice Climber is killed then the female Ice Climber just disappears. Kind of sexist I know, but hey, I didn't make the game!

Zelda is not only one character but she can also morph into Shiek from the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time too so you're actually getting two different fighters here. Zelda acts like Princess Peach in her normal form because she has a lot defensive attacks but has slow speed. You can easily switch into Shiek by pressing down and B to change into Zelda's alter ego. Shiek is a quick and powerful ninja-like warrior that's almost the polar opposite to Zelda..... even though they are technically the same person. Zelda and Shiek are sure hard to prepare for.

The new guys and girls are great but Nintendo has even more characters here too find. the others because all of the old characters have new moves to try out like new Samus's Missile shot and Mario's Super cape. Don't forget about all the secret characters including Luigi (actually fun to play and different than Mario), JugglyPuff (the weak but misunderstood Pokemon), Falco (a quicker version of Fox), Dr. Mario (super lame Mario clone), GanonDorf (a Captain Falcon clone), Young Link (Link, but younger), Pichu (WHAT THE HECK! ANOTHER CLONE WITH THE SAME MOVES?!), Marth (a swordsman from a unreleased Japanese RPG), Roy (like Marth he has the same sword moves but he uses some fire strikes), Mewtwo (Finally, a kickbutt boss character that doesn't copy another), and lastly there is Mr. Game and Watch (one of the coolest fighter's I ever unlocked in any game).

The single player modes are now way more deserve which was a fairly big complaint about the first game. You now have the option to play either Classic, Adventure, Training, Event modes, and more if you're all by yourself. The new Adventure mode is one of the best new features in SSBM because it kind of plays like the Classic one player but now you can play some very cool side quests like the Mushroom Kingdom world filled with rotten Goombas and Koopa Turtles, and the Zelda Maze quest for the randomly placed Tri Force for more platform-like action. I love the Adventure mode because it reminds me of so many of Nintendo's classic games I played as a kid.

If you got friends over then SSBM is full of cool options for the multi-player battles. Sick of the shifting camera? Why not work on the fixed zoomed out angle? Hate long fights? Edit the amount of time per bouts? Fight as big fighters, fight as small fighters, fight in slow motion, fight under sudden death rules, fight in a tournament, fight while invisible........ I could go on here. The rules are always changeable so the fights never get boring.

The all new Event mini games were also a great addition thanks to the challenge of the set objectives like fighting 128 tiny Super Mario's, battling 3 metal Samus's, and other tough survival games. You need to complete certain tasks before you can advance to some of the later stages too especially the final 11 stsages: Events 40-51. No button mashing here, you got to out smart your opponents to win and you can even find the secret character Ganondorf and some trophies as well!

Let's talk about these new Trophies in SSBM. OK, maybe the little statues are somewhat pointless, but each time you find a trophy it has a brief history behind it and you might even learn something new about Nintendo games? If anybody really knows the StarSoldier than you also know that I love gaming trivia! I got a kick out of seeing the forgotten Stanley the Bugman from Donkey Kong 3, the Professor from Gyromite, and the Japanese only characters as well like the mechs from a game called Custom Robo. Trophies are mostly easy to get but some require to be unlocked by completing certain objectives. There are 290 Trophies altogether to find and collect for curious players.

I love the improved graphics especially when compared to the old N64 game. You'll see some nice added touches like seeing the actually stitches in Mario's jeans and Princess Peach looks kinda hot in her tight pink dress...... well, in my opinion anyway. Despite the sharper and cleaner looks, the game is still as fast as ever, even with 6 characters on a battlefield at once. My jaw nearly dropped when I first saw the secret Metroid stage where the giant Kraig attacks from the background and shifts the broken landscapes in the process. This game was a great showpiece of the Game Cube's power.

The sound in SSBM is mostly recycled stuff from pass Nintendo games but thanks to the expanded space of the GC disc, there is a lot more of it and they also sound a lot better too. For example; in the Donkey Kong's levels you'll hear the complete remixed version of the opening rap from Donkey Kong 64 or the first level jungle theme from Donkey Kong Country. The fighters also have their own unique voices and sound effects too and I love the real retro beeps and buzzers created by Mr. Game and Watch moves.

The controls were easy enough to manage but they are far from perfect. The Smash strike can be a funny thing, it's way too easy to do the wrong move when trying the Smash attack and when seconds count it could mean life or death for players. I miss the Street Fighter II 6 button controls in fighting games and SSBM feels like a step backwards but I guess that's debatable, eh? The cross pad is only used for taunting opponents and that's just a waste in my opinion.

Maybe you're a Sony or Sega fan and you just want to beat up a evil Nintendo character or maybe you just really liked the first Super Smash Bros., either way you're gonna love Super Smash Bros. Melee. SSBM has a lot going for it like 25 playable characters, tons of modes, and lots more. Not everything is great in the disc though and there are some minor flaws here like a lack of endings (the whole shoot the credits gets dull after awhile), some super boring secret characters (Pichu, Young Link, and Dr. Mario), any kind story (why are they here again?), or the overall screen confusion at times. Plus I absolutely hate the final stages of the Event mode, because fighting two hands with just life is just way too hard! Still if you want a awesome single or multi player game? You got it all right here. SSBM has almost unlimited replay value thanks to the loads of secrets like those 290 tropies, hidden battle stages, and more. Super Smash Bros. Melee is a must for any one with a GC and especially anybody who's a die hard Nintendo fan.



overall rating: 95/100

For 1 to 4 players
Rated (E) for Everyone
graphics: 9/10
sound: 9/10
gameplay: 9/10
replay: 10/10

(Ryan Genno) 2003

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