Developer(s) – HAL Laboratory
Publisher(s) – Nintendo
Director – Masahiro Sakurai
Producer(s) – Masayoshi Tanimura, Hiroaki Suga, Shigeru Miyamoto & Kenji Miki
Developed as a launch title for the Nintendo GameCube back in 2001, along with Luigi’s Mansion, Pikmin and Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, Super Smash Bros Melee made a multitude of significant improvements on the original game in every imaginable way, and it made for what was ultimately one of the greatest games on the system. Although the likes of Wind Waker and Metroid Prime were yet to have come along by that time, this game was more than just a suitable placeholder in anticipation of greater titles.
Graphics – 7.5/10
I don’t think that this game did as good a job showing off what the GameCube was capable of on a graphical as Luigi’s Mansion did with its very effective use of lighting and textural detail, Melee certainly makes up what would have potentially been lost points by including a level of variety in stage design comparable to any other great fighting game, featuring many different universes from Nintendo’s vast repertoire of game series’. In particular, they did a particularly decent job of presenting the Metroid universe, when by that time; they had considerably less source material go from than many other Nintendo franchises.
Gameplay – 8/10
The most significant improvements made in the original game were undoubtedly in the gameplay. There was increased variety, more unlockable characters, the advent of the unlockable trophies, and additional game modes on top of that. It can be argued that Nintendo had to introduce variety on this kind of scale to continue to perpetuate the series in the long term, but the variety introduced in Melee was unlike anything I’d ever seen in a fighting game prior and would have been a major factor in turning the series from a casual interest into a major system-seller for Nintendo.
Controls – 10/10
The control scheme employed in Melee was also a massive improvement on that of the original game, since more characters, in turn, meant more move sets for each of the characters, and therefore made for more to do on a smaller controller than the preceding system; the Nintendo 64. Aside from that, however, despite the lack of the immensely popular combo system synonymous with the fighting genre, I find there to be no issues with the control scheme.
Originality – 8/10
At the time, the Super Smash Bros formula was fairly new anyway, but with significant improvements made after the first installment, it felt like an entirely new game at this point, and in my opinion, surpasses the quality of many other great fighting games to have come before it as a result.
In summation, Super Smash Bros Melee is one of the best games of the sixth generation of gaming, and a must-have for anyone with either a GameCube or a Wii. The series may have gotten even better after this once Brawl came out, but for me, this was the installment that said to me that Masahiro Sakurai meant business with this series.