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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

HAL Laboratories

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

February 2002

 

 

- Huge nostalgia factor

- Looks, sounds, and moves great

- Deceptively simple

- Lots of challenges to fight through

- Characters to unlock

 

 

- Variety of arenas isn’t very good

- Sometimes the panned out camera turns your character into an ant

 

 

Review: Starfox Adventures (Gamecube)

Review: Luigi's Mansion (Gamecube)

Review: Super Mario Sunshine (Gamecube)

 

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Super Smash Brothers Melee

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

Normally any game that lets me beat up Pikachu would get a perfect score.  Pokemon, as a franchise, grates on my nerves; so being able to smack Pikachu back to where ever he came from is good for my psychological well being.  The only reason Super Smash Brothers Melee doesn’t achieve gaming nirvana is for two reasons: the variety of arenas isn’t extensive and sometimes the camera pans so far out it reduces your character to the size of an ant.  Otherwise, you’re looking at great game – go out and buy it, now.

 

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For the most part, Melee can be summarized as: A fighting game starring cute, cuddly Nintendo characters beating the holy-hell out of each other – even ganging up on each other.  The roster of available fighters is good, each with their own familiar attributes: Mario is well rounded and can shoot bouncing fireballs; Bowser’s a hulking mass of spikes and moves slowly; Link can make chopped liver of just about anything; and Donkey Kong resembles a simian wrestler with a wicked windmill punch.  The initial roster of characters is good and there unlockable characters to access.

 

There are two main modes of play: the traditional tournament ladder and adventure mode. (There are also other distractions such as the Challenge mode where you fight through a single scenario such as fighting Pikachu in the Pokemon arena).  Tournament mode tasks you with fighting against any number of opponents to carry on and reach the final arena.  This is a fine mode but more fun – especially for the single-player players – is the adventure mode, which is practically a walk down memory lane.  Adventure mode puts you in classic Nintendo environments from the worlds of Mario, Zelda, and even F-Zero.  Basically, you hop through a section then engage in mortal combat and carry on to the next section.  Some sections you don’t even have to fight – at the start of the F-Zero stage all you have to do is dodge the cars.  But fighting still makes up 80% of adventure mode.

 

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The fighting arenas are varied to a point but I found myself wanting more.  Most arenas are set in familiar environs, such as the top of Princess Toadstool’s castle, the outside of Fox’s ship (while his cronies launch missiles at you), and – so help me – a Pokemon stadium.  Each arena is essentially a bunch of platforms suspended in space.  The only way to get a KO (or take a “life” off) is to launch your opponent so far into space they can’t reach the safety of the platforms.  Your health 

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meter (which clocks up for some reason) can be at 236% but you’ll still be able to pull a win out of the hat if you stay away from the edges and block the more powerful attacks that can send you into the foreground or background.  There are a huge number of power-ups to use that drop in at random, such as the Fire Flower (read: flame thrower) and growth (or shrink) mushrooms.  All the power-ups are consistent with old Nintendo games and peripherals.  Younger gamers might not realize the significance of the power-ups, but they’ll be having fun, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

 

Gameplay is deceptively simple.  For the most part, players have to use three buttons: jump, action, and special.  Getting a grasp of the controls is easy and making headway can be had even without using the more advanced features like, blocking and grabbing.  There are a surprising amount of moves to utilize for such a “cute” title – it goes from simple to deep. (No, there are no fatalies!)

 

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The graphics and sound – oh, my!  What a trip!  If you were weaned on Nintendo games this is a walk in the sunshine in the neighbourhood you grew up in and a look at things to come.  There are dozens and dozens of references to past games – each explained for the younger crowd by collectible “statues” – through graphical touches and musical tracks. (The opening bars of Rare’s Donkey Kong 64 grace the Kong levels.)  Melee also inadvertently creates hype for the coming Zelda and Metroid games – Link and Samus look great!  At any time during play, the game can be paused and the camera can be adjusted to get a snapshot view of the action and just take a look at how good everything looks. (Snapshots can also be saved.)

 

Super Smash Brothers Melee is a rock-solid game.  While the fighting action might not be for everyone, those that take up the call are extremely likely to have tons of fun.  Melee is fun for long stretches or quick matches against your son before heading off to work.  The graphics, the sound, the deceptively “cute” gameplay, the huge nostalgia factor. . . I may weep openly.  If I didn’t convince you to go out and buy this game, you should definitely rent it!

 

- Omni

 

(March 29, 2002)

 

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