Super Smash Bros. Melee, often abbreviated as SSBM or Melee, is a crossover fighting game developed by HAL Laboratory, who were also responsible for the Kirby and Mother intellectual properties, and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo GameCube console.
It was first released in Japan on November 21, 2001, and released on December 3, 2001 in North America, followed by Europe on May 24, 2002 then on May 31, 2002 in Australia.
The game is centered on characters from Nintendo's video gaming franchises such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and Pokémon. The stages and gameplay modes make references to, or take their designs from, popular games released by Nintendo.
Melee's gameplay system offers an unorthodox approach to the "fighter" genre as percentage counters measure the level of damage received, rather than the health bar traditionally seen in most fighting games.
It builds on the first game's broad appeal by adding new features related to gameplay and playable characters. Following the popularity of its multiplayer gameplay, Melee has featured in several multiplayer gaming tournaments.
Super Smash Bros. Melee was the second game in the Super Smash Bros. series. It was the sequel to the successful Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64, and was followed by Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii. Super Smash Bros. Melee received a generally positive reception from the media, as well as awards and acknowledgments from gaming publications. It achieved strong sales upon release, and is the GameCube's best-selling game, with more than 7 million copies sold as of March 10, 2008.
Like its predecessor, Super Smash Bros. Melee differs from traditional fighting games in that inflicting the most damage does not guarantee victory.
Instead, opposing players must force their opponents beyond the boundaries of the stage. Most attacks inflict damage and can, if enough damage is dealt, knock back the enemy. Each character's health is measured by a meter that represents the damage received as a percentage. The higher the percentage value, the farther the player gets knocked back, and the easier they are to knock off the stage. Unlike other games of the same genre, most moves 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. These items have purposes ranging from inflicting damage on the opponent to restoring health to the player. Additionally, most stages have a theme relating to a Nintendo franchise or a specific Nintendo game and are interactive to the player. Although the stages are rendered in three dimensions, players can only move on a two-dimensional plane. Not all stages are available immediately; some stages must be "unlocked" by achieving particular requirements.
The twenty-five playable stages in Super Smash Bros. Melee are Icicle Mountain (Ice Climbers), Princess Peach's Castle (Super Mario Bros.), Kongo Jungle (Donkey Kong, a spin-off of Super Mario Bros.), Great Bay (The Legend of Zelda), Yoshi's Story (Yoshi, a spin-off of Super Mario Bros.), Fountain of Dreams (Kirby), Corneria (Star Fox), Flat Zone (Game & Watch), Rainbow Cruise (Super Mario Bros.), Jungle Japes (Donkey Kong, a spin-off of Super Mario Bros.), Temple (The Legend of Zelda), Yoshi's Island (Yoshi, a spin-off of Super Mario Bros.), Green Greens (Kirby), Venom (Star Fox), Brinstar (Metroid), Onett (Mother), Mute City (F-Zero), Pokémon Stadium (Pokémon), Kingdom (Super Mario Bros.), Brinstar Depths (Metroid), Fourside (Mother), Big Blue (F-Zero), Poké Floats (Pokémon), Kingdom (Super Mario Bros.), Battlefield and Final Destination (Super Smash Bros.), Hyrule Castle (The Legend of Zelda), Yoshi's Island (Yoshi, a spin-off of Super Mario Bros.) and Kongo Jungle (Donkey Kong, a spin-off of Super Mario Bros.).
Single-player mode provides the player with a variety of side-scrolling fighting challenges. The applicable modes range from the "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 in the least amount of time they can. These areas may include references to that particular character's past and legacy. "Adventure Mode" was introduced in Melee, which takes the player to several predefined universes of characters in the Nintendo franchise. Like the battle stages in the game, they make references to some conventions of particular series.
In the multiplayer mode, up to four players or computer controlled characters may fight, either in a free-for-all or in teams. The CPU characters' AI difficulty is ranked from one to nine in 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", 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. Other options are available, updating from Super Smash Bros., such as determining the number and type of items that appear during the battle.
Trophies (known as "Figures" in the Japanese version) of various Nintendo characters and objects can be collected throughout the game. These trophies include figures of 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 were only released in Japan. Some of the trophies include a description of the particular subject and detail the year and the game in which the subject first appeared. Super Smash Bros. had a similar system of plush doll versions of the characters, along with short biographies; however, it only included the 12 playable characters. One more trophy is in the Japanese version of the game.
Super Smash Bros. Melee features 26 characters, 14 more than its predecessor. Fifteen are available initially, with the other characters requiring the completion of specific tasks to become available. Every character featured in the game derives from a popular Nintendo franchise.
All characters have a symbol that appears behind their damage meter during a fight; this symbol represents what series they belong to, such as a Triforce symbol behind Link's Damage Percentage and a Poké Ball behind that of a particular Pokémon. 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 had never been released in the West at the time.
The characters' appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee led to a rise in the popularity of the series. References are made throughout the game to the relationship between characters of the same universe; in one of the events from "Event Mode", Mario must defeat his enemy Bowser to rescue Princess Peach. Furthermore, each character has recognizable moves from their original series, such as Samus' firearms from the Metroid series and Link's arsenal of weapons.
The twenty-five playable characters in Super Smash Bros. Melee are Dr. Mario (Dr. Mario, a spin-off of Super Mario Bros.), Mario, Luigi, Bowser and Peach (Super Mario Bros.), Yoshi (Yoshi, a spin-off of Super Mario Bros.), DK (Donkey Kong, a spin-off of Super Mario Bros.), C. Falcon (F-Zero), Falco and Fox (Star Fox), Ness (Mother), Ice Climbers (Ice Climber), Kirby (Kirby), Samus (Metroid), Zelda, Link, Ganondorf and Young Link (The Legend of Zelda), Pichu, Pikachu, Jigglypuff and Mewtwo (Pokémon), Mr. Game & Watch (Game & Watch) and Marth and Roy (Fire Emblem). The aforementioned eleven characters who must be unlocked by achieving certain goals within the game are Dr. Mario, Luigi, Ganondorf, Falco, Young Link, Pichu, Jigglypuff, Mewtwo, Mr. Game & Watch, Marth and Roy. Zelda may also transform into Sheik, her alter ego. Many consider Sheik as a character in her own right, increasing the above count to twenty-six.
Development and release
HAL Laboratory developed Super Smash Bros. Melee, with Masahiro Sakurai as the head of production. The game was one of the first games released on the Nintendo GameCube and highlighted 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 to the graphics. HAL 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 its predecessor.
On the game's official Japanese website, the developers explain reasons for making particular characters playable and explain why some characters were not available as playable characters upon release. Initially, the development team wanted to replace Ness with Lucas, the main character of Mother 3, but retained Ness in consideration of the cancelation of EarthBound 64. The game's creators have since included Lucas in the game's sequel, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Video game developer Hideo Kojima originally requested the inclusion of Solid Snake to Sakurai, but the game was too far in development.
As with Lucas, development time allowed for his inclusion in Brawl. Marth and Roy were initially 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, leading to the decision for the developers to include them in the Western version. Additionally, Sakurai stated that the development team had suggested characters from four other games to represent the Famicom or Nintendo Entertainment System era until the developers decided that the Ice Climbers would be in the game.
The four games considered were Balloon Fight (of which Sakurai decided "the balloon would be easily blown"), Urban Champion (of which Sakurai decided the character would "seem too small"), Clu Clu Land (of which Sakurai figured "they know how to fight?") and Excitebike (of which Sakurai figured the character "would have to jump"). The developers have noted characters that have very similar moves to each other on the website; such characters have been referred to as "clones" in the media.
Nintendo presented the game at the E3 event of 2001 as a playable demonstration. The next major exposition of the game came in August 2001 at Spaceworld, when Nintendo displayed a playable demo that updated from the previous demo displayed at 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. Before the game's release, the Japanese official website included weekly updates, 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, a marketing label used by Nintendo to promote video games that have sold more than a million copies. In August 2005, Nintendo bundled the game with the GameCube for $99.99.
Super Smash Bros. Melee features music from some of Nintendo's popular gaming franchises. Nintendo released a soundtrack 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 Official Nintendo Magazine. It is not music taken directly from the game like most video game soundtracks, but a live orchestrated performance by the New Japan Philharmonic of many of the songs from the game. Melee contains "hidden" tracks that require particular criteria to be met before becoming unlocked. On the same website, the developers have posted discussions about the game's music and voice acting between Masahiro Sakurai and the game's composers.
Reception and sales
Super Smash Bros. Melee generally received a positive reception from reviewers, most of whom credited Melee's expansion of gameplay features from Super Smash Bros. Focusing on the additional features, GameSpy commented that "Melee really scores big in the 'we've added tons of great extra stuff' department". Reviewers compared the game favorably to Super Smash Bros.. IGN's Fran Mirabella III stated that it was "in an entirely different league than the N64 version"; GameSpot's Miguel Lopez praised the game for offering a more advanced "classic-mode" compared to its predecessor, while detailing the Adventure Mode as "really a hit-or-miss experience". Despite a mixed response to the single-player modes, many reviewers expressed the game's multiplayer mode as a strong component of the game. In their review of the game, GameSpy stated that "you'll have a pretty hard time finding a more enjoyable multiplayer experience on any other console".
The visuals gained a positive reaction. GameSpot lauded the game's character and background models, stating that "the character models are pleasantly full-bodied, and the quality of their textures is amazing". IGN's Fran Mirabella III praised the game's use of physics, animation and graphics, although his colleague Matt Casamassina thought that "some of the backgrounds lack the visual polish endowed upon the characters" when giving a second opinion about the game.
Critics praised the game's orchestrated soundtrack; Planet GameCube's Mike Sklens rated it as "one of the best sounding games ever", while GameSpot's Greg Kasavin commented that "it all sounds brilliant". GameSpy praised the music for its nostalgic effect, with soundtracks ranging from multiple Nintendo series.
Reviewers have welcomed the simplistic controls, but its "hyper-responsiveness", with the characters easily dashing and precise movements being difficult to perform, was expressed as a serious flaw of the game by GameSpot. With a milder criticism of controls, Bryn Williams of GameSpy commented that "movement and navigation seems slightly too sensitive". The basis of Melee's gameplay system is the battles between Nintendo characters, which has been suggested as being overly hectic; N-Europe questioned whether the gameplay is "too Frantic?", even though they enjoyed the variety of modes on offer. Similarly, Nintendo Spin's Clark Nielsen stated that "Melee was too fast for its own good", and "skill was more about just being able to wrap your head around what was happening as opposed to really getting into the combat". In regards to the pace of the game, Edge commented that it even made gameplay features such as "blocking" redundant, as the player is not given enough time to react to an attack.
Despite the new features, reviews criticized Melee for a lack of originality and for being too similar to its predecessor, Super Smash Bros. Caleb Hale from GameCritics.com rated it as "every bit as good as its Nintendo 64 predecessor. The game doesn't expand much past that point." On a similar note, Edge stated that "it's not evolution; it's reproduction", in reference to a perceived lack of innovation. The nostalgic nature of the game received a positive reaction, as well as the accompanying stages and items that made references to past Nintendo games. Gaming journalists have welcomed the roster of 25 Nintendo characters, as well as the "trophy system", which Nintendo Spin labeled as "a great addition to this game".
When released in Japan, it became the fastest selling GameCube game with 358,525 copies sold in the week ending November 25, 2001. This success continued as the game sold more than a million units only two months after its release, making it the first GameCube title to reach a million copies. The game also sold well in North America, where it sold 250,000 copies in nine days. In the United States, Super Smash Bros. Melee was the 19th best-selling video game in 2001 according to the NPD Group, and approximately 4.06 million units have been sold in the country as of December 27, 2007. With a software-to-hardware ratio of 3:4 at one time, some have attributed the increasing sales of the Nintendo GameCube near the launch date to Melee. As of March 10, 2008, Super Smash Bros. Melee is the best-selling GameCube game, with more than seven million copies sold worldwide.
Awards and lists
Several publications have acknowledged Super Smash Bros. Melee in competitions and awards. In their "Best of 2001" awards, GameSpy chose it as Best Fighting GameCube Game, IGN's reader choice chose it as Game of the Year, Electronic Gaming Monthly chose it as Best Multiplayer and Best GameCube Game, and GameSpot chose it as the Best GameCube Game and tenth best game of the year. GameFAQs placed it sixth in a poll of the 100 best games ever and was in the final four of the "Best. Game. Ever." contest. In the 200th issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, the editors selected Melee as the 92nd most influential game in their "Top 200 Games of Their Time" list, defining Melee as "Billions of things to unlock, plus Yoshi pummeling Pikachu with a bat". In a similar competition, Nintendo Power named Super Smash Bros. Melee the 16th best game ever to appear on a Nintendo console. IGN named it the third best GameCube game of all time in 2007 as a part of a feature reflecting on the GameCube's long lifespan, citing it as "the grand stage of fighters, much like Mario Kart is for racing fans." GameSpy chose it as fourth in a similar list, citing that it had "better graphics, better music, more characters, more gameplay modes, more secrets to discover" in comparison to its predecessor.
Super Smash Bros. Melee has featured in several high-profile gaming tournaments. In March 2003, the IVGF NorthWest Regional Gaming Festival and Tournament took place; the first corporate sponsored tournament. During this time, IVGF gave out $12,500 for the top-three finishers of Super Smash Bros. Melee. In 2004, Major League Gaming added Melee to its 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, Major League Gaming, and FC3.
Melee was also included in the Evolution Championship Series in 2007, a fighting game tournament held in Las Vegas. Ken Hoang, a notable competitor, has won over $50,000 from Smash tournaments and credits Smash for helping him pay through college.
Super Smash Bros. Melee is the second installment of the Super Smash Bros. series, following the release of Super Smash Bros. two years earlier. At the pre-E3 conference of 2005, Nintendo announced Melee's sequel, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Nintendo's president, Satoru Iwata requested Masahiro Sakurai to be the director of the game after the conference.
The game retains some of the gameplay features of its predecessors while having major gameplay additions, such as a more substantial single-player mode and online play via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Unlike Melee, the game has four methods of control, including the use of the Wii Remote, Nunchuk, GameCube controller, and the Classic Controller.
Like Melee, the game makes references to games and franchises, including those that debuted after the release of Melee; for example, Link's design is taken from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and a Nintendogs puppy is present as an Assist Trophy (a new item that summons characters from different games to briefly participate in the fight). Select stages from Melee are included in the sequel.
Names in Other Languages
|Language / Region:||Name:||Meaning:|
Dairantō Sumasshu Burazāzu Derakkusu
|Great Fray Smash Brothers Deluxe|