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Customer Review

85 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Smash Bros Melee, 3 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Super Smash Bros Melee (Video Game)
SSB:M, as we'll refer to the game to save our sore fingers, is a beat-em-up starring a host of favourite Nintendo characters, old and new, from Meowth to Mario to Fox McCloud. The object of the bouts is not, as is usually the case, to knock out your opponent, but instead to quite literally knock them out of the fighting area. Landing blows on them causes a percentage at the bottom of the screen to rise, indicating how damaged they are. High damage ratings won't lose you the game, but they make your character susceptible to a "smash attack" - a powerful punch or other special move designed to send you flying. If you get smashed off the edge of the arena, you lose.
Simple, eh? You certainly don't need a rocket science degree to understand SSB:M, and if you played its N64 predecessor you'll know the drill already. The plot is non-existent, and the gameplay is straightforward. No lengthy button combinations to memorise here, folks - the controls for each of the 25 characters are identical, it's just the moves that vary. Up and B is a Thunder Jolt for Pikachu, for example, and an Egg Throw for Yoshi, and other special moves for the other characters. The only slight control quibble is that turning around can be tricky - the game has a tendency to interpret your joystick movements as the start of new moves rather than movement instructions.
Although the gameplay is almost exclusively 2D, the backgrounds and characters are most certainly three-dimensional. You can only move backwards and forwards along the platforms, but behind (and, sometimes, in front of you) all kinds of background action is taking place. The camera zooms and pans to keep track of the action, and although it can lag behind a little on occasion, it generally keeps track of everything well. You'll even notice, after a particularly decisive knockout, that occasionally the losing party will thump into the camera lens on his way down - a great touch. The characters, too, are brought to life with some excellently realised models.
The old-school Nintendo feel permeates the whole game. The arenas are 3D representations of scenes from classic games - the Mushroom Kingdom, Donkey Kong's jungle, Princess Peach's castle, and so on. Each one features an appropriately modernised version of the music from the game in which the character originally appeared; the combination of the familiar and the new-fangled is poignantly nostalgic. The tunes on the Mario and Link levels are sure to get any gamer above a certain age reminiscing, and the DK rap will amuse everyone else. No doubt the sizable Nintendo fanboy contingent will be rubbing their sweaty palms with glee already.
There's a wide range of single-player modes to choose from. Classic mode is the usual beat-em-up fare - ten rounds against a variety of foes, with the odd bonus level thrown in. Adventure mode is a simple run-jump-bash platformer, with occasional rounds of more traditional fighting. There's also "event match", which offers a huge list of pre-defined encounters with novel victory conditions: you, as Mario, might have to defend the Princess against Bowser's attacks, for example, and in another play as Link as he takes on a shadowy replica of himself. Stadium mode contains a number of simpler game types, involving running about smashing targets or taking on the mysterious Fighting Wire Frames. After single-player rounds, you'll be awarded any number of "Special Bonuses" awards for, say, using all ground attacks or knocking somebody out from behind. The precise criteria for each bonus isn't given, though, so it's fun to try to work out exactly what you have to do to receive an "In The Fray" award.
But the multiplayer modes are where the game really shines. You won't properly experience SSB:M without plugging in four controllers and taking on a bunch of friends (or enemies, as they might turn out to be). Team and individual matches can be fought, and there are many, many rules and configuration options to tweak. If you have more than three people round to play, there's a tournament mode where much larger numbers can play knockout competitions. Thanks to its easy-to-manage control system, all the moves are more or less within the grasp of the novice player, so newcomers to the game won't be humiliated into finding something else to do.
Frequently, during most of the game modes, objects drop from the ceiling. These might be powerups (the invulnerability star), hand-to-hand weapons (an umbrella, or, rather oddly, a lightsaber), missile weapons like the blaster or flamethrowing flower, or things to throw at your opponent. There are even Pokeballs, which will summon a Pokemon to attack your enemies.
Even above and beyond its top multiplayer action, SSB:M's chief asset is its tremendously varied gameplay. Whether you're playing as Zelda's alter ego Sheik, juggling four Marios in the air at once, or taking on Pikachu in a Pokemon-summoning bout, the variety of the designers' imagination is incredible. And, at first at least, almost every time you play, you'll unlock new awards for your trophy cabinet, or even a new background or character to fight with.
Old school Nintendo gamers should head for the shops, wallet in hand, without delay, because this nostalgic beat-em-up will thrill them to bits. If you're looking for a rewarding multiplayer experience on Gamecube, you should follow them, because although much of the symbolism will be lost on you, you'll still enjoy the variety and sheer fun on offer. (Besides, chances are they know where to find the best deal.) If you're looking for a rewarding single-player experience, you should probably be a little more cautious, and rent before you buy - just to make sure the award-collecting and bonus-finding has the hook you're looking for. As is ever the way of beat-em-ups, SSB:M is not as much fun solo as it is in a group... but get some mates over and you'll be in for a smashing (groan) time.
Huge variety
Loads to do and unlock
Dripping with nostalgia
Looks and sounds the part
Fantastic party game
Some will find single-player a little flat
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Feb 2008 14:42:40 GMT
Since when is Meowth in this?

Posted on 15 May 2008 10:12:14 BDT
Trigger says:
I've got absolutely no interest in the Super Smash Bros. series, but this is an excellent review.
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