Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Super Smash Bros. Melee

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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

ssbmtitle.JPG (2189 bytes)             What’s the hallmark of a true classic? It’s obviously not a game’s graphics or sound, as classics come from each generation of game consoles – nor necessarily the depth of the game or the abilities your wafer-thin 22-year-old warrior possesses within. Classic titles are made by that one, rare attribute often overlooked the by the gaming press of today; playability. I see it as a great shame that the major press labels these days seem to rate known-names and existing franchises over innovative titles purely based on better graphics and production values. That’s one reason why we decided that the  Electronic Theatre should step into the fray – and tell you what’s really playable!             The origin of the Super Smash Bros. series can be traced way back to 1992. Super Mario Kart was about to launch on the SNES, and the hardcore Mario fans were revolting, “You can’t put Mario in a racing game! What are Nintendo doing?!” rung the cries. But soon, the hardcore were to eat their words, as one of the most playable (and possibly most played game ever!) came to their home system. After a string of sequels we began to see Mario diversify even more – Mario Tennis, Super Mario Golf and, of course, Super Smash Bros. Melee.

            The second title in the Super Smash Bros. series, Super Smash Bros. Melee ssbm6.jpg (9753 bytes)appears more to be “based” on its predecessor rather than merely being an “update”. The title attempts to pay homage to Nintendo in every aspect – from the characters and levels available right through to the end credits and Trophy room. For those who never had the opportunity to experience the Nintendo64 free-for-all, the game is a little hard to explain… In the basic (and most common) Mode, you begin by picking a fighter from a starting selection of ten Nintendo characters, expanding to twenty five once all the hidden characters are unlocked, before entering the match. The object of each bout is to knock your opponent off the screen in any direction without them managing to clamber back, whilst managing to stay on terra firma yourself. You have a percentage meter at the bottom of the screen which denotes your health and, although in theory it is possible to be knocked off the screen at any point, it’s a common possibility when you hit that 100% mark – although your meter will continue to display damage, the current Electronic Theatre record exceeds 600%!

            As well a fantastic variety of special moves (which there will be more about later) you have a huge amount of weaponry at you disposal ranging from Bob-ombs from the Mario games to Ray-Guns from StarFox and Pokeballs containing lethal (and some not quite so lethal…) Pokemon. Some of the levels provided also feature a little help/hindrance, such as the billowing tree on one of the Kirby stages and the transforming Pokemon Stadium.

Of the total twenty five playable characters on offer, you are guaranteed to find a favourite. The game eases you into playing as all the characters command their moves in the same way. ssbm5.jpgThe basic controls consist of X/Y to jump (every character has a Double Jump ability), A for basic attack and B for hard attack, A is also used to pick up and use weapons. Further to this, every character has three special moves – Up and B, Down and B and Left/Right and B – as well as three Smash Moves – Up and A, Down and A and Left/Right and A. The basic and special moves are incredibly easy to perform and most characters Up and B move adds extra height when performed mid-jump, so is often vital for regaining your footing. Favourite’s on the local memory card include Link – featuring his Sword Spin Attack, Boomerang, Bombs and Bow and Arrows, Roy – of Fire Emblem fame, Samus Aran – with her Charge Beam and Screw Attack, and Mewtwo – who’s just plain crazy.

Featured in the game are two main modes to begin with, Classic and Adventure. Classic is your regular beat-em’-up arcade type affair with a couple of bonus games, and Adventure sees the brutality interspersed with short platform levels and challenges. There are also a variety of shorter modes – play the bonus games, a variety of battles against wire-frame models, a “Home Run Contest”, Event Matches, a Trophy cabinet to fill – consisting of nearly 300 fully rendered, 3D, real-time lightable models… the list is endless. Even the end credits sequence of the Classic and Adventure modes is a playable, on-rails shooting mini-game!

The multiplayer action is where things really begin to heat-up though. Obviously supporting four-player, the game is as madcap a frenzy as you could stand. Ranging from intricately tactical one-on-one battles to all-out insane “stay alive if you can” action, Super Smash Bros. Melee always seems to complement your mood.

ssbm8.jpg (11517 bytes)The graphics boasted by the game even two years after release are worthy of note, with little on the PlayStation2 matching the games smooth edges whilst sustaining such a ludicrous speed. The game is beautifully crafted from beginning to end and it’s often not until you pause the game or the camera zooms right in that you actually notice how gorgeous it all looks. With the wealth of modes available and those to be unlocked, this game is certainly no flash-in-the-pan, however, even without this added longevity you will find yourself captivated for months by the depth involved in what at first appeared to be a very immediate game.

I know of very few GameCube owners who haven’t been drawn to the game’s charms at some point, but I must express how all the hardcore gamers out there should seek out this catalogue of gaming history. To those of you new to gaming, you can ignore all the heritage and back-patting and console yourself with several months of lush visuals, amazing gameplay and multiplayer mayhem for less than twenty quid. Incredible.ssbmscore.jpg (37767 bytes)










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