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Preview: Super Smash Brothers: Melee

Saturday, June 9, 2001

Super Smash Bros Melee
2001 Nintendo/HAL Labs

Nintendo landed on a goldmine when it combined the parody all-star formula with the fighting genre. Pitting Mario, Luigi, Samus, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, Fox McCloud, Captain Falcon, and other famous Nintendo characters in a ring, and letting them duke it out; created a very fresh and innovative game experience.Super Smash Bros. Melee doesn't stray too far away from the original, but it heavily builds upon it by increasing and improving upon every single aspect of the original.

Features

  • Over 20 playable characters including returning favorites and new stars
  • New single player adventure modes
  • cinematic introduction and endings
  • 64-Player tournament mode
  • Collectable trophies of many classic Nintendo characters
  • Dolby Pro Logic Surround Sound
  • Four player support
  • Only for Nintendo GameCube

Rumblings of a sequel to Nintendo's highly succesful parody fighter let out shortly after the world wide release of the game. Originally planned as a small niche Japan only game, the title's gargantous sales and popularity influenced Nintendo to release its Mario Kart take on the fighting genre, outside of Japan. The results were phenomenal, Nintendo sold over 5 million copies world wide, and once again created another popular franchise out of a game intended to be a small sleeper hit.

The original Super Smash Brothers was developed in Nintendo's Yamanasi-based HAL Labs R&D studio, and released in 1999 on the Nintendo 64. After it's critical and commercial success, Nintendo wasted no time in conducting polls and surveys regarding what new characters from Nintendo's franchises should be included in the next installment. Shortly after, nothing was ever heard or mentioned regarding the game.

Nintendo finally confirmed the title during it's pre E3 press conference. Shigeru Miyamoto and Satoru Iwata, Nintendo EAD producers responsible for the first game, proudly displayed a small glimpse of their anticipated sequel scheduled to accompany the Nintendo GameCube on launch day.

Super Smash Bros. Melee has been upgraded greatly from its Nintendo 64 brethren. The graphics are the first thing that catch your attention. The character models are extremely detailed, made up of thousands of polygons all surrounded by gorgeous high resolution textures. The backgrounds have been addressed as well, instead of being composed of mostly pre-rendered backdrops like the N64 version, they are now fully polygonial and offer much more interactivity. Thanks to the GameCube's superior processing abilities, the amount of action on screen has also increased, with characters shooting projectiles, using items, and calling buddies for temporary aid, the screen can become cluttered with polygons and never drop a single frame.

Super Smash Bros. Melee does a great job in the audio department, offering glorious renditions of each character's main theme. Players will no doubt have to fight off their emotions when they are forced to reminisce on their favorite Nintendo games in full CD-quality orchestral glory.

Gameplay wise, the game is not diverting from its roots. The game adds a few more attacks per character as well as adds a side step function. New additions also include new camera angles, new powerful items, new modes for rookies and veterans, new characters, new stages, new mini games, and tons of other extras Nintendo is keeping secret for the time being.

One big change present in Super Smash Bros. Melee comes in the form of a totally revamped new single player mode. Instead of basically fighting the CPU in the same manner you fight during multiplayer, the single player mode plays more like a quest than it does a VS CPU battle. Players are treated to a cinematic intro and ending, and progress through the game via sidescrolling levels. You will face many basic enemies during the sidescrolling levels which will each take the theme catering to the character who you are facing at the time. For example, your first oppononent may be Samus Aran, the level will be a 2 1/2 level resembling one you encountered during Metroid or Super Metroid, fighting off metroids and space critters until you encounter Samus Aran at the end of the level, where you will duel off in the regular Smash Brothers one on one fight style. Each character will end up facing their arch nemesis as the last level in the character's quest. Succesfully completing each level will reward you with unlocking evil villains, secret heroes, new stages, and new games modes then selectable in your multiplayer game.

Some of the features include:

  • Coin Collecting Contest
  • Home Run Contest
  • 64-Player Tournament

Some of the confirmed characters include:

  • Mario
  • Peach
  • Link
  • Princess Zelda
  • Sheik
  • Kirby
  • Yoshi
  • Donkey Kong
  • Bowser
  • Ness
  • Fox McCloud
  • Captain Falcon
  • Samus Aran
  • Ice Climbers
  • Pikachu

According to Nintendo, there are a ton of other secret characters unlockable in the game. There have been many rumors spread as to some of those characters, but for now we are only listing the characters confirmed by Nintendo. We will speculate that some of the heroes rumored to be in the game include Luigi, Pit, Jiggly Puff, Balloon Kid, and Ganondorf .

There are also at least 18 selectable levels in the game. Certain characters share the same level, which seem to be themed right out of the latest version the game appeared on. For example, Link's level is taken straight out of The Legend of Zelda: Marjora's Mask, and Fox McCloud's level is taken out of level 1 in Star Fox 64.

Nintendo will periodically reveal some more features and characters as we grow closer to the game's release. Many of the secrets, will likely have to be unlocked by the player and discovered for the first time. Nintendo is taking spending a lot of resources on this big killer franchise expected to shift many units of hardware and software come the domestic and world wide launches of the Nintendo GameCube.

E3 Hands On

Dozens of Nintendo fanatics lucky enough to attend E3 wasted no time hitting the many Super Smash Bros. Melee kiosks available. The E3 demo only had 10 characters and 10 levels unlocked. Still many were able to pick up the game and quickly pick up the controls as they are familiar to the N64 version. The GameCube controller takes a bit of a learning curve with this game, because the button placement is different. Ultimately the game plays better on the GameCube controller thanks to no longer having to use the small c buttons for action. Fast and furious multiplayer frenzies are a staple to Smash Brothers, and the faster, stronger, and sexier GameCube version does a good job of building on the game's strengths and adding new features as well. It's too bad the lines were long, because this was one game worthy of multiple play sessions.

Nintendo is betting some big chips on its platinum selling series, it's currently the big killer app sequel alongside Luigi's Mansion, headlining Nintendo's domestic Fall 2001 release schedule. Nintendo is not reinventing the wheel with this adrenaline filled sequel, but it is adding a serious dosage of steroids and gloss, as well as adding a few quirky innovations that will add a sense of freshness to those who played the original to death. Nintendo definitely knows what it's doing, the roster of 20-30 classic Nintendo characters makes this game simply irresistible to Nintendo fan, assuring this helps Nintendo top the hardware and software charts this fall.

Anthony JC