Super Smash Bros. Melee
Super Smash Bros. Melee (大乱闘 スマッシュ ブラザーズ ＤＸ, Great Fray Smash Brothers Deluxe), often shortened to "SSBM" or "Melee" (スマブラＤＸ), is a 2.5D fighting game for the Nintendo GameCube. It was released on November 21st, 2001 in Japan, and December 3rd, 2001 in North America, shortly after GameCube's launch, and then on the following year in Europe and Australia on May 24th, 2002 and May 31st, 2002 respectively. It is the second game in the Super Smash Bros. series, following its predecessor, Super Smash Bros., and was succeeded by Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. 4 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Like Super Smash Bros., Melee features gameplay unique from that of other fighting games. Compared to characters in other fighting games, Melee characters have simple movesets and lack complicated button inputs and lengthy natural combos. Instead, Melee emphasizes movement and ringouts. Indeed, edge-guarding in Melee takes on much more significance than it does in most other games due to copious mid-air jumps and other methods of reaching the edge unfettered. The game has sold 7.09 million units as of 2008, making it the best-selling GameCube game of all time. Melee is also one of the two games in the Super Smash Bros. series to be rated T by the ESRB, with the other being its sequel, Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Melee received universal acclaim, with many critics praising the game's expansion and refinement from its N64 predecessor, Super Smash Bros., as well as its visuals, tight controls, multiplayer mode, and orchestrated soundtrack, although its single-player modes, lack of originality, and similarity to its predecessor received criticism.
The opening movie of Melee mostly uses FMV scenes from its E3 2001 trailer along with some scenes of actual gameplay.
The FMV scenes were given particularly high attention by the developing team; according to Sakurai, the team wanted to create an entire, high-quality FMV sequence in the game to highlight the then newly-released GameCube console's graphical power in comparison to previous consoles. The development team worked in three different animation studios in Tokyo, Japan to finish the FMV opening.
In addition, continuing the trend started in the previous game, the opening also directly segues into the title screen with the announcer calling out the game's title.
The E3 trailer has also been found: early opening. In this sequence, the clips of actual gameplay had been considerably changed from the final version.
It is the first pre-rendered cutscene in the series.
The cast of 25 playable characters, 26 if including Zelda's alter ego Sheik, includes all 12 characters from Super Smash Bros. and 13 newcomers (14 counting Sheik). Of these, 14 are available from the start of play (15 if Sheik is included), including all the veteran characters except Jigglypuff and Luigi and 11 more which can be unlocked.
Of the new characters, the greatest number are from The Legend of Zelda universe if Zelda/Sheik are counted as two characters to go with Ganondorf and Young Link, although the Mario series also takes three new character slots for Bowser, Princess Peach and Dr. Mario added. On top of these, two universes add two characters each, with the Fire Emblem series making its Smash Bros. debut with Marth and Roy (with Roy making his debut in any game), and the Pokémon universe adding Pichu and Mewtwo to its two existing characters. The three other characters added are Falco, a second character from the Star Fox series, Mr. Game & Watch, and the Ice Climbers from two highly venerable Nintendo series.
Bold denotes unlockable characters.
There are 29 stages in Melee that can be played in VS. Mode, 18 starter stages and 11 more which are unlockable stages. Three stages return from Super Smash Bros. as Past Stages, all of which are unlockable. Each universe, except for the Fire Emblem universe, has a stage. The EarthBound and F-Zero universes, which previously did not have any stages, receive stages for their respective universes. Most universes have two stages, the exceptions are the Ice Climber and Game & Watch universes which have only one, and the Mario universe which has four. Counting Past Stages, the Donkey Kong, Kirby, and the Yoshi universes have three stages. For the first time in the series, Battlefield and Final Destination can be played in VS. Mode, previously they were restricted to single-player modes.
These stages cannot be unlocked, and can only be played under certain circumstances.
The game featured several points to be unlocked, most of which include the trophies, unlockable characters and stages. Some of them are unlocked by a special way, like achieving a certain distance on the Home-Run Contest, while others are obtained by the Lottery. For a full list, see List of unlockables (SSBM).
Some unlockable elements in SSBM were left out, but can be seen with an Action Replay cheat disc. See Debug menu for more details.
Conceptualization of Super Smash Bros. Melee began almost immediately after the previous entry released, even before Nintendo GameCube development kits were widely distributed. Masahiro Sakurai was quietly tinkering with the design plan mostly by himself with no knowledge of what the final hardware specifications would be. He publicly denied that he was working on a new Smash title until the 1999 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) event, where he announced he was working on a "Smash game for the GameCube." HAL Laboratory returned as lead developer of Melee, with Sakurai as the head of production. The game was one of the first games released on the 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. The game was in development for 13 months, and Sakurai called his lifestyle during this period "destructive" with no holidays and short weekends. Unlike the experimental first Super Smash Bros., he felt great pressure to deliver a quality sequel, claiming it was the "biggest project I had ever led up to that point". Despite the painful development cycle, Sakurai proudly called it "the sharpest game in the series... it just felt really good to play", even compared to its successor, Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
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 delays. The game's creators later 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 into development. As with Lucas, development time allowed for his inclusion in Brawl. Similarly, Sonic Team head Yuji Naka confirmed that Sonic was ultimately not added due to time constraints; like Snake and Lucas, he later became playable in Brawl. Wario was strongly considered for Melee's roster; while Sakurai expressed that he would have included Wario if he had time to add one more character, he explained that he had opted to instead allocate the team's limited development time to implementing other characters such as Mewtwo or Marth and Roy, and also wanted to avoid having an excessive number of Mario characters. 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 NES era until the developers decided that the Ice Climbers would be in the game. 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 E3 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 were daily updates by the game's developer, Masahiro Sakurai. Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu reported that Nintendo advertised the game in between showings of the Pokémon the First 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 Nintendo GameCube for $99.99.
Melee was well-received in many quarters and is the GameCube's top-selling game, selling about 7.09 million copies worldwide as of December 31, 2009. It was the fastest-selling GameCube game in Japan and sold 358,525 copies within four days of its release. In North America, it sold 250,000 copies within nine days of its release. It was the first GameCube game to sell over a million copies, an achievement reached only two months after its release.
Melee has received critical acclaim from reviewers, and has received high rankings on many gaming sites, such as GameRankings, IGN, and GameSpot. GameSpy commented in their review that "you'll have a pretty hard time finding a more enjoyable multiplayer experience on any other console". Reviewers compared the game favorably to the original Super Smash Bros., commonly due to the large amount of new content added to the sequel, with IGN's Fran Mirabella III saying it was "in an entirely different league than the N64 version". The improved graphics were also welcomed, and GameSpot said that "the character models are pleasantly full-bodied, and the quality of their textures is amazing". Planet GameCube's Mike Sklens also rated it as "one of the best sounding games ever", while GameSpot's Greg Kasavin commented that "it all sounds brilliant".
Super Smash Bros. Melee has received many gaming awards. GameSpy chose it as Best Fighting GameCube Game in their "Best of 2001" awards, 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 Melee as the Best GameCube Game and tenth best game of the year..
Despite overall positive reception, common criticisms of gameplay included the controls' over-sensitivity and "hyper-responsiveness", with characters easily dashing and precise movements difficult to perform,, as well as the fast-paced gameplay, with Nintendo Spin's Clark Nielson stating that "Melee was too fast for its own good". Many gamers additionally criticized the game for being too similar to the original, and GameCritics.com's Caleb Hale called it "every bit as good as its Nintendo 64 predecessor. The game doesn't expand much past that point".
Changes from the original
While Melee mainly follows the same formula introduced in the original game by retaining most elements, several differences exist between the two games. The following list, while not all-inclusive, notes several of the changes. Note that this list does not include obvious changes, such as a different button scheme/controller and Melee-only characters and items.
Main article: Super Smash Bros. Melee in competitive play
Melee is widely known for its large and intricate tournament scene. The birth of the tournament scene occurred with the creation of the Tournament Go series in 2002. Melee has since been featured in the championships of many grand-scale fighting game tournaments, such as Major League Gaming in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2014, and EVO in 2007 and from 2013 to 2018.
The community has constructed a set of standard tournament rules to regulate tournament play. While rulesets may vary between different tournaments, generally universal gameplay rules include all matches being played via timed stock (four stocks and eight minutes), and restrictions on legal stages. These regulations are enacted to ensure that gameplay at the highest level remains fair and interesting.
Main article: List of staff (SSBM)