Super Smash Bros. Melee - A Review

Oberon likes this game. A lot.

Oberon:

Ever played a game you feel could sell systems all by itself?

Go on, admit it - you want it.

Every console has them - those few games that are so very, very good that people rush out to buy them just because of 'em. This, I feel, is one of them. (In fact, it's testament to the fact - we bought our 'Cube purely for multiplayer bouts of it, but I digress)

Why do I like Super Smash Bros. Melee so much? Especially considering I have not actually played the original N64 version (although I'm told it is a very good game in its own right). Put simply, this game is fun no matter how you play it. Single- and multiplayer are well catered for, although its multiplayer this game excels in. Truly, Super Smash Bros. is the ultimate party game. Anyone can pick up a controller and have a blast. The controls are simple and easy to get adjusted to - but this does not make the game shallow. Oh, no sir - this is a very deep kettle of fish indeed.

The aim of the game in multiplayer, and most single-player games (more on those later) is to knock - or 'smash' - your opponents off the screen. Of course, your opponents will be trying their hardest to do the same to you. This becomes easier as a character takes more damage (represented by a percentage meter at the bottom of the screen), and soon characters will be flying everywhere as attacks are landed, not only by the players, but often by the play environment as well.

Each character has the same commands - their special attacks are all directions on the analogue stick plus either A or B - and virtually all have their own unique moveset that maps onto them, although admittedly some are very similar to one another or even virtual copies, as with Mario and Luigi. There are subtle differences between 'clone' characters however that makes the choice a little more than simply whoever you prefer the look of.

The game's cast of 25 characters (many of whom must be unlocked) are all from Nintendo's vast library of characters from other games, ensuring there are many you recognise - but others you may not. Discovering how each character plays and their advantages is just one part of the great amount of things one can unravel when playing. There are a great many stages to play on - again, many hidden - whilst also a collection of 'trophies' one can win in a number of ways. Collecting them all is a rare achievement indeed, but it'll keep you playing for hours as you try to collect them all.

The single player mode is split into three seperate modes of play. In Arcade, one plays through a series of bouts against various opponents, interspersed with Bonus Stages in which you can score points and potentially trophies. While fun, and worth playing through at least once with each character, Arcade offers little and will soon become boring. Perhaps this is the main criticism I can level at the game - single player soon becomes dull. In any case. Story mode is much more interesting - each level represents a different Nintendo game. The first stage, for example, is a side-scrolling representation of a classic Super Mario Bros. level. The third single player option is the Event matches which are guarenteed to delight and infuriate. Each is a short, preconfigured mission with set rules - in one such Event, you must run the length of the F-Zero track in an insanely short time. In others you must K.O. certain opponents, or try to avoid letting an ally fall. Top stuff.

Admittedly, single player is limited. But multiplayer is every bit as refined as you could possibly expect from a Nintendo game - which is to say, it is possibly the most fun you and three mates could have with your Cube. Tournament play extends this even further, but classic 4-way brawls are really what you'll want to be playing. There are so many maps, characters, special items and the like to ensure that it won't get old quickly, and the ease of which someone can simply grab a controller and start playing means inpromptu games are easily set up and played with.

So, the pros and cons. Obviously, multiplayer is the game's main draw, and single player's not bad. Conversely, single player is ultimately limited, and there are some real stinkers of levels that are capable of making grown men cry (such is their difficulty). Still, you'll definately want to pick this game up if you have friends and a need to beat them senseless. Super Smash Bros. Melee earns itself a handsome 9/10.