Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001) by Nintendo

I can’t believe that this game came out way back in 2001.  I remember getting a GameCube for Christmas of that year, but I don’t remember playing Super Smash Bros. Melee until the following spring or summer.  For some reason I have this memory of walking into my local EB Games and seeing display cases for the game noting that the game was coming soon.  Either way someone has been playing this game for the last 16.5 years.  This game was a cultural phenomenon, everyone I knew had this game and we played it all the time.  Even just a few years back I booted up the GameCube and played with grown adults in a fairly competitive fashion.  This game brings people together, because who doesn’t love battling with your favorite Nintendo characters.

My first memory of this game series comes from the original N64 game.  I remember renting the game from our local Blockbuster type store and playing through arcade mode or adventure mode, whatever the developers decided to call it.  I felt such great joy upon giving the final boss the last punch and wondering what to do next.  Just then an alert pops up that said there was a challenger approaching.  Now I had to beat Captain Falcon in order to unlock a new playable character.  Of course I lost and then I had to use the dial up modem to look up how to unlock these new characters. It turns out that for Captain Falcon you had to beat the game within a certain amount of time – something that I could not replicate easily.

This feeling was replicated in the sequel.  There were many more characters to unlock and some of them were much more difficult to get.  Mewtwo was one of the more challenging characters to unlock, requiring 500 matches to be played or 24 hours of playtime before you were able to challenge him.  On more than a few occasions I have let two computer controlled combatants battle it out overnight in order to gain the required playtime.  Things like that make this game so much fun to play.  There are countless collectibles that you can unlock that give you little tidbits about classic Nintendo games and showcase forgotten characters.  I loved spending coins on the prize machine and trying to get a new unlockable.

I can’t talk about Super Smash Bros. Melee without talking about the esports scene.  In my opinion SSBM is an interesting case study.  Honestly I hate watching Smash Bros. as a competitive game.  I like playing it, but I do not think it has the makings of a great or competitive fighting game.  It is designed as a fun fighting game.  Watching the same characters over and over again after the last few big tournaments makes the game dull.  I know that the game is really fun to play and has some great mechanics, but Nintendo does a horrible job balancing their games.   I think that is why Super Smash Bros. Wii U has split the player base.  You either want to play as Bayonetta in the new game or as Falco in the old game.  I really hope that the new Switch game eliminates Melee as a competitive scene, it is time to move on!  I am not even talking about online play, because I don’t think fighting games should tout online play as the primary driving factor as a reason to play the game.  Playing online in fighting games is often full of griefers or unbalanced matchups or lag.  Any one of those issues could derail a game.  That is why I love Melee, it is just fun to play with a friend on the couch.  If the Switch version can do that then it will be a good game.  Just give a better name than Super Smash Bros. Switch Version…

Thanks for teaching me to love fighting games, Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Tomorrow we move on to an Xbox launch title: Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding!

Jake “prettyboyplaid” Fredericks

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