A good step up from the old game, I was always jealous of my friends who had a gamecube and could play this game :(
Super Smash Bros. Melee Review
Nintendo's spastic tribute to itself stands quite strong as one of the most engaging multiplayer games available for any console platform.
The robust event mode rounds out the single-player game nicely. You can consider it analogous to Soul Calibur's mission mode--special matches are set up, and more often than not, the scales are tipped against you. One match has you fighting invisible versions of Star Fox characters, while another has you fighting the whole Super Mario Bros. gang. Many of these matches make for Melee's most engaging single-player experiences, and a good portion of them are incredibly challenging. Again, though, you'll doubtlessly find yourself playing through them, as a fair bit of the game's unlockable elements are hidden therein.
But just as with its predecessor, Super Smash Bros. Melee has been primarily designed as a multiplayer game. In this respect, you'll likely be completely satisfied. The default multiplayer mode is a standard free-for-all--you and up to three others can go at it in one of the arenas, with computer players optionally taking up any vacant spots. You can set the matches to end after a given time, or you can tweak the number of lives each player gets, so that the last one standing wins. You can also set up teams and skew them any way you wish--three-against-one matches are entirely possible. The item set is also customizable, allowing you to nix any potentially game-breaking items, such as the aforementioned hammer. A whole bunch of special match settings are available as well. You can play a match with giant-sized, tiny, or invisible versions of all the players, or you can mess with the game's speed, making it lighting fast or super slow, among other things. All these things come together to make Super Smash Bros. Melee one of the most compelling multiplayer experiences on any console.
That's provided you're into the game's fighting system, of course. There's really no question about it: Smash Bros. is very fast and loose compared with most other fighting games--so much so that many consider it a traditional party game, rather than a genuine fighter. Be that as it may, there is a bit of technique to the game. It's just that it's very easy to get by without bothering to learn it very well. The game revolves around the concept of smash attacks--moves that will send your opponents flying with the sheer force of their impact (entirely off of the map, ideally). In order to score a proper smash move, you have to damage your opponents heavily--otherwise, they won't fly very far. Every character has a set of these attacks, and they're executed by "charging" the analog stick for a second or so prior to inputting an attack command. Depending on your character, you can perform smash attacks in many different directions, on the ground, and in the air.
The fighting system overally feels pretty identical to the original game's, though there are a few notable changes. Most important is how grabs are dealt with. In the original game, you were able to grapple an enemy with the R button and very easily send him or her flying just as far as you would with a smash attack. Melee makes it a bit harder to actually connect with a grab--Link's hookshot will fall limp much sooner than before, and Samus' grapple beam doesn't have nearly as ideal of a trajectory as it does in the original. Furthermore, you don't get nearly as much mileage with throws as you used to. You can, however, execute a number of grab attacks when you actually connect--multiple-hit combo throws, and the like, similar to what you'd find in a traditional fighting game. Rest assured, though, that de-emphasizing the throws really does a whole lot of good for Smash Bros. Before, it was way too easy to let the game devolve into a boring throw-fest.
A couple of evasive moves were added to the system, though overall, their effects don't have too much of an effect on the actual proceedings. Inputting a block command while in the air now lets you evade attacks while jumping, and you can sidestep an opponent's attack by hitting A in tandem with one of the block buttons and a directional input. Granted, these moves can be useful to those who master them, but they don't drastically change the pacing of the game--it's rare that one thinks defensively when playing Smash Bros., so working these techniques into your strategy could very well take a while.