Console: Nintendo Gamecube
Game type: 3D Fighting
Developer & Publisher: Nintendo
Number of players: 1-4
Blocks on Memory Card: 11
Gameboy Advance link-up: No
Online play: No
Online play: No
Progressive scan: No
ESRB rating: Comic Mischief, Mild violence
The intro, which preludes the actual game, is a worthy intro indeed. Why? Well for starters: It looks superbly crisp and superbly yummy. The intro is a blend of cool character art, special renders of characters and actual game play footage. All these are presented in a “Soul Calibur” style utilizing neat and fairly unique transition effects, and all of this in perfect sync with the music.
It wouldn’t be a Nintendo game if it didn’t shine using it’s amazingly diverse color-palette. I believe that the intro shows all the initial characters one can play with, which immediately sets the correct ‘first impression’ about a characters style and fighting type. Although mentioned briefly, the music is great and I’ll say it again: it reminds me of Soul Calibur.
The music is very dynamic and is perfectly in response to the shown images/video sequence. That’s about all I can say about the intro :-)
The demos presented are, like most games, a good example of the actual game(play). The SSBM demos don’t really excel in anything (compared to other triple A games). What I do miss are two player demos. Nintendo should realize that not everyone can play with more people at once because of e.g. too few controllers, too few friends and/or too little space in the room to have 3 or 4 players.
Apart from those arguments, I find 2 player Melee less chaotic and thus less confusing when looking at it. Such mixture would certainly help if this game would be running as a Gamecube eye-catcher at a console store.
The menu works just fine. Just like a menu should :-)
A good thing is that when a menu item leads into a new menu, the sub-items are previewed in a panel to the right. Apart from that I find the menu to be a little boring (used colors, effects etc.). But that’s just me. Oh, and one other thing: one can tilt the menu using the C-Stick (aka the yellow nipple, heh).
Trust me, this review criteria won’t show up during every review. Super Smash Brothers: Melee certainly does deserve some credit (no pun intended) for the great credits section. First of all, the credits are presented in space (yes, me likes SciFi). During this presentation you’ll fly a preset path coming across a tunnel, stations and logo-boards. This, trust me, looks pretty neat. One other great option is to speed it up (press Start), in case you didn’t like it. And there’s a crosshair you can control. Yep, a crosshair, giving you the option to blast (well, painting them pink actually) the credits and boards. When you do this, the text is displayed in a special area. As soon as the credits end, the number of hits is presented as well. As far as I know, the shooting isn’t a must to unlock things.
What can I say about the visual aspect of this game? Well, I’ll pin it down for ya: simply WoW. Sure, it ain’t as good as Rogue Leader’s visuals, but that doesn’t mean it sucks. The levels are all nicely (understatement) done, each with its own unique layout, style and hazards brought to life with polished textures and a high polygon count. Some, like Hyrule Castle, are large and realistic while other levels, like Green Greens from Dreamland, are small and cartoon/colorful. All levels are true to their origin giving every Nintendo lover at least a few levels to completely feast their eyes upon (not to forget Nostalgia).
During the game a number of items will appear, all of them are well made and usually include some form of visual yummyness (when used). Last but certainly not least: The characters. All of the characters are totally detailed. For example: Link or Gannondorf look so detailed (remember the first preview footage for Gamecube’s Zelda?), from texture to buttons on their shirt. Just like the items, the characters have cool visual effects during some of their moves (MewTwo anyone?) Combine all these elements and you get an almost perfect visual bliss! Oh yeah, just to make sure: The visuals are crisp (hi-res) looking as well!
The animation isn’t state of the art… it’s simply a job well done. Hell, all movement on the screen is so fast, you don’t even have to much time to notice mcuh of the animation anyway (as in: so much animation, you don’t even know where to look).
The framerate never drops… To me it seems to be just perfect. Though I am the type to be quite content with 30fps. I believe that SSBM runs with at least 30fps if not with the much desired 60fps.
The sound effects of the game are all of good quality. Yet, like most fighting games, the sounds that emerge from your speakers are somewhat repetitive – whomp, stomp, blam, hit (looks like one of those old Batman episodes). Though apart from that, because every character has its unique moves, it also sounds unique. And some of the items that can be found, make those crisp nostalgic sounds! The level ambient effect truely make the melee rounds unique, nothing as cool as fighting in the Brinstar depths (on planet Zebes), closing your eyes and totally believing you’re actually there.
Now here’s a category this games excels in! The music, just like in the introduction sequence, is superbly done! Members of the X111.com forum were already warned and yes I do know I sound like a Nintendo Promotional Campaign sometimes…. But: All of the levels (and some special characters/sequences) are all done using some very well performed musical scores. And best of all, most of the tunes that you’ll come across are so familiar. Even the Nintendo newbies should recognize the Mario Brothers tune. My favorite, off course, is the Legend of Zelda tune. Although a cell shaded cartoon now, I can’t wait to get my hands of Miyamoto’s new (Zelda) masterpiece. Besides that, I promise that everyone will find a favorite tune in there. I’ve heard that Nintendo is quite keen about the Audio aspects of a game and having played SSBM I’m sure they are!
The controls are fairly simple. Using the A-button one can do regular hits or if performed correctly, pushing a direction using the analog-stick, one can do smash moves. Using the B-button one can perform their special moves. The direction one uses when pressing the A or B button changes the move. Not to mention that certain behave differently when jumping. I’d like to take the opportunity to tell you that the Z-button (which is used for throwing), when jumping, acts like an alternate A-button as well. Like most fighting games, characters can block. In SSBM the blocking is done using the L or R trigger. Since these are analog, Nintendo decided to make use of this capability. This means that when pressing the R trigger mildly (say half-way) creates a bigger yet less absorbing bubble. When pressing the R trigger fully the bubble is smaller but absorbs more. Another difference is that the bubble slowly shrinks in size (thus half-way blocking lasts longer). But be careful: when a bubble bursts because you pressed blocking too long, then you’re stunned – leaving you open for a smash attack. That being the one thing you don’t want to happen.
The one and only objective in SSBM is to ring-out (well… smash-out would be more accurate) your opponents using smash moves. The more damage a character receives the higher the percentage will get that he or she will be hurled out of the screen. So the trick is to inflict just enough damage to make them fly far enough to reach the borders of the level. Though beware characters can still return to the level by using double-jump(s) and a special move or block (blocking in mid-air causes a short yet sometimes life saving hover moment). In case of the CPU characters, this happens a lot. In case of a human opponent this is called “skilled luck” and causes great respect and the best melee rounds ever! Well, that being the gameplay in a nutshell. In single-player you can choose out of a variety of modes, the most important ones being classic and adventure mode. In classic you have to face several opponents, sometimes a whole team of them, sometimes in collaboration with others you’ll face a giant version of character or you’ll face a metal version of a character. Last but not least the most obvious thing could happen, regular melee!!!!
In adventure mode you sometimes have to jump & run & melee through stages like Mushroom hill (Mario brothers) & underground maze (Legend of Zelda). At times making it is quite a bit different from classic mode. The levels contain many forms of hazards, like Brinstar depths (the level sometimes rotates). Don’t worry, you’ll quickly get familiar with the levels and their hot spots and weak spots, so to speak.
The great thing about multiplayer in SSBM is that it can be fully tweaked and customized to your needs! This with the many options it has, is a great way of providing replay value. Don’t fear though, Nintendo has provided many preset modes of play which are darn fun too! I myself prefer super sudden death a lot. Multiplay in SSBM is the perfect party game – hectic, chaotic, team-play, fun and simple. Trust me, just ask Mr. Bomberman if this is a winning formula or not ;-)
Not that this is going to shock you much… at least if you heard some things about the Gamecube already. Just like all the other games I’ve played the loadtimes are just sweet and totally short. Especially games from Nintendo (like SSBM) are the perfect example for this. Then why review criteria if all Gamecube are this way? Well, first of all, I haven’t played all games (though often dream I do). Second of all, I won’t be reviewing just cubed games. Third of all, I find it to be an important aspect of a game.
I think the concept of SSBM is very pure, simple but effective. Nintendo probably wanted to create a game that is multiplayer bliss. And that, although bliss being a bold statement and a bit over the top, is quite right. The concept of fighting games has been around for quite a while now, so in that regard SSBM wouldn’t be anything new. The concept of fighting with multiple players at once is indeed a less used gameplay mechanism. The icing on the cake for the gameplay concept is that there is no health indication but only a damage percentage which indicates the chance an opponent will send you flying out of the level.
Well… In SSBM there is no story. Well, perhaps a little. If I’d use my imagination, it would be something like: A boy collects Nintendo toys (in the game known as trophies) which actually come to life and start fighting each other. At the final stage the boy, represented as a hand, tries to regain control of the character. That’s it and that’s all, no deep story here.
The addiction level in SSBM is of high value indeed. A few factors actually make this possible. For one: The great visuals & sound combined with a simple but effective control scheme. Second of all, multiplayer games tend to be more fun – especially when playing with four at a time. The third factor is the amount of secrets found in the game (see next review criteria for this). All this ensures the game will own your soul for quite a while.
Yep, I already compared SSBM to Namco’s Soul Calibur and now I’ll do it again. Nintendo has injected SSBM with a whole lot of secrets to be unlocked. Fun fact is, things are unlocked in singleplayer as well as in multiplayer (proving the fact that SSBM is intended to be that multiplayer bliss). The most obvious thing you can unlock, offcourse, are characters. If you start playing the game a few question marks are presented in the character selection screen. SOME of these spots will contain secret characters after a while… yes, I wrote ‘SOME’ because there are quite a bit more than those! A secret character will always challenge you (if the time is right) and you have to defeat the character – to earn it. The next best things to unlock are the hidden stages. Just like in the character selection screen, there are question marks indicating the possible addition of new levels. I don’t want to spoil anything, but again there are more secret stages than indicated. Now onto the lesser obvious ‘secrets’, namely the trophies. These are earned through various ways e.g.: finding them in an adventure-stage, finding them in a ‘race to the finish’ stage, getting them in a ‘snag the trophies’ stage or perhaps using the trophy-machine (costs coins though, which are earned when playing the game – even in multiplayer!). There are, I think, 256 trophies to collect and some of them, when earned, are used as items during play. All of this and much more will be unlocked when playing the game over – and over – again.
If you’re into fighting games, SSBM is a fresh change of pace. Especially if you have 4 gamepads and 3 visiting friends. The game is fast, fun and challenging. But as I said before – the game truly shines in multiplayer, seldom does one find such a tweakable game! Though I reviewed the game just as chaotic as the game is… I think every major thing was said.So, it was fun – until next time!
Quotes and Scores:
“The intro, which preludes the actual game, is a worthy intro indeed.”
“The SSBM demos don’t really excel in anything.”
“The menu works just fine. Just like a menu should :-)”
“Yep, a crosshair, giving you the option to blast the credits…”
“Combine all these elements and you get an almost perfect visual bliss!”
“it’s simply a job well done.”
“To me it seems to be just perfect.”
“…closing your eyes and totally believing you’re actually there.”
“…Nintendo is quite keen about the audio aspects of a game…”
“The controls are fairly simple.”
“…only objective in SSBM is to ring-out your opponents…”
“…great thing about multiplayer in SSBM is that it can be fully tweaked…”
“…the loadtimes are just sweet and totally short.”
“I think the concept of SSBM is very pure, simple but effective.”
“That’s it and that’s all, no deep story here.”
“The addiction level in SSBM is of high value indeed.”
“Nintendo has injected SSBM with a whole lot of secrets to be unlocked.”
“If you’re into fighting games, SSBM is a fresh change of pace.”
This review was created on 04-01-2002.
Only a few minor changes were made when the review was migrated to the X111.com’s “forum database”.