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In Retrospect: Super Smash Bros. Melee

Adam Koper recalls this classic fighting game with fond memories

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Smash Bros. Melee

Later this year Nintendo will be releasing its latest additions to the Super Smash Bros. series on the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. Undoubtedly Nintendo will expand the series with improved graphics and gameplay as well as the addition of new characters and stages in the manner we have come to expect over the years. These games will probably be well received by both critics and gamers, with everyone hailing them as worthy extensions to the Super Smash Bros. series. Still, neither game will become as dear to me as Super Smash Bros. Melee, which was one of the first console games I ever bought.

Released back in 2001, just a short while after the GameCube itself, Melee was only the second title in the Super Smash Bros. series. The original had been an immensely popular title for the Nintendo 64, mainly because it allowed you to watch your favourite Nintendo characters tear each other to shreds. To this day, that remains the most important feature. Melee stayed true to the original's format, allowing up to four players to fight it out as characters such as Mario, Link and Kirby, on a variety of Nintendo themed stages.

SBM

Melee was arguably the GameCube's most memorable title. It was definitely the game I played most as I was growing up, mainly because of the list of playable characters, stages and collectable trophies that could be acquired throughout the game. The graphics may not look that special now, but at the time they were a massive step up from the blocky visuals of the Nintendo 64. The soundtrack was also top notch, and the main theme remains instantly recognisable more than ten years on. On the whole Melee was a great improvement on the Nintendo 64 version.

It was also a game that brought people together. Released way back when online gaming was in its infancy (Xbox Live was released the following year), a 4-player Melee match was a rare and beautiful thing, requiring much organisation and coordination. I myself was the host of many get-togethers, organised with the sole purpose of playing Melee for hours on end. On one occasion I recall spending over an hour in my room with a couple of friends, trying to recreate the infamous 'black-hole' glitch, which could raise a player's damage to the maximum 999% instantly. It may seem geeky now, but after going through the ritual step-by-step as stipulated by an online cheat page we had found, and successfully triggering the glitch, we felt as if we had genuinely achieved something special.

Smash Bros.

After suffering poor console sales and losing out to the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox, Melee was the GameCube's saving grace. Upon its release it became the fastest selling GameCube game, and soon became the console's best selling title, with over 7 million copies sold by the time of the GameCube's discontinuation in 2007. While the GameCube itself may have been a flop, Melee helped to maintain Nintendo's reputation for making great games.

While Melee was naturally superseded by Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which was released on the Wii in 2008, it will always be remembered as the game that did the most to improve the Smash Bros. series. There's no doubt that Melee's stellar reputation has improved with time and, perhaps, I am being too kind to a game that was arguably an advertising vehicle for Nintendo's products, but nonetheless it deserves to be revered as one of Nintendo's finest. Despite having been released more than a decade ago, onto a console that was considered to have flopped, Melee remains the ultimate celebration of Nintendo.

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