Welcome to favorite video games month, where we’re providing a healthy distraction through what has always been debatable as “healthy.”
Until dance mats and the Nintendo Wii became ways to get video game players moving, video games were primarily sedentary activities. While I love some of those more “active” games, I spent alot of free time my senior year of college (and beyond) mastering a very sedentary game.
I mean, the characters weren’t sedentary. They were doing something…very active.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Super Smash Bros. Melee is a 2001 Nintendo Game Cube game, released on December 3, 2001, just as few weeks after the North American launch of that console. A sequel to 1999’s Nintendo 64 game Super Smash Bros., the Nintendo All-Stars return to battle to the finish – causing enough damage to knock their fellow All-Stars off of themed battlegrounds, with the ultimate goal of defeating Crazy Hand.
Gone are the boxy graphics of Nintendo 64, in are the lush, beautifully-detailed graphics of the Game Cube. To celebrate the advancement of graphics from system to system, a full motion video introduction was created to usher in the adventure the Nintendo All-Stars would go on. The games that followed would do the same, but Melee (in my humble opinion) did it best, setting players up for the ultimate geekout moment!
The first time I saw that, I was all “oooooh!” and I wasn’t nearly the geek at 22 years old that I am now.
This video still does it for me!
Uploaded by Allison Venezio Preston / Allison’s Written Words
While the basic concept of the original game – do battle with your fellow All-Stars and beat the game – Melee adds a new feature: an Adventure mode (kind of a “story” mode) that combines battle with a progressing story, leading up to a finally three-part match on the battleground, which is the final destination.
And if you’ve played Super Mario games enough, you know who is waiting at the end.
Can you handle the melee?
A Critical Favorite…and A Commercial Success
Super Smash Bros. Melee was both a critical favorite and commercial success, selling 7.09 million copies by 2008 (when its successor, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, was released). This game introduced Adventure Mode, and that would only be enhanced upon with the sequel. The graphics, while not what they are now, were incredible for 2001 – definitely a perfect demonstration of what Game Cube was capable of…and a preview of what the future held for Nintendo games. While Adventure mode and single-player modes weren’t its biggest selling point, the multiplayer mode was noted as a strong component of the game.
I wouldn’t know – I’ve always preferred playing this solo.
This game also featured two characters unfamiliar to North American players – Roy and Marth from Fire Emblem, which hadn’t seen a release outside of Japan yet (that has since changed). I remember when I got this game, and an enemy approached, I said “who is that?” and then when his counterpart approached at the end of the game (obviously because I had to try the character!), I looked them up. I’d never heard of Fire Emblem, but like this game’s amazing gameplay, it was only the beginning of what was to come for both franchises. Roy and Marth are only two of twenty-six playable characters in the game.
Allison Plays The Melee!
I knew of this game from working in a video store, even though the game had been on the shelf for a year and a half before I started working there in 2003. Unfortunately, our store’s only copy was never returned, and the family who rented it never came in to pay the giant late fee for that – and several other games – they didn’t bring back. When I got my Game Cube in 2005, I special ordered a copy of this game, without ever having played it. I’d played the Nintendo 64 version a few times, and I loved it, so I knew I would enjoy this game too.
Even in early 2005, this game was a bit difficult to get – it was backordered, and I had to wait a little over a month for it. It was totally worth the wait, as it is one of my favorite video games of all time.
Even when I got my Nintendo Wii in 2008, I kept my copy of Melee, because I could still play it, and I wanted to be able to go back to it whenever I wanted. I alternated playing this with playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl, whose Adventure Mode (which was a full-fledged story with a plot and cut scenes), I have yet to beat.
I’ve gotten close – I’m at the end – but I still haven’t beat it.
In 2007, I was determined to beat the 100-Man Melee. I’d been trying to beat it since I’d gotten the game, and it eluded me. Everytime I got so close to knocking the last wire frame man or woman off the battleground…I got knocked out myself. I tried a few different characters, but I just couldn’t do it. Finally, I decided to try Donkey Kong, a character I generally don’t play as, because I had an idea.
It was the longest, most excruciating experience – my hands hurt and my contacts dried out – but I finally – FINALLY! – beat the 100-man melee. I was exhausted and in pain, but I did it. The way I stared at the screen, almost unblinking, I was convinced I was going to have a stroke. I tried quite a few more times after that, but it seemed to be a fluke, and I pretty much gave up on the hope of ever mastering the melee again.
And this time, I had recorded proof that it happened!
I went into recording this figuring I was just going to try again, after so many futile attempts, and at least make a good gameplay video of it. I didn’t record my commentary during play, since I needed to be completely focused, but I’m pretty sure I would have screamed, and the audible sound of a game controller being thrown would have been heard on the microphone.
I was so excited after I finished playing, that I composed myself and recorded a commentary.
Upload via Allison Venezio Preston / Allison’s Written Words
My favorite characters to play as are Kirby, Jigglypuff, Pikachu, Mario, Dr. Mario, Yoshi, and Princess Peach (not in that order after Kirby). I absolutely love adorable Kirby – he’s been one of my favorite video game characters since I got Kirby’s Dreamland for Game Boy when I was ten years old. Adorable and all pink marshmallow-like, he’s just so much fun to play as, especially when you suck up your opponents and take on their abilities.
Plus, he flies. He’s great for Adventure Mode!
If Kirby’s Dreamland gave me a love for Kirby, it was Melee that solidified it. Two years ago, I bought Kirby Star Allies for Nintendo Switch, and beat it within a few weeks of buying it. Best thing about Switch game is that once you beat it, new content becomes available that enhances the game you already beat. So, you never actually “beat” it.
Of all the Kirby variations I have seen, my absolute favorite is, hands down, Link Kirby.
So much so, I made a mixed media piece of Kirby Link…
I’ll definitely be making an all-vinyl version of him. He’s so stinkin’ cute.
I actually played Super Smash Bros. Melee for the first time in about 2 1/2 years while I was writing this article (hard job, I know!), and found the problem I always have with this game is alive and well – I have to play the game on “Very Easy” if I haven’t played in awhile. When I was playing more consistently, I was able to up the difficulty to “Normal,” but I haven’t been able to do that in a long time.
I actually have filmed gameplay of this game a few times – twice with commentary in 2017…
And once without. This was from my “research” gameplay.
Like I said, tough job.
All videos uploaded via Allison Venezio Preston / Allison’s Written Words
And Now, You!
I’d love to hear your stories of Melee, or any of the other Super Smash Bros. games? Have you unlocked every character, conquered the 100-Man Melee, or knocked the sandbag super far in the Home Run mini game?
Is Kirby or Jigglypuff cuter?
Tough call. I don’t even like Pokemon, and this shot gets me every time!
Sound off in the comments below, or be social on social media!
My favorite video games month continues next week – and all month – every Tuesday!
Have a great day, and happy gaming!