GameCube game ‘Super Smash Bros. Melee’ turns 15

“Super Smash Bros. Melee” is the second game in the “Super Smash Bros.” video game series. It was released Nov. 21, 2001, and to date is the most popular Nintendo GameCube game ever made. The game was created by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo and was labeled a “crossover fighting game”, meaning it didn’t follow the traditional lines of fighting games. “Super Smash Bros.” Featured non-original characters to the game. The game has 25 individual characters, all from various Nintendo franchises, including but not limited to Zelda, Mario Bros. and Pokémon.

There are currently four games in the series, though none as long-lasting as “Melee” yet. Each game thus far has expanded the character and stage sets even more, and fixed problems that were prevalent in the games before it. “Melee” transitioned to faster matches and more even staging for all characters. The games continue to get evolve with every new release, though “Melee” is still considered the favorite of all of them to many players around the world.

The game is best played with multiple players, though it does have a single-player section. The multi-player, and players fight until their lives run out, until a certain amount of time has gone by, or for the most amount of coins. Unlike other fighting games, the player loses a life when the fall off the edge of the stage, instead of when their health bar runs out. This process is determined by a percentage, and the higher the percentage, the more a player is knocked back when they get hit. Most moves in “Super Smash Bros. Melee” are accessed through one-button presses, or simple combos, unlike the traditional multiple button combo hits required in other fighting games.

“Super Smash Bros. Melee” received critical acclaim, with many reviewers commenting that the game had improved from its predecessor. In 2001, the game was chosen for Imagine Game Network’s “Game of the Year” Award, and is still frequently ranked on other lists of best games on GameCube, and overall for Nintendo consoles and games. To many competitive players of the various games in the series, “Super Smash Bros. Melee”’s status as the best game in the series holds true.

There are many competitions held around the world for “Melee,” and multiple play the game as their career. In fact, the top five players in the world have been given the title “Five Gods of Melee.” Every year, “Melee” is included in the Evolution Championship Series (or EVO for short), a competition consisting solely of fighting games. The competition in 2016 drew in more than two thousand competitors, for the top prize of fourteen thousand dollars. There are actually several competitions that take place in Bozeman over the course of the year that include a “Melee” tournament, including the Fall Brawl event in late October.

The highly acclaimed status wouldn’t be true without the inclusion of lead designer, Masahiro Sakurai. Sakurai created a mock-up version using Nintendo characters (like the Mario Bros. from their titular game, Link and Zelda from the Legend of Zelda series, and Kirby), and  of a game the company had in the works, “Dragon King: The Fighting Game”. Without this inclusion of popular characters, Sakurai felt the game would fail. Sakurai’s version of “Dragon King” was immediately put into production, and eventually released internationally to become the first game of the “Smash Bros.” series. Without Sakurai’s innovative approach to the game, what would have become of “Dragon King” might have faded from popularity like many other fighting games in the 90s.