I'll leave it at that so you can run out and buy it.
What? Don't own a GameCube?
I actually originally heard about it from my super great wonderful editor Ophelea here at GI.net. It was being offered on Amazon.com via Toys 'R' Us. Unfortunately, they sold out in approximately 13 nanoseconds, and I was left with an 60-day ship date. Uh uh, that ain't gonna work for me. So, I cancelled my order and ransacked various Toys 'R' Us stores in the northern Virginia area. None had the deal.
Heartbroken, I headed home - and remembered that it was Tuesday, and that a certain movie I wanted to buy was out that day, so I swung by Best Buy to pick it up. While there I figured "what the heck" and checked the video game section to see if they had any GameCubes and lo and behold they had the same deal!
5 minutes later I walked out of the store with $200 worth of GameCube plus 3 extra controllers (it only comes with one) and my movie. Then I went out and bought a memory card and Donkey Konga 2 (plus bongos) but that review is elsewhere.
I spent all that because I love Super Smash Bros. Melee!
Okay, back to the game. Here's what's great about it:
There are several different ways to play. The most common way to play - in my experience - is the four-person, free-for-all battle. You pick one of a large cast of characters, all of them classic Nintendo characters. Zelda, Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Samus, Pikachu, Captain Falcon and more.
Then you proceed to pound the crap out of each other.
Each character has a variety of special attacks they can do, often with hollered phrases for them. For example, when Pikachu calls down lightning, he will yell out "PIKA!" One friend of ours has a penchant for that character and will do that move over and over again (gaining the "Stale Moves" accolade) which causes us all to scream "PIKA!" whenever you select Pikachu.
Yes. As you pound on people, they take damage in a percentage, from 0% to, well, over 300% possibly. The higher the percentage, the more likely you are to be sent flying away from the level to the left or right, or perhaps into the background or smashed into the screen. The person with the most "knock outs" wins.
Then the screen shows a list of what accolades people got. You get these for various reasons - such as the first attack, taking a set amount of damage, doing the same thing over and over, etc. Rinse and repeat. Play all night. We use drinking rules (take one drink for every KO you lost by) which guarantee that it's very hard to play by the end.
Not all levels are created equal. Some - like the Ice Climber's board - are so hard that you spend all your time dodging the environment and not your opponents. That can get very irritating very fast. The F-Zero track has, in my opinion, a good mix of danger while not being impossible to fight on.
There are other versions to the game. There is a single player mode where you go from battle to battle until you reach a final battle against a giant hand with 150 hit points. Defeat it, and you win - getting a chance to shoot the closing credits (for some reason) as you fly around in space. Sometimes you'll also get a challenger which will let you unlock new characters.
But that's all icing on the cake, in my opinion, to the free for all four player fun.
The sound and graphics work perfectly for this game. From the Donkey Kong Rap to the other familiar old-school songs, anyone who ever played the original NES is going to recognize something and enjoy it.
Simply put, there's almost nothing I find wrong with this game. Some of the challenges are stupidly hard - but, if you're like me, you usually have a friend who is always willing to put in the time to take on such challenges (or, perhaps, you are that type of person yourself).
Now I will be completely forthright and up front about one thing - a big part of the appeal of this game is not only the multiplayer, but also the nostalgia. You can still have fun if you have no idea of who any of the characters are. However, if you do remember all those old games, it's a great time, even if you don't recognize them all. And how can you not like Kirby sucking in Donkey Kong and spitting him back out while gaining one of his abilities?
(Kirby is my favorite character - almost impossible to fall off the platforms with him.)
Also, and to be completely honest, I don't consider this a worthwhile purchase for a single player only game. It may be for some people, but the sheer joy of 4-player matches is playing with other people in friendly, if vigorous, competition.
So if you have 3 friends, and like to compete with them - buy this game right now!
(Oh, and remember - it's on GameCube, so it's 4 players on the same system - not LAN or anything like that.)