By Joseph Dieckmann
“Super Smash Brothers Melee” is a fighting game released for the Gamecube system in 2001. For many years, “Melee” was considered to only be a party game for recreational purposes. But, as recently as 2010, “Melee” has become a competitive fighting game with thousands of players and spectators.
I believe that the main reason for the switch was the fact that people pushed the movement mechanics to a whole other level. This is due to the physics engine that “Melee” uses. Movement options like “wavedashing,” “leadgedashing,” “pivoting” and many more character-specific options as well.
All of these advanced movement techniques use the “Tech” maneuver. A “Tech” is when you use the L or R triggers on the controller to dodge into the ground when you land from the air. It is definitely better than a normal land with no inputs. This is because, when you Tech, you save more time when recovering from the landing.
Along with the evolution of “Melee”, a hierarchy of optimal characters emerged in the form of a “tier list.” A tier list is a list of all playable characters ranked in terms of optimization for competitive play. It is widely regarded that the character Fox was the best because of his fast movement and incredible moves.
This makes Fox a perfect character for fast and powerful “combos.” A combo is a string of inputs that make it so the opponent is stuck in a state of hit stun in which they have no control over their character. The Tech maneuver is also a vital part of Fox’s movement options.
But Fox isn’t the only character in “Melee”. There are many more characters with different moves, movement, sounds and even playstyles. This variety of characters is what makes “Melee” a great game. When playing “Melee”, you can express yourself through one of the characters.
For me, my favorite character is Falco because, unlike Fox, Falco’s moves throw the character vertically instead of horizontally.
In terms of graphics, “Melee” isn’t the best looking game by far. Even at the time of its release, “Melee” wasn’t even the best looking game for the Gamecube console. However despite all that, “Melee” had a feeling when you played it that was like no other fighting video game at the time.
It has an almost liberating feeling when you control your character. It has a graceful, yet rigid feeling when you flow and weave throughout the stage. It is a push and pull of what is humanly possible on the controller.
In terms of motor skills and hand dexterity, “Melee” is a very physically demanding game. This is due to the fact that when the developers for “Melee” created the game, they never made a limit to how many inputs the game could register.
This makes it so that certain combos are extremely effective when the inputs are sped up. This aspect is true with almost every character in some way. Each of which vary in timing, placement and damage percentage.
One of the most powerful and difficult combos to execute is Fox’s “Waveshine.” The Waveshine is when you shine by pressing down and b, wavedashing quickly after by dodging into the ground after a short jump (smallest jump possible) and then repeating to your desired damage percent.
The Waveshine is a Fox exclusive move that is known for its incredibly difficult execution. It has been known to break controllers and even injure people. Although, when done right, it can go on indefinitely causing an instant death to the opponent character.
I believe that, despite the age of the game, it has withstood the test of time in many ways. I think that, compared to other Smash Brothers games in the series, “Melee” has an unrivaled feeling of freedom and liberation that makes it the best game for me.
Featured Image (at the top of this post): A Super Smash Bros. Melee CD game is displayed in a Gamecube console, with its box next to it. PHOTO CREDIT: Maxime Lorant / Wikimedia Commons
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