A new challenger has appeared.
This is the list of At the Buzzer’s top 25 games of all-time, as voted on by the main ATB cast members and other friends of the show. For more information on how this whole thing works or for the other games on the list, check out the Related Links at the bottom of this post.
16) Super Smash Bros. Melee (GC)
Chris: Sometimes I disagree with the majority when it comes to video games, but this is one case where I don’t: Melee is the best game in a great series.
I covered a couple of my beefs with Super Smash Bros. Brawl earlier in this list, including the random tripping and slower gameplay. But this isn’t about Brawl’s flaws; it’s about what made Melee so great. There are plenty of reasons why SSBM became the best-selling Gamecube game of all-time.
Melee essentially took the formula from the original N64 game and expanded it in every way. You want more characters? Well, the roster went from 12 to 25. Need some unlockables to reward you as you progress through the game? Here, have these bazillion trophies (and fight to unlock almost half the cast while you’re at it). Looking for a new spin on a single player experience? Heck, you can choose between a revamped arcade mode and the new adventure mode!
The main reason that the Super Smash Bros. series succeeds, however, is the multiplayer experience, and that’s where Melee had it right. I remember reading complaints from reviewers back in the day that the controls felt somewhat “unresponsive” or that the game was “too fast.” Those people sucked at playing video games. Equal parts accessible and complex, Melee handled like a pro, which is exactly why it’s still the preferred game on the competitive circuit to this day. Wavedashing and other mechanics felt great, and the Gamecube controller was one of the best in the business. Add it all up and you have one of the best video games Nintendo has ever made.
Dave: The 2D fighting game that I’ve played the most, Melee is the only one that I’ll still even want to play to this day. Melee made fighting games somehow easy and challenging at the same time. Instead of having every different character have 15 different combinations to learn, each different Nintendo character had their own move based on a template of button combos. Donkey Kong will pound the ground with the down and B button, while Pikachu will call his lighting to him, shocking anyone nearby. The character selection is important in that you have to know their moves; however, you don’t have to have a homework assignment on how to use them.
That doesn’t even get into the design of the levels or the new one player mode. The level design is at its best, with giant, ever changing levels and simple 1 platform levels where two fighters can go mano a mano. But the single player mode is what kept bringing me back. This time with the “Adventure Mode” we could take our character through a side-scrolling world with some fighting against the computer mixed in. It broke the monotony that I’ve found in certain fighting games. The mini-games were fabulous as well, with the home run derby, where the entire goal is to beat the crap out of a sandbag, before hitting it as far as possible. Even though it has less features and characters than the Wii title “Brawl,” it still remains my favorite by far.
Shaun: I’ve unlocked every trophy in Melee.
That’s both a statement of arrogance and an embarrassing confession. I put my time in with Melee, and I was rewarded at every turn.
Where can I even start? Melee expanded upon the original in almost every way possible. Featuring more game modes, including the excellent Adventure mode, and 13 more playable characters, it was so much bigger and better than its predecessor that it borders on absurdity. Then — I’m not done yet — you add in the expansive trophy system, which chronicles every point of Nintendo history under the sun (and which I can only surmise was the original inspiration for Microsoft points and PlayStation Trophies), and you have a title with a staggering amount of replayability and content.
AND finally — still not done — you can’t forget about the multiplayer, which to this day is one of the most addictive and dynamic competitive (or co-op, depending) gaming experiences ever. Screw Halo and Goldeneye — it’s all about Mario punching Pikachu’s little yellow body into the stratosphere. There’s a reason Melee is still a staple of gaming, even with the release of its slightly inferior sequel, Brawl. If you don’t know why, you should probably stop reading this and immediately find out for yourself.
I’m done now.