After 17 Years, Super Smash Bros. Melee is Still One of the Biggest Fighting Games

Every year sees the release of countless new video game consoles and titles. There are your first person shooters, like Call of Duty and Battlefield, and role-playing games, like Fallout and Final Fantasy, and every year, millions of people buy these titles, only for them to end up collecting dust on the shelf a few months later.

This makes it surprising, then, that one of the most popular and competitive fighting games on the market right now was released 17 years ago. Of course, this game is none other than Super Smash Bros.: Melee.

Super Smash Bros. has been a popular franchise by Nintendo since its conception on the Nintendo 64, all the way back in 1999. Mascots of various Nintendo titles, from Super Mario Bros. to Pokemon to The Legend of Zelda, together in a bizarre fighting game, where rather than whittling down a health bar, your goal was to knock the opponent off the screen.

Immediately, Smash was a hit. People clamored for a sequel, and in 2001, the people got their wish.

Super Smash Bros.: Melee (colloquially known as Melee) was released on the Nintendo GameCube, with plenty of new features, gameplay modes, and most of all, characters.

Now, you could go through an adventure through every Nintendo world imaginable, all while playing as characters as popular as Mario and as obscure as Marth and Mr. Game & Watch.

But what really caught the eye of Smash fans was the gameplay at its core. Melee was designed to be a more casual party game, but people quickly caught on to aspects of the game that allowed for so much more. You could use certain techniques to speed up your gameplay, be it through attacking more frequently or through moving around the stages faster.

Players began to learn how to combo characters across a stage and back and, for the first time, Smash became a fully fledged competitive fighting game.

Since 2004, Melee has been the most popular Smash title, not only with veterans who’ve played the game since release, but with newcomers to competitive fighting games as well.

Such newcomers include Joshua Holdridge and Antonio Lang, two junior year students. The two have played Melee since 2015, and while they might not be entirely active with their participation in tournaments now, they still have a deep love for the game.

“I love how fast paced it is and how quick one has to be to read and react to what the other person is doing and try to respond properly to it,” said Holdridge. “Watching tournaments of top players being able to move extremely quickly around the stage and do insane combos even while the other person was doing everything they could to mix them up was something I found amazing and really ignited a reason for me to play and get better at Melee over other fighting games.”

When asked about his experience with the game, Lang said, “I started playing Melee in 2015 after seeing APEX 2015 in January. From that moment on, I’ve loved to watch top-level Melee competitions and make a slight attempt to improve my own skills. I kept playing Melee at Smash Club almost every week over my freshman and sophomore years. I also played a little bit of netplay to try and practice, but I definitely preferred watching top level Melee rather than trying to reach it myself.”

With the official 17 year anniversary of Super Smash Bros. Melee having just passed on November 21st, and the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate coming December 7th, a retrospective on the game seemed in order.

“Other games have never been able to build something like the Melee community, and a larger community with people helping each other is something that I’ve longed for, so having more people join would be awesome,” said Holdridge.

So, whether you’re a veteran gamer or a newcomer to the Smash Bros. universe, a new, expanded (every character from every game and more) edition is soon to come; so, pick up the sticks and get to Smashin’.