MS: Super Smash Bros Melee
Super Smash Bros. Melee is one of my most treasured gaming experiences. There’s so much to love in this slick, nostalgia-infused brawler but there’s one atypical reason that it’s so special to me – it’s the game that made me fully recognise the artistry of video game music.
Hearing so many classic themes from across Nintendo’s oeuvre, most of which were presented in orchestral quality sound, really opened my mind. It made me realise just how important music truly was to the video game experience, introduced me to reinterpretations and remixes of existing pieces and got me into listening to game music outside of the games themselves.
Of course, I had been very much aware of the use of music in film, games and other entertainment mediums at that point but like most people I just sort of accepted its presence and didn’t pay much mind to it. It was Melee‘s reverent, all-encompassing approach to its soundtrack that forced me to open my eyes, or rather, my ears. Having so many incredible sounding updates to so much of Nintendo’s classic music in one place was a really powerful experience, especially for those like myself who had been raised on that company’s games and systems.
My game music awakening was helped in no small part by Nintendo putting the majority of game’s soundtrack up online for free. The official English-language Melee site (which can still be partially seen via The Way Back Machine) would gradually dole out details, images and music on the build up to the game’s launch, eventually releasing all of Melee‘s level themes.
Back in 2001 I was barely on dial-up internet so I had to use a friend’s broadband connection to download these tracks and burn them to CDs before carting them back to my home computer. It’s hard to believe that we lived in a pre-USB, pre-high speed internet world a mere 13 years ago.
With European territories still being largely screwed over when it came to timely game releases (we had to wait about seven months after the North American launch for both Melee and the GameCube for those to hit our shores) these glorious musical nuggets helped sustain those fiending for the new Smash and the sparkly new GameCube console. It was a long, tough wait but despite all of the hype plus the high watermark set by these songs, the game and the soundtrack somehow ended up exceeding expectations when Melee finally released in the UK and Europe in May 2002.
If you have even the slightest bit of appreciation for Nintendo or video game music and have somehow have missed out on Melee you should seriously rectify that. Give it a listen, even if it’s just through YouTube, and perhaps you’ll gain a little more appreciation for the art form.