20 Years of Super Smash Bros. Melee

super smash bros. melee 20 years

Super Smash Bros. Melee launched in Japan 20 years ago this week! To celebrate that November 21, 2001 initial release (and Western debut on December 3), we’re looking back at our favorite Super Smash Bros. Melee memories. What are yours?

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I have a lot of Melee memories, but the most vivid was unlocking Mewtwo. To get ’em, you had to log 20 hours of versus matches, which is easier with more controllers multiplying your effort. But it was launch! I had one controller, and I wanted to get all the characters unlocked to play with friends ASAP! So I left it on overnight and while I was at school a couple of times.

It made me so nervous. What if the power flickered? What if someone got home before I did and turned it off? But I was also psyched. I was champing at the bit to get home and try to beat and unlock Mewtwo. And everyone at the lunch table and marching band practice knew it. “Look at these cool moves!,” I’d say, pointing at the Nintendo Power I had brought with me because I was the coolest kid in my high school.

Honestly? It took a few tries. But I did it, and I felt unreasonably accomplished when I did. — Graham

super smash bros. melee character select

When I was much younger, my parents had these weekly hang-out sessions with the other Asian parents in the neighborhood. Obviously, not all of us were that close, and we all had different ideas of what was fun and what was not. Inevitably, that meant that every week, at least one kid would have a breakdown about something or other and have to go running to the parents.

But somehow, Super Smash Bros. was the one thing that we could all agree on playing. Even if someone got bored halfway through, they’ll always migrate back to the couch and cheer on the rest. It made something that felt like a chore at times an enjoyable activity with friends.

Granted, Melee just made the “have a breakdown and run to the parents” thing more frequent, but hey, I was sick of Boy A (I vividly remember exactly who it was because that’s how frustrated I was) grabbing me as Donkey Kong and hurling me off the stage. — Stephanie

super smash bros. melee 20 years

I don’t have a lot of memories of Super Smash Bros. Melee, seeing as I didn’t own a GameCube until a few years ago. And yet, even GameCube non-havers like me couldn’t escape its gravity, as Melee would never fail to come up whenever any Smash-related discussions would arise online, well into the era of Brawl and the 3DS/Wii U incarnations of the game.

In fact, until Ultimate came around to seal its coffin, Melee felt like the yardstick against which all other Smash games or in some cases Nintendo games would be judged by some vocal segment of the gaming public. Even its memes continued well into the current era, and hearing someone invoke “No Items. Fox Only. FINAL DESTINATION.” still gets a laugh out of me. — Josh

What’s your favorite memory from 20 years of Super Smash Bros. Melee? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter! And read our other handy roundtables for more thoughts from the Siliconera team.

Graham Russell
About The Author
Graham Russell, editor-at-large, has been writing about games for various sites and publications since 2007. He’s a fan of streamlined strategy games, local multiplayer and upbeat aesthetics. He joined Siliconera in February 2020, and served as its Managing Editor until July 2022. When he’s not writing about games, he’s a graphic designer, web developer, card/board game designer and editor.