Super Smash Bros. Melee is celebrating two decades since it first brought friends together and forced them to brawl on the Nintendo GameCube shortly after the console launched in 2001. And even this many years later, the game is arguably stronger than ever.
Melee sold over 7 million copies in its lifetime, making it the best-selling title on the GameCube and one of the biggest fighting games of all time. Now, even though the game hasn’t been officially re-released once, it still has a thriving community that plays the game every day and is one of the biggest fighting games 20 years later.
This is largely thanks to how active and supportive the Melee and general Smash community has been in running events, innovating on the gameplay, and finding new ways to invite new players into the competitive scene. That has been achieved through modding in training programs and celebrating the history of the game with projects such as The Smash Brothers or Metagame documentary series.
Speaking to the competitive side of things, which is where the community thrives, many players and fans think that this could be the deepest era yet. Representatives of the old guard like Mang0, Hungrybox, and Plup are still playing at the highest level while new-age players such as Zain and iBDW have reached the summit in recent years.
The competitions have also gotten larger and more competitive. In July, Smash Summit 11 set a community record, boasting a final prize pool of $155,640—the biggest in Smash history, at least until Ultimate Summit overtook it a month later.
Now, even Nintendo is being forced to acknowledge the competitive scene more frequently, partnering with Panda Global to launch the first official Super Smash Bros. competitive circuit sometime in 2022, which will feature Melee right alongside Ultimate.
The rocky relationship with the developer over the years, including multiple tournaments being shut down directly by the company, made the community members rely on themselves rather than support from Nintendo and has many people skeptical of what may come from the circuit.
We will have to wait and see how the company approaches the circuit and how much freedom the Melee community will have to be itself within the set guidelines, but even without that, Melee has stood the test of time and will continue to do so.