Generally, every list will have to start out with Pichu. More of a gimmick than anything, Pichu is the worse version of Pikachu. With abilities that damage itself, and every other move a weaker form of Pikachu’s attacks, Pichu only gets played when trying to show off for your friends, or to show them just how much better a Smash player you are than them. Playing as Pichu is the equivalent as playing with a very, very large handicap.
Though Bowser improved in later games, King Koopa’s entrance into the Super Smash world was anything but impressive. Though the concept of the heavy-hitting, slow bruiser has been done in fighting games time and time again, Bowser in Melee is so unbearably slow that winning with him becomes a daunting task. Landing a string of attacks feels extra rewarding because of this, but there is little way to make those hits a consistent occurrence. Slow is rarely a good thing in a game that requires so much precision and quick-hitting button combinations.
The Princess of Hyrule’s first inclusion as a playable character is best summed up by, “How quickly can I transform into Sheik?”. Zelda’s only saving grace is her ability to run away and recover when being knocked off the stage. She doesn’t have a heap of impressive moves, or anything that makes her stand out from the rest of the roster. Her ranged attacks are limited and she gets even worse when the fight gets closer. Zelda hasn’t gotten much love in any Smash Bros game, and Melee was the start of that trend.
With a similar move-set to Marth, Roy packs a strong punch but is a bit on the slower side. However, unlike Bowser, Roy does have redeeming qualities. With the same general patterns as Marth, there is certainly some redeeming qualities to using Roy. He still has problems competing with some that higher up on this list, but he is more viable than those previously listed. There is also a true sense of satisfaction in landing the charged up sword, even if he takes damage in the process.
22. Mr. Game & Watch
One of the more unique additions on the roster, Mr. Game and Watch has a style that is distinct from the rest of the field. He’s hampered by slow running speed and predictable recovery options, but does bring a few things to the table.
With a move (the hammer) that could be useless or game-changing dependent completely on chance, opponents cannot be caught underestimating Mr. Game and Watch. Throw in some strong “A” attacks and other quirky moves, he is a quirky choice for the casual Super Smash Bros Melee players.
Many hours were spent leaving your GameCube on so you could get a hold of this iconic Pokémon, and many were left disappointed when he was finally unlocked. Mewtwo is fairly mediocre across the board. Equipped with things you would expect, teleports, and shadow balls aplenty, Mewtwo just leaves something to be desired.
These abilities unfortunately don’t always translate together, and a very floaty jumps often leaves him vulnerable more often than not. The nostalgia factor certainly plays a factor here though, but when that wears off you are left with a low-tier character. But hey, at least he looks cool.
Kirby is the first from the original Smash Bros to make it onto the list. Though a top pick in the first game, Kirby took a massive dip in usefulness in Melee. Moves and combos that previously would be Kirby’s go-to suddenly don’t work as often. This combined with Kirby’s lack of weight making it easy to get bumped off the stage makes for a below average character.
Still, Kirby does retain most of the original moves along with a few others, and fans of the original Smash Bros will more than likely accept this version. Always a fan-favorite.
Much like Kirby, Ness was fantastic in the original Super Smash Bros. Strong attacks and generally fun gameplay (there are few things as satisfying as landing a home run), Ness still remains a decent choice that lacks that extra punch.
Somebody had to pull the short end of the straw when the game transferred over the GameCube, and Ness just didn’t get nearly as many buffs as several others on the roster. Aside from annoying your friends by spamming “PK Fire” over and over again, Ness doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table.
18. Donkey Kong
Hard-hitting offense and decent recovery options, DK makes for a feasible choice in Smash Bros Melee. He has a lot of weight, making it hard for him to fly off the stage ala Bowser, but has quicker attacks and movements than the King of Koopa’s. This makes him enjoyable to play with friends while still giving the user a chance to be competitive.
There are also few things as gratifying as DK spiking an opponent to the bottom of the screen, or landing a charged-up punch. And who doesn’t love grabbing their opponent that just spawned and walking off the stage to both of your deaths? Instant friendship-ender.
Equipped with all of his gadgets and do-dads from the Legend of Zelda series, Link is the character most players fall in love with their first time playing. From being able to throw bombs and boomerangs, sword combinations, and solid movement, Link is able to easily control any stage. Though he is rarely played at professional level, he is generally loved by fans of the game.
The only reason he does not rank higher on the list is his low recovery options. If you get knocked off the stage, good luck, because Link struggles to get back. His strengths are most obvious on a stage like Hyrule Temple, or any map that has a lot of room to fire off projectiles freely.
Image Source: YouTube
Mario’s best friend makes his return to Smash Bros, and received a nice buff as the series moved to the GameCube. Players who devote their time to learning Yoshi’s mechanics can become elite at the game, with top level movement, combos, and recovery options. Yoshi has two fatal flaws however, and that is the lag time in between moves, and lack of an Up-B. If the player misses while attacking with Yoshi, (especially the throw) there will be inevitable punishment.
Yoshi is also doomed if an opponent capitalizes after using a double jump, as he has no move to recover if launched off the stage during the sequence. At the very least Yoshi has the most adorable death cry of the entire roster.
15. Young Link
A clone character – the first to rank higher than the original – Young Link is the more efficient version of Link. With little subtleties in how each of his moves land, Young Link is simply the faster, quicker counterpart.
The youthful version shoots off projectiles quicker making him a pest to go up against, and has faster basic attacks making him more dangerous up close. His recovery is even better, making him better than Link overall. If you’re a fan of the Legend of Zelda series main protagonist, Young Link is the one to use.
It’s appropriate that Mario falls close to the center of our list. Mario is the starter character for new players, casual fans, and even veterans of the game. The face of Nintendo is portrayed rather-well in all versions of Smash Bros, generally as a well-balanced choice that is even across the board.
Strong hits but nothing overpowering, ranged and up-close attacks, a decent but not amazing recovery, and good combos. Mario is easily picked up and learned by any who are interested, but lack of any real advantage usually keeps professional players away from him. He’s the ultimate comfort pick.
The younger brother actually gets the nod here. With new, advanced controls, Nintedo was able to differentiate Mario and Luigi more than in the previous iteration of the game. Luigi was granted a slew of original moves, each with their own interactions and value.
His recovery is much more beneficial than Mario due to his higher jump and other options. Although he has slower running speed, Luigi can be sped up tremendously in the hands of a skilled player having the longest “wavedash” in the game. For once, he just outclasses Mario. Luigi is living proof that Player 2 isn’t always so bad.
The main antagonist of the Legend of Zelda series was made usable for the first time in videogame history with Super Smash Bros Melee. Ganondorf is a wizard that uses magic – and sometimes a sword – to terrorize Hyrule and defeat his opponents. His appearances in the Legend of Zelda games would make one think that he could make for a unique Smash Bros character with a distinct move set from the rest of the cast. Puzzlingly, Nintendo instead decided it would be a good idea to make him a clone of Captain Falcon.
If you dismiss the fact that Captain Falcon has literally no connection to Ganondorf or the Legend of Zelda series, it works well enough and is now an accepted oddity in the Smash Bros community. Though he doesn’t make it in to the top ten of the list, watching a professional play him on YouTube is a treat in and of itself. He hits a bit harder than his racer counterpart, although substantially slower as well. The clone of Captain Falcon can hold his own, and has developed a following as a standalone character.
11. Dr. Mario
Nintendo seemed like they were out of ideas when the concept of Dr. Mario was pitched for Smash Bros Melee. Another clone of Mario and Luigi to clutter the roster was something not many were too hyped about it.
But credit has to go to the developers, as they created Dr. Mario in a way that kept him fresh and unique from his counterparts. His “pills” attack differ in their trajectory and use to the typical “fireball”, and he is a bit heavier and stronger than the original plumber. Professional players actually prefer the doctor compared to either of the other versions.
Ash’s favorite Pokémon makes a thunderous return to Smash Bros and is yet again a solid choice for users. Pika’s biggest strength will always be in his speed and agility, which are in full force in this iteration. Quick attacks designed to stun opponents, Pikachu is favored by new, casual, veteran and professional players alike. The recognizable look makes him a popular pick, and the easiness in which he is played makes players stick to the little mouse time and time again.
Space’s most popular bounty hunter, Samus has now become a staple in all versions of Smash Bros. Melee Samus resembles other iterations strongly, equipped with all of the weapons and gadgets gamers have come to love from the Metroid series.
A charge shot that does high-impact damage, the ‘Screw Attack” to get out of dire situations, and a “grapple beam” to keep Samus’ foes within reach at all times. Samus was the character that a lot of people picked their first time ever playing Smash 64 due to her cool looks and wide arrange of moves, but her continued balance over the library of Smash Bros games allow her to be a popular pick for many years.
8. Ice Climbers
Ice Climbers were a peculiar inclusion for Smash Bros when announced. Not many played the NES game growing up, making the pair an unfamiliar choice for users when first booting up the game. They quickly won many over due to their unorthodox style. The Ice Climbers are a pair, Popo is controlled by the user while Nana loosely follows and mimics the user’s moves. It makes for a fun style that allows for some sweet plays.
Around the competitive scene, they are notoriously known for their “wobbling” technique which is essentially an endless grab that racks up damage while the opponent is left helpless. If the opponent doesn’t know how to escape the grab, the match is basically assured.
7. Captain Falcon
A fan favorite, watching and playing Captain Falcon is a sight to see on Super Smash Bros Melee. Falcon is lighting fast with the capability to pull off deadly combos in the hands of a experienced player. Enjoyed by users of all levels, Captain Falcon began and remains a staple of the game, though he definitely reached his peak during Melee.
The most dangerous maneuver in the Captain’s explosive repertoire is certainly the “Knee of Justice”, an aerial attack that does massive damage and knock back if landed on the “sweet spot”. But we also can’t disregard how satisfying it is to land the perfect “Falcon Punch”.
The “helpless” Princess Peach is finally able to show off her skills in Super Smash Bros. Since her introduction to gamers, Peach has consistently been portrayed as the “Damsel in Distress”, needing Mario to save her from her eventual abduction by Bowser. She turns all of those predetermined notions on their head with her Smash iteration, as she is one of the toughest fighters on the entire roster.
Peach utilizes her nifty umbrella to recover onto the stage, and set up tricky movements to confuse her opponents. Her basic attacks have great range and can pack a punch dealing heavy damage. Probably her most intriguing nuance is her ability to conjure items from the ground. Peach generally will grab turnips each with different attributes that can be used to throw at her enemies, but every once in a while she can grab a special item such as a Bob-omb or a laser sword making the game instantly more interesting.
Oh that dreaded puff ball. Everybody knows a friend that uses Jigglypuff. Constantly spinning around the stage in a 4-player game, messing up your combos and being an all-around nuisance. Puff is an absolute annoyer, at every level of the game. Novices are relegated to falling asleep while falling off the stage and floating in the air until they run out of jumps, but Jigglypuff can be a dominant force when put in the right hands.
She can survive nearly anything that sends off the side of the stage due to her plethora of jumps, and her rest attack is a devastating game-changer if used wisely. We can’t help but wonder if the designers of the game ever intended for Jigglypuff to be as great as she has turned out to be.
The sword-wielder from Fire Emblem makes his Smash Bros debut in Melee and immediately hit the ground running as a top choice. Equipped with a slick-looking cape and a sword that is nearly on par with Link’s, Marth made a name for himself and the Fire Emblem series with his inclusion in the Smash Bros series. Though it goes far past his cool looks, as he is a very strong choice that is relatively easy to pick up and play for novice of the game.
Though he has no actual ranged attacks, Marth’s sword covers great distances, with skilled players able to hit a sweet spot at the tip of the sword – the “tipper” – that does extra damage and can send opponents screeching across the screen. Combined with a mean grab and good speed, Marth can be frustrating to go up against and a blast to use.
Speed is Sheik’s strongest weapon, being able to stream her throws and combo’s into an endless barrage of attacks that inevitably gain her the advantage. She doesn’t take nearly as much precision as the others on the list, as her quickness allows the user to make up for any slight mistake that may happen. Using her speed to full advantage allows you to set the tempo of the match, as it allows the user to play aggressively or passively to their content. With great basic attacks and aerial combos, Sheik is clearly the strongest Legend of Zelda representative in Super Smash Bros Melee.
The clone of Fox, Falco’s differences make him only a little more slowed down from his partner, but adds more high-impact to the majority of his moves. The speed difference is glaring at first, but a player adept at using Falco can mitigate his slower running speed by utilizing his agility while in the air. Another fan favorite and playable at any level, Falco has everything a great character could need.
Speed, combo ability, power, and recovery all contribute to his fun game play, and fans of the game have found creative and unique ways to stream his moves into powerful sets. Professional players will also vouch that subtleties like the speed at which Falco falls can make a huge difference within a match. Falco is at the top of the roster when factoring in all facets, and the community widely agrees. But there is a reason he isn’t the leader of his squadron…
Image Source: SmashPedia, YouTube
Was there any doubt? All of the grudge matches settled on Final Destination were dealt with the anthropomorphic, main antagonist from the Star Fox series, Fox McCloud. Insanely fast, a reflective shield and with a laser gun to boot, Fox is fun to play and filled with potential. Widely successful in the professional Smash community, players far and wide consider Fox to be the cream of the crop within Super Smash Bros Melee. On a casual level, he stands as a balanced character that is both fun to watch and play. Veterans begin to get a peek into what Fox is capable of doing with his speed and combinations, but professionals who understand the nuances of the game take Fox to an incredibly high level.