There are 26 characters in the entire game, the 12 veterans and 14 newcomers. There are 15 starter characters and eleven more which can be unlocked. All twelve characters have returned from Super Smash Bros., however ten characters from the previous game are available from the start and the other two are the same as the previous game.
- Captain Falcon
- Donkey Kong
- Ice Climbers
- Peach (Daisy)
- Master Hand (Except by glitching)
- Crazy Hand
- Giga Bowser
- Male Wireframe
- Female Wireframe
- Single Ice Climber (Can only be played via debug menu, or in the Target Test)
There are eighteen starter stages and eleven more which can be unlocked.
- Fountain of Dreams
- Great Bay
- Green Greens
- Icicle Mountain
- Jungle Japes
- Kongo Jungle
- Mute City
- Pokémon Stadium
- Princess Peach's Castle
- Rainbow Cruise
- Yoshi's Island
- Yoshi's Story
- Big Blue
- Brinstar Depths
- Dream Land
- Final Destination
- Flat Zone
- Kingdom II
- Kongo Jungle
- Poké Floats
- Yoshi's Island
These stages cannot be unlocked, and can only be played under certain circumstances (or if the game is hacked).
- Target Test Stages
- Trophy Collector
- Race to the Finish
- Mushroom Kingdom Adventure
- Underground Maze
- Brinstar Escape Shaft
- F-Zero Grand Prix
- Rest Station
- Home-Run Stadium
- Majora's Mask
These stages can only be used when the game is hacked. Some are functional, most are not.
* Can be activated with other hacks, but not Debug Mode.
- Classic Mode
- Adventure Mode
- All-Star Mode (must be unlocked)
- Event Match
- Versus Mode
- Special Melee
- Tournament Mode
The game features several points to be unlocked, most of which include the trophies, unlockable characters and stages. Some of them are unlocked by a special way, like achieving a certain distance on the Home-Run Contest, while others are obtained by the Lottery. For a full list, see Complete Melee Unlockables.
Changes from N64Edit
While Melee mainly follows the same formula introduced in the original game by retaining most elements, several differences exist between the two games. The following list, while not all-inclusive, addresses several of the changes. Please note that this list does not include obvious changes, such as a different button scheme/controller and Melee-only characters and items.
- All characters have four special moves; veterans now have a new Side B move. In some cases (such as Link), the character's old Neutral B got moved to their Side B, with the newly added move becoming the Neutral B.
- The number of throws each character can perform has also been increased to four; all veterans now have an up throw and a down throw. Some forward or back throws have been changed to a character's up or down throw (Kirby's forward throw in Super Smash Bros., for example, is his up throw in this game). A majority of the throws themselves have been decreased significantly in power and knockback, though some are great for comboing.
- While grabbing, characters can now pummel the opponent.
- The pacing of the game has been increased.
- The amount of hitstun a character suffers has decreased.
- The single-player Board the Platforms bonus game does not return.
- Air dodging, moonwalking, and sidestep dodging have been implemented.
- All characters can move while carrying a heavy item (albeit very slowly); in the original, this ability was exclusive to Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong is the fastest carrier, of course.
- Most spikes are now Meteor Smashes and all have been changed to be slightly harder to perform. (All characters' Meteor Smashes now have starting lag unlike the original)
- Wall jumping has been implemented.
- Certain characters can now wall grapple using their Tether Recovery.
- Items can now be grabbed before coming to a complete stop; they can also be grabbed by a midair character.
- Smash Attacks can now be charged by holding the A button.
- Smash Attacks can now be executed immediately with the C-Stick. This only works in VS Mode.
- The Heart Container's healing power has been reduced to simply healing 100%, while the Maxim Tomato's effect was also reduced to 50%.
- On-Screen Appearances have been removed, focusing more on the game's concept of trophies coming to life.
- There is a selection of time for stocks.
- If one ends a game early, the statistics won't be saved.
- The angle at which the menus are seen can be tilted with the C-stick. Also, the player can press L or R to view another fighter when the game is paused.
- If a box is Smash open, an enemy from the Mario or Zelda series might pop out. The chances of this are slim.
- Characters now have fingers and mouths which now can open (except DK, Yoshi, Link, Pikachu and Kirby because their mouths could open in the first game).
SSBM is widely known for its large and intricate tournament scene. The generally accepted birth of the tournament scene was caused by the creation of the Tournament Go series. Recently, the tournament scene has been bolstered by grand-scale tournaments such as the MLG series.
The community has constructed a set of standard tournament rules to regulate tournament play. All matches are played with timed stock (usually four lives and eight minutes), with items turned off and restrictions on legal stages. These regulations are enacted to ensure that gameplay at the highest level remains fair and interesting.
- This game was released on December 3, 2001, around the time of the 2002 World Cup draw.
- This was the first game to feature either Princess Peach or Princess Zelda in Smash Bros. games.