After teasing the project a month ago, independent filmmaker and video producer Connor Rentz has provided the first official version of his Super Smash Bros. Melee 64 mod. As the name suggests, this project transforms the GameCube’s Super Smash Bros. Melee into the classic style of its Nintendo 64 predecessor, complete with old-school textures, music, and more.
The Super Smash Bros. community has a long history of modding this iconic fighting game franchise, most notably with Project M, the now-defunct modification that sought to bring Brawl more in line with the gameplay of Melee. In fact, multiple mods have to do with making other installments in the franchise more like the beloved GameCube release. Super Smash Bros. Melee 64 is unique in that it flips the script, changing Melee itself to be more like another game.
Super Smash Bros. Melee 64 doesn’t touch the original engine—I was still able to perform techniques like wavedashing and dash-dancing quite easily—but its comprehensive replacement of Melee’s aesthetics makes it feel like a completely different game. By modifying the low-poly character models that already exist in the game for use in the off-screen indicators, Rentz reduced the fidelity of the entire playable cast to make them appear as if they were pulled directly from the franchise’s Nintendo 64 debut. In fact, everything from the stages to the music and even sound effects have been adjusted to either reflect Super Smash Bros. on a 1:1 level or match the game’s aesthetics as best they can.
Rentz could have called it a day there and had a neat mod ready for the public, but he also added new content. Leif, the protagonist of Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, makes an appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee 64 as an alternate costume for Marth. Leif doesn’t play differently than the blue-hued fighter from which he takes inspiration, but his inclusion is a cool nod to longtime Fire Emblem fans and provides the perfect opportunity to smugly explain who he is to one’s friends.
A Fire Emblem stage wouldn’t appear in the Smash series until Brawl, but Super Smash Bros. Melee 64 corrects this oversight by featuring a brand new level, also inspired by Thracia 776, in the mix. Other new additions include stages based on Kid Icarus, Nazo no Murasame Jō, Panel de Pon, SimCity, and even the unique lobby interface of the Super Nintendo’s satellite modem add-on, the Satellaview. Each of these new stages comes with the requisite aesthetics one would expect from a piece of officially developed content, and it’s exciting to have an updated collection of places to duke it out.
It’s clear that a lot of love went into Super Smash Bros. Melee 64’s creation. Connor Rentz has put together an endearing mod that’s sure to give fans of old-school aesthetics a lot to enjoy. That said, modifying Nintendo products is always a risky proposition that doesn’t always lead to a long, meaningful presence on the internet. Interested parties should certainly check out Super Smash Bros. Melee 64 before the cease and desist letters start raining down on this ambitious project.