Sakurai Recalls Smash Bros. Melee’s E3 2001 Appearance In Newly-Translated Report

A slightly blurry Sakurai selfie, before selfies were cool.
A slightly blurry Sakurai selfie, before selfies were cool. (Image: Nintendo)

E3 2023 might be just around the corner, but let’s take a quick trip back to the sights and sounds of E3 2001, which was a mind-boggling 20 years ago now.

Looking back, 2001 was a strong year for Nintendo fans. Taking centre stage was the launch of the adorable little lunch box that was the GameCube, a brand new home console that would see the introduction of a new Super Smash Bros. game. That game was Melee, a title still adored by fans of the series to this day.

As you might expect, with the game set to launch at the end of the year, Melee had a pretty strong presence at E3 that year. Series director Masahiro Sakurai wrote about the game’s appearance at the show a few weeks after it happened, and thanks to a new translation posted by the folks at Source Gaming, we can relive what would have been a special occasion for all involved.

Here are some select snippets from the translation:

“I wasn’t part of the exhibition staff so I had it relatively easy, but I did take care of some supporting tasks. For example, I was making adjustments to the game until the day before, I brought the game ROM to the convention center directly from the airport, and I explained various things about Smash to the booth staff that would be helping attendees.”

“Nintendo’s booth occupied the largest space out of all the companies in attendance. Luigi’s Mansion, Pikmin, and Smash were playable, across 13 demo machines on the show floor plus 2 more backstage. I think these three titles had the largest number of demo machines per title out of all the games at E3.”

“In Smash, four people can battle at once, so three-minute rounds should keep guests flowing through at a good pace, while still letting them play a decent amount… At least, that’s how it was supposed to be. But, there were some guests who waited in line and still couldn’t get their hands on it.”

“On the second day, there were some players who used their characters so well that it made me think, ‘You’ve really been playing this game a lot, haven’t you?’ Although, character abilities and properties will go through some drastic changes from here.”

You can check out the full translation here if you’d like to read Sakurai’s entire post. He discusses music at the event, a competition to win a Game Boy Advance, and how the team worked hard to create a video that, in the end, couldn’t even be heard on the showfloor.

Do you have any fond memories of Super Smash Bros. Melee or Nintendo during this time? Let us know in the comments below.

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