This timeline is a work-in-progress. Basically, like the Definitive List of Unused Fighters in Smash, it’ll be updated periodically whenever we get new information. Melee’s kind of lacking in primary source material in the first place, so this might look a little pathetic at first…but hopefully we’ll get more info and be able to make it more robust.
May 13-15, 1999: Sakurai first tells other people that “Smash game on the GameCube” is happening at E3 1999.
July 5th, 1999: The project proposal/initial design document for Melee is completed.
Early Fall 2000: Going off of Sakurai’s statement that development for the game took 13 months, and taking into account that the game had to have gone gold probably a month or so before final release, development beginning around September 2000 sounds about right.
January 2001: Sakurai is working on storyboards for the introduction movie around this time, which was finished by E3 2001.
February 14, 2001: Shogo Sakai takes over composing the original pieces for Melee’s soundtrack over Hirokazu Ando.
E3, May 17, 2001: The first post on the official Japanese Melee site is posted.
E3, May 17-19, 2001: Melee is revealed to the public for the first time at E3 2001. Also, Yuji Naka approaches Sakurai about putting Sonic in Smash, but the game is too far in development to add a new, completely original character.
August 24-26, 2001: Melee is demoed at Spaceworld 2001, where Premium Fight, the first ever Melee tournament, is held.
November 21, 2001: Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube is released in Japan.
December 3, 2001: Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube is released in North America.
May 24, 2002: Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube is released in Europe. This version of the game, the PAL version, contains a significant number of changes from the NTSC version, specifically in regards to character balance.
August 27, 2002: The New Japan Philharmonic performs an arrangement of the Melee soundtrack at a concert in Tokyo. The CD was released in Japan with the December 2002 issue of Famitsu Cube+Advance, and in America with the March 2002 issue of Nintendo Power.