According to a lot of people at the time, the preview builds for Melee lacked a lot of features that were in the final game, like the trophy unlocks and the more robust single player modes. What they got initially was just basically a prettier version of the original game.
I think EGM even wound up mentioning that in their glowing review of the game the following month.
I hope someone still has their copy of the following issue, because if I'm not mistaken, Shoe wound up being one of the guys to review Melee and gave it a real high score. I know the game managed to wind up as the GOTM.
anyway, as far as the verdict goes, I can't really agree with it. I can see why people liked the Xbox, but outside a few games (NOT Halo) (mostly Sega games and Ninja Gaiden) there wasn't really much for me at all. And lot of it's other good games were on PC.
On the other hand, the GCN had a lot of games that I loved; Melee, Paper Mario, Wind Waker, RE4, 1080, etc...