1 Store804 Reviews
Pros: Intense and Fun, Absolutely Jam Packed With Content
Cons: Online Play Isn't All That Great
Super Smash Bros. began as a popular game on the Nintendo 64. This title threw Nintendo's own characters into a casual yet frantic fighting game and certainly has it's fair share of fans. When the game's sequel Smash Bros. Melee released on the Nintendo Gamecube Smash Bros. became a series - and the game went on to become the best selling title on the entire console. Now the third game is upon us - this time on the Nintendo Wii console. Not only is it the most entertaining Wii game on the market, but it might also be the best next gen game so far. "Might" and "Be" are the key words here because we still have to see how it will hold up over time, but as of right now things are looking good for Brawl.
The concept here is pretty easy to understand - the game throws various Nintendo characters into two dimensional arenas and allows them to settle their differences through violence. Rather than focusing on a deep combo system or complicated button inputs Smash Bros Brawl relies primarily on frantic and fast action. It is primarily a multiplayer game, and though it may seem shallow at first glance the game can be surprisingly deep. It's easy to jump right in, but it takes a lot of time to master.
This incarnation of Smash Bros. contains the biggest roster of characters yet. While all the usual suspects from the past titles have returned (Mario, Luigi, Link, Donkey Kong, Star Fox, etc.) there's a host of new ones that really fit well in the game. The most notable of these are Ike (from Fire Emblem), Toon Link, King Dedede and Meta Knight (of Kirby fame), Olimar (Pikmin), and the Pokemon Trainer. Nintendo decided to take the roster a bit further though by adding in two third party characters - Sonic the Hedgehog, and Metal Gear Solid's Snake. Brawl's roster, at 35 characters total, is leagues above that of Melee's.
Each character handles differently and has their own set of special moves. Some characters can even float in the air by repeatedly pushing the jump button, and now they can even glide. The characters are easy to learn but quite difficult to master, and considering that there are 35 of them, mastering the entire game is pretty much impossible. Melee's roster depended quite heavily upon clones, that is, characters who have the same special moves. The problem isn't as apparent in Brawl, but it's still there. Falco returns, and Wolf premieres as Fox's clones, and Toon Link replaces Young Link as Link's. The new character Lucas plays almost exactly like Ness unfortunately. Thankfully Nintendo saw it fit to take out a few clones from Melee including Roy, Dr. Mario, and Pichu.
Brawl takes the formula from Melee and, while nothing has been drastically changed, everything has in fact been upgraded - massively. Despite this, the basics remain largely the same - 2 to 4 characters fight it out using a variety of punches, kicks, items, and special moves in a not so enclosed arena. The thing that really makes Smash Bros. stand out in the fighting genre (besides the fact that it's primarily a four person multiplayer game) is the health system. Instead of having health bars, each character is given a percent which increases as they take damage. The higher this is the more apt they are to be sent flying through the air by an attack. You win by knocking your opponents out of the fighting arena.
The game is fairly unbalanced, but this is because of the items that randomly appear in the midst of battle. These include various guns, a baseball bat, beam sword, pitfall, etc. These can give any player the automatic edge in battle, and because they appear at random there's really no telling who will get them. On top of this you've also got Poke balls, Assist trophies, and the Smash ball. The pokemon ball releases a random pokemon when thrown that attacks your opponents, or unleashes various effects on the battlefield. Assist trophies are very much the same, only instead of releasing Pokemon they summon characters from Nintendo's past to wreak havoc. Finally you've got the smash ball. Breaking this (hitting it three times) allows a character to unleash a final smash move. Each character has a different one and their effects vary greatly, but generally they score major damage on your opponents.
New to the game is the Subspace Emissary mode. This is the equivalent of the Adventure mode from melee, only much more fleshed out. Basically this mode pits you through tons of side scrolling levels where you must fight off against enemies, and find the occasional key to unlock doors as you travel from one end of the level to the other. Some of these levels feature bosses from classic Nintendo moments, such as Petey the Piranha from Super Mario Sunshine, Ridley from Metroid, Pokey from Earthbound, and many more. While there is a storyline to go with this mode - complete with FMV cinemas, it's pretty random and really not that interesting. There's not even any real dialog.
To be perfectly honest I'm not a big fan of the Subspace Emissary - the level designs here are just plain uninspired, even the best ones can just barely be considered mediocre. It's obvious that Nintendo didn't spend nearly as much time as they should have on this mode - the only reason to play Subspace Emissary is to unlock the various characters in the game, and while it's not the only way to do so, it's unfortunately the easiest. Even playing through this mode with a friend is no fun. What's worse is that it is going to take you at least 8 hours (I finished in 9), so be ready for a long haul.
Subspace Emissary isn't the only option for playing alone - you've also got Classic Mode and Events to complete. Classic mode is the very same original single player game from the first Smash Bros. In this you face off against either one opponent or a team of opponents through twelve matches, and at the end you face the dastardly master hand boss. Events are something that was introduced in Melee - you fight a brawl that features an objective, and only by completing it can you move on. Sometimes you'll have to play as a specific character and other times you get to choose. Classic mode and Events are entertaining for a while but they can get old pretty fast. They are both more entertaining than the Subspace Emissary though.
Now it's time to talk about the real reason to play Smash Bros. Brawl - it's multiplayer mode. The action is fun and frantic with your friends, and the amount of options is staggering. If you tire of playing the game using the system of percentages you can instead play to knock each other's stamina out which is more akin to your traditional fighter. On top of that you can play a match based on time, stock (lives), or even a combination of the two. Team play is allowed and can be a lot of fun, but I have always preferred the free for all modes. It's addictive, brilliant, and it will have you coming back for years.
The game features 41 different stages - some of which are classic areas from Melee, but most are brand spanking new. The diversity and interactivity in stages has always been one of Smash Bros' strong cards, and this area has been beefed up even more for Brawl. The game is host to a number of traditional levels depicting games from Nintendo's past - most of which are related to playable characters in Brawl. A couple are completely unique - Smashville is an Animal Crossing based level which reads off of your system's internal clock just like the game does. K.K. Slider even makes an appearance on Saturday nights. On top of that you've even got a Warioware level which throws you through mini-games, and even a game based off of the Nintendo DS' Pictochat program. Brawl features the strongest lineup of fighting arenas in the series, by far.
Quite expectedly the game comes equipped with full support for the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. This means that you can battle against friends and strangers online. As a long requested feature for the series it's nice to see that Nintendo has finally listened to their fans. Online play is far from perfect though. The first of it's problems is that it makes use of the much hated friend codes feature. This forces players to enter long codes before being able to play against specific people. Also annoying is that the game does not feature voice chat, and the only way to communicate is through simple preset phrases. The biggest problem however is that online play is just too darn laggy. Sometimes it's so bad that the game moves in slow motion, while other times it's almost perfect. There have also been complaints about not being able to connect to the service, but I personally haven't had this problem.
What's more is that this package is absolutely overflowing with content. First off, the game features THOUSANDS of things to collect. From trophies (which are displayed, and give facts about the game they are based on), to stickers (which can be used to enhance characters' abilities), to songs (in the form of CDs) you will have to literally spend years to unlock everything. Finding these new items is also quite addictive and after a while you may find yourself looking up the items after unlocking them just to marvel at your collection of stuff in the game. For the most part this stuff can be found on the ground randomly in nearly any mode of play, but some must be unlocked through meeting special requirements.
Smash Bros. Brawl even supports a level editor with the ability to trade maps with other players. This is beyond anything the fans could have had hoped for, and this is something else that adds to the nearly infinite replay value. The stage creator isn't the best of it's kind, but it's perfectly fine for creating unique fighting arenas. The amount of visual options are a little low, but that's not a big problem. I haven't spent too much time with the level editor but it's a nice addition indeed.
Despite the Wii's relatively low graphical capabilities Smash Bros. Brawl looks really good. Quite good, in fact, I would say it's one of the Wii's best looking games. The character models, while similar in appearance to those from Melee, feature much more detail. You can see the stitches in Mario's denim pants, and also the individual chain links on Link's under armor. Toon Link, who was based off of the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is unfortunately not cel-shaded even though it's a very similar model to what was in that game. The end result is a little weird, but no biggie, especially when his stage is in fact fully cel-shaded.
Speaking of the stages, they are easily the most aesthetically pleasing part of the game. Usually these have a lot going on in the background while featuring amazing detail. Despite all of this the game still runs at a silky smooth sixty frames per second, and surprisingly it never dips below that, at least while playing offline.
Musically the game is a real treat. Featuring dozens of famous video game music composers (including Nobuo Uematsu of Final Fantasy fame) everything sounds distinct and quite fantastic. Nintendo themes are presented in new and interesting ways, and considering that the game features over two hundred songs you're sure to find something you like. You will even find remixes and rips from the Sonic the Hedgehog and Metal Gear Solid games, and they too sound quite good. Sound effects are pretty standard fare - non threatening hits and slashes. It seems that this is one area where Nintendo tried to make the game seem as non-violent as possible to avoid a higher rating from the video game board.
Nintendo has included many different control schemes for this game allowing you to use any possible compatible controller. You can use the Wii remote turned on it's side, or with the nunchuck or classic controller if you so choose. My personal favorite is playing with the Gamecube controller - seeing as how that's what I'm used to after playing Melee all these years, and I imagine many other games will share this preference. Better buy up those Gamecube controllers quick before they're not on sale anymore. I've only played using the Gamecube and classic controllers but I must say that the game controls marvelously, though it does take a bit of getting used to for new gamers. Thankfully all the special moves in the game involve the same inputs (pushing B and a direction) so you won't have to memorize overly long special moves.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl is an amazing game that's so chock full of content that unless you're a really dedicated player you won't ever be able to find/do everything. Nintendo has included so much stuff in this game that I can't even imagine what more they can do for a sequel outside of including more stages and characters. For multiplayer action Brawl simply cannot be beat.