Super Smash Bros. Brawl Review
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With a bigger roster than ever, online multiplayer, and the ability to share screenshots, custom levels, and game replays with friends, Super Smash Bros. has never been better.
- Relatively lag-free online multiplayer
- The ability to share game replays, screenshots, and custom levels with friends
- A massive yet surprisingly balanced character roster
- Tons of ways to customize your matches
- A lengthy single-player adventure mode.
- Some of the platforming stages in Subspace Emissary could have been done without
- Custom levels can't be used in online matches.
It's hard to believe, but it's been nine years since the original Super Smash Bros. brought some of the most iconic Nintendo characters together for frantic battles, and roughly seven years since its sequel Super Smash Bros. Melee was released. Perhaps even harder still to believe--and a testament to the series' popularity and longevity--is that these games are still being played religiously to this day. But no matter whether you're a diehard Smash Bros. fanatic or a neophyte brawler, you'll be pleased to know that Super Smash Bros. Brawl includes a plethora of impressive characters, features, and game modes, and is more accessible and fun than ever before.
For the uninitiated, Smash Bros. is a multiplayer-centric series of fast-paced 2D fighting games that features a cast of characters from all over the Nintendo universe. If you've ever found yourself arguing with a friend about whether or not Mario could beat Link in a one-on-one match, Brawl is the game that will let you settle the issue once and for all (the answer of course is that Kirby would eat them both). Characters such as Ike from Fire Emblem, Meta Knight from Kirby, Fox McCloud from Star Fox, Lucas from the unreleased-in-the-US Mother 3 (Earthbound 2), Pikachu from Pokémon, and many more are all on the roster in Brawl, boosting its size up to an impressive 35 total characters--14 of which are hidden and must be unlocked. For the first time, the list of guests includes third-party, non-Nintendo characters such as Solid Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog, and all of them bring their own signature fighting styles and moves to the game.
Smash Bros. has always been one of the most accessible fighting games on the market because of the simplicity of its controls, and Brawl is no different. There are essentially only two attack buttons (one for normal attacks and one for special moves), and depending on which way you tilt your control stick when you hit them, they can produce a variety of effects that include the titular "smash" attacks. In the interests of user friendliness, Brawl offers four possible control schemes, which ensures that everyone can play whichever way they like; Wii Remote and Nunchuck, Wii Remote alone, Classic Controller, and GameCube Controller are all equally represented. Each of these methods are equally viable, and fans of Brawl's predecessor will be happy to know that the GameCube controls remain unchanged.
Combat includes up to four players brawling on video game-themed stages. The goal is to knock your enemies out of the arena with one of the aforementioned smash attacks. The amount of damage each character has sustained is measured in a percentage, and the higher this percentage is, the farther he or she flies when hit. Battles are fast-paced, frenetic, fun, and often outrageous orgies of chaos, which makes Brawl a perfect party game. But just because the game's mechanics are so simplified compared to traditional fighters doesn't mean that there isn't a lot of depth to be found for those willing to invest the time.
All of the characters have their own strengths and weaknesses, and learning how to protect yourself while taking advantage of your opponents' flaws goes a long way toward securing a victory. There can be a surprising amount of strategy involved, from knowing when and how to attack to ensuring that the terrain of the sometimes over-the-top levels works for you rather than against you. But all that said, Brawl is an incredibly well-balanced game in which even a brand-new player can come away the victor against a hardened veteran.
Throughout combat, various types of items will spawn on the battlefield for use by the first player to reach them. Some, such as the beam sword, are offensive in nature and augment your attack capabilities, whereas others are restorative and will lower your damage meter. Many of these items are from the various games the characters originate from, such as the fire flower and the super mushroom from Super Mario Bros. Although a lot of them have been featured in the previous Smash Bros. games, many new ones appear in Brawl, including the superspicy curry, which makes your character breathe fire for a time. Also worthy of a mention are the various assist trophies, which summon non-playable characters such as Tingle from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker or the 8-bit racers from Excitebike to help or hinder you. Some things--especially the hammer, bob-omb, and warp star--could be considered game-breaking due to their abilities to inflict fatal wounds nearly all of the time, but these items and any others can be toggled off in the options menu before a match begins.
In fact, customizable is the name of the game, given that a wide variety of parameters can be adjusted when participating in the special brawl mode. Gravity, fighter size, and game speed are just a few of the options, with some of the more outlandish possibilities being whether or not your characters are made of metal (which makes them much heavier and thus harder to KO) or are virtually invisible. Both special brawl matches and regular battles let you customize which items are allowed and how often items will spawn, what kinds of handicaps--if any--are in place, how stages are selected, and more.
Teams can be created if you so desire, and the types of brawls that can be started include timed matches in which the one who scores the most kills and the least deaths wins, stock matches in which the last player standing wins, and coin-collecting matches in which the number of coins everyone has when time is up determines the winner. Tournaments are a snap to set up due to a built-in mode that facilitates up to 32 players on a single Wii, and there's even a rotation mode to help up to 16 players figure out how to take turns. In short, there are literally dozens of ways that you can battle in your living room.
The best so far, I like how they added a story mode, which had a good story to it. I can't wait for the next.
"Relatively lag-free online multiplayer"
Oh boy. That's funny.
Still, SSBB is amazing and you'll be playing for many more years to come.