Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Name: Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Originally touted as a launch title for the Wii, Super Smash Bros. Brawl has finally reached American shores. With promises of the most expansive multiplayer the series has seen and a single player campaign unlike anything Nintendo has ever put out, the game looked to be a dream come true for fans the original titles. After over a year of delays, surprises, and heartbreaks, the title has arrived with more hype then nearly any game has had for years. Has Nintendo finally given gamers a true reason to own the Wii, or will we be left wanting more?
Super Smash Bros. Brawl is one of the best games on the Wii, with some of the tightest gameplay and an astonishing level of polish. The game looks wonderful, with better visuals then any title on the Wii to date. Even when put up against the beautiful Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Brawl more than holds up. Characters have been given uniform styling to make them all look like they belong in the same universe. You can see the details in the characters, from the stitching in Mario’s overalls to the cracks in Bowser’s shell. Gameplay moves at a steady frame rate without even a slight drop during the most chaotic battles. Some of the effects that are shown when characters use their Final Smash are breathtaking and can almost make you forget that the game is on the Wii. Almost.
For the first time in the history of the series there is a full story campaign, penned by the writer of Final Fantasy VII, which can be played alone or co-operatively with a friend. Nintendo went all out with cinematic cut scenes and a truly epic story. Players battle the Subspace Emissary, as the evil forces join with Nintendo villains to turn all of the heroes into statues for nefarious purposes. It plays out like a sort of Mushroom Kingdom Hearts, with characters that would never been seen in the same story fighting back to back against a mutual enemy. It is extremely gratifying to see Diddy Kong riding in Falco’s Arwing and Pikachu fighting side-by-side with Samus. While it is incredibly silly at first, it turns out being just as cool as it is in Kingdom Hearts to see some of your favorite characters together in an interesting story.
The formula hasn’t changed much from Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Gamecube. Other than some tweaks to the physics system, which can easily be adapted to, the gameplay stays very true to the original. While players duking it out on flat levels with no items will hardly see a difference in this aspect, gamers who play with the default settings will notice an interesting change in the focus. With the inclusion of Assist Trophies, Dragoon, and the powerful Smash Ball, the focus has shifted to players chasing down items as they fight in chaotic battles. Just like Pokeballs in the original, there are now several items that will have gamers smashing eachother out of the way for a chance to grab a powerful assist. Many of these result in a one-hit-kill, which definitely is something new to the series. Thankfully, all characters have access to these so it doesn’t create a balance problem.
The new characters are also a very welcome addition, with some of them being drastically different then anything in the series before. Captain Olimar, for example, demands the presence of Pikmin to actually be effective. This isn’t like the Ice Climbers needing both to be as successful; he is entirely reliant on them to do everything from attacking to jumping higher. The Pokémon Trainer is also a very new idea, where players get to change between three different Pokémon on the fly, each with different abilities and playing styles. Sonic and Snake are also a blast to play, with each maintaining their own personal style as they make their debut in the series.
Everything just works. The new characters are perfect, and while there would be some more characters I would have liked to have seen from other franchises, the amount that made it in is mind-boggling. Smash mode, the mode that you will find yourself playing the most, has an insane amount of customization and is already as fun as any other game in its class. Online works well enough with minimal lag, an issue Nintendo is surely working on. Playing with friends online is a little bit of a hassle, requiring the dreaded friend-codes, but it is only a small demerit on an otherwise fantastic experience and more of a problem with the game then itself.
Never before has there been a game with more replayability then Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Nintendo wants you to play every inch of this game, with simple acts like spending coins to unlock new trophies playing out as full minigames. With over three-dozen playable characters there is always a new way to play the game and a new strategy to learn, with online play with Nintendo WiFi connect there is always someone new to play with, with over forty different levels and a fairly elaborate level creator there is always a new place to fight, and with over three-hundred musical tracks and hundreds of statues there is always something new to collect. The game is perfectly suited for tournament play and gives gamers an insane amount of customization. This is easily one of the best titles Nintendo has ever made.