Review by GavLuvsGA
""Smash" ing fun!"
This game really is one of the most hyped-up games I have ever come across on GameFAQs, lauded by many as one of the greatest "Mario" games of all time. Eventually, I decided that enough was enough and I had to see what all the fuss was about for myself, so I got this - at a really good price of £19.99 - the same price that I was ripped of by in order to get "Enter the Matrix". What I got was an amazingly good value game. One of the best fighting games I've actually played.
Gameplay - 8/10
Great, addictive, and varied, gameplay. The main single player mode comprises two versions - Classic and Adventure.
In Classic Mode, you have to navigate your way through various fights before defeating the "Master Hand" at the end. You will fight a variety of normal opponents, and also "teams" - consisting of about 15 clones of one character, giant and metal versions of other characters. But the true appeal of this mode for me is how completely random the characters are. During the first game, you might be figting Mario, followed by Team Yoshi - and the next time, you might be up against Link, then Team Pikachu. You can also choose from a number of characters (and several unlockable ones too), and you can choose five difficulty levels - you can even set the number of lives you are given.
The method of fighting is also interesting - as you take damage, the percentage above your character's face goes up - showing the amount of damage (when I was new to the game, I inevitably thought things like: "I have 300% and my opponent only has 10%? I must RULE at this!"), and the more damage you have, the further you go flying, and the more likely you are to be thrown out of the arena - which is the way in which you lose lives (you can only die from this and carelessly falling into a bottomless pit - no running out of health here). If you get thrown, it's not completely useless - you can manoevre yourself back to the game arena - and sometimes the computer controlled opponents can be amazingly good at this.
However, the computer characters aren't always this good - and often they play so badly it's not funny - which is one of the reasons why I couldn't give a perfect ten for this category. I swear sometimes they actually deliberately throw themselves off cliffs - and to compound the bizarreness of it all, the game gives me 3000 points for being a "Merciful Master" (awarded if you beat the opponent without K.O.ing, but all too often awarded because the opponent wasn't very bright).
The play arenas are also very fun. The game is two dimensional, which is actually unusual for the Gamecube - it's very nice to think that people are still capable of making two dimensional games, even in the 21st Century. My initial reaction to the mid-1990s apparent obsession with "three dimensional is like SO COOL. Let's all forget about 2D gameplay" made me feel sick to my stomach, however much I enjoy 3D games as much as 2D ones.
I digress, though. There are a number of different arenas, all based on the various games that the playable characters have been in - Rainbow Ride from Super Mario 64, Peach's Castle, and even classic style Mario levels, as well as Brinstar, Yoshi's Island and the Pokemon Stadium. Many seem like straightforward fighting arenas, but it's so much more than that. For example, fighting atop Peach's castle, you will be occasionally bombarded with Bullet Bills that threaten to damage you. Birdo and Pidgit both make cameos on one stage, and a few of the stages actually scroll around the place, meaning you have to follow the scroll of the screen all the time. There's even an unlockable stage where the floor can rotate 360 degrees!
To add to the fighting, and to further help you forget that all you're often doing is repeatedly mashing the A and B buttons, you get various weapons and powerups from the many Nintendo series represented here. There are some annoyances - you always have to press Z to drop a weapon or item in your hand before picking up a new one, and sometimes it seems too easy to mess up picking things up because you're scrambling to get them before everyone else. When the special "Poke Balls" appear, chaos ensues as everyone runs for them. For those of you that don't know, these will generate a random Pokemon, which will perform some sort of attack on everyone except the player who released it in the first place. These are totally down to luck, and you may get something cool or something almost totally useless.
Classic Mode also has a few "breaks" from play, as you attempt to break targets, get as far as you can into mazes and earn bonus trophies, all of which are surprisingly addictive.
In addition to the classic mode, Adventure Mode combines the fighting with side scrolling action. It's somewhat bizarre, as each level takes you to the "world" of a different character, and they all vary in length and style. However, the biggest flaw is that a lot of the time, the worlds still consist solely of fighting, and there could often do with being some more of the enjoyable side scrolling. But there are some truly enjoyable moments, such as frantically rushing to Samus Aran's ship after beating her before the planet explodes. The other drawback to Adventure Mode is that it's virtually the same each time, save for a few additions (Metal Luigi will occasionally join Metal Mario, for example), and some of the later levels seem unusually easy.
On to the characters, the game features many, many characters who I didn't expect to ever see in the same game. At first, I was concerned at the game featuring Pokemons - and I know I'm going to make a lot of enemies saying this, but - I hate Pokemon. I admitted this on another site and despite the fact that I was simulaneously praising Pikachu's moves, I was met with choruses of: "Shame on you for hating Pokemon", "Shame on you and your Pokemon hating". But the fact is - I find Pokemon to be incredibly overrated. Maybe it's because I'm 25 years old, and maybe it's because the one time I happened to try watching the TV show, I thought it lacked both style and a decent plot. However, Pikachu is actually awesome in this game - he has a wonderful lightning attack (although it is useless if there is a roof above your head), and has excellent handling.
Most of the classic Mario characters make an appearance - Mario, Bowser, Peach and Yoshi - and someone else who I will not spoil for you by revealing here, along with Donkey Kong, Samus Aran, Link and the Pokemons, as well as many more. The playability for the character varies a lot, but generally the smaller characters are faster, while the larger ones more more slowly. Not everyone is enjoyable to play with - the most obvious example for me being Ness. When I first saw a picture of him, I wondered what was so great about him, and having played as him, I fail to see the appeal of him at all - he has a move that actually causes himself to be stunned and allows enemies to attack him. Kirby may look childish, but has some great moves; his ability to absorb opponents' abilities, and turn himself into an object and drop on an opponent's head ,but the latter of these two can geuninely be fatal to the player in certain places. Performing it on the sloped section of Hyrule Temple will acually cause you to slide helplessly to your death.
As well as these modes, there is also a vs mode which, thankfully, you do not need any other human players to enjoy. There is also an interesting "home run" mode, where you have to hit the sandbag as far as possible and the multi-man melee.
There are also the Event Matches where you get to carry out a number of "tasks" that are often unusual. Sometimes you will be fighting straightforward fights; other times, you will be doing different things - protecting an outrageosly stupid character from harm, stopping your opponents breaking a Yoshi egg, fighting special enemies or surviving a gauntlet of opponents.
Overall, gameplay is addictive, though occasionally flawed.
Graphics - 10/10
Absolutely stunning. All of the character models are very true to the characters that they are based on. Bowser does appear to be a little smaller than usual, but I guess that's for the purposes of gameplay rather than anything else. In addition to that, there are the often very detailed backgrounds to the courses themselves - the additions of characters such as Birdo, the scoreboard shown in the Pokemon stadium, and the scrolling background to one of the Starfox Adventure Stages, in order to simulate the fact that you're fighting on top of a plane that's speeding towards the screen.
Sound - 9/10
Again, brilliant - mostly. I was about to give this ten out of ten, but then I remembered the really bad remix of the DK Rap from Donkey Kong 64, which features in Donkey Kong's levels. It's a very nice tune, but often it sounds horrible. The lyrics that talk about Tiny Kong and Diddy Kong are actually virtually impossible to understand in this version.
This aside, the rest of the music is great. There's a wonderful rendition of the Rainbow Ride theme from Super Mario 64, and also Saria's Song from Ocarina of Time (the only flaw here is that it seems to be way too rare for my liking).
Charater voices are nice. I'd be tempted to drop marks because Slippy Toad's voice (he appears occasionally in a cutscene in adventure mode, and in one of the Event Matches) annoys me so much, but since this is only for the purposes of actually sounding like the character, I'll let this go. Likewise, the voices of Mario and friends also remain intact.
Play Time/Replay Value - 10/10
About a month after I got this game, I suddenly realised that one of my thumbs was incredibly sore. I soon realised it was from playing this game too much. You may find yourself playing this for hours at a time, and you really will take a long time unlocking all the secret characters and trophies (some characters require you to fight many, many vs matches before they show up). You will also probably want to play some of the modes again and again because it's so much fun.
Buy this. If you rent this for a weekend, you'll probably damage your eyes by attempting to play this enough so that you unlock everything - either that or you'll return it to the shop disappointed that you didn't have longer to play this awesome game.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/08/05
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