Review by Lord_Yojimbo29
"Show me your moves on the Wii!"
The Super Smash Bros. series has always set a standard for being a fun, frenetic, accessible fighting game for any level of skill since the N64 days. Button mashers can have just as much fun with any Smash Bros. game as can a veteran, and Brawl continues this tradition, now that it is finally out. Furthermore, Brawl is almost the definitive Nintendo fanservice game, with virtually every character or game Nintendo has ever published or been involved with represented. The game even further expands on this by letting third-party characters that have been on Nintendo platforms to join in the fun, with the new additions of Solid Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog. The game even expands on the Adventure mode experience of Melee by including an all-new story mode known as Subspace Emissary. The result is an experience of epic proportions, and definite must-have game for the Wii.
Those who are expecting a revolutionary jump similar to Melee should be warned: The Wii installation of this franchise is not quite the step forward that Melee was to the N64 original, but Brawl is still an excellent game on its own merits.
Graphically, Brawl is beautiful, and is a good demonstration of the Wii's technical capabilities. All of the character and enemy models are well-done, and the game's animation and special effects are top notch. SSBB is also superior in the game's artistry department, as shown by virtually everything in the game from another series. HAL and Nintendo have managed to capture very well the spirit of the games they pay homage to in SSBB. To get an idea of how well the aesthetics of Brawl are expressed, play on Metal Gear Solid's Shadow Moses Island stage. With classic MGS spotlights(and exclamation points if one is caught in the beams) roving around the stage, and enormous Metal Gears battling in the background, the stage definitely creates an exciting experience.
The game's soundtrack is among the best ever created, featuring an enormous number of video game composers, including Nobuo Uematsu(responsible for the game's distinctive, Latin-chorus laden main theme) and Yasunori Mitsuda. The game's versions of a number of iconic video game songs, such as the Mario and Zelda themes, and the Green Hill Zone of Sonic are well done, and the original tracks, particularly Final Destination and the Subspace Emissary themes, are nothing short of amazing. The game features pretty much nothing less then the best of all Nintendo(and other) tracks, and with an unbelievable amount of music (the Brawl soundtrack is over 10 hours long and consists of more then 250 tracks), it will please anyone who listens to it. Even if there are songs that one dislikes, the game provides the option to select which songs will be played on every stage, which I personally find a very thoughtful touch on the part of the designers.
In terms of how multiplayer Brawl actually plays, there is little major difference between the last major overhaul, Melee, and the new installment. This is not a bad thing at all, given that SSBM had the perfect level of balance and revolutionized the gameplay of the series. Some high-level SSB players may be sad due to the exclusion of some of Melee's advanced tactics like wavedashing and L-canceling, and the inclusion of tripping can be a pain at some times. Do not expect a massive change in the game's fundamental mechanics on a level of Melee, but the formula is still effective in Brawl.
Despite the fact that Brawl is a Wii game, those who are afraid that SSB will become an unplayable waggle-fest have nothing to fear. The game provides 4 different control styles, Wiimote only, Wiimote + Nunchuk, Wii Classic Controller, and GameCube Controller. The first two are somewhat more difficult and less user friendly, as button placement forces some creative use of the controller. Playing with a GameCube or Classic Controller is highly recommended.
The game also provides a huge number of newcomers, with 35 in total. Most of the new inclusions, particularly Meta Knight and Solid Snake, play very well and have claimed top spots on competitive character tiers. A few are on the more "experimental" side, such as Captain Olimar and Pokemon Trainer. Unfortunately, many of the Melee fighters(such as Mewtwo, Young Link, and Roy) did not make Brawl. However, their movesets and playstyles have been given to other newcomers. There is a bit of unequal series representation in Brawl(Pokemon has 6 fighters and Zelda has 5, while Samus/Zero Suit Samus is still the only fighter for the Metroid series).
In terms of multiplayer stage quality, the majority are good, while there are a few problematic ones. Although Brawl expands the number of arenas, there are some new stages that are simply not fun to play. These tend to be scrolling stages, similar to Melee's Poke Floats and Rainbow Ride. Some more stages have problems with sizing(for example, the Mother 3 stage, New Pork City, is far too big for any reasonable 4-player battle, and causes eyestrain as the fighters separate), and hazard placement(Mario Bros., a stage based on the classic 1983 Arcade game that first saw the introduction of Luigi, often gets in the way of a good fight with huge numbers of hazards). However, most of the new stages are a lot of fun and are incredibly creative(for example, the new Halberd and a WarioWare themed stage) and some of the tried-and-true Melee stages return(such as Hyrule Temple or Yoshi's Island). The game also provides a stage builder, a great new addition. While the player has only a few preset tools for building arenas, the possibilities are massive.
The single player modes in Brawl are also somewhat better then that of Melee. The most obvious big addition is Subspace Emissary, a platformer/beat-em-up in which the player must choose several Brawlers to complete various stages and advance a bizarre, wordless story. Subspace Emissary could have been much better done(in particular, a lot of bit characters such as Pit and Lucas hog the screentime), as the level design is not particularly amazing, not to mention that it is several hours longer then it should be. While some Smashers might like the idea of a single-player Adventure Mode that is longer than 20-30 minutes, Subspace Emissary is perhaps too long. However, Emissary also gives the player many excellent boss fights, so it's a decent addition.
Other single player modes include Classic(similar to the 1P mode of SSB64), Stadium events(Break the Targets and the Home Run Contest), Event Matches(similar to those of Melee), Boss Rush mode(beating the Subspace Emissary bosses in as little time as possible), and All-Star Mode, in which a player must select his/her favorite character, and take on the 34 other fighters in Brawl. All of these are incredibly fun and worth playing.
Another new mode that has been widely trumpeted is the addition of battles over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. There are a few snags in this. First of all, it is virtually a necessity to arrange your battles and exchange Friend Codes beforehand, as the Brawl With Anyone mode(a random matchmaker that will pair you with anyone) rarely works. Furthermore, the game does experience severe lag, thanks to geography. In my own experience, as a player currently in the Middle East, battling friends from the United States leads to huge amounts of lag. While Nintendo WFC is a great addition to the multiplayer experience, it should have been fine-tuned better before release.
In conclusion, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is an amazing game and definite must-buy for any Wii owner. Despite a few minor issues, it's still a fantastic experience, and will be the multiplayer game that is played 5-6 years later, just as Melee was.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/12/08
Game Release: Super Smash Bros. Brawl (US, 03/09/08)
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