Review by Mega

"Drag queens are funny."

Some video game stores in my area now have these nifty little coin machines attached to big screen TVs; each with a bunch of game systems attached to them. You enter a quarter into the machine, and you can play the game for three minutes. If you put more quarters in, you earn more minutes. I recall a time when I was wandering around a video game store that had this neat little coin thing there… there was the captain of the basketball team there with his girlfriend. It turns out that each of them loved video games, and they were hunting for a good one to rent. They were hanging all over each other, kissing and calling each other stupid names like “Shmoopy.” I had enough of the constant public displays of affection; I yelled, “Stop it! Shut up and go get a room!” and quickly realized my mistake.

The captain walked up towards me and jabbed me in the stomach, and raised his fist to strike again. I quickly said “Let’s settle this with a game! If you win, you can kick my ass from here to Santa Fe. If I win, you dress up like a drag queen and prance around the school.” Emboldened, and arrogant, if I might add, he agreed. He chose this game to play, and he picked Bowser as his character. Smiling, I picked Jigglypuff. Needless to say, the whole school got a big kick out of “Charlie Charlotte, the Prancing Beauty”.

Nintendo scored big when they came up with the idea. They added a bunch of characters to a game, threw in some wacky items and stages, and made a major hit with one of the best games for N64. Luckily, they decided not to mess with the great formula. Instead, they added a bunch of crazy crap to it and it turned out peachy keen.

First, we have the beefed up 1P mode. This mode allows you to play the somewhat tedious classic 1P mode that was in the N64 version, or the shiny new Adventure mode. Classic mode allows you to go to each character’s respective stage and battle them. This mode is a kind of tedious affair. The classic mode was also added a notch of replay because of a small bonus stage that allows you to collect trophies, which are talked about later in the review. Adventure mode, on the other hand, is a gem. You still pick a character, and battle others, but you must first do an objective. In the first level, you are in the Mushroom Kingdom. In it, you traverse the greens and stomp Goombas and Koopas until you come to the trademark flag of the original Super Mario Brothers. You go past the flag, and that part of the level is done. Next, you are at the Mushroom Kingdom Castle, where you must fight Peach and Mario. The next level lands you in the underground maze of Hyrule Castle, and you must find the Triforce to gain access and battle Zelda. These levels in Adventure Mode offer quite a bit of fun the first times around, but once you beat it with every character, odds are you will not want to repeat it. We also have an Event Match Mode. This mode gives you set objectives and short instructions. These matches are rather fun and challenging, and since there are 50+ of them, you’ll be playing for a long time. An example of one of the matches you’ll have to do is “Dino Wrangling”, where a giant Yoshi is on the loose and you have to KO it.

Even the VS Mode was given a few new bells and whistles! One of the more noticeable tweaks is that the Item Switch option is there from the start, so you do not have to play 100 matches in VS mode like you had to in SSB. You still have the standard stock and time, but the special modes of VS mode take the cake. These special modes are a blast, and when you choose them they affect all of the characters in the brawl. One of the modes is a giant melee, where all of the characters are huge for the entire battle. We also have invisible melee, where all of the characters are invisible. These different melee modes offer even more fun and replay if you ever get tired of just the standard VS mode. My favorite is the camera mode. In this mode, you can take pictures in the heat of the fight, and if you snap the camera at the right time, you’ll have a kick ass picture.

Each character is specially designed and has his/her own strengths and weaknesses. Bowser, for example, is a slow powerhouse with tremendous strength. Peach is relatively weak, but has the power to float, which she had in Super Mario Brothers 2. Some characters are actually two in one, like Zelda. One of her moves allows her to transform into Shiek, her male alter ego. When she does this, she gains an all new move set, and moves faster. The Ice Climbers, my personal favorites, are two characters. You only control one Ice Climber, and the other one mimics your every move. When you do your moves with the Ice Climbers, the attacks have the power of two normal characters together. Although, the Ice Climber that you do not control is also libel to be KO’d separately then the one you control. When this happens the lone Ice Climber is considerably weaker and unable to pull off some of the moves the require both of them to be together, such as their UP+B Rope Fling. The downside to them is that they are both rather light and get thrown around easily.

Most characters have their own stages complete with hazards and changing environments. All of these stages are brilliantly designed, and a blast to play. Some of the stages from the N64 version make an appearance, but they look much better then they did back then. My favorite stage is the Pokemon Stadium, where the ground starts out as a normal field and changes into different settings, such as grass, rock, and fire, like they had in the show. Also, it seems that some stages were just quickly decided and thrown together, and those stages turn out to be no fun to play at all.

Nintendo brilliantly decided to add a plethora of great new items. Each item has its own place in Nintendo gaming history, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised that they have the Super Scope, the light gun peripheral for SNES, as one of the better items. They have brought back all of them items from the original SSB, and made a few tweaks to them. The Bob-bomb, for example, waddles around a little longer then it did in SSB before it explodes. My only complaint with the items comes with the Super and Poison Mushroom. The Super Mushroom makes your character a giant for a short time, and the Poison one makes your character tiny for a few seconds. These two Mushrooms look exactly alike, so you have to approach the Mushrooms carefully.

Nintendo ditched the somewhat blocky look of SSB for some smooth textures and awesome looking characters. Every character looks wonderfully well done. Little details like the stitching on Mario’s overalls and the eyes of Bowser when he retreats to his shell are amazing, and the opening movie is one of the most powerful, beautiful looking movies I have ever seen in my long life of video gaming. Even when you pause in the middle of a fight to zoom in, the characters will shine with great colors and amazing… well… everything. All of the items are now 3D, and looks ten times better then the out of place 2D items in SSB. The explosions and such don’t look cheesy anymore; instead they look like they would in real life. The stages are mind boggling. 97% of them are truly a work of art, and silly stuff like reflections on the Fountain of Dreams stage will make this all the more enjoyable to play. Even the ones crafted and made to look like NES games do just as they set out to do, and re create some of the classic NES environments superbly. If I can change one thing though, it would have to do with the Ice Climbers. In a fight, if you stand still, you’ll see them both standing close together. If you pause and zoom in, the one you do not control is standing halfway inside the one you control. Did you ever pause SSB just as your character walked past another one? If you did, you saw a strange looking thing that had your character standing inside the other. I explained this as the ghost effect in my SSB review. It would have been grand if they had fixed this, but oh well.

The opening movie wasn’t just a graphical gem, either. It was a musical smorgasbord. This music that played during the opening movie had to be done by an orchestra. I do not think there would be any other way to make a song that great sounding. Speaking of audio, SSBM scores with a cool soundtrack that compiles and remixes tunes from the character’s games and SSB stages. Almost all of the tunes score high on the humming factor, but my favorite tune in SSB, the Dreamland music, is no where to be seen. Still, the music in all of the stages is well done and sounds fantastic. Sound effects are also a great joy. All of the characters have more grunts, ows, etc. and rarely repeat themselves. The non-voice sounds like explosions are ear poppingly good. Each bang and pow sounds different then the last one you heard. All of the character’s victory cheers sound flupping great, except for Peach’s sweet “Did I win?” that will get on your nerves.

If you were an avid SSB player, you’ll have a few problems with the controls. The N64 controller feels nothing like the GCN one, and that will cause problems as you instinctively reach to press the Z button, which is now on the top of the controller. The touchy timing of smash attacks and rolls will bother you the first few times around, but once it clicks you’ll control with the greatest of ease. The only major difference that you’ll find is that throwing has been made much more difficult, and I cannot see why.

SSBM packs solid, tasty replay value. The fighting and brawls will never, ever get old, and you’ll have a truly fun time playing them. Another boost in replay comes inside the form of strange trophies. These trophies are dedicated to such classic Nintendo icons such as Dr. Mario, Kid Icarus, and more. You win these trophies through the Adventure mode, Classic mode, and Event Match. In the Adventure Mode, you’ll find them lying on the ground in some places. The Classic mode has a difficult stage where 3 trophies drop from the sky, and you must hit them into a vortex in the middle of the screen to catch them. Event Match sometimes has you battling on top of giant trophies in attempt to win them. Once you win some trophies, you are able to view them individually or all together. If you view them individually, you’ll see a little profile talking about the trophy and where it first debuted. If you beat Classic and Adventure modes with a character, you win his/her trophy and are able to view it. These trophies sometimes have crazy, obscure characters on them, and there is probably no known number of them in the game. More importantly, you are able to zoom in and spin the trophy, making for some cool screen shots. A lot of these trophies would turn into great looking wallpapers, too.

SSBM is a jam-packed funfest, filled with ass kicking action, solid replay, good controls, and a superb audio and visual feast. Even if you are not impressed with these things, you’ll play and practice to be able to beat your friend’s butts with a character like Pichu.

If this wins ROTW or ROTD, I’ll eat cat feces.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/22/02, Updated 01/22/02

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