Review by Nemesissy

"A challenger approaching?"

Being one of the most hyped games ever isn't ever good. It can lead to massive disappointment, even if the game's great. I personally never get really excited over a game in case I find it to be rubbish. Despite this, I couldn't help but be excited by the sequel to the excellent Super Smash Bros Melee. So here we go.

Brawl follows the same path as it's predecessors. Instead of the traditional 'hammer your opponent until their health runs out', you must increase their damage counter and smash them off the screen. This worked well in previous Smash Bros installments, and does so again in this one.

A large character line-up includes many previous faces, such as the obvious Mario, Link, and Pikchu, etc. It expands on Super Smash Bros Melee's set list by cramming in many new characters and including some older characters. Some new characters you will recognise, some you might not. I won't spoil anything for you though. Unfortunately, due to the large set list, there's a large number of clones. For those who don't know, clones are characters with similar fighting styles or moves. Ganondorf and Captain Falcon from Melee, for example, were clones. And I'm definitely sure Link, Young Link, and Marth from Melee were all designed by the same guy. They move similarly and attack similarly. In Brawl, this problem is intensified due to the large number of fighters. But don't worry, some are unique fighters.

Each character has special moves, just like before. Some are very powerful, while some are useless and do no damage (Seriously). Aside from the Special moves, you have the good old Smash attacks. These are for launching your foe off the arena. You also have your basic punches and kicks. The character list has been evened out, sort of, so that most really strong characters lack speed, such as Bowser, while some weaker characters are very fast, like Fox. You've always got the characters in between, such as Mario. Mario is the type of character beginners will use as he is really the all-round fighter.

The good old Melee mode from Melee has been renamed Brawl, for obvious reasons. Here you pick your character, opponents, type of fight, stage, and then get brawling. Significant changes in the fights from Melee. Fights are slower, and not the insane smash-fest from Melee. It can be harder to KO your foes. This is a slight disappointment, as many will love the fast-paced fighting, but this slower fight may suit the more strategic fighters. The AI levels are stronger than before. In Melee, you had 9 levels of difficulty. Same here, except this time, the levels are far stronger. Where in Melee, the Level 1 foes simply walked into your punches, the Level 1 foes in Brawl actually put up a fight. They will hurt you if you give them the chance. The Level 7, 8 and 9s are just insanely difficult and require skill to defeat them. One thing you may have noticed is that AI enemies focus their attacks on you. You may notice this and dismiss it as paranoia as an AI enemy chases you to use it's Final Smash on you, but it's not paranoia. The AI really is programmed to fight you more than other AI enemies. It gives the feeling of injustice and can feel unfair. The AI is not that smart either. Melee's AI was much better. Aside from that, fights aren't much different from Melee. Fights are still great fun, even more when played with other people. The large selection of items also piles on the fun, and it's always worth showing off how cool your Jigglypuff is.

And then we have the Final Smashes. The Final Smash ball appears and floats around the stage. You must hit it until it breaks and you can use your Final Smash. Each character has their own Final Smash. Whenever this thing appears, every fighter races towards it and it's a mad scramble as each fighter tries to get that all important hit to break it open. Final Smashes are, for the most part, devastating. Some, like Peach, are rubbish and don't do much. But some, for example Samus' Zero Laser, can wipe the stage clear with an enormous laser. They are really visual feasts, although not that fun when your character is on the end of a huge fireball launched t you by Mario. A nice little item that can be turned on and off like other items, although they do become a bit of a gimmick. Don't deny their power and usefulness though. they can really help you at times.

The stages themselves are more focused on visual effects, rather than hazards on the actual stage. This is emphasised more by the inclusion of several Melee stages. The visual effects are really nice though, but it can seem like each stage is lacking the imagination of Melee's stages.

Classic mode returns for the single player mode. You fight your way through several rounds, some just fights, some team fights, some special rounds. The number of rounds has increased from Melee, but still features our old friend Master Hand at the end. And yes, he's still fighting on Final Destination. Nothing much new here. You get 5 difficulty levels as before, but 3 of them are Hard. There's Easy, Normal, Hard, Very Hard and Intense. Unskilled players may be forced to play Easy or Normal at first.

In place of Adventure mode, we have the much anticipated Subspace Emissary (SSE). I'll tell you now the SSE is simply a glorified Adventure mode. Very overlong at several hours and consisting of platforming segments that are awkward with characters designed for fighting, not platforming. By playing through SSE you unlock most of the secret characters (in fact, all of them can be unlocked here. A couple need to be found after completing the game). But when you unlock them, they simply join you. You don't get the 'Challenger Approaches!' scenario that we all love. To get that, you must unlock them using other methods, such as playing VS mode x amount of times. Really annoying. SSE also cheekily re-uses levels late on, to make it last longer. A real letdown.

Target Test returns, but with a change. Whereas in Melee, you had different stages for each character, in Brawl, it's the same stage for each character, with 5 different stages. This is to put the focus on speed runs, but removes the fun of Target Tests. Shame.

Good old Home Run Contest returns. A sandbag, an arena and a Home Run Bat. Simply whack the Sandbag in the few seconds you have, and then launch it as far down the track as you can. The only real difference from Melee is that the platform that you start on has a forcefield around it to stop the Sandbag falling off by accident. Finally, no more Sandbag-falling-off-the-platform-and-going-2-inches! Be warned, as the forcefield will break if you repeatedly hit the Sandbag against it.

The Stage Builder. This new addition allows you to make your own stages, albeit not as extravagant as the ones already in the game. You get to choose the size, song that's played, and then start adding features, such as blocks and platforms to stand on, spikes, ladders, and other ornamental objects to fight around. The game already has 3 sample stages made to give you an idea. This is a neat little addition that could keep you happy for a while.

Trophies return, each one with a piece of information. Gone is Melee's little table to hold them. Brawl has a large castle turret to hold all 544 trophies. 544! It'll take a long time to collect them all. Unfortunately, some need to be obtained in SSE by throwing a special item at them which transforms them into trophies. It's bad enough having to revisit SSE........

Most people will choose to control the game using the Gamecube controller, as it is the most sensible method of controlling. The controls are very much the same as Melee, with X/Y used to jump, B used for special moves, A used for standard moves, and L/R for shielding/dodging.

Graphically, only Super Mario Galaxy is better. Each fighter is beautifully designed, and the stages and Final Smashes are wonderful to look at.Just marvel at how Samus looks without that suit.............

The game has loads of songs on it, with more to unlock. You can tell how much effort has gone into this. You can also choose how often you want a certain song to appear on a stage. You could very well buy Super Smash Bros Brawl as a music CD and be perfectly happy. Nintendo has always had excellent music though.

In terms of longetivity, this could very well keep you playing until the next SSB installment (if one is made). Some hardcore gamers will immediately shove Melee back into the Wii after discovering wavedashing has been removed, or that the fights are slower than Melee's and not as frantic. And although I believe Brawl to have way more content, Melee is the better fighting game. Combine the two and you have gaming gold.

Despite Brawl being a great game, I can't help but feel a tad disappointed. Here's hoping a sequel is created, and that it's as engrossing and deep as Brawl and as mad and fun as Melee. A very good 8/10.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/27/08

Game Release: Super Smash Bros. Brawl (US, 03/09/08)

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