Review by Reksxthexpirate

"Nintendo Fans, Rejoice!"

As quite possibly one of the most anticipated games of all time, can Masahiro Sakurai's project even come close to living up to the hype? Read on to find out.

(*This review is written by a veteran Smasher. You may feel slightly alienated if you haven't played Smash before, but then again, who hasn't?)

Ever since Super Smash Bros. made it's way onto the Nintendo 64, it's popularity has increased unlike any other. It introduced a very untraditional, yet engaging combat system that blew away gamers. In most fighting games previous to it, your goal would be to land more hits than your opponent and do more damage, ultimately knocking down their life bar, or hit points down to zero. Nintendo loves to innovate, and with Smash, it did just that. To defeat your opponent, you have to keep piling up damage on them, and raise their percentage meter higher and higher. The higher their percentage goes, the farther they will fly when you clobber them with a smash-attack. It's hectic, it's fun, it's rewarding, and it reigned supreme as one of the greatest multiplayer games of our time.

Years later, Nintendo released Super Smash Bros. Melee for the GameCube, which went down as the GameCube's top selling game. That being said, it's pretty obvious Nintendo had hit the nail right on the head once again. Unlike most fighters, Melee didn't just expand the character roster, feature new stages, and change character combos. It introduced dozens of new gameplay mechanics, the game felt much smoother and faster than Smash 64, and it meshed together the Nintendo universe perfectly. It was graphically impressive, boasted a fantastic soundtrack spanning all of Nintendo's characters and their worlds (even Japan-only ones), and it had replayability that would make even the longest RPG feel lacking. Introducing a plethora of gameplay modes, collectible trophies, characters, stages, and everything a gamer could possibily want in a Nintendo game, hundreds of hours can easily be spent by CASUAL gamers. Thousands for the hardcore Nintendo crowd. What also made Melee so popular was it's competitive community, which still lives on even though Brawl has been released. Reason? Because so many advanced tactics, glitches, and depth keep the hardcore around. The ability to combo your opponent like crazy was enjoyable, but led to some balancing issues.

But now you have to ask yourself...

How on earth could Nintendo possibly expand on Melee to make a sequel? And how are they going to please both the casual gamer and the hardcore at the same time?

Much like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Smash Bros. Brawl was given so much hype to the point where even the smallest flaws could be detrimental. Let me simply say, the first night of playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl was easily the most enjoyable night of gaming I've ever had. I stayed up all night with 10 friends of mine, and we got 2 TV's and 2 Wii's running at the same time so 8 people could play at a time. After this night though, my opinions on Brawl have changed slightly.

I'm going to break down my review into 5 parts:
*All are rated out of 10.

Presentation - 9.5/10

The Good:
Like every Smash game before it, the presentation is absolutely top-notch. Slick, easy menus throughout the entire game. The Nintendo universe is truly brought to life. Impressive and plentiful cutscenes throughout the game's single player mode. And for the first time ever, 3rd party characters have entered the fray! Sonic and Snake fit into the Smash World surprisingly well.

The Bad:
Long, painful 20 second boot-up every time you turn on the game. Some matches randomly take long periods of time to load, especially in "Special Brawl" mode. "The Subspace Emissary" is unfortunately the most disappointing part of the game. It has countless gameplay flaws, and the sticker system seems to be somewhat of an afterthought. It's basically a sidescrolling adventure filled with uninspired, unimaginative, borderline-stupid enemies. Even the fact that it is co-op doesn't save it from mediocrity.

Graphics - 9.5/10

The Good:
Polished, well-designed and highly detailed character models. Mario's overalls have never looked so good. The game runs at a constant 60 frames, and the cutscenes look fantastic. Tons of partical effects and tiny details bring the game to life. There is an option in the game which allows you to choose whether you want the characters to look sharper or smoother.

The Bad:
The stages are a mixed bag. (*And no, the Melee stages are not a factor here.) Some stages like Yoshi's Island are highly detailed and are full of life, others like Mushroomy Kingdom are bland and uninspired. Though most of the stage design is nice and reflects the worlds of the game's many characters, it isn't perfect like the character models are.

Audio: - 10/10

The Good:
Everything. No joke. There are over 200+ songs, many of which need to be unlocked. Some are classics ripped directly from past Nintendo games. Countless remixes of memorable Nintendo/Sonic/Metal Gear songs. It's more than perfect, I might as well change the 10/10 to an 11/10. Honestly, the music ALONE is worth 50 bucks, and I'm not even exaggerating. The sound effects are also perfect; just as smashing as they've always been. Everyone's original voice actors are present, from Ike to Sonic. Even the Pokemon have their original voices! Best soundtrack EVER to be in a videogame.

The Bad:
Not a thing.

Gameplay - 9/10
(*Due to the fact many people will consider some of the things I list bad as good, and the other way around, I've chosen not to split this section up into good and bad. Casual gamers will be relieved to hear advanced tactics have been removed, but hardcore smashers like myself would not agree. I hope you understand what I'm trying to say here.)

Core Gameplay Mechanics:
It still plays pretty much the same as Melee, but there are some changes that will leave many slightly disappointed, especially the hardcore crowd. The ability to combo is virtually impossible for some characters, and too easy for others. (*I'm looking at you Olimar and Meta Knight.) The game feels much slower, and the game's gravity isn't nearly as strong as it was in Melee. Mid-air dodging has been totally changed, to prevent wavedashing. (Wavedashing was a glitch-tactic used in competitive Smash. By midair dodging into the ground at an angle the moment you press the jump button, the jump animation is totally cut off, and your character swifly slides backwards or forwards, which opens up a window of opportunity.) In Brawl, you no longer have any control over what direction your character moves during the midair dodge. Also, you can mid-air dodge multiple times in one jump, whereas in Melee you would mid-air dodge once, and immediately plummet to the ground as if you just used your recovery move. Recovering in Brawl has been made easy, thanks to the fact sweet-spotting is automatic now. (*Sweet-spotting is when your character grabs the ledge of a stage at the peak of their recovery. It prevents you from being open after your recovery.) If you are even close to the edge when you use your recovery move, the animation is literally stopped, and your character grabs the edge. This makes off-the-stage battle less essential for victory, making it nearly impossible to take advantage of "bad" recovery moves. Unfortunately, grapple recovery moves can easily be edge-guarded. (*Ivysaur, Zero Suit Samus, and especially Captain Olimar.)

The Final Smash and New Items:
Quite possibly one of the most anticipated things was the Final Smash. Final Smashes are essentially special moves that can only be used when a character obtains a Smash Ball. The Smash Ball is an item that appears every so often during a match. It floats about the stage randomly, and generally everyone flocks towards it. It takes mutiple hits to be broken open, and whichever lucky person breaks it gets surrounded in a multi-colored aura (*And their pupils turn yellow... kinda creepy.), and gains the ability to use their Final Smash, an ultra-powerful-over-the-top special move that almost guarantees you some KO's, unless you're Peach, Mario, or Jigglypuff. Unlike the game's characters, Final Smashes are surprisingly unbalanced. Sonic the Hedgehog, and all of the Starfox characters have Final Smashes that are borderline broken, and will almost always guarantee you 2 KO's on multiple people. Peach's Final Smash on the other hand is a joke. She dances and puts everyone to sleep, while tons of peaches appear on the stage for her to pick up and eat as recovery. After about 4 seconds, all of her opponents can button-mash and spin the control stick like crazy to awaken from their short-lived slumber, and eat the peaches as well. Mario's is a simple firey-vortex, that generally deals 30% damage on a GOOD hit, and will almost never kill your opponent the way it is supposed to. Jigglypuff's is unspeakably bad. She simply inflates and becomes gigantic. She screams, and anyone touching her gets sent flying. It almost never works, and it is generally unusable on bigger stages. As a whole, Final Smashes are satisfying, fun ways to play, but some are unfair, and you're going to hear your friends complain a lot of you use Sonic. (*Wario-Man is my favorite Final Smash by the way. Just don't use your bike!) As for other items in the game, they still remain fun and crazy. Some new, familiar items from your favorite franchises are present, such as the Dragoon from Kirby, and the Deku Nut from Zelda. Items from Melee and the original Smash Bros return and are as fun as ever. The only gripe I have is that it's hard to distinguish certain items from others, such as the Franklin Badge and the Screw Attack.

Subspace Emissary:
This is a gameplay mode that basically drives you through an utterly half-assed story full of clunky gameplay and uninspired enemies. It's basically an expansion of Melee's adventure mode. (*Which I preferred much, much more.) The only reason to even play it is if you don't feel like unlocking characters via vs. matches, and the occasional trophy/sticker that you'll need. My only motivation for playing it was to see all of the well-done cutscenes throughout the story. They're short, but there are tons of them. Almost the entire thing feels like it was built in the game's shallow stage-builder mode. You'll be glad once it's over, trust me.

Replayability - 10/10

The Good:
Just like all Smash games, you're going to be locked onto your couch playing with friends on the weekends for hours on end. There are 35 characters total, 40+ stages, hundreds of trophies and stickers to collect, and songs to unlock. There are tons of gameplay modes, which will take you days to explore. Stadium, Event Matches, All-Star, Classic, Multi-Man, and everything from Melee are all back.

The Bad:
The online gameplay is generally a lag-fest, and is unplayable in some cases. Some objectives on the objective list are tedius. (*It's like Kirby Air Ride.) Event Matches are rather lame. The Stage Builder is linear and shallow. These shortcomings don't even come close to bringing the score down from a 10 though.

My overall score for Super Smash Bros Brawl is a 9/10.

To me personally, gameplay is always the most important thing to a game. Even though Brawl is still incredibly fun to play, the core gameplay hasn't expanded much since Melee. The jump from Smash 64 to Melee was a huge leap. The jump from Melee to Brawl isn't nearly as big. Even with everything said... if you are a Nintendo fan, there is absolutely NO reason why you should not own this game. I can't say this game alone is worth buying a Wii for, but I still highly recommend buying the game if you already do own one. People will be playing this game constantly until the next installment of Smash.

Buy it? Rent it? BUY THIS GAME. Renting it is just plain stupid.

Just a few notes:
-Make sure you play with a GameCube controller! All other controller functions feel rather awkward...
-If you're like me, you're going to miss Roy, Mewtwo, Dr. Mario, Young Link, and Pichu.
-Though... I miss Roy the most. T__T Ike is a good replacement though...
-This is a GREAT time to jump into the world of Smash! If you've never played a Smash game before, please do so NOW. (*If that's the case with you, you must be living under a rock. A very big one.)

Nintendo Fans, Rejoice!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/25/08

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

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