Super Smash Bros. Brawl review
Seven Years of Worthwhile Waiting
It was seven years ago (six in some regions) since Super Smash Brothers Melee was released for the Nintendo GameCube, but after a long wait Nintendo has released Super Smash Brothers Brawl.
With new characters, stages, music, graphics, and features, Brawl really is a "true" sequel. The game offers many more possibilities for casual players while also providing new strategic advantages for "hardcore" players.
Brawl offers a brand new mode of adventure play that really is a step up from the adventure mode of its prequel. In this adventure, known as "The Subspace Emissary", it mixes characters from multiple Nintendo franchises into one plot. The plot is OK and is a bit rushed in parts without much backbone to support it, but the most important part is the battles and platform gameplay it offers. It mixes this platform style gaming with the usual battles you are used to in a seamless matter that flows nicely throughout the game. This new adventure mode is enjoyable for both veterans of the series and new players because it allows you to choose from one of five different difficulties, lots of variety. The Subspace Emisarry also allows you to play with a friend, but you will probably find it easier to play alone as things can become confusing with more then one player at a time.
The boss fights of the adventure mode are pretty intense because they are so well made. You will find yourself being smashed with Petey Piranha's cages holding everyone's favorite Nintendo princesses, Zelda and Peach, to being shocked with a new boss' wings, Tabuu. All of the bosses, new and old, have been given well deserved spots in the game and their abilities do not disappoint.
The other single player battle modes include Classic and an unlockable mode you will receive as the game progresses. Classic mode is the same arcade style fights you are used to. Level after level you will fight opponents using a single character with up to 5 stocks (or lives). Like adventure you can adjust the difficulty for harder challenges and more points.
Other modes in single player also includes the usual training mode for you to keep up your combos, stadium, and events. In stadium you are given the option of playing in one of four (one must be unlocked later on in the game) different mini-game like games. The first is target smash where you must destroy a total of 10 targets in one of 5 stages (based on difficulty level) in as short a period of time as possible. Target smash isn't as unique as it was in Melee because they took out the option to play on stages unique to each character, but its still just as challenging. The second is the home-run contest which challenges you to hit a sandbag as far as possible by weakening it and then slugging at it with a home-run bat (an item found inside of the game). Home-run hasn't changed much from its sequel and is still somewhat dull compared to other modes in Brawl, but trying to beat your, or friends, records can be tough. The final of the three starting modes in stadium is Multi-man Brawl which has multiple challenges inside of itself. These challenges include everything from 100-man Brawl where you must defeat 100 Alloys (the NPC character of this mode) to 15-minute Brawl which pins you against Alloys for 15 minutes with 1 stock to Cruel Brawl where you must fend off extremely challenging Alloys. Overall the Stadium mode (with its unlockable mode) are great fun alone or with friends and some can even be played over WiFi, which I will get to later.
As for the Events mode, there are 41 total solo-events to play and 21 different co-op-events. Every event allows you to choose from 3 different difficulties and every event is unique. You may find yourself breaking all the terrain of the stage or beating out a giant Mario. The events do offer more variety and also give you the chance to play in different scenarios you might not normally be able to take part in, but they lack a certain fun factor after the first 10 or so events.
If you decide to play offline-multi-player you can play with up to 3 friends, 4 people in all, and Brawl gives you plenty of variety when choosing how to fight. The game does offer a rotation system if you have more then 4 players, but remember there can only be 4 at a time. You can play in normal brawls and team brawls where you can change the usual options or you can battle in what is called a "special brawl". In the special brawl you are given plenty of option including gravity options, speed options, and permanent item option. You can mix and match these options and have some really epic battles. The final notable multi-player feature is the Tournament mode where you can play with up to 32 people. With the rotation mode you can have a 32 friend showdown and see who comes up on top. Overall Multiplayer is really one of the strong points for Brawl mainly because of all the options it offers. It will really keep the gaming going for you and your friends.
Apart from fighting there is also a new area called the Vault that's offers plenty of new, and old, features that make the game especially stand out from many out there. There is the trophies and sticker area, you may remember collecting trophies in Melee, but Brawl offers many more new trophies of characters that you don't normally find in the game each with special descriptions. The stickers are brand new and in the Subspace Emisarry you can attach these stickers to your characters to add bonus stats such as attack or knock-back. So how do you collect these items? Well the main way is through a new mini-game called Coin Launcher where you use coins you have collected throughout the game to shoot down spaceships that for some reason are carrying these stickers and trophies. Trophy launcher is a great addition to the game and is much more fun then the boring Lottery in Melee because now you really have to do something to earn your rewards.
Other features of the Vault include the Replays area where you can watch videos of your battles, your Album where you can views pictures you have taken, Master-Pieces where you can play demo versions of old games, and the Chronicle which lists games from Nintendo's past. All of these are basic, yes, but they offer a lot of extra content for you to fool around with.
The other two vault features I'd like to talk about are the Challenges area and Stage Builder area. The Challenge area is a special part of the game that allows you to complete bonus achievements to unlock new trophies, songs, and other knick-knacks you might want. There are 128 challenges in all that all have different difficulty to achieve and offer the unique items only receivable through the challenges. Challenges are fun and add a lot of extra bonus stuff to achieve throughout the game and will probably be the last thing you complete in the game. As for stage builder, you can unlock new pieces for building stages through the Challenges area. Stage Builder allows you to create "half-fledged" stages for you to duke it out with friends on multi-player. I say "half-fledged" instead of full-fledged because there really isn't anything special about this feature. Sure, it allows you to create new unique stages, but the stages aren't all that unique when the game only allows you to work with a low limit of lack-luster items. Worst of all is that you can not play on these created stages over WiFi.
Another small feature of the game you may want to know about is the "My Music" section of the options page. In "My Music" you can assign different songs you have unlocked to stages, this way you can delete having to hear songs you don't like and increase hearing the songs you do like when battling. Nintendo put in small new features like this to really improve the overall effect of the game.
The last thing I would like to cover from the battling area is WiFi. WiFi is probably the biggest enhancement from its previous sequels and stands out as one of the major focal points for sales. The first thing you will probably notice via WiFi is that by logging into WiFi each day you can receive one new custom stage, photo, and video from others online. You can send your own custom stages and whatnot from the Vault and possibly have yours given away. The two main areas of WiFi is "With Friends" and "With Anyone", for battling! In "With Anyone" you can choose to do basic or team battles and you will automatically be paired up with anyone. I've noticed that using the "With Anyone" feature isn't all that great. The lag of the battles is endless and you will probably find yourself disconnecting shortly after the battle begins, a big let down. Apart from those there is also spectator which allows you to bid on "real" battles with coins to cash out in the end. Sadly these battles don't seem very "real" as I've experienced times when the character I bet lots of coins on would simply walk off the edge of the stage to his doom after just about winning.
As for the "With Friends" area, its a lot more enhanced. The biggest difficulty with this area is that you will need to share your newly squired friend code with other peoples friend codes before battling, which is why if you don't not have Internet or many real world friends it can be a challenge finding good fights when your both on at the same time. The game allows you to have up to 64 friends at one time, but the list probably wont fill up very fast. The main part of this area is the normal Brawl. You can set up option to have normal stock brawls, timed brawls, or team brawls and also set the usual options such as items on/off and stage choices. You will probably find that some people you have terrible connection with and you can't fully even get through a battle, but you may also find that some people you have perfect connection with and you experience no lag. This is the trick to having better online battles. Overall WiFi is there, but its not all there. What I mean by that is it could have been made a bit smoother like the WiFi from another one of Nintendo's game for the Wii which supports up to 12 people online at one; Mario Kart Wii.
The character roster has expanded from Melee to Brawl with new characters introduced and old characters returning. Every character is unique and has their own move-set, strengths, and weaknesses. Its also the first time in Super Smash Bros. history that the roster included third-party game characters. I won't mention who these characters so to not spoil, but there are 2 in total. Sadly the roster of characters is not very "stable". Some characters are very easy to use competitively while others fall very short. If your a casual player you probably will not notice the different, but for competitive players the vision is clear. The choice of characters Nintendo made was overall favorable. The characters chosen were like-able and popular and many fans appreciate that.
The graphics of Brawl have vastly improved from the previous version of the game, obviously to fit the style of the Wii. Instead of the flat, dull graphics of the GameCube you can now see fully defined characters with almost perfect textures. You will noticed that you can see every detail of Mario's denim overalls and the elegant patterns of Peach's dress. As for audio, the game does a perfect job of giving you the Super Smash Bros. feel. The game includes tracks from all across the franchises including new up-to-date beats and original NES style music.
Brawl is a stand alone title for the Wii with two incredible games in its past to back it up. Everything is pretty much spot on except for a few areas mentioned that Nintendo could have done a better job of improving. A must buy for the Wii and defiantly a keep for anyone who truly is a fan of the Super Smash Bros. Series.
About the author
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