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About
I'm Mike, I'm from San Diego. I'm in no way new to Destructoid, I'm a just a long time lurker, first time poster. So on the topic it hand; I've been gaming for 17 years and this is the first time I've been to a site where everyone doesn't seem to be full of shit. That's pretty neat. I'm into most genres, though I'm a big fan of Fighting, Racing, and Action/Adventure. That's pretty vague, so here's a small list of my favorite games to give you a better idea:

Earthbound
Phantom Dust
Morrowind
Kotor 2
DMC3
F-Zero GX
Street Fighter IV
Killer7
Fallout 2
As well as the givens like RE4, Ocarina of Time, Bioshock, blah blah blah



Anyways, I'm starting to ramble, so in summation: What's up? Nice to meet you all, and hope to see you on XBL. If anything, here's my contribution to Dtoid:


XBL: AquaticPants

Currently Playing:
Street Fighter IV
Blazblue
Street Fighter IV
N+ (XBLA)
Street Fighter IV


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Following (2)  


Forward:

Hey folks, how's it going? It's been a while, almost 3 weeks I believe. Sorry to leave any fans of the series high and dry (and cliche-less), but your old pal Flattop J-man has been busy with school, job hunting, getting drunk (perhaps a little too often) and, wait for it, actually playing games. I'm excited to report this to you, as I have played a lot of the games I had backed up in preparation for GTA4. I finally started and conquered Tales of Symphonia, which was amazing. Glad to see that they're making a sequel, despite that fact that it has a different lead character. I also beat a lot of my virtual console stuff, such as Gradius 3, Contra 3, Fantasy Zone, and Castlevania. All of which were friggin difficult, but very rewarding. Especially Fantasy Zone. BUY IT. I also just started Mario Galaxy, so expect a painfully late review of that in the near future.

The time away has done me some good. I am playing Brawl less and less, so writing about it was getting very difficult. But since writing this (and the next installment in preparation) words have started to flow better, and I'm not so burnt out on the subject anymore. I'm not saying to expect a step up in quality over the next few entries, but my interest has been revitalized and I'm doing my very best.

I'm also considering picking up another 4000 Wii Points at the store tomorrow, as I had the pleasure of selling Assassin's Creed to someone on Craigslist after 2 months of attempting to do so. So any recommendations you have are greatly appreciated. Though I'm picking up Lords of Thunder for sure.

So anyways, if you're reading this, enjoy the article and expect the rest of the entries to follow soon. I'll do my best to get at least 3 a week out.

End of Line

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Oh Super Smash Bros Brawl. What an entrancing effect you have on people, throwing people into rabid debate about every single aspect of the game, even stealing time and friendships from innocent people. Well that is just nonsense; the internet needs of a voice of reason/martyr, and I have to try my best.

*DISCLAIMER* I will discuss all of the non-Melee stages in the game, so if you're worried about spoilers read no further. But who are you kidding, you already know everything that would every be considered secret about this game.

The following are my opinions on the Good, the Bad, and the Average stages of brawl. This is in no way tourneyfag material; each stage is critiqued on flavor, functionality, and fun (The 3 F's, perhaps?). However, their final ranking is almost completely dependent on how much fun I had while playing this with a large group of friends, drunk and sober alike. Final Destination will not be named as the definitive stage, I promise you that. I will be counting up from the worst of the best, the worst of the average, and counting down from the best of the worst. The superior stages, and the absolute worst, will be revealed over time, or at least that's the idea. Without further ado, here is the next set of stages:

THE GOOD
Smashville


K.K. Slider is a bad-ass.

Flavor: This stage is charming beyond words. If anything, definitely one of my favorite representations of its series. This stage takes place above your village in animal crossing, and it looks great. To say it is identical to the game is pretty redundant, as if you played the game for Gamecube or DS you'll feel right at home. The little touches are what makes it great. The stage changes from night to day depending on your Wii's internal clock, balloons float by carrying presents and other various items, the little animals in the background that watch as you beat the shit out of each other. Those cute little guys even drink coffee while you brawl. Best of all, K.K. Slider, the resident rock star of the series, plays shows at Saturday at 8:00 PM in which all of his songs are unique and can't be collected. The fact that you can't listen to these songs whenever you want can be a bummer, but overall it's just awesome.

Functionality: The stage is pretty basic, to say the least. It has a central platform, which is about 2/3's the size of Final Destination with an occasional small platform that floats by above. The stage is rather small, but it still works well. No gimmicks here, per se, but the balloons that float by can be popped to cause items to drop. That is, if you have items turned on. If you don't, you're a jerk. Just suck it up and learn to play with items. (To each his own, but seriously, it's a completely different game with items turned on. That's a good thing.)

Fun: This stage is plain, but it's also very fun to play on. It's small, so there's a constant state of action and very little camping. The floating platforms add a little variety, but don't really lend themselves to recovery so they don't rob anyone of kills. The balloons don't do much, but they're always a joy to pop. Plus, the music is friggin fantastic, so there's nothing not to love about this stage. I think of it as Final Destination +, and that is a very good thing indeed. Plus it's based off of Animal Crossing. That makes it good enough on it's own.

Songs of Choice: 2:00 AM, Go K.K. Rider!, Town Hall and Tom Nook's Store

THE "MEH"
Skyworld


Fuck! How was I supposed to know you couldn't jump up through the stage!

Flavor: This stage hails from the oft neglected Kid Icarus franchise. There ought to be a new one, but I digress. This stage takes place in Skyworld, the third stage of the original NES classic. Also, the final stage, a temple-like structure, can be seen in the background. Pretty neat. The entire level is built on clouds, so it gets that "Sky" feel down. That's about all I can say.

Functionality: This stage is comprised of four platforms, with an additional one of which floats under the stage so it technically isn't counted due to lack of being there all the time. The main is quite large, and on the left is slants downwards to accommodate a small platform that hovers above it. This large platform is also flanked by another small platform on the right, tethered to the bottom platform by a chain. Above all this is a medium sized platform at the top of the stage. So pretty basic, overall. The gimmick here is that all platforms on the stage (including the small one that floats under it) can be destroyed. This means that the the entire stage can accidentally be fallen though, and if you're a big enough asshole, can not be gripped on to for recovery. This makes things quite interesting, and more often than not does not feel cheap. Then again, the group that I play with does its best not to exploit such things.

Fun: Although is might be rather bland, I very much enjoy this stage. When all the platforms are intact, the lower area has a "cave of pain" effect similar to the bottom of Hyrule temple. People get smacked around, though at the high %'s they ricochet off of the other platforms and can easily spike to their doom. Good stuff. I'm also not a huge fan of Kid Icarus per se, but I can still appreciate this stage for having a clean, unique look. From an artistic or gameplay perspective, this stage has no similarities with any others. The deteriorating platforms can take some getting used to, but once you do they are more of an asset than a curse, forcing people to fall through and striking them from below are always good times.

Songs of Choice: Only 4 tracks here, none of which are bad. Though if I had to pick just one, Kid Icarus Original Medley.

THE BAD
Mushroomy Kingdom


No warp? Blasphemy.

Flavor: This stage is rad. I say that because as a child, playing the original Super Mario Brothers caused me to utter that same word. And here it is, recreated more than a decade later in the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time. It's a completely faithful recreation of stages 1-1 and 1-2 from the original game, and sans enemies it is perfect. They were taken out for obvious reasons, so I can't hate on it for that. Even the item blocks are the same! Though I suppose that they give random items, so that's a bit different. The music is awesome, and the new, aged approach to the art style is pretty cool, not to mention clever. Nice music, as well.

Functionality: Well, it's stages 1-1 or 1-2 on a loop. Sorry to say this, but that translates into shit as far as a fighting game is concerned. The level is constantly scrolling, so it adds an interesting dynamic to combat, but those (somehow) unfamiliar with the layout of these stages will find themselves pissed off at the constant stage-caused deaths that befall them. 1-1 isn't nearly as bad as 1-2, as there are less massive pits and more items, plus that sweet flag at the end.

Fun: Now I know that the things I've just said may not have exactly swayed you into believing that this stage is shit. That's understandable, as this stage is so odd to play on that it's very difficult to put my qualms with it into words. Though if you have played on it, you understand; despite the awesome design, it's just not any fun. If you haven't played on this stage, do so. You'll feel the same way as I did, appreciating the stage for what it is, yet lamenting actually playing on it. I love this stage, but at the same time, I can't fucking stand it. My mind is aflame.

Songs of Choice: All of them are solid, though nothing really sticks out as awesome.
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So concludes part Five of my critique. I put a lot of work in to it, and I hope you all enjoyed reading it. I can has friends now plz? So you've heard me ramble on about these stages, what are your opinions? Stay tuned, your most revered and detested stages could be in the next installment!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

All screens courtesy of the Smash Dojo.
Photo Photo Photo










Two Worlds, the self-labeled "revolutionary" and "ambitious" RPG "epic", was released August 21, 2007 on the 360 and PC. This game was unanimously panned by critics and gamers alike, and the 360 version currently has a rating of 50 on metacritic. Some idiots would go on to claim that this is because of its "unfair" comparison to Oblivion, while others exercising rational thought saw it for what is was, a terrible Action-RPG.

Game Information:
(US) Release Date: 08/21/07
Developed By: TopWare Interactive
Published By: SouthPeak Interactive
Platform(s): Xbox 360, PC, PS3 (Unreleased as of now)

The Premise:


Dear Google Images: I love you.

Two Worlds follows the chronicles of Generic Guy as he quests through the world of Not-Cyrodiil, seeking treasure and notoriety, as well as attempting to rescue his scantily-clad sister and destroy some mysterious evil knights that would like nothing more than to ruin everyone's day. Trust me, the premise of Two Worlds is about as original as it gets. It's a hack-and-slash, open-world RPG that promised to combine deep combat and exploration with a top notch story. Well the story is awful, but at least there is moral dichotomy that you can pick and choose from; so you can be good or evil.... sorta. It's [moral skew of your choosing] vs. Evil, but despite this you can be good the entire game and just decide to be evil in the end by choosing so in the final dialog option, or vice versa.

The Game:

Two worlds was first shown at E3 2006, and no one has cared about it from that day forward. Then-Developer Reality Pump promised a unique, card-based magic system, intuitive and cinematic combat, a giant world, and fatigue system that made you play your character as if it was a real person; he/she needed sleep and sustenance. The most ambitious claim was the promise of a dynamic multiplayer MMO-like component. And most of these things made it in! Buuuut they all sucked.

The combat is actually quite intuitive. You smash the trigger button down repeatedly, and things die. Dynasty Warriors has resounding depth in comparison. You can use the magic system, but it's only use is decreasing down time via healing. The card system is intact, but magic is so trivial that there is almost no reason for it. There is maybe one good spell to use in combat, Chains, and you get it maybe an hour in to the quest. That's not good. The fatigue system? Doesn't exist. From a gameplay standpoint, the difficulty of this game is a joke. There is almost no penalty for death, as you are respawned at shrines a la Bioshock's Vita-Chambers. Therefore, if an enemy does give you any trouble (unless you wander off in to the final area as soon as you begin the game, none will), you can just wear it down and kill it eventually. Unlike Oblivion, the creatures are not leveled, so you could get your ass kicked, but it mostly amounts to you destroying any wolf that is foolish enough to approach you in the wild.

The leveling system is pretty standard, anyone who played Diablo will recognize this approach. You get skill points, you spend them. That's it. One interesting thing is that you can re-spend you skill points infinitely many times, there are merchants that reset them for you at a small price. The only other cool mechanic in the game is the "crafting" of items. Identical items can be stacked upon each other to create the same item, but more powerful. This leads to some ridiculously overpowered gear; it's quite cool and interesting to play around with. These weapons can then be augmented by gems, to further increase their potency. These jewels can also be stacked indefinitely, so again, overpowered weapons aplenty.


Not even close to being as intuitive as this picture makes it out to be.

The menu is awful and often impossible to decipher. The text is the same color as the background. It is truly horrendous; that's all I can say.

Overall, from a gameplay standpoint this game is the fusion of The Elder Scrolls series and Diablo 2, if that fusion was god awful.

Graphics and Sound:


This is pretty scary.

Oh boy; where should I begin? This game looks totally decent. However, technically proficient graphics don't make up for a lack of soul. It is totally generic in it's art style, and in addition to this the enemy design is terrible. however, looking like shit isn't limited to the enemies. Most of the NPC's faces appear to have some sort of mental deficiency, and generally never move around the environment. The main character looks especially awful, I swear he is cross-eyed. The animation is awkward and glitchy, and the pop-in is substantial. The lighting effects are pretty good. I guess that counts for something. Notable short-coming include the look of movement, horse-riding, and combat. Yeah, pretty much everything.


I'm sorry, but this guy looks retarded even with the hi-res graphics.

The one place that the art style does succeed in is variety. There are swamps, deserts, mountains, and everything in between. The towns are all quite unique as well, and there's even an awesome Asian themed one. I wish Oblivion would have had this sort of variety, though I suppose it all takes place in one province so what can you do.

The sound. Oh. My. God. It's awesome, really. All of the sound effects are pretty standard, so nothing to say there. But the voice acting is where this game shines/turns to shit beyond all reason. The entire script is written so poorly that it is a feat within itself. Not only that, it is "translated" into this incredibly cheese Old-English style. Expect to hear a lot of "forsooth", "mayhap", "knave", and the like. This could easily be considered the low point of the game, but I can't help but love its ham-handed goodness. Oh, and the music is standard. Nothing amazing, but it works well enough and isn't annoying.

Control:


This is as simple as I can explain it.

Although a little laggy, especially when it comes to magic, the control is one of the few things not broken about this game. You attack and hotkey spells (probably a Heal) with the triggers, the bumpers are potion shortcuts, and the face buttons are basically used for jumping and dodging. One thing that works a little too well is the dodge; if you are good with it you are functionally immortal. You can jam the button down a split-second after performing any other action, and you will instantaneously slide back to safety. The horse-back riding is painfully difficult, but fairly useless due to a nice teleport system. But like I said, the control isn't too bad. It's functional, but sloppy.

The Good:
-Awesome Dialog
-Sweet, Feudal-Japanese Town
-Ridiculously Overpowered Characters

The Bad:
-Literally Everything Else

PENULTIMATE SUCK. This game will rape your mind and defile your soul. 9 out of 10.


SURPRISE PLOT TWIST BLOG ENDING:

I wholeheartedly recommend this game. I played it extensively, and despite all its faults, it's definitely a guilty pleasure of mine. I enjoyed it, and as long as you take everything with a grain of salt and expect the game to be humorous (even though it doesn't intentionally do so), you will have a good time. It's dumb, it's simple, and it's fun. Just don't pay more than 10 bucks for it. Seriously.

RENT OR STEAL IT!!!!
Photo Photo Photo








Oh Super Smash Bros Brawl. What an entrancing effect you have on people, throwing people into rabid debate about every single aspect of the game, even stealing time and friendships from innocent people. Well that is just nonsense; the internet needs of a voice of reason/martyr, and I have to try my best.

*DISCLAIMER* I will discuss all of the non-Melee stages in the game, so if you're worried about spoilers read no further. But who are you kidding, you already know everything that would every be considered secret about this game.

The following are my opinions on the Good, the Bad, and the Average stages of brawl. This is in no way tourneyfag material; each stage is critiqued on flavor, functionality, and fun (The 3 F's, perhaps?). However, their final ranking is almost completely dependent on how much fun I had while playing this with a large group of friends, drunk and sober alike. Final Destination will not be named as the definitive stage, I promise you that. I will be counting up from the worst of the best, the worst of the average, and counting down from the best of the worst. The superior stages, and the absolute worst, will be revealed over time, or at least that's the idea. Without further ado, here is the next set of stages:

THE GOOD
Warioware, Inc.


You asshole! It said "Don't Move"!

Flavor: Warioware! Who doesn't love this stage? This particular arena is based off of the Warioware micro game franchise which stars none other than Wario. It's goofy, it's quirky, and it's fun. All of these things make the leap into smash bros perfectly. It includes around 10 different micro games that it switches to during the match, and they're all straight out of a Warioware game. None of their art styles match and they all last about 10 seconds, which again is true to the series. Nintendo did an absolutely fantastic job with this one.

Functionality: The basic stage layout is a large center platform flanked on each side by two platforms. The platforms directly above the stage are quite large, able to accommodate 2 characters, while the platforms above those are significantly smaller; about the size of one character. Once a minute or so, it seems quite random, the stage will shift to a mini-game straight out of Warioware. The gimmick here is the micro games themselves. Many of them require you to dodge various projectiles, such as cars from the sides, raining arrows from the background, or giant feet from above. Others require you to chisel statues, pop party-poppers, taunt, or even stay completely still. There is a pretty good variety here, and if performed these tasks can be very lucrative. The can award health bonuses, giant mushrooms, or stars; though at times it seems like you are getting nothing. Your bonus is random, so two people can both pass the challenge and get completely different rewards.

Fun: This stage is one of the most fun and unique in the entire game. If you believe that there is beauty in chaos, you will be deeply satisfied by this arena. Everything is almost completely random, from the shifting into the games to the perks they give, nothing will ever be the same twice. Two people could both taunt and get a benefit, yet more often than not one person will get a star and another will get a mild heal. This may not sound like fun, but when you're in that power position you'll be having a blast. And everyone is equal in the eyes of these games, so you'll surely luck out every once in a while. Some of the funniest moments come from the "Don't Move" phase of the stage. People are rewarded for staying completely still for somewhere under 10 seconds. No matter if they are attacked or the one doing the attacking, if a person does anything they'll forfeit the bonus. This can lead to complete standstills where one jerk just messes it up for everyone. But it sure is fun to be that jerk.

Songs of Choice: Warioware Inc., Warioware Inc. Medley, Mona Pizza's Song

THE "MEH"
Final Destination


Yep. That's it. Glad to get this out of the way.

Flavor: It's Final Destination. It was originally in Melee, and now it's back with a graphical overhaul. As opposed to be a plain Octagon shaped platform, it's now a rectangle. This makes no difference in the way it performs, it's the same as ever. The background sends you flying through space and time, and overall looks pretty damned good.

Functionality: It is hard to say anything bad about this stage, let alone anything at all. IIt's just a rectangle. The only thing that could be considered tricky is that it is quite easy to get caught under the stage, the sides seemed to be lipped upwards. Characters with wall cling can latch on under the stage, and characters with glide can pass under it fairly easily. That's about it.

Fun: I can't hate on this stage in good conscience. It may be plain, it may be the lifeblood of the 'lovely' tournament scene, and it may be boring at times; despite all that, it's a friggin treat to play on. I love it. It's balanced, it's a good size, it looks nice, and it's fun. It's not the best in any way, but it's fun as hell as long as you don't play it every damned time. Music is kinda bleh, though.

Songs of Choice: Final Destination, Credits (Super Smash Bros), Opening (Super Smash Bros Melee)

THE BAD
Hanenbow


So I guess I can't swim in that water...

Flavor: This stage is hands-down the most representative of it series in the entire game. I may claim another stage to capture the flavor of it's series well, but understand this here and now: this stage is in an entirely different league. It is literally the game Elekctroplankton, but it has brawl characters fighting in it. It looks identical, the entirety of Electroplankton's gameplay is literally in it, and the sound design is nearly identical as well. The rest of my critique my be nothing but negative, but from a presentation standpoint this stage is flawless. I love this stage in that respect. With that in mind, the rest of this will physically pain me to write...

Functionality: I think we can all agree that this stage is shit. The level is compromised of one major section of platforms on the right, a small group of platforms on the top left, and a lone, slanted platform on the bottom part of the left side of the screen. The platforms are leaves on branches coming from the top and bottom of the screen, and their composition can be viewed in the screenshot (I tried but can not accurately explain how they are grouped together). So basically there is a tree on the right, and a smaller tree on the top left. The gimmick in this stage is that when the leaves are hit, they change their color and angle. The color has no real bearing on anything besides the Hanenbow (groups of purple tadpoles with yellow tails). These little creatures bounce off of the leaves and make sound. Although this is a direct translation of Electroplankton gameplay, it really doesn't matter from Brawl gameplay standpoint. Still cool though. The reason this stage is so odd to fight on is that besides this scattered collection of small platforms, the rest of the screen is a bottomless pit. If you fall into the "water", you're dead.

Fun: They stage is just torture to play on. There are no good places to make a stand, most of the platforms are quite far away from one another, and there is no ground to land on if you fall. My friends completely refuse to play on this stage, and despite the fact that I like Electroplankton, I whole-heartedly understand why. It's just poorly constructed, awkward, and generally a fight against gravity rather than your opponents. It is also a prime camping map, people can easily jump across the stage during a four man brawl and just shoot at the other combatants for quite a while. Especially characters like Snake that have controlled projectiles. I hate to say it, but avoid this map at all costs unless you're a devout fan of the DS game.

Songs of Choice: This stage contains no music, only the sounds created by the stage itself (which can still be cool)

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So concludes part four of my critique. I put a lot of work in to it, and I hope you all enjoyed reading it. I can has friends now plz? So you've heard me ramble on about these stages, what are your opinions? Stay tuned, your most revered and detested stages could be in the next installment! Also, if you aren't reading this, you ought to be. But chances are if you're a fan of this game you already are.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

All screens courtesy of the Smash Dojo.
Photo Photo Photo








Oh Super Smash Bros Brawl. What an entrancing effect you have on people, throwing people into rabid debate about every single aspect of the game, even stealing time and friendships from innocent people. Well that is just nonsense; the internet needs of a voice of reason/martyr, and I have to try my best.

*DISCLAIMER* I will discuss all of the non-Melee stages in the game, so if you're worried about spoilers read no further. But who are you kidding, you already know everything that would every be considered secret about this game.

The following are my opinions on the Good, the Bad, and the Average stages of brawl. This is in no way tourneyfag material; each stage is critiqued on flavor, functionality, and fun (The 3 F's, perhaps?). However, their final ranking is almost completely dependent on how much fun I had while playing this with a large group of friends, drunk and sober alike. Final Destination will not be named as the definitive stage, I promise you that. I will be counting up from the worst of the best, the worst of the average, and counting down from the best of the worst. The superior stages, and the absolute worst, will be revealed over time, or at least that's the idea. Without further ado, here is the next set of stages:

THE GOOD
Distant Planet


God damn it Pikmin is great.

Flavor: This stage is so well done I can't even believe it. It's straight out of either Pikmin title, all of the elements are there. From the Onions (the ships used by the pikmin themselves) randomly landing on the leafy platforms to the constantly growing pellets (little pikmin tokens) that can be used as projectiles, this stage nails it. It's set in an overgrown earth environment complete with trash (treasure!) in the background, complete with rain leaves that react to your weight. There's even a giant Bulborb that would like nothing more than to devour you and then go about his business. If you couldn't tell, I love this stage.

Functionality: This is an odd one to describe in print, so use the screen as reference if you get confused. The main feature of this game is a central, large leaf used as a platform. On top of this, there are 3 more leaves that that rest above this platform, each of which will react to your weight and potentially leave you open to get smashed from below. To the left side of the screen is a dirt slope that descends from the downward and under the central leaf. The camera will pan out to reveal a giant Bulborb (strawberry monster) that waits for combatants to jump on top of it, falling in to it's trap. Although it can be used as a platform, this is not advised for long periods of time. It will occasionally open in its mouth, which if landed in is a death sentence. Once every few minutes there is rain that makes the slope on the side impossible to stand on, and it helps speed things up when people are off to the side. It's an interesting, asymmetrical stage.

Fun: This stage is unique and while that doesn't necessarily translate to fun, in this case it does. While it's interesting mechanics would be enough to put it in the upper echelon of stages, this is fundamentally solid stage that will never disappoint. Being a huge fan of Pikmin, it's hard to say anything bad about this stage, but if there was anything it'd be the color palette. Many people I have played with complain that the foreground doesn't stand out enough in comparison to the background, and that could potentially cause a lot of confusion. Still, I urge you to play on this stage more often if you don't already do so regularly.

Songs of Choice:Stage Clear/Title (Pikmin), Title (Big Brain Academy), Environmental Sounds

THE "MEH"
Frigate Orpheon


Hm, I wonder what's with the alarm.

Flavor: It's the frigate where the beginning of your journey in the Metroid Prime series begins. More specifically, it's the first boss fight you encounter with the parasite queen, who happens to be hanging out in the background. This whole stage keeps with the theme well, as you had to jump from platform to platform to kill the queen, and the stage is basically 3 platforms. It's simple, clean, and accurate. At the very worst, it's faithful, and at best, it's pretty damned cool. However, it's beyond me know how anyone could argue against the style.

Functionality: Like I stated, it's pretty much just 3 platforms, one of which is fairly large while the others (one above the large platform and one off to the side) are on the smaller side. The platform off to the side moves up and down, so not all of the fighting will take place on an equal battlefield. The gimmick with this one is that an alarm will sound, and within a few seconds the entire stage will flip upside down. If you're standing on the floor when this happens, you're trapped directly under the stage and as good as dead unless you're Pit or something. If you jump up, you'll be fine. It works well, but I know that everyone got killed or at least freaked out the first time they encountered it. So once you can get past that, it's a well balanced stage that suits smaller brawls well.

Fun: This one is questionable. While Prime fans will enjoy this one, many more inexperienced players will hate all that stage-flip nonsense. Once everyone understands what's going on, it's generally a good time. The moving platform keeps things varied, while it's small size keeps people from camping. Always a good thing. Plus it's just pretty.

Songs of Choice: Vs. Ridley, Multiplayer (Metroid Prime 2)

THE BAD
Pokemon Staduim 2


Bad stage, I choose you!

Flavor: It's a pokemon stadium. It changes mid-match to accommodate different types of pokemon, but then again we've seen this done better in the first pokemon stadium. There is an/a air, electric, ground, and ice type battlefield, all of which are equally uninspired. It's definitely pokemon though, each type of the stage is inhabited by a few creatures of the same type, and that's pretty cool. So I can't fault it for being an inaccurate depiction or anything like that. I guess that counts for something.

Functionality: This one is a doozy. I'll break it up into the 4 different unique battleground, not counting the basic stage (which is awesome and doesn't need to be talked about), to make it easier to digest.

ICE: This is probably the best of the bunch. It builds upon the stadium's one basic platform with 2 icy platforms slanting inwards, but other than that it takes no liberties with the stage. The whole thing is made out of ice, so obviously everything is slippery. This isn't a bad thing, it can actually be quite fun.

GROUND: The stage is split in to two but a large dirt mound in the center. On the left, there is a solitary platform about the size of the dirt mound, and on the right there is a very small tower comprised of two platforms. Nothing special or especially terrible about this.

AIR: This one just flat our sucks. There is nothing, just a flat platform that comes along with every variant of the stage. The gimmick is the fact that there are constantly fans blowing you upward, so everyone jumps considerably higher and falls at a ridiculously slow rate. Seems decent enough, but this is an annoyance at best. You will be juggled until the stage changes back to normal.

ELECTRIC: This one is just odd. The middle is completely normal, it has two platforms slightly above it, with the higher of the two being smaller. To the left, there is another small platform, while on the right there is nothing. The gimmick here is that the left and right sides have treadmills that attempt to carry you off the edge. None can outright kill you, but they don't really add any fun or serve much a purpose at all, it just 'mixes it up' in an annoying way.

Fun: This stage fucking sucks. Pardon my language, but it pains me to see the 'sequel' to such an awesome stage get messed up so badly. The foundation is there, but they just don't do anything cool with it. Granted, the choices of electricity, ground, air, and ice themed stages seems uninspired, but there was little that could be done with such bottom of the barrel pokemon types as it is. I'm not saying that I could think up anything better, but these lackluster parts just add up to an awful stage. If you do like one of its parts, chances are that you would be better suited to play on a different stage with similar construction, as you only get to play on each part for about a minute before having it changed back. It's just boring, and the head-scratching choices they made do nothing to better it. Well hey, at least Dugtrio is in it. Just play on the first pokemon stadium instead, you won't regret it.

Songs of Choice: Pokemon Main Theme, Pokemon Gym/Evolution, Wild Pokemon Battle! (Ruby/Sapphire)

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So concludes part three of my critique. I put a lot of work in to it, and I hope you all enjoyed reading it. So you've heard me ramble on about these stages, what are your opinions? Stay tuned, your most revered and detested stages could be in the next installment! Also, if you aren't reading this, you ought to be. But chances are if you're a fan of this game you already are.

Part 1
Part 2

All screens courtesy of the Smash Dojo.
Photo Photo Photo








Oh Super Smash Bros Brawl. What an entrancing effect you have on people, throwing people into rabid debate about every single aspect of the game, even stealing time and friendships from innocent people. Well that is just nonsense; the internet needs of a voice of reason/martyr, and I have to try my best.

*DISCLAIMER* I will discuss all of the non-Melee stages in the game, so if you're worried about spoilers read no further. But who are you kidding, you already know everything that would every be considered secret about this game.

The following are my opinions on the Good, the Bad, and the Average stages of brawl. This is in no way tourneyfag material; each stage is critiqued on flavor, functionality, and fun (The 3 F's, perhaps?). However, their final ranking is almost completely dependent on how much fun I had while playing this with a large group of friends, drunk and sober alike. Final Destination will not be named as the definitive stage, I promise you that. I will be counting up from the worst of the best, the worst of the average, and counting down from the best of the worst. The superior stages, and the absolute worst, will be revealed over time, or at least that's the idea. Without further ado, here is the next set of stages:

THE GOOD
Luigi's Mansion


"Oh no, you broke-a my fucking mansion!" - Luigi

Flavor: That's Luigi's Mansion, alright. This stage hails from the game, you guessed it, Luigi's Mansion! Exciting, I know. Anyways, this recreation is completely faithful to the game, at least in an aesthetic sense. The outside of the mansion is identical, where as the inside is faithful, but from what I recall the game contained more than four rooms. Yep, that's about all I can say about it. Oh, except that this house is full of ghosts. How terrifying.

Functionality: Ah, this is where the beauty of this stage lies. There are 3 level, the first of which has two small platforms to help you hop up to the middle, as the middle floor can not be passed through except for a center platform. There are also small platforms that appear off of the edge to the side of the mansion, which can your escape at times. The whole gimmick here is that if you destroy a pillar that holds the platforms together, a fourth of the mansion will be left in ruins. The whole mansion can be decimated, leaving you with a flat, large platform. Good stuff, but only so because the mansion's ghost residents will arbitrarily rebuild the entire thing if it is torn down completely. There's lots of variety, lots of places to hide, and you can break stuff. Just fantastic.

Fun: You can break stuff! What more to you people want? Seriously though, this stage is plenty of fun. It's pretty standard, nothing can jump out and kill you, no one can complain about it being cheap, it's a fair, balanced stage. The whole mansion smashing dynamic also plays out well, it can happen when you're just fighting, which is cool, or when you deliberately do it to further one of your own wacky strategies. Plus the support beams stop projectiles, take that projectile whores!

Songs of Choice: Tetris: Type A, Airship Theme, and Luigi's Mansion Theme. It may seem like a cop-out, but they're all good and unique.

THE "MEH"
Lylat Cruise


Oooh, Ahhhh, alright I'm bored.

Flavor: This stage takes place on top of a (completely original) craft called the Pleiades as it makes its way through the Lylat system from none other than Star Fox. You pass through a huge battle, asteroid belts, and the craft even goes through the atmosphere into a planet, showing the a serene view of a world. This stage is visually stunning, from the massive dogfights to traveling through an armada of huge crafts, everything looks amazing. It represents the Star Fox series well, and if anything is considerablely cooler than the franchise has been since Star Fox 64.

Functionality: Once you take away the visual polish, this stage is very basic. And not in a good, Battlefield sort of way. The base of the ship serves as one large platform while 3 wing-like structures serve as floating platforms above it. The sides curve off in an odd way, but other than that this stage is as basic as it gets. The layout should work well, but it just doesn't perform as well as something far more simple such as Yoshi's Island. The platforms as oddly spaced and seem a little too short, and as much as that sounds like nit-picking the stage is just weird as hell to play on. It's okay, and that's about it. Still, it works, and if you like Star Fox it's your only new option.

Fun: Like I've previously stated; technically, nothing is wrong with this stage. It's basic, it works, and it's pretty. But that beauty comes at a cost, this is easily the most visually confusing stage in the game. It's often hard to focus on the fight at hand because of the background, which is anything but good. However, once you can get past that, this stage is rock solid, if only a little bland. (Side note: there is some great music to be had here.)

Songs of Choice: Space Armada, Coneria, Main Theme (Star Fox 64), Break Through the Ice

THE BAD
Norfair


Oh... that doesn't look good. How do I get in the capsule?!

Flavor: Ah, Super Metroid. A prime example of 2-D gaming, this game has a special place in many gamers hearts, worldwide. It only makes sense that it would be represented in Brawl, and Norfair is what we get. The magma caves deep in the Planet Zebes are home to Ridley's lair, and lots of lava. Not a lot to go on, but if you look at the stage and the area of the game side by side, the stage is a fair representation. This place is full of hazards, as is the stage. When it boils down to it, however, this stage is very minimalistic in it's presentation; there is lava, there are platforms. That's it, and that's all there needs to be.

Functionality: This stage is comprised of 5 small platforms in a wide "V" formation. There's not a lot of space to run around, and chances are you're just going to be jumping all over the place. On the good side, all the platforms besides the bottom one can be passed through, so you aren't going to bump your head trying to get back and get screwed out of a life. Hoorah for that. The gimmick here is the lava waves. They come from the sides in the form of huge walls that hurt you badly when you're thrown in to them. These are arbitrary and fairly common, so expect to see a lot of them. The lava can also rise from the bottom, making it so you can cheat death at the cost of health, which is cool and all, but we've all seen it before in Melee. And then there's the Giant, stage raping lava tide that moves from the background in to the foreground, causing severe harm and most likely death to all that get caught under it. When this happens, you can theoretically get into a capsule that appears and be spared.

Fun: Both Metroid stages seem to have the "If you don't know what you're doing you're probably going to get screwed" mentality, though I think this one is worse in that respect. The platforms are really too broken up, most of the battling takes place in the air while slower characters get the shaft when it comes to ground space. There's just not a lot of place to rest, and while it keeps the battle frantic, I don't think it's especially fun. The whole lava wave thing is what kills it. The battle for the capsule generally ends with all the combatants getting burned, and if you haven't played the stage it'd be tough to figure out that you have to hit the blue doors to even get it to open, despite the fact that it looks like it can easily be jumped into from the top. Most of the group I play didn't figure that out until maybe our 6th brawl on that stage. Sound like fun to you?

Songs of Choice: Marionation Gear, Main Theme (Metroid) (besides that dumb-ass talking in the beginning)

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So concludes part two of BS: tG, tB, atM (Oh that's so catchy...). I put a lot of work in to it, and I hope you all enjoyed reading it. So you've heard me ramble on about these stages, what are your opinions? Stay tuned, your most revered and detested stages could be in the next installment! Also, if you aren't reading this, you ought to be. But chances are if you're a fan of this game you already are.

Part 1

All screens courtesy of the Smash Dojo.
Photo Photo Photo








Oh Super Smash Bros Brawl. What an entrancing effect you have on people, throwing people into rabid debate about every single aspect of the game, even stealing time and friendships from innocent people. Well that is just nonsense; the internet needs of a voice of reason/martyr, and I have to try my best.

*DISCLAIMER* I will discuss all of the non-Melee stages in the game, so if you're worried about spoilers read no further. But who are you kidding, you already know everything that would every be considered secret about this game.

The following are my opinions on the Good, the Bad, and the Average stages of brawl. This is in no way tourneyfag material; each stage is critiqued on flavor, functionality, and fun (The 3 F's, perhaps?). However, their final ranking is almost completely dependent on how much fun I had while playing this with a large group of friends, drunk and sober alike. Final Destination will not be named as the definitive stage, I promise you that. I will be counting up from the worst of the best, the worst of the average, and counting down from the best of the worst. The superior stages, and the absolute worst, will be revealed over time, or at least that's the idea. Without further ado, here is the beginning of a magically journey:

THE GOOD
Shadow Moses Island


Ah, Solid Snake's own little slice of heaven.

Flavor: From the bleak, modern architecture to the killer Metal Gears, this captures the essence of the franchise very well. This walled prison of a level is straight of the 1998 classic, Metal Gear:Solid. Everything is recreated beautifully, down to lovely weather and grin-inducing spotlight, complete with everyone's favorite "!" when a character is caught within the beam. The Ray makes an appearance as an homage to Sons of Liberty, as does the Rex from the first installment, and even the Gekkos from Guns of the Patriots show up (albeit rarely), so the series is represented well overall. Hell, Snake even has humorous Codec conversations to Otacon, the Colonel, and Mei Ling about his opponents, what more could you want?

Functionality: This stage lends itself to a unique form of brawling. It's basic two tiered design is flanked with a large tower on each side, making getting thrown off to the side impossible. These can be broken, but chances are for the first minute or so, a brutal cage-like match will occur. And trust me, the shit will be beaten out of you thoroughly before your first stock is gone. You could be juggled off the top, but it is a certainty are those walls are coming down at some point, allowing characters to be batted off into oblivion. Or course the walls magically grow back after a short period of time, but what fun would it be if they didn't? Overall, this gimmick works well.

Fun: It's a good un'. From racking up damage by bouncing people off of the towers to hiding down on the ground level and annoying the people above you with aerials, this stage just works. Although this is technically the worst of the best, this stage is no slouch.

Song of Choice: Yell "Dead Cell"

THE "MEH"
Spear Pillar


Palkia, you asshole.

Flavor: It's a Pokemon Stage, alright. Melodramatic? Check. Legendary guys in the background giggling in amusement as you fight to appease them? Check. Pretty okay in every possible way? Check. Seriously though, this is the stage in Diamond/Pearl where you fight and hope to catch Dialga/Palkia. In the games, these jerk god-pokemon are stopped by a trio of others that nullify their power so that they can be dealt with by your trainer, yet those pokemon don't exist on the stage itself. If they do, I'm unaware of it, because they have no visible effect. But another legendary, Cresselia, does (though I have never seen it). So the top part of this stage is a shrine for Dialga/Palkia, and the bottom part is a cave representing Mt. Coronet, the mountain that you have to climb to get to them. Fair enough. I could be wrong, but that's how I see it.

Functionality: This stage is basically two tiers that a separated by an impassible floor. The top tier has two small uneven platforms that add a little bit more variety to combat. It can be destroyed (by the legendary pokemon) to an extent to open up the bottom area a little bit more, but that's about it. Simple, right? NO. Either Dialga or Palkia will randomly be chosen to appear on the stage whenever you select it; quite frankly, they fuck it all up. Dialga isn't so bad, he shoots some laser beams, throws psychic boomerangs at people, and roars and tilts the stage a bit. Not too bad. Then there's Palkia. What an asshole. He'll slow down time, he'll flip the stage, he'll mess with your controls. He's a nightmare.

Fun: When Dialga is around, things aren't too bad. His beam can clear the bottom floor out or just open it up, both of which discourage camping. Well done sir. Then there's Palkia. He will fuck your day. No one will have a good time with him around. Up is down, black is white, rape is consentual, ect. It's just a bad scene. This stage is a 50/50 for fun, so it caps off the bottom section of the 'okay' stages.

Song of Choice: Victory Road

THE BAD
The Summit


Hey, it's a fish... WHAT THE FUCK I WAS AT 0%.

Flavor: I like this stage. A lot. It's pretty much a beautiful version of the NES classic, and then is goes and changes completely by way of the summit itself breaking off of the mountain and sliding down in to the ocean. There's not much to say; there's ice, it can be climbed, it looks like an update of the actual games. It even has the egg plants from the original. It's awesome.

Functionality: So the stage itself is pretty much just two tiers (again) with platforms acting as a way to get to the top. There is a divider in through the center in the middle level of the stage, so only the top and bottom are really suitable for beating ass. There's a regenerating piece of ice that can be broken towards the bottom of the stage that can be broken as well as a platform on the other side of the divider than can be made to drop down, so that opens it up a bit. The first part of the stage is pretty standard, the stage is as I explained it. When the summit starts to slide down the mountain, the wind pushes your character up and back, so the gravity is quite a bit different. Once you hit the ocean, the stage is back to normal. Or so it seems. The bottom level is submerged in water, leaving you open to instant-kill giant fish. So in other words, stay off the bottom or else.

Fun: I like this level quite a bit, there's a reason it's the best of the 'bad'. However, it's just not very much fun to play on. The center divider breaks up the action too much, the gravity as you're sliding down the mountain side makes being juggled an inevitability, and the bastard fish is a pain whenever it shows up. All of these things make this a stage one that elicits groans from everyone playing whenever this show up as a random selection. It's an interesting stage, and that's about it.

Song of Choice: Balloon Trip

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So concludes the first part of my hopefully long-running series of blogs. I put a lot of work in to it, and I hope you all enjoyed reading it. So you've heard me ramble on about these stages, what are your opinions? Stay tuned, your most revered and detested stages could be in the next installment!

All screens courtesy of the Smash Dojo.
Photo Photo Photo