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
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.
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:
K.K. Slider is a bad-ass.
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.
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.)
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
Fuck! How was I supposed to know you couldn't jump up through the stage!
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.
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.
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.
No warp? Blasphemy.
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.
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.
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.
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!
All screens courtesy of the Smash Dojo.