Alright now don`t complain when I do not upload pictures or sound very coherent. I`m writing this from Japan and I`m not a hundred percent sure how to use this computer.
Anyways as I am in Japan (As you can see from my intro) I have had the chance to put several hours of hands on time into Brawl. Now I`m not very good at writing impressions and I have only had hands on time playing against other people but I`ll tell you guys what I can.
First lets start with the control schemes. I have only had the chance to play gamecube controller and wiimote on its side style. From those two I`ve decided that classic is better. Having the gamecube controller just feels better and more enjoyable. I don`t have to hunt around to find out how to do something as the scheme is all the same. The wiimote on its side was a bit harder. I`m still not used to using the 1 and 2 buttons to do anything and using B as shield was definetly not intuitive. I also stand behind the fact that I`m pissed that motion sensing plays no role. Anyways from my impressions I believe that when Brawl comes out you should pull out the old gamecube controllers and play old school.
Now lets get into the interesting part, the new characters. For the most part the new characters are good. I haven`t had the chance to play with all the unlocked characters but I have been able to get my hands on a good number of new characters and heres the low down.
Snake is by far my favourite character to play as. His rocket launcher gives a nice long range guided attack good for taking out those annoying campers. His sniper rifle (At least I`m pretty sure thats what it is) gives a good close range attack that helps in tight situations. The only drawback is that it takes a few crucial seconds to fire. Snakes mortar attack is very useful for taking out pesky floaters like kirby. Melee is melee but snake feels like one of the stronger characters up close and personal and his timebomb thing can help in a sticky situation. As a final smash the helicopter/grenade launcher combo is definetly one of the more interesting ones that there are. It`s not as outright powerful as some of the others but its not bad. Overall snake is a good character and hes become a new favourite of mine.
The next new character of note is Ike. Ike is one of the best fighters up close and personal. His collection of chargeable smashes is just the thing for a patient player. On brawls relatively small levels (more on this later) the sheer power of ike makes for a dangerous foe. It is quite possible to charge up your attacks and demolish and opponent across the level. Ikes final smash is one of the less interactive but more powerful. You`ve probably all seen the youtube video so I wont bore you with details but its definetly a force to be reckoned with.
After Ike comes lucas. Now I have not had much hands on time with lucas (as in I haven`t played as him I`ve just watched my friend try to kill me with him) but I can tell you that he seems to be basically a ness clone. He has different hair and a few different moves but other than that its ness. Plain and simple. To me Lucas just isn`t a worthy new character for Brawl. I haven`t even seen his final smash as Lucas never seems to be able to get one, the character is not powerful enough to get into a brawl for one of those elusive smash ball things.
Possibly my favourite introduction to the list is Olimar, the character from Pikmin. I have always admired that game. It was one of@my favourite games for gamecube and it holds a place in my heart. I have only played as Olimar once and I got royally screwed but he seems to be a fairly competent player. His attacks are all really solid however once I lost my Pikmin I couldn`t figure out how to get the stupid things back. You have to realize that I have not been following Brawl that closely and I don`t understand written Japanese so I was going completely on Intuition.
My least favourite introduction to the list is the Pokemon Trainer. As a character I just dont like him. I mean the man doesn`t even fight he has his Quasi slaves do the fighting for him. Squritle is good at being annoying. Bulbasour is useless and Charizard is...Charizard. Its hard to write about their moves because they are all so bland and unremarkable. As a final smash the three pokemon combination is not bad but it`s not the most powerful and its dodgeable.
An interesting intro to the list is Robot. Or Rob the robot if we want to be specific. Now I completely did not see Robot being in the game and I still don`t understand exactly why he is but thats besides the point. As a character the robot is powerful and dangerous, all of his attacks do quite a bit of damage and his final smash is quite good. Unfortunately playing as the Robot is like playing with a character trying to wade through quicksand. Robot does not have very much agility or maneuverablitity and his good attacks are hampered by his terrible handling. If you are a fan of the big characters and don`t mind taking a lot of damage in a straight out fight then Rob is the man (Robot?) for you.
Now possibly the most hyped and wanted character, Sonic. I actually never really wanted sonic in a smash brothers game and didn`t really care that he got put in Brawl but thats beside the point. When it comes to speed sonic has it in aces. He can literally run circles around the other characters. Unfortunately this speed is also a disadvantage, I actually found myself overshooting my targets. Also on the smaller levels its quite easy to run right off the edge by accident. Also none of sonics attacks seem to hold any real power. Its all hit and run, unfortunately this usually turns into hit and fall of the edge of the map. As a final smash sonics is not bad but it just doesn`t seem to be as accurate and powerful as some others. As a hyped character sonic doesn`t seem to live up to anything for me.
This brings me to the second most hyped character, Pit. Where Sonic fails to live up to his hype Pit is actually a good character. His melee attacks are very dangerous and with those spinning swords you can easily trap an opponent into a deadly combo. The ability to fly is quite refreshing for the frequent times you fall off the level. Pits final smash is quite good and gives an important tactical advantage in battle, which is exactly what final smashes are supposed to be designed for. Pit is a very good character and is worthy of a place in SSBB. He handles well and has decent attacks, like snake he will easily become a new favourite for a lot of people.
From the nimble pit we come to the hulking De De De. De De De is definetly not easy to control. I find him the SSBB bowser or Ganondorf. Not fast at all. However De De De does have several powerful attacks and can take a beating in a fight. With his stamina you don`t have to worry about speed. Unfortunately De De De is a very good target for final smashes and good players will learn to attack De De De quickly and get out of the way of counter attacks.
Now I know there are a few more character, And I should write about them but I just did not get the time to actually play as them or see them played with. So you will all have to wait until the game actually comes out to find out about those character.
But enough of new characters, on to final smashes. When I first saw and heard about final smashes I was annoyed, I didn`t like the thought of some of these Uber powerful attacks in a game that had always been about skill for me. Luckily my fears have been assuaged. Final Smashes are very powerful. A lot of them can kill in one hit if used carefully. However they are usually few and far between. Those coveted smash ball things (sorry guys don`t know the real name) are very random and sporadic. Every time one pops up there is always a very spirited fight to get the final smash inside. And even then you have to use it quickly or it can be knocked off of you just like any other item. The smash ball things serve to make good positions to fight over and encourage an all out brawl instead of the running and hiding that can be seen in the other smash brothers games. This is a good things and final smashes do add quite a bit to the game, besides if you don`t like them you can turn them off.
While I like brawl for the most part there are still a couple of pet peeves of mine in it, the largest of these being the level design. The levels in Brawl seem to have gotten smaller and flatter. There are a few levels where it is nothing but a single flat platform with a changing background and maybe some interesting random obstacles. This to me is not good enough. For a game of this caliber there is no excuse to have such poor level design. Another problem is the size of the levels. How exactly are we supposed to play as sonic when its possible to go flying off the side of the level in one move. I know that this game is encouraging a brawl style of fighting but for me it would be nice to see some bigger and more unique levels.
I am sure that there are more things that I could write about, nuances and new items and stuff like that. However the canned coffee I bought in a vending machine is starting to wear off and the snow outside (yes you read that right, snow) has made me very tired. So to wrap it all up I just have a few words to say.
As a game Brawl ranks about an 8 from me. The characters are all relatively good and balanced in some way. The gameplay is still the same frenetic and fun style that makes Smash Brothers what it is. However the level design and the inclusion of some useless characters takes away from what is otherwise a very solid game.
Oh and as a side note, come to Japan. Sell all of your belongings and everything and come to Japan. It`s just better here.