So I was planning on doing this a little later, after I played some more Smash, but Rorschachís contest finally compelled me to get this thing under way.
The following is a critical look at the biggest and baddest (in a good way) Wii release yet and possibly for a good long while hereafter, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I know for a fact it will be the last Wii game I ever purchase. I simply am fed up with Nintendoís online and kiddie-oriented bullshit. As a pretty hardcore gamer, Iím sick of them catering to new customers rather than those of us who have supported them for so long. Iím done with it, but thatís not here nor there.
This is all about the game they released and how I feel about it as a whole. It will likely be comprised of multiple parts as I have a lot to say. For this first part I will cover the graphics, content, and gameplay. Later iterations will include in-depth analysis for every character on the roster as well as suggestions to characters I feel deserved to make the final cut.
Here goes nothing.
Letís get it out of the way right away. I think this game looks fantastic. The gathering and conglomeration of all the separate character worlds and styles really impressed me. I heard some people find it too odd for their liking anymore since the game has become so much bigger than its humble beginnings as a fighting engine demo, but I think it fits well.
Despite the seriesí attempts to become something bigger and more profound than it began as (thanks to the Subspace Emissary) in my mind the game is still about little toys fighting it out at the behest of the almighty hand. That simple idea as to why these characters would ever come together simply makes sense to me. Much more so than a giant cartoony universal threat ever will. Plus, I have fond memories of the original title (and its commercials) and like to think of it as an evolution of that idea.
To that end, the artists clearly went to great lengths to bring everything together and it shows. From Delfino Plaza to Flatworld, the feeling of every level and fighter is spot on. Truly amazing. It also helps the game runs at a smooth clip almost throughout the entire experience (I have actually experienced slowdown in normal local play and hear online is awful in general). The only true gripe is that certain stages take FOREVER to load, seemingly at random. I can hear my system start whirring every once and a while trying to access data somewhere else on the disc. Weird. However, the colors are flashy, the textures are more than adequate (honestly, how much do you actually notice during a heated match), and everything just pops. If this was available in true HD my projector would cream itself.
Score: 9/10 (framerate stutters across modes hold this back, as do random load times) Content
For anyone who has completed anything in this game, you know thereís still a ton left to do. The amount of things you can seek to accomplish in this game borders on ridiculous. The events are a great way to implement Achievement-like rewards for those of us who are obsessive compulsive and want, no NEED, everything there is to have. Hundreds of songs, countless stickers, trophies, eventsÖ shit. They werenít kidding around.
The best part of collecting everything, though, is the fact that you can collect things almost everywhere in the game. Almost every mode of play ties directly to trophy unlocking, event unlocking, or collection of some sort. Hell, the homerun contest has trophies hidden on the track that you can slide through to collect. Thatís insane.
From Classic Mode, Adventure Mode (the Subspace Emissary), All-Star Mode, Boss Battle, Target Smash, Homerun Contest, Multi-Man Brawl (which itself has half a dozen or so versions), Coin Launcher, trophy browsing, sticker collecting/rearranging, multiplayer battles with fully customizable rules, AND demos of classic titles starring characters in the game? GOD DAMN! There is simply no way you canít find some mode of play you love.
It should be known I have yet to even TOUCH the Subspace Emissary OR Boss Battle and STILL have sunk over twenty five hours into this game. I never HAVE to play any single mode and can still have a fulfilling experience. Thatís more than most games can say. Thatís an accomplishment.
Within the classic battling there are also a ton of stages both old and new to learn and love. Plus, if you get bored (somehow) you can make your own. You can make as many as you want. While I personally think the options are somewhat limited and upset itís not as open as many expected, itíll only take some more time messing with it before I get a better hold of it and my creative nature is able to fully grasp it. I know Smash World (hosted by IGN) is already home to thousands of great stages able to be shared.
If there is a category where this game earned every penny, itís luckily the second most important category to me (behind gameplay) when considering a game purchase. If half the games I buy had this much content Iíd have half as many games. Again, this is gonna be the last Wii game I own. This category is partially to blame.
Score: 11/10 (seriously, itís not even a joke) Gameplay
Smash recently came under fire by IGN for ďtrickingĒ everyone into thinking it was a good game by appealing to our childhood memories and wishes. I can sort of understand that, to be honest. If you look at it objectively, the gameplay is sort of frustrating.
This is the first Smash game where I have repeatedly felt the anger of falling of a stage due to a move animation or similar exploit by another character. I experience this more often when playing as Ike. If you attempt his B attack (I forget itís name, but it charges into an explosion) on the edge of a stage and someone else walks into you while invincible (usually due to a block/roll maneuver) they will physically push him across the ground like he was standing on ice. This often gets me pushed clear off the stage. This would not be a problem if, when I released B (in midair), Ike instantly flashed back to life and allowed me to Aether (Up+B) back onto the stage. Unfortunately, there is a significant delay between your actions and the onscreen action. Try it. Itís there. God of War this is not.
As a big action gamer I LOATHE the ability to not cancel out of a move with another and string together my own combos. Cancelling and adapting is part of the game. Plain and simple. Brawl foregoes this for a more simplistic button layout and overall ďpick up and playĒ aesthetic. In fact, the series always has done so. This is the first iteration I really noticed it, though. Maybe itís because Iíve since played games like God of War or maybe it really is that much different than Melee. I havenít played Melee in ages, so I canít really say.
The other big complaint leveraged at the series is that there is too much going on once you factor in items, trophies, and the newly introduced Final Smashes. Too many veteran players get their panties in a bunch because their kid brother or girlfriend can manage to kick their ass once and a while. Their dominance (and surely their 1337ness) is called in to question. That is not allowed.
I, on the other hand, love it. I openly dislike playing games where either A) I win all the time when playing with friends or B) my friends win all the time when playing them. Anyone on the losing side knows itís no fun to lose. I love the fact the game throws so much unpredictability at you that a true first time player can jump in and kick ass right alongside a veteran. Although I usually tend to turn off items when playing by myself and against the computer, I love to turn on items and Final Smashes with friends. The crazy chases that ensue when certain items (especially the Smash Ball) appear are just great fun. Brawl is one of the very few games I have ever played where I still manage to have fun playing when I lose. Thatís the single greatest praise I could give it.
In summation, the game is simply fun, which is the most important reason to play any game. Despite my gripes, I still have a blast playing against friends and the computer alike. Itís one of only a small handful of games my girlfriend even attempts to pick up and play with me, so that means a lot to me, too. Sometimes I truly donít wanna play Rock Band or Guitar Hero 3. They just get more tiring than Smash. While Kirby spamming is mostly to blame, the control mechanics and unpredictability are the other two big factors. Thanks, Nintendo.
Score: 8/10 (itís not perfect, admit it)
Thanks for reading. Next up will be an in-depth critique of every character adorning the top row of the roster and maybe a suggestion or two for a character I think should have made it in.