View Full Version : Game Review: Smash Brothers Brawl

31st March 2008, 12:54 AM
Since it’s been out for some time, and I managed to get a pre-order for it I’ll take a gander at reviewing it.

Much like Harry Potter, I could not surf anything in the hopes of avoiding heresay on this game. With the exception of hearing about Sonic’s (http://www.smashbros.com/en_us/characters/sonic.html) return to the gaming screen (That Olympic game DOES NOT COUNT!) I kept myself at bay. Within my ignorance I expected something revolutionary with this game being on the Nintendo Wii. I was hoping to see what kind of intuitive controls they could have, for a game that was meant for a classic controller, and I expected to be amazed. Instead I was left with a yearning for the gamecube controller amongst swinging my wiimote in complete dismay as nothing would happen. The controls were basically ported from the old game, and while I can’t complain much about it, I was hoping to see something in terms of motion capture. I mean you couldn’t even point your wiimote to select your character. Then again, this game was designed for your standard console, and it exceeds its predecessor in every regard. But come on!

Okay now that that’s out of the way let’s get to the game. They kept what was fun throughout the game, and they integrated the multiplayer aspect in obtaining unlocks in this game. I’ve never owned a smash brothers game up until now, but I have played every smash brothers game there was in the wee hours of the night, every night, for as long as my brain will let me until I start seeing Link’s spin attack (http://youtube.com/watch?v=25YKHvdQkHs) everytime I close my eyes. In the Brawl mode, you can choose from an assortment of modes, and of course there’s the classic multiplayer. If you have not unlocked some of the characters, you can unlock them as you play multiplayer. Essentially after a certain amount of rounds, the winner will get challenged by a character that has not been unlocked. If you defeat the challenger then he/she will be added to the list of characters. If not, then the winner of the next brawl will get challenged. It keeps it interesting, fun, and the players involved. Rather than sitting at someone’s house playing some multiplayer game where everything is already done and unlocked for you, you can feel accomplished in achieving something your host as not, and it allows even the losers to spectate and cheer (or jeer) you on.

With the ire of the previous game, most of the characters have become balanced. Marth still has his range, but is not as powerful. Roy has been removed, but replaced with Ike (fitting since they’re from the same game now) and has his own faults. Characters that needed upgrading were upgraded. They also added variety in the characters. With the exception of Captain Falcon and Ganondorf the clones of other characters in Melee have their own dynamic moves now.

Smash ball. This can be the bane of your existence or complete ecstasy for you. I never much cared for it in Melee, but now it’s the desire of every player. Essentially I started playing Brawl mode with just the Smash ball showing up. But these final smashes have their purpose, with a ton of fanservice in them as well. Link’s combo, Ganon’s warthog finisher, Olimar’s rocket. All of these smashes have something to do with the games they’re from. It makes it entertaining to watch, and all the more rewarding to execute. Of course there are some exceptions like Luigi’s….well….whatever that is (http://youtube.com/watch?v=3gpxn94UpbA) final smash. I have no idea where that’s from but apparently Mario’s to blame (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luigi#Darkness) for whatever that is.

Onto the Subspace Emissary Campaign. This was pure fanservice. And I don’t mean “oooh look at Zero Suit Samus, me wantee to touchee (http://www.halolz.com/?p=736&title=%5BVIDEO). (Although it IS like that) It’s more like “HOLY CRAP! It’s all the characters from Nintendo, and then some, kicking some ass! (http://youtube.com/watch?v=5qOvNvKJK6k) kinda fanservice. They throw in lots of things conducive to each character for every game. Such as Locarno’s special vision, Fox’s glutes (http://www.halolz.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/fox-butt-implants.jpg), and much much more. Some cinematics just got the blood pumping and a yearning for more. It’s much like the Melee solo battle where you wander around a battlefield, with the occasional smash battles. They actually integrated a “story”, of sorts into it. Seemingly all the universes of various games are integrated into one, and they are attacked by an enemy called a “Subspace Army”. Much like Kingdom hearts, where all the Disney universes are accessible, and are attacked by a common enemy known as the “heartless”. Go figure.

I didn’t expect a whole lot of creativity with this solo campaign, but aside from the general plot line reminiscent of Kingdom Hearts, the gameplay is entirely different. You get a major kick out of it as a fan of these various games, and watching them fight alongside together, or against one another, is a thrill to say the least. However, the campaign gets a little tedious about halfway through it. You end up backtracking through all the levels that you have gone through previously. On the positive note you can obtain new trophies along the way. As a consequence, however, you’re forced to re-play all the levels again, and the bosses to boot. The good part about this is that the entire brawl team is united, and you get to choose which one to use in each battle. You are also given save checkpoints where you have the option of replenishing your lost stock, health, and re-select your characters. The only problem with this aspect of the solo campaign is that there was no linear plan to this mode of play. You are essentially exploring a web-like map of all the previous levels you have gone through, and you have to navigate yourself to unexplored areas. It leads to a lot of backtracking, jumping around levels, and it really shows some shortcuts made in development.

For example, the screen seems to follow the first player only. So when playing this game in co-op you are left in the dust as the second player. Although they have an option to warp you back to the first player if you stray too far, if at any point while off-screen you take damage you are killed. Needless to say the second player can feel left out and frustrated as he is following along.

Also the screen doesn’t quite position itself well for your character to explore with. If, for example, an enemy smacks you and you go flying to the right of the screen, you could fall “out of bounds” and die. However, if you do not take damage, and just travel to the right you’ll discover there is plenty of room for your character explore and fall to in that particular level. It gets a little frustrating near the end as some areas are crowded with enemies, and with the back-tracking aspects of the campaign you don’t want to have to kill every enemy just to move on.

The final boss was tedious, but in the end you feel more accomplished. Finishing the campaign does not unlock all the characters, thus emphasizing how this game is meant for brawling with your friends, not soloing.

Wow this is getting long but there’s so much of this game to go through. There’s the wi-fi multiplayer aspect of this game as well. At first the connection was rather laggy, and at times you would pause mid-air while falling into someone’s smash as either your wii, or someone else’s wii caught up. Needless to say it lead to a lot of suspense and hair pulling. Since then they have improved the wi-fi multiplayer, and there is a lot less latency issues, or at least not as severe. There are some other gripes such as a lack of instructions (http://www.vgcats.com/comics/?strip_id=258). However I found the interface pretty straight forward, and easy to use in the end. You can also connect more controllers while in multiplayer, and join in. It’s nowhere near as integrative of expansive as xbox live, but seeing as this is one of the first games with online multiplayer, I think Nintendo is off to a bumpy but playable start.

All in all this game was fun to play alone, and with friends. Brawl has in no way diminished its status as a multi-player game for the Nintendo platform, and I hope that there is more to come. Perhaps a team-work type Smash Brothers with special moves and combos?