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SummaryCrack on a 3-inch DVD
The GoodAbove all other things, this is quite possibly the greatest multiplayer game ever conceived. I have a group of friends that meet regularly for sessions, and we are always up until insane hours of the night, and have logged hundreds of hours. Between the huge number of characters and levels, and the sheer chaos of the game, it never grows stale. (Even as we've burned out on other "party" games within a couple days) The play dynamics, as invented in the original Smash Bros, are still highly unique. Instead of simply playing "last man standing," the point is to knock as many players out of the ring as many times as possible. No one is removed from gameplay at any point for more than a few seconds, and last second comebacks are quite plausible. Furthermore, the game seems to almost equally reward skill and button-mashing - unless you're up against a Grand Master player, even newcomers will be able to hold their own while learning the ropes.
The one-player games are nearly as good. There are a multitude of different adventures, tournaments, and various challenges you can engage in. The "adventure" mode turns into an odd homage to side-scrolling adventures, with your character of choice running through levels inspired by all the games represented, along with certain important battles that come along. And there's always the option of simply playing battles against the computer - whose AI is quite good at the high levels.
The graphics, while not the best the Gamecube has seen, are pretty much as good as this sort of game would allow. Some of the levels are QUITE huge, and all the character animations are spot on. There's never any slowdown no matter how much is happening. Sound is similarly great - around half of the soundtrack is comprised of orchestral arrangements or classic game themes, performed by a full orchestra. And the various sound effects for the characters are spot-on as well. (I take great demented glee in the pathetic "Piikkkkaaaaaaaaaaaaa" when Pikachu sails into the sunset)
The BadMy one big complaint is how they make you jump through hoops to unlock the hidden characters and levels. I *hate* that, and some of the trials they put you through are nearly impossible. You will be made to log a lot of hours with the game, some of them very frustrating (*cough*15 minute battle*cough*) to open up all the secrets.
Also, the game can be unforgiving to players with smaller TV sets. Some of the battlegrounds are so large that, if the camera pulls back all the way, it's virtually impossible to tell what's going on, or even who is who. (this effect is especially bad on the Hyrule castle level, leading to the occasional called truce as we move back to the center of the field)