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Super Smash Bros. Brawl

aka: Dairantou Smash Brothers X, Great Melee Smash Brothers X, SSB:B
Moby ID: 33378

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 92% (based on 131 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 101 ratings with 2 reviews)

Brawl is by far the most complete Smash Bros to date, though long-time fans might find the experience a little too familliar.

The Good
Whether I'm thrilled or bored about playing a certain game, I always respect the titles that show evidence of a lot of effort on the part of the developer. Smash Bros Brawl is one of those titles. Every aspect of this game has been gone over twice with a generous amount of thought and care, from the graphical presentation to the various modes of play.

On the topic of modes, gamers who have their heart set on busting a few heads will certainly have plenty of ways to go about it. There's a boatload of different options for jumping into the Smash Bros. Universe, and interestingly enough, there's almost as many single player modes as there are multi-player variations. Aside from the standard brawl mode featuring 1-4 players in any combination of human and AI combatants, there's an event mode which puts you in various brawl scenarios with a specific objective (defeat 8 combatants in a row, etc.). There's also a few mini games, which include facing off against a size-adjustable army of weak guys or competing in a home run contest using a giant sandbag.

The single-player mode that will occupy most of your time, however, is the adventure mode, subtitled "The Subspace Emissary". In it, your tasked with guiding a variety of the Smash Bros characters through a number of traditional side-scrolling platform-intensive levels, stopping at various points along the way to beat up enemies or pick up loot. The loot comes in the form of stickers, which can be used to power up characters as the join your team, and assist trophies, which are used in the brawl mode to give you an edge over your opponents. The sticker idea adds an RPG-lite taste to the adventure mode, and the levels themselves are well designed.

What really ties the adventure mode together, however, are the brilliantly directed cut scenes. All the scenarios you play are introduced through rendered cinematics featuring whatever characters you'll be controlling. The reason these scenes are so special is because none of them feature any dialogue whatsoever -- everything that needs to be conveyed is done so through the actions or emotions of the characters. This method of story-telling is so intuitive that you'll likely stop and wonder why it hasn't been attempted in past games. There's no exposition to bog down the pace of the story, and the lack of spoken conversation only serves to make the colorful personalities of the various characters stand out even more. Keep in mind, the story itself isn't anything deep or thought-provoking, but you'll still look forward to the next snippet of the narration just to see what your team members get up to next, or to find out who else is going to throw their hat into the proceedings.

I suppose I should talk a bit about the multi-player, since, at the end of the day, that's really what people are going to buy this game for. I'm happy to say that the brawling is still simple and accessible to nearly anyone, even to people who don't play video games very much. The focus here is on variety -- you have a staggering 23 characters selectable from the outset (with 14 more waiting on the sidelines to be unlocked), a similar number of arenas to fight in, and plenty of options to fine-tune the settings of your battle royale, including gravity settings and item appearance frequency. If you're the kind of gamer that has to try out everything, Smash Bros. Brawl will keep you captivated for some time.

Speaking of items, there's plenty of new implements of destruction in Brawl, with one of the more creative ones being the a three-piece Dragoon, which, if assembled, gives the lucky collector a one-shot cross hair style mini game to instantly KO someone. There's also a ton of new Pokemon that can appear out of Pokeball items, and trophies that will unleash various characters to assist the player that picks them up. Finally, a new glowing orb called a "Final Smash Ball", which, if collected, allows the player to unleash a character specific Super Move that will have a variety of effects, most of which involve instantaneous death for any players who don't get out of the way fast enough.

The Bad
As mentioned above, the brawling system is pretty simple. More to the point, there's not a lot that separates it from previous Smash Bros. Titles. While this won't bear much consequence to new players, vets of the series may find themselves wishing the core game play had evolved a little more than it has.

The simplistic game play, coupled with a giant roster of characters, gives rise to another issue -- loss of individuality. Even though they tried, it's obvious that Nintendo had a struggle from a design standpoint coming up with fresh ideas for the new fighters in Brawl, and the end result is some characters seeming very similar to already existing fighters in the game. For instance, Ike and Marth, brought in from the Fire Emblem series, both carry swords and have short blue hair. Their move sets are a slightly different-looking series of slash attacks, and one is faster than the other, but to the casual gamer, both entries are just going to end up being "some guy with a sword". Considering the variety of characters that Fire Emblem games feature, why couldn't Nintendo have drawn someone who at least wields a different weapon? There are other characters that suffer from this problem. It's not a huge issue, but it might leave you thinking that some better choices could have been made for the character roster.

Then, of course, there's the classic problem that almost every fighting game suffers from: this game is infinitely more fun to play with friends than it is on your own. Even though Nintendo went to great lengths to ensure there was plenty to do when none of your friends are around (the coin launcher mini game is a particularly addictive little diversion), the harsh reality is that when your posse is elsewhere, this game will eventually start to collect dust. There is the option to play online, but in a game as random and chaotic as this, it's hard to score a big win over internet opponents and genuinely feel like you accomplished something.

The Bottom Line
Super Smash Bros Brawl is an excellent entry into any gamer's Wii library, and the inherent simplicity of the engine ensures that even people who aren't regulars on gaming consoles can have fun with it. However, series regulars who already have the Gamecube or N64 entries might want to rent this one before dropping the fifty dollar admission fee to the Brawl, as, although the new features are nice, they don't really evolve the game play very much. Newcomers and hardcore fans, on the other hand, should find more than enough to like about Brawl to stick with it for good long time.

Wii · by The Cliffe (1552) · 2008

More of the same good, but without the polish

The Good
Something new to the franchise is the Subspace Emissary story-mode which takes the player through roughly eight hours (on the easiest difficulty) of platforming and fighting fun. There was something similar in Melee, but this version has received an upgrade. Now we have fully animated cut-scenes, an actual story that is about all the characters going on a big adventure to save the world and spectacular boss-fights. The funny thing is that the platforming sections mix elements from all the games together, there were; the lifts from Super Metroid, enemy behavior from Super Mario, boat and cart sections like in Donkey Kong Country and the boss-fights worked a lot like in Kirby games.

The story-mode is of course a distraction compared to the amount of time you will probably be spending in the multi-player mode (individual fights) because just like in the other installments, this is the best part. The idea is that you and a maximum of three other people go into a map and use Nintendo characters to bash each other's skulls in. It's a classic recipe that never fails to amuse people on parties and only the most humorless man on earth could not smile when he is using Peach shove an umbrella up Bowser's ass.

People like me who played the original Super Smash Bros. will be astounded when they see the new levels Nintendo has come up with. Not only are these maps much bigger, better looking and allow for much more elaborate strategies, but they are also full of events. In the Wind Waker level you are on a boat and at any given time another boat might show up to fire at yours or the boat might get stuck on a rock or the King of Red Lions might show up to form an extra platform. Every new stage has something special that changes the map in a certain way and that is pretty awesome. Besides the large amount of new maps there is also a huge assortment of maps from Melee which the people can play in. These maps are exactly the same as they were in that game and the only change they have undergone are the characters that can play in it.

Talking about characters, there are now roughly forty characters you can choose from and each and every single one of them will bring up memories. With such a huge amount of characters it's a wonder that they found a way to make it balanced, but somehow they did. Some of the new characters are; Diddy Kong, Sonic the Hedgehog, Solid Snake (from Metal Gear Solid) and R.O.B. who started out as a robot people could play games with on the NES.

Also new are the Final Smashes and the Assist Trophies which both play a huge role. The Final Smashes are special abilities characters obtain after they destroy an orb that randomly spawns during the match and flies around the map. Once they got it, they can use B to launch that move and do huge damage to multiple targets (it also looks pretty amazing, but that is not really important, is it?). The trophies are the same as Pokémon, but instead of summoning a creature from that franchise they summon a random character from a game (such as the doctor from Simcity) who uses his special move and then disappears.

The soundtrack this time around is also gorgeous and you unlock more tunes as you play (just pick up the Cd's that randomly spawn). A lot of music is orchestrated and hearing some of the tunes gets you in the perfect mood to kick some ass. You can also select which music you want to play when building your own stage which was quite nice because it allowed me to personalize my maps even further. Selecting music is also very easy and a child could easily do this himself.

There is also a vault where you can look at your trophy's, stickers and the more interesting masterpieces and release-list. In the masterpieces menu you can play short demos that are part of Nintendo's biggest hits, it's mostly a sales trick, but without this I would never have discovered Super Metroid. The list isn't that interesting for most people, but if you are interested in retro games you will find a whole list full of them here for every Nintendo system. The list only shows some of the best games released for each system.

The Bad
The game is very hard to control when using the normal Wii controller with optionally the nunchuck. The problem is that a lot of items like swords, guns and fire-flowers are hard to drop and I often found myself been stuck with that item until it dropped due to damage or I lost it by dying. This was even worse if the weapon only had limited ammo like the guns because it would leave me without my basic attacks. The Gamecube and classic controllers offer a solution, but the best thing about the series was the fluent controls which made it playable for everybody.

The last levels in the Subspace are torture, first you need to go through a big stage with very repetitive scenery where you also need to pick up trophy's belonging to all the other characters (or else you can't play as them in the finale) and then you need to go through an insanely huge maze that combines a lot of puzzles from previous levels together and then you finally get to fight the boss at the end. This character also shows up three cut-scenes before the end and doesn't have any back-story whatsoever.

It feels a bit cheap that some of the characters are just sprite-swaps, meaning that they play exactly the same as already existing characters. Lucas is the same as Ness, Wolf is the same as Fox and Toon Link is just like normal Link. Also annoying is the difference in Final Smashes. Pickachu turns into a flying ball of thunder that the player flies around the map for a minute, doing insane damage to everybody it hits while Link has to do with a charge move that requires him to be at almost exactly the same height as an enemy and only instant-kills a single target.

Lastly, I want to whine a bit at the fact that not every melee stage is present and that none of the stages from the original game are anywhere in the game. I played this game so much, trying as many achievements as I could, hoping in vain that somehow I would unlock those stages, but it was all pointless. I don't get it, why would you not include those maps, Nintendo 64 games are very lightweight, so extracting the maps from them and placing them on a Wii disc shouldn't be too hard.

The Bottom Line
Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a very big game and if you are a bit of a Nintendo fan you will be able to spend weeks with this game without getting bored at all. The maps, graphics, presentation, story and bonuses have all received a major update. My complaints are all relatively small aside from the control problem when playing with the normal Wii controller. I wouldn't say this game is complete, but I am not sure if there will ever be another Smash Bros. game, so this is worth trying just because it might be the last.

Nintendo fans will have the most fun with this game, but outsiders shouldn't feel discouraged because under the Nintendo wallpaper is a one of the best fighting games out there. Nintendo is also pleasing fans from other companies by including characters like Sonic and Solid Snake, so Sega fans should pay attention as well, personally I hope there is a patch sometime soon that adds Alma Wade from F.E.A.R. to the game. That would make life complete.

Wii · by Asinine (957) · 2011

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Evil Ryu, Jacob Gens, chirinea, Big John WV, Alsy, Wizo, Sciere, Tim Janssen, brentplz, Jeanne, sgtcook, lights out party, firefang9212, Steve Schardein, Picard, Chaju, vedder, Cantillon, Maner76, Alaedrain, Solid Flamingo, jaXen, Omnosto, Patrick Bregger, jumpropeman, Michael B, vicrabb.