Late to the Party: Super Smash Brothers Brawl

Late 2 the Party: Super Smash Bros Brawl

We all love reviews- they give you an early sense of a game, comic, movie, or tv show, and let you know if it’s worth your time and hard earned money. Most reviews are for products that have just come out. What if you missed it, though? What if, like everyone sometimes, you were late to the party? This column is for you. For the gamer that’s still interested in that game from a year ago, you just never got around to picking it up. Maybe it’s in the bargain bin now, or a “greatest hit” that can be found at a reduced price or maybe you can get it on the cheap used at your local Gamestop. However you go looking for it, we’ll get you up-to-date right here.

I have a shocking statement to make, and there are going to be a lot of people that disagree: Super Smash Brothers Brawl is awesome. Okay, so that wasn’t shocking at all, and not a lot of people will actually disagree. This game has been considered a marquee title for the Wii since it came out in the US in early March. Seven months later, it remains a top seller, and with a great, simple reason: It’s a great game for casual gamers and hardcore alike, with tons to offer, and nearly limitless replayability.

Fans of the first two Smash Bros games know the drill. A large assortment of characters from Nintendo games throughout the years are brought together for one reason: to fight it out and see who’s king of the former card-maker’s world. This time, Nintendo and Smash mainstays like Mario, Pikachu, and Samus are joined by outside-the-company newcomers like Sonic the Hedgehog and Solid Snake. There are several new Nintendo-ites, as well as different versions of past characters. These offer some new variations on the theme, but most of the old favorites are still there for previous fans to go back to.

Stages are another place where each game expands, and this one’s no different. All told, there are 41 stages, including several from Melee, the Gamecube version of the game. In addition, there’s a fairly robust stage creation mode, allowing you to make that level you just know should’ve been included in the game. Unlockable music earned in the story mode allows for that extra little bit of customization.

The story mode is simplistic, but fun for a change of pace. This part of the game is largely a 2-D platformer. Most levels give you a selection of 2-4 characters that 1-2 players can control. From there, it’s pretty straight-forward. Hop-and-bop, or use standard attacks to bust up enemies, gain stickers (for RPG-like attribute boosts), trophies, and unlock characters. The story itself is surprisingly dark, earning the T rating that it shares with Melee, as opposed to the E the first game in the series received. It offers several improvements over previous editions, with a more cohesive story, better gameplay, and enough of the classic matches interspersed to prevent gamers from forgetting what they’re playing.

Where this game really earns its keep is of course in multiplayer. With the ability to use Gamecube controllers (yes, that includes the Wavebird wireless), the Wii Classic controller, or the Wiimote and Nunchuck, it’s very easy to get four controllers for a big brawl. The backwards compatibility with the Gamecube controller is fantastic, allowing skills mastered in the second game to carry over with almost no differences here. Sure, different items and slight variations in strength of moves show up, but the core gameplay is the same. It’s just as fun as ever, whether you’re fighting against friends, or you and a friend are teaming up to fight computer-controlled foes. With all the unlockables and the stage creation, the game truly offers almost limitless gameplay. There is internet play via Nintendo Wi-Fi, but it doesn’t run quite as smoothly as it should. If you’re playing a relatively local match, you should get through a few battles, but don’t expect to play for a long time without hitting a snag. This is one of the few big failures, and really missed opportunities with this game. Perhaps its continued dominance will warrant two iterations on one system, which would be a first, and the next version will offer improved online play. If not, you can rest assured that a Smash Bros is in the making for Nintendo’s next system.

Don’t expect this one to hit the discount bin anytime soon, as it remains one of the relatively few “must-owns” for the Wii. This game definitely fits the bill of “must-own” though, and if you’re a Wii gamer and don’t have this yet, go treat yourself, economy be damned. You’ll be surprised just how much fun it is to beat up Kirby’s little pink smiling face.

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