Home > Gaming, Reviews, Smash Bros, Virtual Console, Wii > “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” Wii Review

“Super Smash Bros. Brawl” Wii Review

It’s here! It’s finally here! After years of waiting, several delays, and enough forum posts to overwhelm even the most dedicated of fans, Super Smash Bros. Brawl has arrived on the Wii. The many worlds of Nintendo collide in this colossal achievement in gaming. This unique fighter will entertain even the biggest anti-Nintendo gamers, and will remain in your Wii for years to come.

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Fights you never thought possible are common in Brawl

The core fighting mechanic hasn’t been changed much. You still attempt to smash characters off the screen, where they explode in a huge colorful blur. It’s as fun as ever, and with four players fighting at once things can get so wonderfully hectic. That’s part of the appeal of the Smash Bros. series – many times different aspects of the fight are so random (stages changing on you, items appearing), giving novice players a chance, while serious players can definitely learn the ins and outs of the game and become experts. That perfect balance of random chance and hardcore skill added to the huge appeal of Nintendo has caused this series to become a world-wide favorite. Brawl not only continues that special formula, but improves on in many different ways.

For one, there are now Smash Balls, which are items that appear maybe once or twice in the average match. Once a player breaks open the Smash Ball, they can perform a Final Smash, which is an awesome over-the-top uber attack, always defeating the fighter it hits. Well, almost always. Not all Final Smashes are equally powerful. Some are complete orgies of death that kill everyone on the screen, and others (even when they focus on only one opponent) fail to make a real impact. However, I believe that may have been done on purpose when some character’s normal moves are a bit more powerful than everybody else’s.

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Samus’s Final Smash is one of the ones I would consider an “orgy of death”

That brings me to the characters themselves. With over thirty there’s bound to be someone for everyone. Some, like Bowser and Ganondorf, focus on raw power but lack speed. Others such as Meta Knight and Pit are all about short, quick, attacks. Sonic and Fox are very speedy and mobile, a handful are well-rounded, and then there’s Olimar, who’s strange moveset doesn’t really fit into any category. I love the variety here, and in the end it was hard to find a character I didn’t like. The new characters are very fun and welcome additions to the series, especially with new third-party characters, Sonic and Snake. However, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of third-party characters. With all the excitement and possibilities surrounding third-party support, the fact that there’s only two is a bit of a letdown.

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The final roster

Clones (that is, characters who are not much more than pallet-swaps of someone else) from Melee like Dr. Mario, Pichu, and Young Link have been taken out, but new ones such as Toon Link and Wolf have been added. Overall however, I would say that there aren’t as many clones this time around. Also of note are the stages, which are easily the best in the series. Each one brings something new to the table and offers a fresh experience to the players. I’m glad to see that Melee’s best made it, as well.

Coming to a new system, naturally the next Smash Bros. game has different controls. Thankfully, there are 4 different possible ways to play the game. The Gamecube setup works exactly like it did in Melee, the Classic Controller is very good once you get the hang of it (it’s my new preference). The Wii Remote and Nunchuck combo works just fine, although it doesn’t always feel quite right since the Smash Bros. games were meant for a more traditional gamepad. The sideways remote-only option is awful, and should only be used when you don’t have access to any of the other controller setups. Learning to actually control the characters on-screen may take a few tries for people who have never played a Smash Bros. game, but luckily you won’t find many of those kinds of people.

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In the Norfair stage, lava pours from the side and burns the fighters

When it comes to graphics, Brawl features some of the best the Wii has to offer, but sadly, that isn’t really saying much. Closeups during the cutscenes show the occasional bland character model or lack of detail. The Wii still has a ways to go before it catches up with its Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 rivals. However, at 60 frames a second Brawl runs very smoothly and still manages to impress when chaos reigns everywhere.

Nintendo games have always had great music in my opinion, and practically every noteworthy Nintendo (and Sonic/Metal Gear) song ever made (that’s a lot!) has been included in Brawl. Brilliantly composed and performed, I think it’s safe to say that this game has the best soundtrack ever made for a video game. The new theme song composed by Nobuo Uematsu (famous for his work in numerous Final Fantasy games) is also catchy, although the opera singing and Latin lyrics might not be a favorite of everyone’s. And Uematsu isn’t the only famous video game composer involved in Brawl. In fact, pretty much every noteworthy video game composer did something in Brawl, from Koji Kondo (Mario/Legend of Zelda) to Yuka Tsujiyoko (Fire Emblem) to Yuzo Kushiro (ActRaiser/Streets of Rage) and beyond.

Smash Bros. has always been a multiplayer game, but Brawl attempts to give players a solid single-player campaign as well. Called “The Subspace Emissary”, you fight your way through many levels in an attempt to stop the Ancient Minister and his army of minions from nuking sections of the world and turning everyone into trophies. We never really find out why the Ancient Minister wants to blow up the world, but that doesn’t really matter. What is of interest however, is the absurd amount of cutscenes. Some are awesome, some are funny, some are stupid, some are corny, and many are a combination of those. But they are mostly entertaining, and that’s the most important part.

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The “Subspace” enemies are cool, but you see the same ones far too much

The campaign was a lot better (and a lot longer) than I had ever thought it would be, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s perfect. For one, it’s very repetitive. At the beginning I believed it had a lot of potential with its original enemies and large side-scrolling level designs. However, once I found myself fighting the same enemies over and over again, I got a bit tired of the whole thing. The level design is passable, but nothing will blow you away and many times it just seems to be a link to the next platform where you’ll be swarmed by enemies. A few puzzles were attempted, but they all have to do with hitting a single button or finding a key for a nearby locked door. To tell you the truth, sometimes I felt like the levels in “The Subspace Emissary” where just a chore I had to go through to unlock the next character. You see, every playable character can be unlocked in the campaign – most on the first time through. I’m pretty sure people will go for this mode to unlock everyone instead of trying to get them the old way – meeting specific requirements such as playing a certain number of brawls or beating Classic mode with everyone. I can see both a good and a bad side to this. The bad side is that unlocking characters is no longer much of a challenge and thus a lot of the fun and replay value of past Smash Bros. games has been eliminated. The good side is that players will be able to unlock everyone very quickly and experience every character, unhindered by incredibly difficult or time-consuming challenges that may have kept holes in their rosters previously.

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Get used to groups of the same enemies – you’ll see them a lot

Granted, “Subspace” does have more variety than the average brawler, and a good amount of replay value lies in beating levels on higher difficulties and collecting trophies scattered about the stages. The Co-Op is a huge plus as well, and the enemies become a lot tougher once a buddy plays along side you. One very odd design decision however, is the fact that the second player can press start and warp to your position. That doesn’t sound too bad, but you’ll soon discover its cheap advantages. If you’re surrounded by enemies you can warp right out of them and worst of all, getting knocked off the stage is pretty much impossible as long as your start button-pushing reflexes are fast enough. That’s right – even in situations no one would normally get out of alive, the second player can get right out of them at the push of a button. Still, once they’ve taken enough damage, the second player won’t be able to warp fast enough once they’re sent flying, so there is still some challenge in the Co-Op. Most importantly, it’s still fun.

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The bosses in “Subspace” can be huge!

“Subspace” and normal brawling aren’t the only things to do in Brawl, however. Event matches have returned, with separate challenges for both single player and Co-Op. The Home-Run Derby and Multi-Man Melees have also been tweaked for the better this time around, and Classic mode is still available, complete with target tests and the Master Hand battle at the end. Pictures can be taken at any point in the game, and after every brawl you have the option to save (or just watch) a replay of the fight. A Masterpiece mode lets you play short (as in, 30 seconds to one minute) demos of Virtual Console games that star Brawl characters. I was glad to finally see some Virtual Console demos, but this feature should really be downloadable content on the Wii normally, not only part of one particular game. And really, 30 seconds of play time? It took about that long to load the demo, and then it’s over before you even start! Still, it’s better than nothing.

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Target Mode is still here, this time with multiple challenges for each character

It’s nice that there are hundreds of collectible trophies and stickers, which are used to boost player stats in the campaign (although I really forgot to use them). I was hoping that extra third-party content would make its way into the trophies and stickers, but sadly it didn’t. We’re limited to the worlds of Sonic the Hedgehog and Metal Gear Solid. Still, I do think that Brawl may have set the record for most unlockables ever in a video game with all its characters, stages, trophies, stickers, game modes, music, and whatnot.

A simple but fun Stage Builder will likely addict most players at some point, and creations (as well as your pictures and replays) can be sent to Wi-Fi friends and to Nintendo, who sends out one custom stage, picture, and replay to players everyday over Wi-Fi. Ah yes, the Wi-Fi. It was one of the most exciting new features back when everyone was still speculating on message boards before the game came out. Just think! Online would add infinite replay value and link the millions of Smash Bros. fans everywhere around the world to a central hub for competition!

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The Stage Editor

It pains me to say that the online is by far the most disappointing and awful part of Brawl. It only goes to show how unprepared and frightened Nintendo is to create a serious online community. What I want to know is why Nintendo would give their best multiplayer game ever such a horrible online system. Smash Bros. is Nintendo’s Halo. There are so many competitive Smash Bros. players around the world and to deny them a decent online is truly nothing short of an insult. All the trouble begins when you choose the “Play Anyone” option at the Wi-Fi menu. You have no name, no icon, no profile, no anything. Nor do the people you play against have such things. These faceless opponents might as well be bots, since nothing shows you that they are real people. It also doesn’t help that you have to wait about 5 minutes to find enough players for a match. It’s really too bad that you can’t play anything but the 2-minute match type after all that waiting. And once the battle actually begins, you’ll find something we’ve all dreaded – lag. And lots of it. In a crazy, precise fighter like Brawl, every second counts. Lag can utterly destroy a game like this. Now, I’ll admit that most of the time it is playable, but the match feels like it’s going at 2/3 the speed it should be, which threw me off a bit when I was playing. Sometimes though, it’s so ridiculous that you’ll be hitting the reset button on the Wii just so you can get out of it. I’m talking about the kind of lag that pauses the game for 20 seconds then allows you to move for 4, then pauses again. Simply horrendous. Can anyone please tell me why you would spend time here when you can fight the rather formidable bots and control all the options offline? Now if there were perhaps online tournaments or a ranking system, I would play online a bit more, but without such things there really is no reason to.

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Lucas’s Final Smash is destroying parts of Skyworld

When you battle with a friend, things are a bit better. Custom taunts can be assigned to each button on the D-Pad. Luckily Nintendo didn’t make them pre-set taunts, so it is actually possible to get pretty nasty with your friends. An icon can be chosen, although with no Photo Channel support you’re left with the symbols and pictures of each playable character, and little else. The best part of Friend Wi-Fi battling is the fully customizable options – anything you can tweak on normal brawls can be tweaked here, so no one is limited to 2 minute fights. Another cool feature is how additional players on your Wii can join in without a friend code or anything. No Voice Chat does kind of hurt, but it doesn’t cripple the gameplay. What can however, is that lag. I played against someone who lived maybe 4 blocks down the road from me, and the speed still felt slower than it should have. After several matches it got to that perfect speed, so I suppose the game needs time to establish the connection (now that I think about it, this is also true for the “Fight Anyone” mode as well). Anotherthing that could have used a bit more attention in the Friends Wi-Fi mode was alerts. A friend of yours could have started a match lobby and is waiting for you, but there’s no way that you’d ever know unless you took the time to look for a joinable game. A message in the corner of my screen would have been nice, Nintendo.

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Stages like this frequently change

Even with such a lacking online, Brawl shines through with its other content. The truth is, you’ll be spending as much time playing and unlocking the other content as you would playing a great online game like Halo or Call of Duty 4, so an online mode for Brawl really isn’t completely necessary for the replay value. There’s just so much packed into the disc that you’ll be playing this even more than Melee, which people are still playing today, 7 years after it was released. The overall package is so amazing and unique and fun that any shortcoming will be quickly eclipsed by the dozens of great aspects. Is Brawl perfect? No. I’ve kept my eye on this ever since I heard it was coming out. I checked the Dojo website daily. I waited in line at midnight. But I won’t be a complete fanboy now and tell you it’s perfect. However, I will tell you that it’s one of the most addicting and universally fun games I’ve ever played, and by the far the best title on the Wii – no, one of the best titles Nintendo has ever pulled together. To deny yourself a chance to spend time with this game would be a crime. Super Smash Bros. Brawl has a few missed opportunities, but when the rest is so much fun, who cares!

Pros: Improves on the incredibly fun and accessible Smash Bros. fighting system, an absurd amount of unlockables, great Co-Op support, large character roster, varied and balanced characters, every gameplay mode tweaked for the better, a much better campaign than Melee ever had, great stages, fun Stage Builder, best soundtrack ever in a video game, smooth graphics, incredibly addicting gameplay

Cons: Only two third-party characters is a bit disappointing, a few characters are essentially pallet swaps of another character, not all Final Smashes appear to be balanced, masterpiece mode demos are way too short, repetitive campaign, second player can perform a cheap warping technique in the Co-Op campaign, the online is a major letdown

Final Score: 9.7 out of 10

By Josh60502

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