Super Smash Bros. Brawl is More of the Same, but Tons of Fun
It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of the Wii, but lately I’ve been spending a lot of time with it. And more importantly, having a lot of fun. The one aspect of Nintendo’s latest venture that no one can deny, is that it appeals to everyone from infants to the elderly, and just about anyone could pick it up and start playing. Of course, some games are more complicated than others. The downside of its uniqueness, it’s the abundance of gimmicky and down-right awful games that followed its release. But when we’re talking games, you know that you can trust Nintendo to deliver. And although nearly every first party title that’s been released is a sequel to a sequel of a sequel, they’ve been pretty great. And Super Smash Bros. Brawl is no exception.
Leading up to its release, I barely paid any attention to it. Sure, I watched the trailers as they surfaced and checked out the leaked character list, but I wasn’t counting the days or anything. But on release day, I surprised Hannah with a copy and we played for a couple hours that afternoon.
What Motion Controls?
One thing that blew my mind, and continues to disorient me a bit each time I fire up the game, is the absolute lack of motion controls. I suppose it’s understandable that a fast-paced button-masher like SSB Brawl is better suited with a traditional control scheme, it’s just surprising to see Nintendo leaving out the one thing that has brought the Wii success. Granted, there is an option you can enable that allows you to waggle the remote to do your smash attack, but that’s it. Every single time I’ve sat down to play this game, I’ve tried to select a character by pointing the remote – it just feels like the right thing to do.
SSB Brawl is probably better played with a GameCube controller. I find myself sitting with my hands to my sides when I play this game, since I don’t need to keep them pointed at the TV. The problem being, the nunchuck is usually on an angle, so up is no longer up. I’m often getting frustrated as my character isn’t doing the attack I’m telling him to, only to realize it’s because I’m not holding the controller at the right angle.
OK, I Get it Now
I own SSB Melee for the GameCube, and while I played it quite a bit, I never fully grasped it. Nintendo have failed to ease people into these games and really show no direction at all. During your first run-through of just about any game these days, there’s hints and alerts to guide help you get your bearings. After playing a few rounds of SSB Brawl, I put down my tethered controller and picked up the manual. Sure enough, it’s all laid out in plain english. But should I really have had to resort to the manual to find out the basics of gameplay? I can’t say I’ve ever referred to a manual for guidance until now. I just find this surprising, given Nintendo’s core audience being young-ins. The official game website has a very helpful How-To guide as well.
Once I knew how to do all of the different attacks, and understood how the winner was decided, the fun really began!
The formula from the previous SSB titles is fully in-tact. At first look, one might not even realize this is a new game. It’s very familiar – right down to the UI sound effects and character select screen.
The cast of characters has only seen a few new additions as well. The usual suspects, Mario and the gang are all there, along with a slew of Pokemon weirdos. Of the newcomers, Sonic the Hedgeho, Snake from the Metal Gear Solid series, Wario, Diddy Kong and Zero Suit Samus are probably the most notable. There’s also Toon Link, which is Link from Windwaker. I was stoked to see that Waluigi is absent from the line-up. He is the single worst character in the history of video games, hands down. What Nintendo was thinking when they shat out that abomination is beyond me.
The basic attacks and power-ups are pretty much the same as those in SSB Melee, with one major addition – the Final Smash. Through-out the match, a floating orb will appear, which has been labelled the Smash Ball. Beating the hell out of it will give you the right to perform your Final Smash. Each character has a unique Final Smash, and executing it at the right time can turn the tables entirely. Some are better than others, and some are down-right amazing! It’s pretty funny with the Smash Ball pops up on screen – everyone rushes for it, and you have to land a fair amount of hits on it to claim it as your own. Results may vary, but in most cases, those that weren’t fortunate enough to get it are going to be sent flying.
Other Game Modes
There are actually quite a few different ways to play the game. While most are variations of the typical Brawl, there’s also a single player adventure called The Subspace Emissary. It has a bit of a story to it, but it’s horribly disjointed and makes little-to-no-sense. I started skipping the cut-scenes pretty quickly when I couldn’t wrap my head around just WTF was going on and why. My North American mind just can’t handle that shit! The good thing about it though, is that you can unlock most of the characters by playing it through. Which is nice, if you don’t see yourself playing hundreds of battles.
The meat and potatoes are the Brawl matches, though. They’re the most fun, especially with a room full of people. Not so much over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, aka online multiplayer. With no voice chat, it has limited appeal.
I enjoy SSB Brawl far more than I anticipated. While it would have been nice to see some more drastic changes across the board, it’s a solid installment in this popular franchise and won’t disappoint long-time fans.