Review – Super Smash Bros. Brawl

March 27, 2008 — Leave a comment

Strictly speaking, there are only two places that you can find an epic adventure featuring Mario, Link, Star Fox, Solid Snake, Sonic the Hedgehog, Samus, and many more all at once. One is the multitudes of often sub-par fan fiction online, and the other is “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” on the Nintendo Wii.

It’s somewhat hard to imagine “Super Smash Bros.” needing an explanation at this point. The series, which started nine years ago on the Nintendo 64, has quickly become one of Nintendo’s most popular. In fact, the company was pleased to announce that this newest entry has sold more than 1.4 million copies during its first week of sales in the US alone.

But in case you’re not one of that “in” crowd, let me briefly explain what “Smash Bros.” is all about. At its core, “Smash Bros.” is a simple fighting game for up to four people. Unlike the “Street Fighters” and “Mortal Kombats” of ages past, there’s no real need to memorize countless button combinations and seemingly complex sequences of moves. The game is designed in such a way that even the inexperienced can pick up a controller and enjoy themselves, but hardcore fans can play with a level of extreme depth. The tournament scene that has formed around the series is astounding, and the game can be found at parties just as often as any of the “Halo” games.

But what really sets “Smash Bros.” apart from other games is its character roster, and the roster in “Brawl” is bigger and better than ever. “Fire Emblem’s” Ike can go toe to toe with “Earthbound’s” Ness. “Mario’s” Princess Peach can throw down with Princess Zelda of the series that shares her name. There are over thirty fighters to choose from, and there’s a good chance that at least one will strike a deep chord with people who have been playing games for years.

In addition to expanding the game’s cast, “Brawl” adds a host of new gameplay options that serve to expand the gameplay time of a game that could already entertain for hundreds of hours. For many, the chief among these is the addition of online play. At the time of this writing, many people are having trouble matching up with random opponents over the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection – Nintendo insists that this is due to the enormous amount of players trying to log on at once – but those who are met with success generally have a positive experience. Playing with friends – using Nintendo’s much criticized “friend codes” system – seems to work fine without any problems.

Another addition is the stage builder. While it is basic and provides relatively few items and settings for creation of your own levels, it nonetheless adds a great deal to the overall package of the game.

Last but far from least is the “Subspace Emissary” mode, for 1-2 players. Simply put, it is a side-scrolling adventure game – complete with story – using the “Smash Bros.” gameplay. Most fighting games don’t try to incorporate much of a single-player/co-op mode at all, and when they do, they typically fail. However, “The Subspace Emissary” is an extremely entertaining addition to “Smash Bros.” that plays out almost like the world’s ultimate – and official – Nintendo fan fiction. Through the 8+ hours that you spend just making your way through the plot, you’ll unlock a lot of the features of the game, as well as learn the mechanics if you’re new to the series.

All told, “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” is an extremely complete and fulfilling package. It’s enjoyable even if you’re by yourself, but is by far the most fun when playing with a room full of friends. It’s an extremely easy recommendation for any Wii owner, and fans of multiplayer games in particular.

Britton Peele

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Freelance video game critic for sites like GameSpot and GamesRadar. Amateur fantasy author.

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