Super Smash Bros. Brawl Review

Introduction

Super Smash Bros is one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises and one of the best (if not the best) fighting series of all time. When it was announced back in 1999 that Nintendo would release a fighting game for the Nintendo 64 that allowed players to duke it out with their favorite Nintendo characters, nearly every Nintendo fan got it and it eventually became an international and critically acclaimed title. Its sequel, Super Smash Bros Melee, came out in 2001 for the Nintendo Game-Cube and showcased the console’s technical and graphical capabilities, appealing to the hardcore audience with loads of content, fast physics, heavy gravity, and complex game mechanics. Then back in 2008, the sequel was released on the Nintendo Wii called Super Smash Bros Brawl.

When it first released, many people loved it for better aesthetics, much more content, inclusion of third-party characters, online gameplay, and the Final Smashes. But as time went by, many disagreed and criticized it for “casual” physics, lighter gravity, removed hardcore mechanics, and focusing on quantity rather than quality. Though I was a tween at the time (and never bought it until getting convinced from the Supspace Emissary – oops…spoilers), I still love this game to its core and agree that it’s part of the best fighting franchise to date. Even if at times the flaws make me prefer Super Smash Bros Melee over Brawl, I still can’t deny how much the game offers and even improves over its predecessors.

Graphics

The graphics for this game are absolutely amazing and near perfect in every way. Literally being the best looking game on the Nintendo Wii, Super Smash Bros Brawl looks exactly like any good-looking game on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. Graphical quality is excellent and matches the CG illustrations and cut scenes spot-on, as well as looking good even when zoomed in to close distances. Textures are extremely detailed, realistic, and high-resolution, increasing the graphical ability to reduce the rare occasions of jaggy and pixelated graphics from being noticed (it does happen but it’s too small to even notice it). It truly shows what Nintendo can do by pushing the hardware to its absolute limits.

Running at a high-resolution of 480p standard definition, it enhances the sharpness of the smooth graphics and can be upscaled even further to non-native 720i HD via the Wii HD component cable (and native 1080p on the Wii U respectively…looks like I broke the fourth wall – I mean the fifth wall again!) And by enhancing the sharpness of the graphics in the game’s settings, the resolution increases to 720p HD (or even non-native 1440p HD on the Wii U…or maybe not). Because this is a fighting game after all, Brawl runs at a consistent 60 FPS, even when there are multiple characters, items, and environments on-screen, and only rarely dropping (as it’s impossible to be always at 60 FPS). Though like explained before, the speed of the characters’ movements is slowed down to appeal to the casual crowd on the Wii, making it seem like it runs at 50 rather than 60 frames per second.

Characters in Super Smash Bros Brawl look better than ever. These models look exactly like their trophy/CGI counterparts and are completely flawless. They are so good that they look even better than in their past and even future games released after Brawl (well, except with games on the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, of course). Enemy models also look better than before, even putting the artwork and CGI of past models to shame. The boss models, specifically the bosses coming from actual Nintendo franchises look extremely realistic and accurate, making their past artwork and CGI models seem unpleasant and terrible to even glance at. Last and most certainly least, trophy models return from Melee and also look better than ever too.

Although taking a realistic art style approach, Nintendo added some cartoonish effects into the mix to prevent Brawl from looking as dark and dull as that of Melee. While some textures such as hair and clothing look dark, bold, and dull; other textures such as skin and metal clearly look bright and cheery as a result of the lighting effects. Shadows are done well and helps enhance the mood and atmosphere under certain circumstances – and even different environmental/weather conditions (though this is minor and not that significant). Color for this game is a bit off due to it trying to be as realistic as possible while still attempting to be realistic, but this mainly applies to characters, enemies, and assistant trophies.

Music

Music is top-notch with having one of the best sound-tracks for any video game in general. With over 30 video game composers, all of the songs taken from past Nintendo (Sonic and Metal Gear Solid) games have been remade and remastered to become modernized and high-quality that even sounds amazing in the ears of casual players and non-gamers alike. Songs that were relevant to both the stages and franchises were included such as Ridley’s Theme, Gerudo Valley, Star Wolf, Meta Knight’s Theme, and the like. Each stage in the game has multiple songs for it, and they can all be adjusted and customized within the settings to toggle which should be heard more often or less frequently (or even being muted completely). All musical genres have been included for  diverse sound-track.

Customization isn’t just limited to music however, as the volume and balance of sound effects/music can be toggled as well. This can help a lot due to the volume being extremely louder than most games, especially if the TV is set to a high volume. Since there’s absolutely no speech whatsoever (except for fighting grunts and cries), it doesn’t really get in the way that much as the sound effects do drown out the music more than the other way around, which is usually the case for many video games. What does bring down the sound quality though is that the sound effects can get faster than the animations, but this only applies to slow motion sections and heavy gravity (and is not noticeable that much).

Controls

Controlling the characters to fight is much similar to Super Smash Bros Melee, and thankfully doesn’t offer any motion or pointer gimmicks whatsoever. The standard method of playing Brawl is using the Wii Remote (held horizontally with the d-pad on the left and the 1 & 2 buttons on the right). Tilting the d-pad moves the character, the 1 and 2 buttons are for attacks, the B button is for evading and defense, the A button does taunting, and the – button is for grabbing. Overall, the controller and button scheme is great and feels ergonomic, natural, and nothing out of the ordinary. Speaking of controllers, you can also use the Wiimote & Nunchuk combo, the Classic Controller (or Classic Controller Pro), and even the Nintendo Game-Cube Controller as alternatives.

The controls are great and are arguably better than using the Nunchuk combo, but they do take some time getting used to. Once you do get used to them though, you’ll find that the smaller and more bumpy buttons allow for faster and more precise commands, and the ergonomic shape of the controllers allow for reduced hand pain and easier access to the said buttons. If these controllers aren’t suitable for you for whatever reason, then you can customize the button commands to suit your liking for a more personal experience (or resort to the Nintendo Game-Cube Controller – or even customize that as well). Personally though, I find that the Classic Controller Pro to be the best option.

Plot

Unlike other games in the franchise, there is actually a plot but only for the adventure mode called the Subspace Emissary. It starts off with Mario and Kirby battling in a fighting tournament on a floating stadium, whom are watched by Princess Peach, Zelda, and Pit (secretly in…heaven). Suddenly, the Battleship Halberd (Meta Knight’s airship) comes and summons an army of Primids, so that the Ancient Minister can drop a Subspace Bomb without any resistance from the Smash fighters (Dragon Ball Z pun intended). He is unknowingly protected from Petey Piranha, who blasts Mario to the sky with a cannon ball; holds Zelda and Peach hostage in two separate cages – but gets defeated by Kirby – before Wario comes out of nowhere and kidnaps a princess after trophifying her with the Dark Cannon. Two R.O.B.’s then proceed to activate the bomb, exploding and attracting the entire stadium into the hole itself as if it were a black hole.

Zelda (or Peach, depending on who you saved) escapes with Kirby on a Warp Star to the sky. Meanwhile, Pit sees the bombing and gets summoned by Palutena (and no, she’s not playable nor unlockable – or at least until Smash 4 – oh my, I’m breaking the fifth wall again…sorry) to save the world, teaming up with Mario along the way. The princess and Kirby get chased and knocked down by the Halberd which also takes down Fox flying in an Arwing. All but Fox land safely, who crashes into a nearby lake in a jungle, saving Diddy Kong from Rayquaza (who escaped the clutches of Bowser after trophifying Donkey Kong by luring them with their stolen banana hoard earlier). After defeating the legendary Pokemon, the two travel throughout the jungle and fight a clone of Bowser and end up hiding from the real Bowser.

Lucas walks in an abandoned city, gets chased by Pork King, teams up with Ness to defeat Porky, and witnesses Ness get trophified by Wario as a sacrifice in order to spare Lucas. He runs away to confront Pokemon Trainer (who is actually Red by the way) and later joins him in catching other Pokemon (which are Ivysaur and Charizard). Far away in a medieval fortress, the Ancient Minister flies around to plant another bomb and summons an entire army of Primids and other Subspace enemies to fend off Marth. Meta Knight immediately appears and forms an alliance with Marth after realizing who the enemies were and later allying with Ike that destroys another bomb that the Ancient Minister was attempting to set off. Somewhere in a forest, Link grabs the Master Sword and teams up with Yoshi as well.

Deep within a research facility, Samus infiltrates the facility in order to find the location of the Varia Suit and saves Pikachu locked up in some sort of energy draining contraption, but at the risk of being exposed and targeted as an enemy and intruder by the R.O.B. army. With Peach and Ness being trophified and captured, Wario decides to take a break in the middle of a field when he suddenly sees a trophy of Luigi. He gets ambushed by an army of Waddle Dees hiding nearby; King Dedede hijack his hovercraft  along with Peach, Ness, and Luigi; and flies off to his castle for some apparent reason. Back at where Kirby was, he leaves Zelda alone, who gets trophified and cloned by Bowser to become Dark Zelda to take down Link and Yoshi (or Mario and Pit ), but gets ambushed and defeated by Mario and Yoshi. Mad at Zelda’s death (even though trophies can’t die), Link and Yoshi challenge the former fighters but gets defeated by them.

Just as King Dedede is about to take Link and Yoshi to his collection, Kirby comes back and saves them, immediately after the five fighters team up to stop King Dedede once Mario sees Peach captured and realizes his mistakes. Going back to Lucas and the Pokemon Trainer (Red), they see Charizard flying through the mountains and decide to visit the underground ruins to capture it and Ivysaur. Wario blocks the ruins’ entrance but is defeated as the two enter the ruins, captures Ivysaur and Charizard, and gawk at the underground arena. At the far edge of the desert, the trio of swordsmen chase and fight Galleom that crashes into the ruins upon defeat, but it ignites and explodes a Subspace bomb once it is defeated a second time by Lucas and Red.

Saved by Meta Knight at the last second, Lucas and Red team up with Marth, Ike, and Meta Knight. Somewhere in the research facility, Ganondorf is watching the fighters and orders Bowser to do his bidding and a cardboard box with the Smash logo lies hidden within the Halberd. Mario, Link, Yoshi, Kirby, and Pit pursue the Ancient Minister to prevent another bombing but fail as more R.O.B.’s get sacrificed, making the minister sad (even though robots have no emotions). They the head to King Dedede’s castle and discover that Bowser wrecked havoc, supposedly have killed King Dedede, and kidnapped Peach. Bowser escapes with Peach in his Clown-Copter right before he falls to his death after jumping off a cliff to avoid being pursued by the five fighters. They successfully leave the castle just before the bomb is even placed with Kirby picking up the badge that slipped off of Peach’s body when Bowser escapes.

Within the depths of the jungle are Diddy Kong and Fox, who for some reason were doing nothing this whole time when suddenly Bowser trophifies and clones Diddy Kong to create Dark Diddy Kong. Just as Fox is about to meet his doom, another Arwing flies by and out comes Falco, who proceeds to destroy the Dark Cannon, scaring off Bowser, and fighting a gigantic variation of Dark Diddy Kong. Upon defeating the fake and reviving the real Diddy Kong, Falco is forced to team up with the other two and finally reaches the location of Donkey Kong – towed away on a hovercraft programmed to fly to the Ancient Isles (the floating island that serves as the base and home of the Ancient Minister and the R.O.B. army).

In the Ancient Isles, Samus continues to search for the Varia Suit with Pikachu’s help. Finally reuniting with the Varia Suit, Samus and Pikachu are greeted by two Dark Samus’ (no, not the one from the Metroid Prime Trilogy) before equipping it, fighting off more R.O.B.’s, and defeating Ridley once more. The two eventually make it outside of the lab and enter the Subspace Factory to prevent even more bombs from destroying the world, even confronting the Ancient Minister and the remaining R.O.B.’s prepared to activate the Supspace bombs.

Outside of the factory, Pikmins are getting killed by a giant R.O.B. when Captain Falcon comes to help Olimar defeat it. They land on the hovercraft with Donkey Kong after Falco drops off Diddy Kong to save him, in which the four team up to defeat a bunch of Primids that were somehow hiding inside the hovercraft before entering the factory. While infiltrating the factory, the four manage to find another route to the same room with Samus, Pikachu, Ancient Minister, and the R.O.B.’s. Ganondorf appears and commands the R.O.B.’s to activate the bombs to destroy the Ancient Isles itself. The Ancient Minister turns against him and joins the good side, but is thought to be destroyed when the R.O.B.’s are controlled and commanded by Ganondorf to shoot lasers at him.

Suddenly, when things seem down and depressing, the Ancient Minister fights back the Subspace enemies by shooting lasers out of his eyes and transforms into R.O.B. by burning his clothes and exterior armor with his own lasers (who is just as generic as the other R.O.B.’s). After defeating the enemies and saying his good-byes to the R.O.B.’s, R.O.B. concludes it’s too late to reverse the bombs’ timers and therefore impossible to stop them. Captain Falcon calls his Falcon Flyer as a means to escape. He then gestures the others to hurry and escape the factory as well before it’s too late to avoid the bombs’ massive explosion.

All seven fighters quickly leave the island to escape the mega black-hole but are stopped to battle Meta-Ridley bent on revenge for his previous defeat. The Falcon Flyer successfully escapes and lands in the desert conveniently located below the Ancient Isles. Meanwhile, Meta Knight leaves his alliance to pursue the Halberd – currently in a dog fight with the Great Fox – in hopes of claiming it back by scaling the frozen mountain with the assistance of the Ice Climbers (who are just randomly there). Reaching the top, Meta Knight confronts, challenges, and defeats Lucario (or vice versa, depending on who you choose) before teaming up and boarding the Halberd as it crashes the Great Fox into the mountain below. Coincidentally, Solid Snake appears out of the cardboard box, stealthily explores the ship, and teams up with Meta Knight and Lucario to support their cause.

The trio then end up in a room with Peach and Zelda locked up in two cages, who get freed and returned to their regular state once both Dark Peach and Dark Zelda are dealt with. Zelda then decides to transform into Sheik and explore the rest of the Halberd alongside with Peach, reaching the deck and inviting Fox to a tea party. Meta Knight, Snake, and Lucario arrive at the control room to discover that a group of Mr. Game & Watches were piloting the airship the whole time. Snake hastily pushes them all to the deck below, which merge and fuse together to transform into Duon, challenging Fox, Peach, Sheik, Lucario, Snake, and Falco before being defeated and reverting back to Mr. Game & Watch; thus, joining the good side and leaving behind the bad side.

Meta Knight then reclaims his stolen airship and then flies the Halberd to the desert below, reuniting with the other fighters. Far away in an ocean, the Subspace Cannon controlled by Bowser and Ganondorf emerge from the mega black-hole and shoots out a laser that sucks up another part of the ocean with another mega black hole. Suddenly, the Halberd appears from a distance and all seems lost when the Subspace Cannon fires lasers through its turrets, destroying the ship completely. When miraculously, four smaller ships appear to fly out of the explosion and continue to pursue the cannon – the Falcon Flyer, Arwing, Samus Aran’s Gunship, and Olimar’s Rocket. This angers Bowser and Ganondorf and prompts them to activate even more laser turrets to destroy the ships. Out of nowhere, Kirby appears from a far angle, riding on a Dragoon and flies straight through the cannon, destroying it to smithereens.

Bowser and Ganondorf retreat by entering the mega black hole itself, while the Smash fighters all chase after them. While Bowser is walking to the dead end of Subspace, Ganondorf ambushes from behind by trophifying him. Master Hand appears and Ganondorf greets him, only to discover that they were all manipulated the whole time by an evil entity known as Tabuu (who controlled Master Hand this whole time). Realizing that he was the mastermind all along, Ganondorf tries to use his Warlock Punch but fails as Tabuu simply trophifies him with a powerful energy shock-wave blast. Master Hand realizes all of this too after being freed from the chains he was binded to, charging up a rocket punch to kill Tabuu, but ultimately fails as he too dies. The other fighters arrive but they’re all too late as Tabuu proceeds to use an energy blast so powerful that it trophifies every single fighter.

All hope and luck is lost when suddenly, the Dedede Badges on Luigi and Ness both activate to reverse their trophification. Seeing it as an act of generosity, Ness revives King Dedede and the trio begin hunting down other trophies in order to save the world. They come across and convince Bowser to join the good side after a short brawl and revealing the truth of Master Hand and Tabuu. Meanwhile, Kirby also gets revived by the badge that he got from Peach at Dedede’s castle and hunts down the remaining fighters before joining the revived fighters. Wario and Ganondorf also join the good side when King Dedede, Luigi, Ness, Link, and Zelda convince them as well to defeat Tabuu. With everyone revived, the Smash fighters enter the bright sphere at the end of Supspace that leads to all of the places that were destroyed on Earth by the Subspace Bombs.

Eventually clearing the maze (after exploring old places and defeating dark clones of past foes and bosses), the fighters confront Tabuu again a second time. When he attempts to trophify them again, his butterfly wings are destroyed by two blue blurry streaks of energy. Coming from the spin dashes of none other than the blue blur himself, Sonic The Hedgehog appears (at quite a late time for the world’s fastest thing alive) and mocks Tabbu, in which he becomes significantly weakened and challenges all the fighters to a battle. After a long and hard struggle, the Smash fighters win and defeat him once and for all. As he is dying, his bodily remains and energy disintegrate and allows all of the places bombed on Earth to be completely restored to their former glory. With Tabuu and the Supspace Army finally eliminated, all of the fighters return to Earth for a new and bright day.

Overall, the Subspace Emissary has a good plot despite it being extremely confusing and attempting to be a fan service to all Nintendo fans. The characters are obviously from the roster itself, while the setting takes place on Earth – specifically, in a stadium, medieval fortress, abandoned ghost-town, tropical jungle/swamp, enchanted forest, open field, giant lake, dry desert, ancient ruins, and cold mountain, as well as the sky, a floating island, a futuristic laboratory, and another dimension altogether. The plot overall is presented very well with the cinematics, though it does get confusing as there is no dialogue and it seems to go all over the place, but it does make sense once you get near the story’s climax.

It’s essentially about an evil entity that lusts for power and manipulates certain people to do his bidding but many people team up and become heroes to rebel against this greedy monster – Nintendo did well to make the plot seem more complex than just this and I have to applaud them for that. What I don’t really like about the plot is that it tries to get all the characters involved, but does this in a way that makes it even more confusing and leaves many plot holes as some characters just get randomly introduced. Like how is King Dedede supposed to know about Tabuu and his plans all along – I heard that Sakurai originally planned to make several cut scenes explaining this, but it never made it through development and got scrapped as a result.

For being more plot heavy than other games within the franchise, Nintendo does an excellent job of presenting the plot with the cut scenes. Cinematics are full CGI cut scenes and are used to showcase not only the well-developed story, but also the game’s excellent graphics and music – and to also show how much the Wii’s hardware can really handle. They appear multiple times throughout each level ranging from several seconds to several minutes and are not just limited to character and boss introductions. Animation is well done and reflects the high frame rate that this game runs at and enhances the presentation of the already excellent plot and good-looking CGI cut scenes.

Unfortunately, the narrative script is extremely terrible and lacks any dialogue to begin with. There is no voice acting in the adventure mode (with the exception of Captain Falcon and Snake) and there aren’t even any grunts or cries either (except from the Mario characters out of all people). Unlike other video games, there isn’t even text dialogue for players to read, so the only way of understanding the plot is looking and interpreting the characters’ emotions, facial expressions, gestures, and body language. There are, however, text that reveals a character’s name in character introduction sequences, and it’s actually pretty cool on how it looks and sounds when presented. But other than that, the narrative script is terrible and pretty much non-existent.

Gameplay

Contrary to belief, Super Smash Bros Brawl is different from other conventional fighting games. Instead of two fighters duking it out on a confined stage and attempting to deplete each other’s health, up to four fighters can battle in a free form arena in which the goal is to make the opponent go past the boundaries of the stage to knock them out. Fighters do not have a health bar but instead have a damage percentage meter; the higher it gets, the easier it is to get flung off the stage (but you can, of course, come back to the stage with a recovery jump/move). Attacks and combos are also much easier to maneuver due to simple button placement. Dodging and defense techniques are also implemented as well, unlike other fighters where it is not implemented or only has one of the two available.

Returning from previous titles in the franchise are the damage percentage, combat system, and item mechanics. Players can not only make fighters perform attacking, defensive, and evasive techniques – but also regular, strong, special, aerial, and smash attacks; and also shielding, rolling, side-stepping, air-dodging, grabbing, throwing, and recovering. Items can frequently appear to help assist whichever fighter obtains it, coming from all sorts of franchises and can range from offensive, defensive, healing, throwing, explosive, weaponry, flying, storage, agility, and so on. Some are stronger than others, and items can be customized to your preferences in certain game modes where you can toggle the frequency of every individual item (even turning them on or off).

Brawl has loads of content and offers even more that what its predecessors offered. Each of the game modes are divided up into six different categories: Solo, Multi-Player, Online, Vault, Options, and Data. Solo consists of Classic, Adventure, All-Star, Event Match, Break The Targets, Multi-Man Brawl, Boss Battle, and Training. Multi-Player consists of Brawl, Tourney, Rotational, Special Brawl, and Rules. Vault consists of Trophies, Stickers, Custom Stage Builder, Master Pieces, Chronicle List, Coin Launcher, Challenges, and Album. Online consists of Online Brawl, Team Matches, Co-Op Stadium, and Spectator. Finally, the Options and Data contains settings and records that can be viewed and/or customized.

While All-Star, Training, and Event Match stay relatively the same, all others do not. Classic Mode has been unfortunately downgraded to have no bonus stages but Target Stages, as well as a scoring system based on time and damage. While Adventure Mode does have a better plot and increased content, it still has level design being too generic and boring, while the enemies (and sometimes the mini-bosses and dark clones) being way too overpowered, even on the easiest difficulty. Break The Targets may be more fun with better level design, but there are only five stages based on each of the five difficulties – as opposed to each character having their own unique level like in Melee and Smash 64.

On the bright side though, Home Run Contest has been made easier thanks to a breakable barrier that increases the power that launches Sand-Bag farther than in Melee. Multi-Man Brawl has a variety of fighters instead of just the male and female wire-framed fighters, as well as actual characters appearing occasionally. Boss Battle is a non-stop fight with all of the bosses in Adventure Mode, and you can even play every single game mode mentioned (except for Classic) with another player for local co-op. Fortunately, the other game modes have been significantly improved for the better. Versus (or Brawl) is still the same as Melee and doesn’t have any major letdown besides the awkward physics suited for the casual audience. Special Brawl is all of the Special Melees combined into one customizable experience, with newer special modes introduced in this installment. Tourney now only allows 32 instead of 64 contestants, and Rotational is Versus but allows 5 or more players to participate without any CPU interference.

Online and Vault are the only new categories introduced in this game. Apparently, online is supposed to be second to none for the Wii, being only slightly worse than Mario Kart Wii, but for some reason, majority of people (including me) find it and complain that it is laggy, slow, and the connections usually break or don’t even pick up. Unfortunately, most of the game modes exclusive to online either can’t be played with friends or extremely limited with random people, such as not being able to submit Vault content and communicating. Social interaction is limited to only one word messages that appear from taunting…how lame, that’s all I’m going to say.

Trophies are sort of like encyclopedias and reveals the history of Nintendo’s games from the NES, SNES, N64, GCN, Wii, Game & Watch, Game Boy, GBC, GBA, and DS; stickers have different effects that help fighters with improved stats in Adventure Mode (kind of pointless to be honest). Album stores all replay videos and photos; Stage Builder lets you build custom stages with limited parts to fight on; Master Pieces are demos of several Virtual Console games; and Challenges is basically this game’s achievement system – showing what you unlocked and hints on what you didn’t, and even allowing you to automatically unlock whatever you want with limited set of hammers (though I somehow got more hammers despite using them all up).

What matters the most to Smash fans would probably be the characters themselves, and there are a whopping 40 fighters (but only 35 in the roster) this time around. There are about 14 unlockable and 26 starter characters, but the unlockables can all be unlocked without even fighting them by playing as them in Adventure mode. These characters have serious balance issues with some being way too overpowered or way too weak. Similar to Smash 64 though, character introductions return and appear in multi-player and online matches, such as Mario entering out of a pipe, Pikachu leaving a Pokemon Ball, or Samus walking out of a futuristic elevator. Characters also have different color variations, while some even have different outfits such as Wario and Samus.

The roster itself starts off with Mario, Peach, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Yoshi, Wario, Link, Zelda, Sheik, Samus, Zero Suit Samus, Pit, Ice Climbers, Pikmin & Olimar, Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede, Fox, Pikachu, Pokemon Trainer, Squirtle, Ivysaur, Charizard, Ike, and Lucas. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock Luigi, Ganondorf, Toon Link, R.O.B., Captain Falcon, Falco, Wolf, Lucario, Jiglypuff, Marth, Ness, Mr. Game & Watch, Solid Snake, and finally Sonic The Hedgehog. Unfortunate as it is, Dr.Mario, Young Link, Pichu, Mewtwo, and Roy have been removed and are exclusive characters to Melee (though Dr. Mario returns as a starter character in Smash 4 and Mewtwo is DLC when you purchase both the 3DS and Wii U variations – oh no, breaking the fifth wall again).

There are much more stages than before, with each stage representing a franchise (for the most part as some stages are part of one franchise, namely Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and Pokemon) – and even retro stages from Melee and custom built stages as well. Stages are more unique with different time of day, weather/season transformations, 2D to 3D transition, warping points, change of terrain, destructive environmental objects, background enemies, natural disasters, and background interaction. You start off with around 30 and gradually unlock around 40 stages, not including custom stages as those are built by the players.

Stages consist of the following: Battlefield, Final Destination, Delfino Square, Luigi’s Mansion, Mario Kart Circuit, Mario Bros., 75 M, Rumble Falls, Yoshi’s Island, WarioWare Inc., Great Bridge of Eldin, Pirate Ship, Norfair, Frigate Orpheon, Skyworld, Ice Summit, Distant Planet, Smashville, Port Town Aero Dive, Halberd, Lylat Cruise, Pokemon Stadium 2, Spear Pillar, Castle Siege, New Pork City, Picto Chat, Hanenbow, Flat Zone 2, Shadow Moses Island, and Green Hill Zone for the modern stages. For the retro stages from Melee, we got these few: Rainbow Cruise, (GCN) Yoshi’s Island, Jungle Japes, Great Temple, Brinstar, Green Greens, Corneria, Pokemon Stadium, Big Blue, and also Onett.

Items are essential and helpful in increasing your chance towards victory, and Brawl has more than ever before. I won’t be discussing what each one does, so I’ll only talk about the most newest and popular items. The Smash Ball is a rainbow-colored Smash logo that grants the user a Final Smash, a super strong attack or ability that varies with each fighter and helps them defeat opponents easily. Usually, you’re invincible and there’s a time limit, but some is a one-time use kind of thing and you can die with others; they usually range from transformations, powerful attacks, using a powerful weapon, or changing the status of the other fighters. An assistant trophy summons an NPC that will help the fighter that comes from different franchises – these are usually those that didn’t make it to the roster or is a fan service. Dragoon is an item divided into three parts, and when collected, allows the collector to instantly K.O. an opponent.

Returning from the older titles are Crates, Barrels, Party Balls, Super Mushroom, Poison Mushroom, Fire Flower, Starman, Metal Box, Bob-Omb, Green Shell, Hammer, Food & Drinks, Heart Container, Bunny Hood, Screw Attack, Laser Gun, Super Scope, Beam Sword, Motion Sensing Bomb, Mr. Freezie, Mr. Saturn, Maxim Tomato, Warp Star, Star Rod, Lipstick, Fan, Baseball Bat, and Trophies. New items in Brawl are as follows: Moving Crates, Blast Box, Soccer Ball, Lightning, Hothead, Slow-Mo Clock, Golden Hammer, Spring, Sand Bag, Deku Nut, Banana Peel, Pitfall, Sea Urchin, Gooey Bomb, Smoke Ball, Team Healer, Smart Bomb, Cracker Launcher, Franklin Badge, Stickers, CD’s, Keys, and Trophy Stands (which are exclusive to Subspace Emissary and allow you to trophify enemies and bosses.)

Enemies and bosses aren’t that significant in Brawl, but are in Adventure Mode and Multi-Man Brawl. The Subspace Army ,in my opinion, is way too overpowered but have low health to compensate – and they are also extremely diverse and come from many different Nintendo franchises. The fighters from Multi-Man Brawl are weird looking aliens called “Alloys” with white circles covering their face, hands, feet, and stomach, as well as having a distinctive color elsewhere on their skin. They’re extremely diverse as well as they imitate many fighters in appearance and techniques, such as the fat green fighters imitating Kirby; bulky red fighters imitating Captain Falcon; tall/skinny blue fighters imitate Zelda; and short yellow fighters imitating Mario. Bosses consist of Master Hand, Crazy Hand, Master & Crazy Hand, Petey Piranha, Rayquaza, King Porky, Porky, Galleom, Duon, Ridley, Meta Ridley, and Tabuu.

Collectibles, unlockables, and Vault-specific game modes serve as the only “side quests” to this game, and the achievement system as well. Collectibles and/or unlockables range from characters, stages, assist trophies, trophies, and stickers to music, coins, cut scenes, custom stage parts, demos, and additional rules. These can all be obtained by finding them or meeting certain conditions, which is where the achievements come into play. Characters and stages can usually be unlocked through multiple methods like playing a certain set of matches or clearing certain levels in adventure mode. By fulfilling harder challenges though, the game will reward you with rare trophies, stickers, stages, demos, and music that cannot be obtained elsewhere or through traditional means.

Within the Vault, you can also use all the coins you obtain from Classic and Adventure Mode as ammo for a laser turret when playing Coin Launcher to obtain more trophies and stickers. The Custom-Stage-Builder, while limits players to strictly 2D geometric stages with a fixed background/camera angle and generic parts, can allow for some creativity that developers would never come up with…well, if you’re into these kind of things. Though the Master Pieces are actually pretty shit, it allows younger and casual players to get introduced to the origins or classic titles of some of the fighters. Last but not least, sound effects, music, trailers, records, settings, tutorials, and cut scenes can all be viewed and/or changed in the Options and Data sections in Brawl.

Overall, Super Smash Bros Brawl is suitable for players of all skill levels as it has five different difficulties. All of the Solo game modes allow more or less challenge, so that less skilled players won’t get frustrated and highly skilled gamers can enjoy more out of the game by choosing Easy, Normal, Hard, Very Hard, or Intense. The computer opponents’ skill levels can be toggled in multi-player and training from levels 1 through 9, allowing even more options with difficulty. And in case you ever find yourself outmatched for some odd reason, you can increase the stock count from 1 to 5 in Classic; utilizing stickers in Adventure; handicapping other players and CPU’s in Versus; and changing the rules.

Verdict

Replayability value for a game like Brawl is sky-high as almost every game mode has replay value in it. Plus, with the surplus amount of content and customization, they allow hundreds to thousands of possible combinations that can be used by players when constantly replaying the game modes. And with the achievement system in place, hardcore gamers and completionists alike are motivated to replay the different game modes over and over again in order to unlock the many rare trophies, stickers, and music available, as well as increasing the time spent since some are unlocked that way. There’s so much replay value, that I can go on forever explaining it so I’ll stop here.

Though Brawl is an extremely great game, there are still flaws that hinder this from perfection. What I hated about this game is that the physics, speed, gravity, and fighting style pales in comparison to Melee, as it increases my chances of unfair advantages and cheap deaths/losses. I dislike the fact that there are frequent long loading times whenever you start the game; transition from cut scene to gameplay (in adventure mode); begin Event Match, Master Pieces, Tourney, and Stadium; or viewing in-game content which can disappoint me at times. I also feel that Nintendo put too much effort in the Subspace Emissary, Multi-Player, and Vault, while putting little effort in Solo and Online.

To wrap it all off, Brawl is a phenomenal fighting game and a must have for the Nintendo Wii. With its excellent graphics, greatly composed music, customizable and precise controls, and high quality gameplay, this game is just too awesome to ignore in a lifetime as it was nominated as a game in the “1001 Games To Play Before You Die” book. But with emphasis over quantity over quality (as the saying goes, don’t fix something if it isn’t broken), casual fighting style, balance issues with enemies and fighters, and many game modes now downgraded to mediocre quality, this game fails to become a perfect masterpiece (pun not intended). An excellent game overall with minor flaws, Super Smash Bros Brawl deserves a score of 9.4 out of 10.

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