Never played any of the previous titles in the series but decided to pick up "Super Smash Bros Brawl" for the Wii because there's been another lack of good titles for the console. I had the game pre-ordered and managed to get this "Limited Edition" sleeve for the game together with a postcard of Zero Suit Samus. Pretty cool considering the Japanese version never got any pre-order goodies despite usually getting lots of them.
Having no Classic or Game Cube controller, I dived into the game straight away with the normal controls i.e. the Wiimote and Nun-chuk. There's no in-game tutorial but the controls are simple enough. Hold the analogue stick in a certain direction then press A or B to pull off a move. Simple as that. No remembering button sequences to pull off moves like in say Street Fighter. It works quite well allowing you to concentrate on the action but, I found jumping took some time getting used to because both the C button and the up direction performs the same action.
I went for the Adventure Subspace Emissary which is basically story mode. A tournament is underway and the first two to fight are Mario and Kirby but suddenly, a dark cloud covers the arena. Only Kirby and Princess Zelda manage to escape. We then see the good and bad characters from Nintendo games together battling out as the good are being turned into trophies and various places are engulfed by black holes. As one plays through this mode, there's a whole mix of levels from boss fights to running through a series of platform levels that are again, based off a certain Nintendo game such as say the sci-fi corridors of Metroid.
For the most part, it resembles playing a platformer, beating up baddies as you run along to the end of th elevel but, it someone lacks the excitement of a real platformer. The story doesn't help either because it's very simple and boring. Most of the time you're just watching the game introduce new characters but fortunately, the many pre-rendered cutscenes (pretty much one for each level!) have some humorous scenes to throw in a small bit of entertainment. Interestingly enough, story mode allows two players to play at once but it doesn't work very well because it doesn't make use of split screens and focuses only on the first player.
There are plenty of other modes such as mini games where you have to smash targets or launch a punchbag as far as you can but, I think the main fun of SSBB is the "brawling". Two or more players are thrown into a single arena and basically have to knock the others out to score points. The more damage a player has taken, the further they'll get "smashed" away from the arena which makes finishing off opponents very fun and satisfying. To make the fighting more fun there's a whole variety of items players can make use of. My favourite being the hammer which pretty much guarantees an instant "smash".
The CPU opponents already offers quite variety of difficulties but of course, it's more fun to play against the unpredictable human players which is where online mode comes in. Besides the brawl mode described above, which allows you to play with friends through FCs or anonymous random players, there's a number of other interesting options too. Players can choose to watch a match and place a bet on who they think will win to earn a jackpot of coins to use in the mini games.
I hardly experienced any lag via my wireless network but, I think the downside to playing online is that anonymous matches can take a while to set up. While waiting for the other opponents, you are thrown into a practice stage allowing you to beat up a punch bag. Once an opponent is found, the game gives one minute to find another two. If no more players are found, you can start fighting but if more are found, it will wait one minute again meaning a long delay before we can get to the action.
This wouldn't be so bad if one could leave the search for other players easily like in Mario Kart Wii but, SSBB requires a certain button combination to leave and I found the game doesn't recognise it very well, making it sometimes very difficult to stop a search.
Modes aside, the dual-layer DVD seems to packed full of content. As I mentioned earlier, you'll notice Nintendo's stuffed in a lot of pre-rendered movies if you ever decide to play story mode but apart from that, there are plenty of unlockables. Lots of hidden assist trophies, characters, stages and even demos of retro titles such as the original Super Mario Bros. on the NES. And the good news is, you probably won't have to use a guide to unlock these items because SSBB provides hints about what the conditions are. If you then take in the level creator and stickers to customise character stats, there's plenty of replayability to be had!
On the presentation side, the familiar remixed soundtracks and sound effects from Nintendo titles sounds great. Just by launching the Game Channel on the Wii's main menu, you can hear how the "smashes" in the game may sound like. Animations are smooth and all the character models look sharp and detailed.
However, on the down side the loading time can take quite a while before a level is playable, a problem that's due to the dual layer disc. When Smash Bros was first released in Japan, some people couldn't even load the game when they started it. Nintendo ended up telling people to send their Wii in to get the laser's lens cleaned of any dust and dirt that's accumulated. After the game reached the US, it didn't seem to fare much better either but fortunately for me, my game seemed to load fine.
Super Smash Bros Brawl may have a very boring story mode but, "Brawling" with three other players in all sorts of crazy arenas scattered with items is definitely great fun. Especially when there's an online mode available.
Time Played: 13 Hours
- Good visual and audio presentation matching various Nintendo titles.
- Easy move execution.
- Two players can play together in story mode.
- Online play with friends or random anonymous players.
- Variety of online mode options including betting.
- Lots of unlockables with hints.
- Various modes to play.
- Plenty of characters to choose from.
- Record matches and take screenshots.
- Create own custom levels.
- Boring story mode.
- Longer than average loading times.
- Doesn't use the Wiimote to point and select.
- Anonymous online matches can take some time to start.
- Hard to quit online matches.