REVIEW
Super Smash Bros. Brawl

By Toronto Thumbs Staff - April 18th, 2008

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Because Super Smash Bros. Brawl is such a huge game and features the large ensemble cast of Nintendo’s most popular characters, we saw it fit to use an ensemble cast of Toronto Thumbs staffers to review the game. And much like Brawl, the release of this review has been delayed repeatedly.

Many hours were spent white-knuckled, many battles were fought, and many laughs were had. If you’ve got a Wii and are looking at getting the next great party game, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is very likely it.

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Michael’s take

The Wii debut of Super Smash Bros. Brawl was both highly-anticipated and long-awaited. I managed to escape home early enough on the morning of release so that I might nab myself a copy, as sadly I had neglected to pre-order. I pulled up to my local game shop and waited patiently in the parking lot for it to open, and noticed a startling trend begin to make itself apparent. It turns out that I wasn’t the only one with the same idea that morning, as vehicle after vehicle began to surround me. I looked around at the different vehicles and found a mini-van filled with a father and two children, a couple of cars with 20-somethings as occupants, and yet another with what imagine was a grandfather and grandson. All of us patiently waiting to get our hands on Super Smash Bros. Brawl. All of us equally as excited.

To make a long story short, I wasn’t able to get my hands on a copy that morning as it was pre-sell copies only, but to see the makeup of people waiting for their chance to pit Pikachu against Mario in battle to the death was an interesting look into the market Nintendo has managed to appeal to. Let’s get back to why we’re here, however: taking a look into whether the wait was worth it for all of us waiting in the cold that early March morning.

Those who have played the previous Smash Bross entry on the GameCube won’t notice a huge jump between the two games on a graphical level, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Brawl takes what was done before it and cleans it up, making small upgrades to both the character models and backgrounds. Colours are vibrant and characters and levels are well detailed. Although it isn’t visually groundbreaking, it is exactly what you might have come expect from a Smash Bros. title. Everything just looks as it should.

One aspect of Brawl that really stood out for me was the soundtrack, which sports orchestrated music from some of the biggest industry musicians. Featuring both original tracks along with new spins on music from the classic games that Brawl draws its inspiration from, this is simply an amazing score. Sound effects are perfectly adequate and compliment the action taking place well.

Speaking of action, Nintendo has incorporated multiple control schemes to ensure that everyone can get their Smash on, regardless of the controllers they have available. By far, the GameCube controller is the ideal tool for doing battle, with the Wii Classic Controller being a completely acceptable alternative. Though using the Wii remote/Nunchuck takes a little getting used to, it offers an adequate solution for those without the other control methods available to them. Inherently simple, the controls are tight and regardless of the scheme being used; never get in the way of everyone being able to get into the action. This is definitely a plus as its multi-player is where Brawl shines most.

As was the major focus in the previous entries in the series, multi-player battles are the main focus of Brawl. Bouts are fast and frenzied affairs, typical for the series. I had to marvel at how balanced the gameplay was, with no character standing out as “the best.” Essentially, any character can be won with as long that that character’s specific strengths are being utilized. Assist trophies and Finishing Smashes both introduce a new dimension to the battle landscape, and when utilized can really affect the outcome of the match.

Beyond the multi-player experience, a new single player mode has been introduced in Brawl dubbed the “Subspace Emissary.” Essentially a 10-hour platforming excursion tied together with some incredible-looking cutscenes, this mode really seems unneeded in the larger scheme of things. As the main vessel for unlocking most of the playable characters the Subspace Emissary works, although in some areas can seem monotonous and unpolished. It doesn’t do anything wrong, per se. It just doesn’t really stand up to the pure fun offered by the multi-player battles. That being said, it can be a nice change of pace, can be played through with a friend, and as mentioned has some fantastic cutscenes throughout that alone make it worthwhile to play though.

Brawl also marks the introduction of online, allowing players to show off their skills (or in my case, lack of) against friends and nameless opponents alike. Nintendo being Nintendo still feels the need to shield players from themselves, and replaces player names with “Player #” when not playing against friends. That being said, my online time was fairly smooth with only a handful of matches being affected by major lag. Despite my minor gripes, the inclusion of Wi-FI compatibility is a much appreciated addition to an already solid gaming experience.

The bottom line is that Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a must own title on the Wii. Come for the truly addictive multi-player gameplay, stay for all the Nintendo fan service and nostalgia you can handle. The experience can be as simple or deep as you make it, and there is always just one more thing for the truly hardcore to try and unlock. Which so much to do, this is definitely a title that will not be leaving my console any time soon.

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    3 responses so far:
  2. Posted on Apr 19, 2008

    Is this for job? Okayee?

  3. Posted on Apr 22, 2008

    Most random comment we’ve received, I think.

  4. Oxfeet cheddar blouse.

    Change your mind Shaun?

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