‘Super Smash Bros. Brawl’ is great fun

Owen Sound Sun Times (On)
Thursday, March 13, 2008

“Super Smash Bros. Brawl” is here and if you liked previous games in the series, stop reading and go buy it now.

“Brawl” is really just more of what we’ve had before, but it’s much, much more and it’s just what players have wanted.

The premise of “Smash Bros.” is as simple as it is ingenious: take a large roster of Nintendo game characters and let players battle in 2D arenas. The characters come from most of Nintendo’s franchises, Zelda, Mario, Metroid, Pokemon, etc.

Players select a character and fight against three other computer or human controlled opponents. The mechanics are slightly different from other fighters; the objective is to knock your opponents out of the level until they’ve lost all their lives, or time has run out. Every time a character lands a blow, the victim’s damage percentage goes up. The higher a character’s damage, the farther they fly with each blow landed until eventually they fly out of the level, scoring a point for the attacker.

Various weapons and power ups appear randomly, replenishing health or adding temporary weapons for you to use.

The games have worked before because the stages and characters are fun and creative, the controls are simple but the gameplay has hidden complexities, and it’s tons of fun to play with friends. None of that has changed for “Brawl”, and that’s good.

There’s the core “Brawl” mode where you battle your friends or the computer in matches. There’s a minigame mode and some objective based fights (both of which are playable with one or two players simultaneously). There’s online play with random strangers or friends via friend codes. There are all sorts of screens to look at all the goods you’ve collected from playing. Lastly there’s a new adventure mode, which is very neat, and a welcome addition.

controls

“Brawl” controls amazingly. I found it the easiest to get into of all the games. The controls are simple but elegant. There are no convoluted combos; every character’s attacks are pulled off almost the same way. This makes it really easy to jump into, but taking the time to learn the controls is very helpful. It rewards both button mashing and skill, but skill is more rewarding in the end.

gameplay

The gameplay is great, all the older modes are still fresh and the new ones are at least fun if not as fun as the classic modes. The only new addition to the core fighting is the “Final Smash” move for each character. At random intervals a rainbow ball appears on screen. The player to break it gets to unleash a devastating attack that has the potential to knock out all the other players. It’s a great new feature that complements the core game play very well. Apart from that it’s worth mentioning that there is a lot of gameplay here, especially taking into consideration all the things to collect. You get trophies for everything and it keeps track of all the collectibles quite nicely, letting you browse them at will.

single player

Adventure mode: The adventure mode is completely new to the series and is pretty neat. It tells a grand story revolving around all the characters, which you play through in “Double Dragon”-style sidescrolling levels. The story is told through great looking cutscenes and the production values are very high all the way through. As you progress you collect stickers to power up your characters. The gameplay doesn’t quite match up to the rest of adventure mode. It can get repetitive and the controls, which work wonderfully for a fighter, are not the best for a sidescroller. That said, adventure mode is fun and a worthy inclusion, especially because through it you can unlock all the characters in the game (37 in total).

Classic mode: Just what you’d expect, great fun. Fight your way to the final boss (same as the other games) a giant hand. This mode is unchanged from previous games and is still lots of fun. My only complaint is after beating it and being challenged by a character that you have to defeat to unlock, it’s very disheartening to lose to that character. Good thing they can all be unlocked in adventure mode.

There is also a challenge and minigame mode in single player, but I’ve yet to delve into them. They look fun though.

multiplayer

Local: There’s not much to say about this, “Smash Bros.” was the ultimate party game before and this one only ups the ante. If you have a few friends to play with the game is worth picking up for local multiplayer alone.

Online: Online is essentially good, but held back by Nintendo’s Wi-Fi service. You can jump into random games with strangers, but there are no options to customize, just what the game gives you. You can play with people you know, but you need their friend code and they need yours. That said, once you’ve got the friend business setup online is a blast, and relatively lag-free.

You can also play various parts of the single player game co-operatively with two players. I’ve only tried the adventure mode and it’s essentially one player following the other and having limited control of the game. Fun, but not essential.

verdict

“Super Smash Bros. Brawl” is great. There is enough crammed on the game disc to keep you playing for the life of the system. However, if you’re not much for multiplayer games, don’t buy this one for the single player.

Highly recommended.

Calen Henry is a fourth-year student of Japanese studies and multimedia at McMaster University. He grew up in Owen Sound, has been a gamer since childhood and is also interested in music and film.

© 2008 Osprey Media Group Inc. All rights reserved.

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