|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: HAL Lab. / Sora / Game Arts||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 9, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
October 23, 2007 - Quite possibly the most disappointing gaming-related news is that Nintendo's hotly anticipated Wii-exclusive fighter, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, has had its release date pushed back. Brawl is now slated for release in the United States on February 10th, 2008 (*Update: The game was delayed again - Official Release Date is March 9, 2008.*) Details are scarce as to why exactly the release date has been postponed.
Despite this though, Brawl remains one of the most anticipated games of 2008. The Smash Bros. series has always been known for chaotic fighting action featuring tons of characters, a wide variety of battleplaces, and a huge amount of useable items. Brawl is certainly looking to continue with that trend, while at the same time amplifying it with a number of significant improvements.
If you thought that Super Smash Bros. Melee, released for the Nintendo GameCube, had a lot of characters, then Brawl is going to make you think again. Characters present in Brawl come from a huge spectrum of all sorts of Nintendo-related franchises. Nintendo classics such as Link, Zelda, Mario, Samus, and Pikachu all return, as well as new favorites. Brand-new characters include Pit from Kid Icarus and Solid Snake of Metal Gear Solid fame. Additionally of note is the fact that, however controversial it may be, Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega's mascot, essentially) has been confirmed as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
The real fun of Super Smash Bros. games has essentially been knocking around other Nintendo characters. Every character throughout the game has a very distinct and well-crafted moveset. Basic moves are simple to perform; hitting a foe enough times will add damage. Super Smash Bros. is unique in that killing a foe does not encompass merely beating him or her up to a certain damage level. Instead, the more damage a foe receives, the further he will fly when hit. Rack up enough damage, then deliver a powerful blow to knock your opponent off the edge of the stage.
Previous Super Smash Bros. games have also been known for their quick-to-learn, difficult-to-master control schemes. Again, Brawl seems to be taking this fact and running with it. To begin with, there are four different styles of play: you can use the Wii remote, the Wii remote with the Nuncuk attached, the GameCube controller, or the Classic Controller. Naturally, the button presses for each controller to perform desired moves are going to be different and there'll certainly be some fun in deciding exactly which controller best suits your style of play.
Duking it out with other Nintendo characters is all well and good, but as someone once said, variety is the spice of life. And to spice up your playing experience with Super Smash Bros. Brawl are a huge amount of Nintendo-themed items. They range from well-known accoutrements such as a Super Mushroom or Bob-Omb to lesser-recognized items (for example, the Maxim Tomato from the Kirby games). Easily the best (as well as least frequent) of all the items is the Smash Ball; the fighter that gains possession of this item has the ability to unleash an absolutely devastating attack called a Final Smash.
If you thought that the variety of courses in which to play was impressive in Melee, then Brawl is going to blow your mind. Not only are the graphics immensely improved from the latest iteration of the series, but the actual locales in which you will play are so much more interesting. Each character has a stage that somehow pertains to him; for example, Pit's stage is a broken down temple, presumably that of the Goddess which he serves.
In addition to providing some graphical eye candy (which you probably won't get to enjoy, by the way, thanks to Brawl's frantic action-packed gameplay), the courses provide tons of little diversions. Every course is very distinct, mainly in the obstacles that it provides. Some courses move around, forcing you to follow along in the screen frame to avoid being knocked off the screen. Others include different environmental elements, some which merely present themselves as part of the environment and others with which you can interact.
Graphically, Brawl is one of the most impressive-looking titles on the Wii so far. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has become the poster-child for great graphics on the Wii, and Brawl is looking to join the club. Absolutely everything looks jaw droppingly beautiful. Environments are expertly done, textures look fantastic, and the obvious attention to detail in every little aspect of each of the many characters is very noticeable. Graphics will never make a bad game good, but as Brawl exemplifies, they can make an already great game even better.
Another huge staple of the series ever since its conception is multiplayer. Playing against a computer is fine, but playing against a live opponent is a far more satisfying experience. Brawl offers typical four-player local multiplayer, allowing you and some friends to sit down and engage in a major slug-fest. The game also sports some incredible online play. The online mode matches you up with multiple players from around the world, and ensures that there's always somebody ready to fight you.
Despite it being a very-hyped game, I have little doubt that Brawl will live up to, if not succeed, expectations. From all the information that's been divulged from the developers thus far, we've seen that all the core elements of a Super Smash Bros. game are clearly there. But what's going to make Brawl the must-buy game of 2008? All those elements have been hugely amplified. The graphics are great, the gameplay maintains both its simplicity and its complexity, and the multiplayer is shaping up to be great. All in all, expect Brawl to be the biggest-selling Wii title of 2008.
CCC Freelance Writer