Super Smash Bros. BRAWL
Rated T for Teen
Release Date: March 9, 2008
Ah, Super Smash Bros. BRAWL. After a delay and countless teaser posts at the Dojo, you have finally arrived.
BRAWL, being one of (if not the) most anticipated releases of the year is finally out and millions are already Smashing their way through the Subspace Emissary, attempting to unlock all the characters for all-out slugfests with friends over a hot pizza and cold soda. BRAWL, following the formula for the rest of the Smash series, doesn't offer a ton of new things in the way of gameplay, but rather more of an improvement on past games. Which, obviously, has made for something 1.4 million people in the first week alone have already come to know and love.
Gameplay for BRAWL, as said before, is pretty standard. Grab a character, choose a Stage, duke it out, winner take all. BRAWL boasts a little over 30 different characters to play with, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
There is also the inclusion of the Final Smash system, which comes in the form of a floating orb that winds around the field. Any character that smashes it can access their Final Smash move, which typically deals a hefty amount of damage and can easily spell a trip into the Void (hence the finality of the smash). Each character's FS is different and can range from status effects (Luigi), to item-gets (Peach, Kirby) and DEAR GOD WHY levels of pain (Ike, Samus).
It's also worth mention to note that some characters in BRAWL actually share FS, with the most notables being the Star trio (Fox, Falco and Wolf) and Link and Toon Link. In the case of the Star trio, Nintendo actually did a good job with putting slight variations on each, Fox's being faster, Falco's being able to hover longer/jump higher and Wolf's having a heck of a lot more firepower. In terms of Toon Link and Link, however, the Hyrule Slash doesn't have a lot of variation between the two. At the time of writing, there is plenty of debate as to whether or not Link's smash should have been something more Twilight Princess-related, such as a Wolf Link-based smash. But regardless, press on we shall.
Another new feature for BRAWL is the addition of the Subspace Emissary, which is essentially the Storyline Mode for the game. Nintendo actually gave it a lot more depth this time around, providing for interesting cut scenes and challenging bosses (the Ridley battle is a bit ridic). The use of the side-scrolling platform dungeons was also well done. It provides for a good time when you're not attempting to beat the crap out of your friends.
Another thing I'm really glad they included was the stage builder. It's nice to finally be able to build and play on your own stages (though most people are making old stages that weren't included in the release of BRAWL, like Hyrule Temple and Saffron City, for a really old throwback), though it would be nicer if they were available for online play as well. Perhaps Nintendo will oblige with a future patch or something.
The last feature I want to mention is the Assist Trophy item. This is really something that I've come to enjoy (though I've been on the end of some vicious combos as a result of these things). What Assist Trophies are basically sum up to PokéBalls for just about any series that Nintendo produces that is represented in BRAWL (I think there might be a Metal Gear Solid trophy, but I haven't come across it in battle yet). This provides a somewhat new element to the battle, since some of them are absolutely devastating, but I like it mostly because it pays homage to all the games that the characters actually come from. I mean, you can get Knuckle Joe, for crying out loud. KNUCKLE JOE. That spells "win" in my book.
Most people who pick up BRAWL for the first time will be able to quickly pick up a few characters, with mastery coming not long afterward, which says a lot about how Nintendo went about setting up everything. Personally, I feel that Pit is what I call the "Great Newbie Equalizer" of BRAWL, meaning that you can pick him coming fresh off the wagon and hold your own (mainly because his standard B move has a lot of combo ability and can easily flow into other moves as the player gets a feel for him.
Nintendo played around with gamers a lot as they revealed newcomers in this installment, posting hints and eventual clips and screens of characters as they were announced. The first of these (if I remember correctly) was revealed during the first trailer for the game, when Konami's Solid Snake showed up coming out from his trademark box at the end of the clip. Needless to say, many fans were shocked, happy and worried about this avenue. Bringing in non-Nintendo characters for a now-staple Nintendo game like BRAWL? Madness. Regardless, it actually proved to be a wise decision, with Snake now being one of the top-tier characters in the game.
Other new faces, including the long raved-for Sonic, didn't fare out so well. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm one of the biggest Sonic fans you'll ever meet in your life. But the guy ended up turning out to be somewhat of a disappointment.
Sonic is fast. Really fast. If you put Bunny Ears on him, you're on the verge of having Gold Millia on your hands (for those of you that play Guilty Gear, you know and fear what I'm referring to here). But his attacks are weak. The only thing he really has going for him are his Homing Attack and his down-Smash Attack. That's about it. Not kidding. I will admit, though, that Super Sonic (his FS) is one of the better ones in the game. It's far easier to control than the other flying FS in the game (Pikachu's Volt Tackle for the LOSS) and it packs a good punch. But, for all the hype and hilarity about his appearance, Sonic is an average character at best (I'm very sad to say).
Overall, the characters for BRAWL all present a careful balance so that anyone can find a character that they truly can get down to business with. However, there are still some things that bug me, which brings me to....
The one thing that bothers me about BRAWL is the way that some characters have been set up to have broken abilities. For instance, in the case of Pokémon Trainer (who shall always be referred to as Red by me). Red has the ability to use Squirtle, Ivysaur and Charizard in battle, switching out between the three. My main hang-up is with Ivysaur. It comes with a 4th-Gen move by the name of Bullet Seed, which basically knocks you in the air (or can act as a catch) and KEEP YOU THERE. FOREVER. It's an incredibly difficult move to get out of, with the only way found (at least among my group) is by taking enough damage to get popped out of it. However, depending on what stage you're playing on (be it official or created), that may be impossible because of the way it's set up. Which is a tad broken, in my opinion.
Some of you may remember me mentioning on my actual blog my hang-up about Pit and Meta Knight's recovery move. Messing around with both a little more, I've come to see that their recoveries aren't as broken as I thought, especially Meta Knight's Shuttle Loop. While it is good, it has a fairly average range once you get past the initial loop, so it's not that bad. Pit's is still a little longer than I feel it needs to be, but it's something I can deal with.
Overall, I feel that BRAWL is a solid addition to the franchise. It's nothing terribly new to the genre itself, but it provides for a good time with its interesting stages, good characters and new semi-strategy-based elements. It won't change anyone's mind if you're trying to get them to try out a Smash game to prove it better than the past, but for us old fans, it's definitely something to be appreciated and enjoyed.
Kei Seal of Approval GET! X3