Hello ladies and gentlemen, welcome to day 3 in our 100 reviews in 100 days!
Delivering the Super Smash in the number 48 position…
When Nintendo released their new console, one of the most anticipated titles for the Wii was Super Smash Bros Brawl. It would feature new arenas in which to fight, additional characters from a wide array of games, and overall be the next step in Super Smash Brothers. Many changes were made with Brawl, and all three of the previously mentioned things were true. But some changes were more subtle than new characters or arenas to fight in, and some players wound up feeling left out in the cold because they couldn’t play SSB their way anymore.
In the Game
Super Smash Brothers Brawl is the third game in the line of SSB games, and in almost every way, it is a pure Smash Brothers game. It contains a roster from across a variety of games, not all of which are exclusively Nintendo properties. We’re talking Solid Snake from Konami’s Metal Gear series and Sonic the Hedgehog from Sega, and others that continued the tradition of strange characters you wouldn’t expect to be included in a battle royal. Olimar from Pikmin comes to mind (even if he was fun to play, it was a bit of a surprise to see him on the list of playable characters). Some characters were also dropped, such as Pikachu, Roy, and Mewtwo (the last of which would see the arenas again on the DS and WiiU). Overall the roster had an increase of thirteen characters.
Brawl was on a system quite different than the two systems SSB had previously been released on, those being the Nintendo 64 and GameCube. Playing Brawl felt clumsy on the Wii controller for the majority of players. Luckily, Nintendo had designed the Wii with ports for use of the GameCube controllers (Otherwise I don’t know if I could have played much of Brawl, personally). This was nice, but if you didn’t own a GameCube you were still kind of screwed. Because of the nature the game, there were some technical issues between the disk, (due to the size of data it contained), and a laser lens that was considered to be ‘contaminated’, but the good guys over at Nintendo offered free repair for any owners of systems suffering from the problem. Again, a nice gesture, but it would have been better to not have these problems in the first place.
There was definitely a departure from Melee’s quick pace. For quite some time, I couldn’t put my finger on why I didn’t enjoy Brawl as much as I enjoyed Melee, despite all the improvements the game had made. It had more characters, better graphics and more levels, but those didn’t play as large a role as something else that eluded me. Then I realized what it was. The physics engine had changed in minor ways that made the game’s pace slower. It was slight, but it was there. Aggressive play wasn’t as viable as it had been in Melee, and it was apparent in the gameplay. Combos didn’t chain together as well or as quickly as they had before, and something that Melee possessed had been lost.
This was one of the first times I realized how miniscule graphics changes and new content in a game could change things for the worse. It makes the player feel like they’ve just flat out lost something, and unfortunately that’s what I think of when I think about brawl. I will still play Melee any day, but I’ll pass on Brawl. I came to find that many players felt the same way, and that groups of players who had played Melee competitively were disappointed with where Brawl left them. With Super Smash Bros. coming to the Wii U, perhaps they’ll go back to a Super Smash Brothers I remember.
The Fun Continues
Despite what I said above, I still enjoyed Brawl. Much of the allure was still there, and it was still a very fun game. It also left doors open, (even if it was unintentionally), for people who knew where to look. Using a glitch in the level designer and the SD card port in the Wii, players with some coding knowledge have been able to mod Brawl: they make additional characters, skins, and levels to widen the enjoyment they can get from the game. Some are even trying something called ‘Project M’, where they are changing the gameplay to be like Brawl’s predecessor. While I enjoyed one more than the other, it’s unfair to judge Brawl by another game, and looking at it objectively still reveals a very fun experience. One that, standing on it’s own merit, can be enjoyed thoroughly. From me, that earns Brawl a 4.5 out of 5.