Super Smash Bros. Brawl Reader Review
Is this it? The game Nintendo fans were frothing at the mouth about, squealing like strained flatulence every time a new picture revealing a new character was released? Is this it, Super Smash Bros. Brawl?
At least we can finally make Sonic and Mario duke it out. Admittedly this is about ten years after the last playground argument on the subject. The point I am making here is: Nobody cares any more. Well, I don't, and I think I can speak with a voice of authority. On the Internet.
Allow me to drag you bodily through my lack of excitement. We have a set of Nintendo mascots and some incongruous flagship players from other developers. So now you can make Solid Snake punch Princess Peach in the face. That's interesting, right?
You can use just about any controller configuration to play this: Wiimote with or without nunchuck; classic controller; or even a Gamecube controller. Oh my. Each controller setup gives you an equally unsatisfying and clunky experience. You can even save your controller config to a wiimote in case you want to take it with you to a friend's house. This would be really useful if the controllers had a decent level of configuration. Suffice to say, they do not. No matter which setup you might favour, there's always a flaw that you just can't alleviate. The classic controller would be perfect, if it wasn't for the fact that they decided you can only use the analogue stick to move, which makes the whole experience feel slightly fudged. It might make a lick of sense if character control was in any way analogue; it's not. To run you have to double-tap left or right, which is hell of annoying to do with the stick. So why can't we use the d-pad? Right, because we need to have four taunt buttons. The wiimote alone is fairly usable, but having to press up to jump is an abhorrence we banished with the end of the pre-NES era for a good reason. Adding the nunchuck again adds irksome analogue control. Using the Gamecube controller will force upon you the startling revelation that you're actually still playing Super Smash Bros. Melee seven years on.
It's not all that bad. For once there is a semi-decent attempt at a story mode to play through, replete with video scenes and a plotline to rival Kingdom Hearts for lame excuses that drag different universes together. Thankfully, nobody speaks throughout. Voice acting is definitely something that would not improve this game. It's all quite tongue-in-cheek and in good fun. The best bit is that the single-player story mode also functions as a two-player co-op mode. Nice touch, even if it does feel a bit of an afterthought. Like the enemy set, which consists of about five types. You may get a little bored, but there is some excitement in seeing who they will throw into the mix next.
It's not entirely a rehash of Melee, either. Of course not, even if the graphics haven't improved a great deal. There's the erstwhile expanded single player mode, for a start. Oh, and they've shifted the character roster about, adding some, taking some away. There are these Final Smash moves, which are interesting to look at once or twice. There is also an online mode. This is how we justify the development time of several years. There are a load of new arenas to fight in, and some cute little touches here and there.
Naturally, Brawl, like most fighting games, really comes into its own when played with others. It's a party game at heart, and ought to be judged on its merits as such. In some ways it is perfect for a social gathering; the simplistic controls may be awkward and finicky, but they are easy to pick up. Even newcomers can have a fair go at it, and you can probably still win if you're fairly pished. There's not much of a hardcore element to it. It's definitely no Virtua Fighter, where an experienced player can take out a button-mashing newcomer with ease. After a few rounds, everyone will be competent enough to hold their own to some degree. With Final Smashes, you can also instantly decimate the opposition. Luck is no fun as a deciding factor in a game purportedly of skill, but when you're drunk and having something akin to a good laugh, will you really care?
And that's the thing: There is very little nuance, and little to learn. It's just well-executed, mildly diverting party fluff to trot out when everyone is a bit merry and wants to execute some shiny cartoon violence. Buy it if you have friends. Just don't expect a great deal of excitement when playing alone. I give it a Foucalt's Pendulum out of ten.
5 / 10