24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Grab and Smash,
This review is from: Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii) (Video Game)
You've got to hand it to Nintendo when it comes to taking an old game format (some would say `tired' while others would say `classic') and turning it into something new and wonderful. They did it with the racing game (Mario Kart), the platform game (Super Mario Galaxy), and now they've done it with the fighting game with SSBB.
It seems that Nintendo follow a few simple rules when developing games: simple on paper that is, but not implemented by every game developer by any means. Their rules appear to be (1) keep it simple, (2) keep it varied, (3) keep `em coming back, and (4) make it beautiful.
First off, this is a very simple game to describe and to play. A brawl has up to four combatants. The aim is to knock them off the screen, and avoid being knocked off the screen yourself. With every hit, your damage goes up. The higher your damage, the easier it becomes for your opponents to knock you perilously off the screen. If you've been knocked off the screen, you lose a point, and the player who KO'd you gains a point. Repeat until the time is up. Game over. Dead easy, right? Well yes, but this makes for some very subtle strategic play. For example, just because you are the fighter that inflicts the most damage on another doesn't count for anything: only KOing an opponent gains you points. That means that another fighter can wear down an opponent, and you nip in at the last moment to deliver the killer strike and get the points! This makes for very competitive and vigilant play, where you keep your eye on everyone's damage and all end up picking on the same guy, or beating away anyone else who tries to get to your quarry. The controls are also very simple. There are twelve attack types: four basics corresponding to the four compass points of the joystick, four special attacks, and four smash attacks. There are no block manoeuvres to remember, just a single block and dodge function that puts a shield around you or allows you to roll out of the way. This has a limited lifespan and is depleted by damage. All moves are accessed very simply with single button presses or joystick manoeuvres on the Game Cube controller at least: other control methods are less satisfactory. All the moves are modified by your position on the screen, such as moving or standing still, in the air or on the ground, facing towards or away from an opponent. Fortunately the controls are always the same. This is not a game where you have to remember great lists of button combos for different characters. The strategy in using the different attack types is in deciding whether you want a quick attack that causes little damage, or one of the super or smash moves that takes a little longer, and is therefore easier to dodge, but inflicts more damage.
Despite the simple gameplay, SSBB is incredibly varied. You already know that there are umpteen characters that you can play as, and almost as many stages that you can play on. The characters have various strengths and weaknesses in terms of their power, manoeuvrability, speed, handling, and their ability to recover from being smashed off-screen. The stages too vary in their size, shape, number of platforms and dynamics. That is, some stages are fairly simple and static, while others morph, move and change as you play, meaning that you have to change your position to avoid being transported off the screen by the stage itself. Additionally, there are dozens of usable items (power-ups and pick-ups) that can change the course of a fight. The most dangerous of these is the glowing `Smash Ball' which, when collected and used correctly, will deliver a fatal blow to every other fighter on the screen. Standard pick-ups range from the usual weapons and health bonuses, to the more unusual `assists' which place additional fighters in the game that defend you and attack your opponents. One of the most hilarious of these is the Nintendogs puppy who... no, I won't spoil it for you! There are also loads and loads of game modes. The one I've described here is `Brawl', which can be played alone or in multiplayer. But there is also `classic' mode (defeat fighters in a sequence of battles), event modes (complete a number of specific challenges), boss battles, `stadium' minigames, not to mention the Subspace Emissary adventure mode. The last one is where you unlock most of the additional content, and combines fighting with platforming, boss battles and exploration, and is great fun. If this isn't enough variety, nearly every player-selectable aspect of the game can be tweaked, such as time limits, frequency of assists and other pick-ups, CPU difficulty, etc., etc. Basically, the game is endlessly tweakable.
The main things that keep you coming to SSBB are the simple but addictive fun it offers, and the vast variability of the game that stops it becoming predictable. On top of this though, the game is stuffed with unlockable content. The most useful stuff is obviously fighters and stages, but there are also trophies (3D artwork and descriptions of various characters and features of Nintendo's back catalogue), stickers (which can be stuck on Subspace Emissary fighters to improve their stats), music soundtracks, new game modes and difficulty levels, new challenges... Oh, and then there's the replays, photos... Enough! There's loads of stuff in this game, just take my word for it!
Finally, Nintendo have not only made SSBB beautiful, they've made it sublime. It may be a 2D fighter at heart, but it's got beautiful 3D graphics, fantastic music and sound effects, perfect gameplay and controls, speed and ease of game selection - all the basics are covered. What it also has that most other games do not, however, is a complete infusion of humour, nostalgia and love. How many games have you got where you enjoy looking at the `extras' like videos, development artwork and the like? Not many I bet. The trophies in SSBB on the other hand are genuinely funny and interesting to look at and read. The soundtracks are a pleasure to listen to as background music when you're just mimbing around (I particularly loved listening to the Sonic music again). The characters HAVE character. Who could fail to smile at seeing Mr Game and Watch, in all his two-frame animated flatness, beeping and buzzing seven shades out of Solid Snake?
Faults? Er... hmmm. Really, this is a game with no serious faults, and that can't be said for many games. I know. It'll consume your life, eat up you time and make your hands and eyes ache. They're not really proper faults though, are they? Please buy this: your Wii will love you for it.
PS: not played this online, but this might be THE game to get me to take the plunge and take my Wii online.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Jul 2008 15:51:03 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Jul 2008 18:16:33 BDT
D. Hartland says:
Great detailed review! I love the Zelda 'The Dark World' tune the most, i was so happy when i discovered it was in the game!
Just a small thing; i played the Gamecube version to death so have used the Gamecube controller set-up a lot, and decided to challenge myself (no disrespect intended!) and use the wiimote & nunchuk contols for this version. It's really no worse, and in fact once you've become adept you can do every fighting manouever without moving a single finger away from a button (unlike the gamecube controller). The only finger swapping necessary is between the nunchuk C and Z button, for jump and block / dodge respectively (although i reversed these to put jump on the bigger-of-the-two Z button), and as you usually have some time between jumping and air dodging (which uses both these buttons) this has never troubled me. Learning to throw using A + B together is tricky and takes a while, but it comes to you in the end! If it's too much hassle you can simply move throw onto the d-pad down button and use that instead; it's so close to the A button you barely have to move and those with big fingers probably won't have to!
Apologies if i'm picking on this brilliant review, but so many people say the gamecube controls are superior and in my opinion they're really no better. I think it's because people who say the Gamecube controls are better have played the Gamecube version and know them inside out, so find the wiimote / nuchuck combo different and uncomfortable and don't want to stop using something they're already highly skilled with. For people who have read a few Amazon reviews and feel they should rush out and buy a second hand gamecube controller to play Smash Bros Brawl properly (or a classic controller as these play very similarly), it's not the case and the wiimote and nunchuk are perfectly fine. However the stand alone wiimote controls are awkward and I never found the horizontal wiimote to be very comfortable, so do go out and buy a nunchuk for that second controller you got with Wii Play! It's not a real victory if you beat your mate when he has to use the solo wiimote set-up, it's bad enough he probably doesn't own the game anyway!
Again, great review!
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jul 2008 15:44:36 BDT
Spuddy Spud says:
Thank you for your kind words! You're probably right: if it wasn't for the fact that I have a GC controller I would have gotten used to the remote / nunchuck controls. I think I prefer the GC controls mainly becasue you don't have to use a combo for the smash attacks (A + direction), you can just use the right thumbstick. I find this a lot easier. Getting the smash attacks using the Wii controls, I found that I broke into a run when I didn't want to becasue I'd pressed the A button too late or early. It's certainly playable with the remote and nunchuck option, though I consider it my second favourite option. I've not tried the other options. What a corking game though. It's rarely been out of the console since I had it. Keep smashing!
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jul 2008 17:45:34 BDT
D. Hartland says:
Well, it is a great review! I'm glad you could see the positive words (about 15) amongst all that ranting and information (about 400)! I felt bad picking on this review in particular because it hardly mentions the controller thing and it is really excellent. But because of that people should read it and thus read my comment so it's good!
I actually totally forgot the charge up attacks are also shortcutted onto the Gamecube controller sticks! So if you find this easier, which you might at first, then the Gamecube controller would probably speed up your learning time. I'm not exactly certain but i think most people opt for the 'hold A and direction button' for smash attacks, which of course is identical on both the Gamecube and wiimote/nunchuk controls. I'm confident enough to say, in this instance, it's really a case of neither one being better than the other, it's merely which you decide to use and become skilled with.
My point was to reassure prospective buyers, especially those new to Smash Bros and gaming, that they're not going to have to spend an extra £10 or so to get the most out of the game, especially on something they'll probably hardly use. :)
I will keep smashing!
Posted on 17 Aug 2008 04:15:15 BDT
Denis R. M. George says:
It does have some serious faults in that online play is nowhere near the level it should be.
There is some serious lag even between people who live very closely.
I'd still give the game 5/5 though.
In reply to an earlier post on 20 Aug 2008 12:50:39 BDT
Spuddy Spud says:
Fair enough. I still haven't tried it online. I would imagine that the amount of data that needs to be shifted around makes a difference, since it's a game that involves an awful lot of controller use (lots of quick stick movements and button presses) and collision detection with very narrow tollerances. Compare to Mario Kart where the controls are used more slowly and smoothly. It's very well suited to multi play with your mates in the same room though. In fact, I think there's nothing better.
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2009 04:18:10 GMT
Denis R. M. George says:
Agreed, nothing beats a good smash session with your mates around.
Until you get sick of Ike... lol
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