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Nintendo Wii First Impressions: Super Smash Bros. Brawl

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For months, Wii owners have been besieged with delays and waits for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. They’ve sat through leaks and a constant stream of information via the Smash Bros. Dojo site, but next Sunday, the game is finally released to a fanfare normally reserved for the Halos and Maddens of the gaming world. There will be tournaments and midnight release parties… but will the game itself be worth all the hoopla and wait?

I’ve had some extended sit-down time with the Japanese version of the game. Not enough to come out with a full review of the game and all its components, but enough to give you my thoughts on the game.

The short answer is yes; it is, worth the wait. Even without voice chat, leaderboards and a few familiar faces, Brawl is an all-around solid title and the first major Game of the Year contender to arrive in 2008.

You’ve seen how the game looks in motion by now, and I can tell you that it does indeed look wonderful. The graphics are polished and the background vibrant, but the key is the animations of the characters themselves. Nintendo and Masahiro Sakurai have gone to great lengths to make sure these animations looks as fluid and natural as possible for each character, and the end result is the best-looking game on the Wii to date.

The soundtrack contains some 300-plus songs, from original remixes to rips straight from the games they come from. The older stuff is nice, but the newer stuff is absolutely fantastic, thanks in no small part to the armada of famous video game music composers working on this game. It also serves to support every complaint we’ve had about Nintendo not orchestrating some games like Twilight Princess, because the difference in sound is huge. The ability to customize how frequently songs come up on stages is also pretty neat.

I won’t try to ruin too much here, but the new characters do bring different ways to play the game. Some old classics, like Pikachu and Jigglypuff, have been tweaked and are better as a result, while complaints of nerving might arise for a few characters. Nothing appears to be broken… except for one character’s final smash being severely over-powered. Hint: it’s not a Nintendo character.

The different game modes are all pretty much the same as in Melee, except that single-player adventure mode actually has a story and isn’t too bad. It’ll provide a nice diversion from the multiplayer mayhem, as well as a way to unlock a few of the hidden characters.

The complaints on no voice chat or leaderboards is simply crying over spilled milk. While I think both would be nice, there is some complaining about it and they need to shut up. You knew what you were getting with the Wii, and it wasn’t Xbox Live-style service. Many of those who care about these issues have online voice chat clients like Skye or Ventrillo already and will be using those instead. Yes, it’s an inconvenience like friend codes, but it is not a game-destroying flaw like some may want you to believe.

My only concern is that Brawl is too good for its own good, and that the entire franchise will have nowhere to go but down from here. It’s not a concern I can back up with any evidence, obviously, but I just wonder where Nintendo can go from here after having crammed so much nostalgia and wonderment into this title.

Overall, Brawl is as good a reason as any to own a Wii, and Smash Bros. fans should be satisfied. Check back for a full review of Super Smash Bros. Brawl in the future.

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About Brian Szabelski

  • casey

    found your article via gonintendo, thanks for your impressions.

    No game is too good for its own good. There is always something to improve, as I’m sure Sakurai would agree.

    the next place for Smash Bros. to go is back to basics, back to the fundamentals of smash. I think that though SSBB is a well rounded game, it also comes packed with a bunch of fluff that is not really essential to the smash experience. It feels bloated. Yeah, coin shooting is great, but if I want to shoot coins i’ll buy a game thats about shooting coins. Collecting trophies doesn’t seem like much of an achievement anymore.

    Which isn’t to say that all I want in a smash game is 1-2-3 fight… I love the level builder, I love the idea of smash balls and assist trophies, and theres tons of stuff i’m probably forgetting..

    I can understand the point in having certain types of game modes for skill building, but some stuff just seems arbitrary. I would love to see a more fleshed out SSE styled game released on its own, whether that be a metroid, megaman, castlevania or a spinoff smash bros. title, I’d be totally happy to buy em all! Just as long as they are fully featured and pay a little closer attention to story and gameplay mechanics. SSE is too barebones.

    I don’t really care much about voice chat, but I think the next version will have it. I’d also like to see quarterly roster, music, and level additions. ;)

  • Raz

    Maybe we should boycott SSBB as they are staggering the release dates to an awful effect.

  • Arielle

    I think the Smash series can still improve. Melee was a huge improvement over the original, and back then it seemed like it couldn’t get any better. Now we have Brawl with limited online and an SSE that some people have been criticizing. I think the next Smash will have online brawls that capitalize on new online features (assuming Nintendo updates it beyond those crappy Friend Codes), and then make a more refreshing single-player experience. I would also love to see more character balance. So many people chose Marth in Melee, and we’ll probably be seeing the new pro favorite(s) soon…

  • navi

    send me an email 4 my ssbb code. yes ppl, i need friends. [CONTACT INFO DELETED – PLEASE DO NOT POST PERSONAL CONTACT INFO HERE]

  • Lyskan

    “online voice chat clients like Skye or Ventrillo”
    What’s Skye? What’s Ventrillo? I’ve heard of Skype and Ventrilo, but not Skye and Ventrillo.

    Ok, now that that’s out of the way, I think it can improve. Not just adding more 3rd party characters, not just fixing the Wii things (friend codes, no voice, etc.), but also polishing the gameplay. Yeah, it plays great. It looks great, and it’s a lot of fun, but some of the controls don’t work with me that great. For some reason, all the characters feel SLOW AS CRAP. Even Pit, who is more of a “speed” type character, feels slow. It may have something to do with me playing SSE all day yesterday (my sister didn’t want to play with me :( ), and I hope this is not the case, but it feels a lot slower to me.

    oh, and Mario’s V+B sucks!!!!

  • BEASTlikeJOEL

    Firstly, Lyskan wdf are you talking about. “online voice chat clients like Skye or Ventrillo”
    What’s Skye? What’s Ventrillo? I’ve heard of Skype and Ventrilo, but not Skye and Ventrillo.” end quote. Ok you contradicted yourself idiot.
    Ahh. SSBB. Honestly i hate this game. waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too slow paced. It went from Melee, which was on par as a sprint. Very fast paced games when pro’s are playing. Brawl is more equivlent to a marathon. Slow. Long. And ridiculously noob friendly. I remember on brawl i was a Falco whore. Quick character. Rarely was i kept up with aside from at tourneys at GameCrazy. Brawl time. I popped it in. Picked Falco as always with a smile on my face. The Map loads up and im fighting a lvl 9 com Mario. I think ‘big SHIT’ easy. Boy was i wrong. At first i thought i had it set on slow or somthing… any thought that kept the idea that brawl was designed this way out of my conciousness. But no. The developer, being Nintendo. Scaled it down so that even a noob can pop it in and get a lucky Final Smash in to win the fight. Meh i never played with items on in Melee. All in all i hated this game. Waste of 50 bucks.

  • chuck

    I find melee to be the best game made. The speed of the game is better than brawl. It has to do with the playing online crap. Of course it is computerized and it took some of the speed out of the game, and I also notice when character get hit with high damage there voices delayed. Now the fighting part. I like how the computers are smarter than of melee and there attacks are more precise. What I don’t like is the timing of the characters attacks and how they attack. Example, with link when you hit, a, multiple times he doesn’t rocket stab like he did in melee, his spin attack is horrible in the air but not on the ground, also his claw shot is too short. Further more, I like the Link in melee than the twilight Link. Twilight Link looked best in Twilight Princess. Ike, which they replace with Roy(Roy is by the way the strongest character in smash bros history because of his ability to counter characters who uses power attacks like Ganondorf’s warlock punch it will do double the damage depending on the intensity of the attack.) Ike is slow but his attacks are powerful. Marth is kind of fast but i don’t like his shield breaker. He stabs rather than slash over head. I also don’t like his dancing blade. It is inaccurate and off balance. Marth in melee was the best when it came to air strikes and interceptions. But in brawl it is difficult because of two things. One is the speed of the game itself, and two the computers are not stupid, they are now twice as evasive as before and there timing with attacking and evading is faster than our timing of attacking and evading. It is too sad. I am glad I didn’t buy it. I played the game at my friends house instead to see how the game was and it sucks. It will never beat melee I don’t care what new features it has. Melee was just a better success than brawl. If they come out with a new smash bros game, they better increase the game’s speed and stop with the whole online game play unless they can find a way to increase the online game play speed. Also they need to make better characters. Wario and King Dedede are stupid characters to play with. But luckily they replaced Mewtwo who sucked in melee with my favortie pokemon Lucario. Lucario is not bad of a character. So people, the creator are just testing you to see how you would like the game and if it is not to your satisfactory then they will make the game better because they don’t want to lose money. If you hate the smash bros games they make, then just don’t buy them, and Nintendo will lose money and perhaps they will make better and faster. Happy game hunting. To your smash bros expert chuck.