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.