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Nintendo Wii Review: Super Smash Bros. Brawl

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The latest Smash Bros. game is one of the most anticipated games in a while, and judging by its massive sales the Wii's most anticipated game ever. Does it live up to the hype?

One among the many expansions to the series is the addition of a story mode, the Subspace Emissary. Some evil force from outer space has arrived on earth and is turning our favorite videogame mascots into immobile trophies. A number of staple villains such as Bowser and King Dedede have enlisted in this effort. There has been only extreme reaction to this; people either love the fan service or hate the non-story.

I myself am indifferent; it simply frames the game play with pretty cut scenes. This mode has fighting, platforming, brawling, and puzzle elements. It is balanced between those elements but the majority of the game is a beat 'em up side-scroller.
There is a bevy of other game modes, but I am not going to get much into most of them.
The mode you will probably be spending most of your time in is the Multiplayer Brawl mode. This is the mode were up to four friends can battle on the couch to see who can reign supreme. Alternatively, you can take on three computer players by yourself to practice your skills.

The multiplayer delivers the same chaotic, fast-paced fun it always has. The beauty of the Smash Bros. series is that novices can pick up and play the game right away but more hardcore gamers can perfect their skills. Moreover, both can play each other at the same time and have fun. Since my brother first got the game, we have played each other about once a week in marathon sessions. My young niece and nephew have also played it a few times and loved it, despite not being able to pull of all the moves.

Brawl also moves the multiplayer online with the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. I have tried it out to mixed results. I have no game friends currently, so I always choose the "Play with Anyone" mode. Every time I have connected it has taken over a minute to load up a match and sometimes up to five. About half the matches I have played have been so laggy that they were unplayable. There are no names associated with anyone you are playing and no voice chat so the whole thing feels very anonymous. It is a far cry from the immersive experience of Xbox Live. I hope that Nintendo will vastly improve on this system in time for Mario Kart Wii.

Fans who fear using the Wii Remote for a fighting game need not worry. The game supports four different controllers: the GameCube controller, the Classic Controller, the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, and the Wii Remote alone. I use the GameCube controller because it has the same button configuration as Super Smash Bros. Melee, but I have tried using the Wii Remote itself. It is still possible to pull off all the same moves, just not as comfortably. Whatever you start playing the game with will probably become your preference.

We so often hear about how gimped the Wii is visually, but every first party Nintendo release is a pleasant surprise. This is the best-looking game on the Wii so far. The backgrounds and characters have good details without jaggedness or blurs. The game is on a 2-D plane but the details give the visuals good depth. The in game cinemas look good enough to be a CG television show.

The sound was one of the most hyped parts of the game. The long list of videogame composers was one of the earlier details we received about the game. All the characters have their own distinctive piece of music. The songs are suitably epic for the scope of the game. Not only is the soundtrack impressive, so is the ambience. Each item in the game can be identified audibly. Yet, none of them sounds over the top.

In the end, Brawl stays true to what the fans love about the Smash Bros. series while expanding on those elements. It has the same infinite replay value as the previous versions, if you and a friend both like it you will probably be duking it out for years. If you have not ever experienced a Smash Bros. game before you must check it out. If you are already a fan of the series this is the expansion to it you have been waiting for.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Carton Violence, Crude Humor.


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About Mark Kalriess