You wouldn't believe what a turning point in our lives this is. For the two-and-a-bit years we've been slowly counting down the days and slowly unwrapping the presents on the website, every now-and-again getting the sort of thing that gave us a Fanboy-ish shiver. We'll free it from the paper and yell. The forum was filled with what could turn out to be spoilers in months to come for ages. But we couldn't help our selves. Sonic! Zelda! Fire Emblem! X! Yoshi! Advance Wars! Metroid! Pokemon! Pikmin! Metal Gear Solid! Earthbound! Sin & Punishment! Staffy! Kid Icarus! Kirby! Fox McCloud! Snorlax! Mario Kart! animal Crossing! Demon World! Sim City! Lucario! Toad! Ganon the pig! Wario! The ability to slap Diddy Kong in the face! Zero Suit Samus! Goombas! Subspace Emissary! Mario Strikers! Green Hill Zone! Donkey Kong! Slippy Toad! Wolf! R.O.B.! It's the only game that loves Nintendo as much as we do.
But, deep down, we did have worries that this was just the wrapping on our present, and it would be a mouldy sock within. Maybe a copy of Chicken Shoot, at the best.
But no! Within the nicely-wrapped parcel, it turns out to be Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Literally, if you read on), with Super Mario Galaxy bundled with it. In fact, you've seen the scores bellow, so you could have guessed the "Gameplay: 9.5" is superb. So without a doubt, let's delve within this present of dreams...
You all know what Smash Bros. is, right? It’s basically a Beat ‘em up, only with more of a Platform-ish flavour. You dive around the different parts of the stage, which are constantly changing- Be it King Bulbin from Zelda: Twilight Princess bombing the place, or Wario farting over a platform to see it make way, it just sums up how frantic games can be. You need to take control of each character in a different way. In order to win, you must master every stage and character. And it’s one of thoughs games where we just want to do that…
…Which neatly leads us onto the characters. There is a massive 35 on the roster in total, but the actually total is a whopping 39. There are different ways to master each, and we’ll cover all of ‘em in our Brawl guide, but how about the most major characters and the newcomers? Here we go…
Let’s start with Mario, the default. An All-rounder and also among the worst characters in the game. He’s good fun to play as, and has a unique feeling about him that’s unique, but we can’t help but leave him to suffer on the “Least Played as” section in records.
Link, Kirby and Pikachu reprise there positions as Smash Bros. Mascots, despite all bar Kirby being weakened- Link was unbeatable in the right hands in sessions on Melee, yet a quick slice from Metaknight can silence him in Brawl. Kirby’s exactly the same, as is Pikachu, bar the recuduction in power.
Other Veterans include Captain “Show me your moves!” Falcon, The Ice Climbers (Still our least-favourite character), Fox the fox, Jigglypuff from the land of the Pokeymanz, Mr. Game & watch with his Retro bleeps, Princess Zelda complete with transformation into Sheik, and the surprisingly good Princess Peach.
But Mario’s got some friends: Yoshi is officially one of the worst Characters in Smash, despite being our favourite person/thing to star in a game, ever. Instead, we see our self’s plumping for Marth and Ness, Among the only character’s who’ve been strengthened since there Melee appearance. DK’s the same, but only fractionally (It’s sad that we’ve realised this)
Newcomers tend to be more powerful one the whole. Take Metaknight for example, officially the best character in the game. Kirby’s enemy managed to role the best bits of Link, Fox and Kirby from the previous games into one, despite being nothing like them. A handy tornado thing is also a welcome addition.
Pit’s also strong- The kid from, erm, Kid Icarus has a nice pair of wings that gives them more agility then any other player on the field of battle, and the Bow/Sword hybrid is a useful addition. His/It’s only downer is that the US/UK voice is rubbish compared to the “AH-NA-NA-NA-NA!!” of the Japanese Edition.
Two of the most unique characters in the entire Smash Bros. series also appear- The Pokemon Trainer gets his Pokemon to do all the work, and while the team was entialy excited about playing as Charizard (Gibbon) and Squirtle, (Grancko) it turns out that Ivysaur is actually the best. Odd.
The other character is Captain Olimar. He plays just like in Pikmin (Almost), with him controlling his legions of Vegetables, and strategically choosing how to use each Pikmin and when, making him one of the best characters when used in the right hands. (Erm, which isn’t ours)
The problem’s with Brawls roster though? Well, besides a few characters we wanted not being able to make it, *Cough*Captain N*Cough* (Typical. -Gibbon) it’s just the fat that we’re STILL stuck with clones. Sure, there differences are more pronounced then they where in Melee, but there still a cheap excuse to bump up the roster. The main problem is the case of Fox, falco and Wolf- All of which have the Landmaster tank as there Final Smashes. OK, OK, they do different things, (Fox’s can shoot, Falco’s can fly and Wolf’s can squish people) but it’s among the games biggest disappointments (we’ll get onto the main one in a bit) “Toon” Link (The cartoony version from The Wind Waker) is also identical to “Normal” (Twilight Princess) Link, the differences being a light change on the Boomerang and the Spin Attack (Up-B) being SLIGHTLY different. We’ve got a soft spot for his Final Smash, mind. (Link’s Tri-Force Sword Slashes, only Cartoony and awesome-ified)
But a special mention has to go to the two “Guest Characters”, Sonic the Hedgehog and Solid Snake. Sonic lives up to his reputation, being the fastest character in Brawl, constantly charging around and causing chaos all over the place. Plus, the “Who would win in a fight: Mario or Sonic?” question has only just been FINALLY answered, despite it being promised for Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. (Now that Brawl’s out, you don’t actually have to buy a copy.)
Snake’s complete with some hilarious conversations with various Metal Gear Solid characters, plus Slippy *Screams* Toad. (Talking of annoying characters, the ability to finally thump Diddy Kong in the face is nice. Next please: Daisy) He’s odd, but it’s the fact that he’s out of place that makes him such a great addition to the roster.
*SPOILERS OVER (ish)*
The other thing we simply MUST mention is the Music. Brawl has easily got the best Soundtrack of all time. A grand total of 386 (We think) tracks proves this, and there’s only about 5 duds. The only way we could improve it is by adding more music from Super Mario Galaxy, which is the closest a game’s got before to this level of brilliance in the music. We could go on all day listing our favourites, but we won’t. We’re actually still to unlock all of them, and the sensation we get when we see that sound that we thought everyone else hated has popped up is incredible to say the least. Here, we’ll spoil nothing.
Now’s probably a good time to mention that this is already longer then most reviews we’ve done (EVER), and we’re only a fragment of the way into the game. There’s so much to cover, so if this turns out to be 6 times as long as, say, our Super Mario Galaxy review, you can thank Sakari’s team at Sora for providing us with such a rich, large game that it’s impossible to cover it all. Frankly, this is one of the biggest games we’ve ever played. It’s got an incredible amount of depth that we’ve never seen before in a Beat ‘em Up before, yet that wasn’t good enough for Nintendo- They go and include more modes. Say, imagine that games are America 50 years ago. Everything is growing at a slow pace, then suddenly the Empire state building (Brawl) turns up, twice the size of anything anyone had ever seen before. It’s that big.
First and most major of these modes is the Adventure mode, known as The Subspace Emissary. It’s basically a Platformer, and follows all the golden rules of Platforming set by Donkey Kong. But if we where to describe it as like one specific Platform title, we’d have to say Kirby’s Adventure.
It isn’t surprising to say it’s directed by the same person, but if this is a celebration of all things Nintendo, why couldn’t the most celebrated man in Nintendo history -Shigero Miyamoto- join in? It feels broken, with some good level design, but it gets repetitive and a little dull later on. But that’s not the main problem, the move sets for each character is designed for FIGHTING. Not PLATFORMING.
Speaking of Platforming, (Which we might as well add the spellchecker on the computer auto-maticly makes “plat forming”) there’s the game’s worst bit: Target Smash. While it was one of our favourite modes in Melee, this time instead of pushing it’s characters move set to the limit with some specially-placed targets, everyone uses the same stage. Sure, there’s different difficulties, but it still almost ruins the game. Well, almost. (Only Prince Tricky could manage that)
But our favourite modes in “Solo” are the awesome Level Designer, which gives plenty of freedom to players with lots of bits that can be unlocked later on, and, surprisingly considering we weren’t fans of this in Melee, the Home Run Contest. A new force field is particularly useful, and Co-Op improves the mode’s fun rating.
Elsewhere, there’s an old champion of ours- Multi-Man Brawl (Doesn‘t sound as good as Multi-Man melee, mind). You basically have to smash loads of other players out of the arena, either picking from 10 Man and 100 Man (For time attacks) or 3 or 15 minute Brawls. (For K.O. Hi-Scores) This too is co-op, which removes some of the challenge from it, but is fun nonetheless.
We also see Event Mode and Classic making a comeback. The first is probably the best, thanks to new difficulty settings, even if it’s got 10 less matches then Melee, oddly. Co-Op’s also applied to that too, making it far easier, but hey, “Wii is for everyone”
Classic’s a little dull, but thankfully is the only mode without Co-Op, after all, it would make what was the possibly ultimate challenge in Melee too easy. Even if you only had one life each.
But there’s two main reasons we know we’ll be playing Brawl in 10 years time that we’re yet to cover (Other then that we’re STILL playing Melee) and the first of thoughs is simple: It’s the best multi-player game of all time. Forget Mario Kart, Halo and Goldeneye, the ultimate edition of the Smash formula beats ‘em hands down. All of ’em. Yes, even Chicken Shoot.
The other? The sheer amount of unlockables. With roughly 600 Trophies packed with history and information, you might think that’s enough to keep us playing to the next century. But it isn’t good enough for Sakuri, he had to give us 1000-ish Stickers to play with. You can stick ‘em around on the base of trophies stands (Which you use Pokemon-Style to catch enemies and trophie-ise them when there life is worn down) to alter stats in the Subspace Emissary, or just make a scene. The same can be done with Trophies, making your own sequences and scenes on top of a castle. Brilliant and great fun.
Getting the trophies isn’t half bad either. You can pick ‘em up in battles (Certain Pokemon drop ‘em, but more on that in a minute) or win them for doing various things, or the main way- the Coin Launcher. It’s a basic shooting game, and more risky then Melee’s gambling, and therefore less fun- We don’t want to miss stuff and loose our hard-earned coins! Sure, there’s plenty to see and get and it’s a nice idea, but slightly frustrating.
Items are probably the best in the Smash Bros. series, with new ones such as the Gooey Bomb causing chaos and the Cracker Launcher providing a direct vertical attack, with is unique unless your playing as Venuasaur or Snake (We might as well mention how funny seeing Squirtle with a gun is)
The best however, has to be the Assist Trophies and Pokeballs. Throwing one at the ground frees a random character who does a certain attack, making everyone run away and avoid there powerful moves. Our favourites are probably Little Mac from Punch-Out! On NES, Shadow the Hedgehog (As an assist trophies, not a character, mind), a CD-Dropping Mew (Also: Celebi and Jirachi drop Stickers and trophies respectively) and a bunch of Advance Wars units who turn up to chaos along the stage.