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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Review: Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Rating: 5

Super Smash Bros. Brawl picks up where its predecessors left off: your favorite Nintendo characters jumping around familiar Nintendo places using their special moves to fling their enemies into the distance.

The gameplay has not changed appreciably. In fact, the controls are so similar that Brawl is not only backwards compatible with the Gamecube controller, but one might also be hard-pressed to find players who are willing to play with the Wii remote. I grant you that I am not the most skilled player of Super Smash Bros., but when I tried to play with the remote I found that the majority of the match was given over to asking which button did what. Sticking with the Gamecube controller is far easier for those who have played even a small amount of Melee.

The most eagerly anticipated aspect of Brawl is the new characters, some of whom have been favorites of video game fans for some time, and their inclusion seemed long overdue (I’m looking at you, Snake and Sonic). Other characters caused players to scratch their heads; R.O.B. (Robot Operating Buddy) seemed an odd choice to most, as R.O.B. isn’t from a video game, but actually a gaming peripheral from the ’80s.

Speaking of Brawl newbies, the majority of new characters have been blessed with almost godlike recovery; several can simply fly (Pit, R.O.B., Snake, MetaKnight), while others can leap tall buildings in a single bound (Sonic).

The most noticeable difference between Brawl and Melee: matches last longer. Most of the characters can withstand at least slightly higher percentages, recovery has been generally improved and many new moves are meant to cause more knock-back than damage.

Nintendo also did its best to correct some of the exploits that occurred in Melee: Wavedashing, a technique used by advanced players to speedily move across the stage while retaining the ability to use moves previously reserved for when the character was standing still, and L-canceling, an advanced move used to reduce recovery time, have both been removed.

However, some aspects of the game are rather lame; some in particular question whether the designers were high during certain portions of development.

Occasionally (in theory, one in 200 times) your character trips when dashing. This means he or she stops running and falls on his or her…tush. Not only does this leave the player open to attack, but it stops him or her from doing whatever he or she was trying to do. It doesn’t add to game play or balance the playing field. It just pisses people off.

Not all of Nintendo’s attention was focused on the multiplayer aspect, though. The game features an approximately six-hour single-player mode, dubbed Subspace Emissary, written by Kazushige Nojima, so it’s obviously high quality stuff. He’s credited with writing the plot for Final Fantasy VII.

Nintendo has not earned a perfect score on this game. Final Smashes, introduced in Brawl, are a character’s most powerful move, designed to have a huge impact when they occur. Not all Final Smashes are created equal, however. They run the gamut from woefully underpowered (Peach) to the best of the best (Sonic). Some of the Final Smashes are simply awful when compared to others, which leaves a sour taste in your mouth once you realize your favorite character has a really lame super move.

All in all, Brawl is a fan service game that’s really fun to boot. Most people who play Brawl will be willing to overlook its few flaws in order to play as a childhood hero. If only it had Knuckles.

 

-Richard Procter

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