Saturday, March 15, 2008

Super Smash Bros. Brawl review Part 3: Side Attractions and The Final Score

Alright, the third and final part of the review. Here we go.

There is so much more to Brawl than what I've gone over so far. Seriously, I've had the game since Sunday, and there's still parts of it I've barely experienced. There's a whole bunch to say, and so little time to say it in. I might as well get started.

Stage Builder

This was probably the biggest surprise to me when it came to what was present in Brawl. Finally, the freedom to create our own stages to fight on! Unlike many level editors in games of the past, the one present in Brawl is insanely in depth, with a amazingly high limit for what goes in it. It's never too much of a stretch to fill out even the largest of stage sizes!

At first, the tools you have available to you are quite basic. You can put down solid platforms, pass-through platforms, ramps, ladders and a few unique structures that don't really do anything special. But later on you can unlock even more props, from conveyor belts to springboards to a rotating, ferris wheel-like feature. You can even choose the level's theme (Mountain, technology or spooky) and background music! There's barely any limits here but your own creativity!

And don't worry about filling up your Wii memory. Know why Brawl takes up so many memory blocks? About 100 of those blocks are actually reserved spaces for saved stages and at least one other thing (See "Album"). Each level, no matter what the size, takes up only one block, so you'd need to do a lot of building to run out of space! And if you do run out of space, just copy your data to an SD card. It's as simple as that, really.


A fun feature of Super Smash Bros. Melee was the picture-taking mode. In it, you'd find a way to make your character get into a funny, bizarre, or otherwise interesting pose, take a snapshot of it, and save it to your memory card. This was nice, but a little limited. Brawl fixes all this by allowing players to take pictures at almost any time, be it during Brawls, local multiplayer, or even the Subspace Emissary! And they can save it to the same reserved 100 blocks used by the Stage Builder, with each picture again taking up a paltry 1 block.

Okay, so you took some funny pics. Where do you go from there? First of all, you can send your pics to all your Brawl pals! Without even leaving the Disc Channel, you can go right to the Album and send out some screens to your friends. You can also save the pics to an SD card, and take them to your friends house and show it off on their Wii.

There's one other way to distribute your pics, but this is a little bit more out there. Using a certain program available online, you can take the .bin files and turn them into .JPGs with ease! Now you can host them onlineand show them off to the whole world! And that's exactly what I'm about to do:

Oh jeez!

He's faaaaaaaaalliiiiiiiiiiing....

Princess Peach gracefully drops into the fray

Metal Sonic shines beautifully in the sunrise

This particular method involves a slight drop in image quality, but the awesomeness still shines brightly!


There are three main categories for collectible items in Super Smash Bros. Brawl: CDs, stickers and trophies. They each serve a different purpose, and there's at least a hundred of each to collect. First, the CDs.

When you first play Super Smash Bros. Brawl, you'll have a somewhat small library of music to listen to while brawling. That's where the CDs come into play. By picking up these items scattered across The Subspace Emissary, Classic Mode and even in standard Brawls, you can add one song apiece to your audio library. Don't worry about collecting doubles, it won't happen. And once you get them all, they'll stop appearing. That's really all there is to know about CDs.

Stickers are probably the most complex of the three collectibles. Like CDs, they appear in all sorts of places. When picked up, they immediately float off to your collection in the Subspace Emissary. What's the point of stickers? You can use them to power up your characters by sticking them to the bottom of their trophy. By going to the menu in The Subspace Emissary, you can choose any one of the characters you have on your team and apply a sticker to their trophy base. Whatever effect the sticker has will go into effect immediately. Stickers can do anything from boost your characters kicking attacks to increasing resistance to electrical hazards. Careful application of stickers is key to strengthening your character for the long road ahead.

These stickers only work on the character who's base they are applied to, so if you have thirty-something team members, it's going to take quite a while to outfit them all with their appropriate stickers. Also, you can't seem to apply stickers in any orientation other than upright. Sometimes I see a space where a sticker would fit, but only if I could turn it by 90 or so degrees. But no such luck there. And finally, you can only apply one sticker per stat. For example, if you have two electrical attack-boosting stickers applied to a character's base, only the strongest sticker will have an effect, with the other doing nothing more than take up space.

Anyone who's played Super Smash Bros. Melee should be well acquainted with trophies, but if for some bizarre chance you haven't played Melee, here's the run-down. Everyone else, feel free to skip this part. Trophies are virtual statues of video game characters, items and more from Nintendo's long history of gaming. They serve no purpose but to be collected, but it's actually getting some of them that can be a problem. Some trophies can only be acquired by getting a certain amount of points in one of Brawl's many Side Attractions, or sometimes from beating an entire mode. Trophies serve as a player's proof of their skill and dedication to the game, and a large collection is a true prize to have.

Stadium Modes

From the start, there are three modes available to play in the Stadium menu: Home-Run Contest, Multi-Man Brawl and Target Smash. There's also at least one more mode you can unlock later on, but I won't spoil it for you.

The Home-Run Contest is almost exactly as you remember it from Super Smash Bros. Melee. Poor ol' Sandbag is still there, and you still gotta beat the crap out of him and give him a good whack with the Home-Run Bat. There are a few minor changes, though. First, there is a weak barrier surrounding the platform where you lay the smack down on Mr. Sandbag. This way you can knock him into the walls a few times without worrying about him falling off the platform and ending your attempt. Second, there are several multiplayer options. You can play with a pal, working together to get that damage meter good and full. You can also play against your friend, competing to knock the Sandbag further. And you can also take both multiplayer modes online, playing against or with your internet buddies.

Multi-Man Brawl is still basically the same as it was in Melee. You still fight against a whole buttload of faceless enemies, aiming to kill as many of them as possible in a small time frame. Luckily, they just fly off the screen if you sneeze at them in most modes. However, there is one positively brutal mode contained here, and that is called Cruel Brawl. In this mode, the enemies do obscene amounts of damage to you, and can send you flying even if you're at perfect health. It's pure insanity, and you're lucky if you can down even two of them before you bite the dust. Hell, I find it hard to even make a dent in one of them, let alone actually defeat one. But it's damn fun to try.

Again, Target Smash is a mode that has undergone very few changes since it's last appearance. You still play as whichever character you please and break all the targets as fast as possible without falling off the stage. There's been a bit of scaling back, though. There are only five stages between the game's 35 fighters, instead of each character having one level to themselves. But that would mean making nearly three dozen different stages, and holy crap would that take up a lot of space. But it's still really fun to go nuts and try to break them all at light speed. Just don't expect much variety.


Also returning from Melee are the events. Event Mode consists entirely of several challenges that the player must overcome. From fighting Link's doppleganger to taking on Bowser and Dedede as Mario, the events are both insane and skill-testing. There's really nothing more to be said about events, other than they serve to unlock many things, such as trophies, stages and music. But then again, so does everything in Brawl!

Online Brawling

Of course, one of the biggest sources of hype surrounding Brawl is the inclusion of online battling. Players can finally take the Brawl to the internet and play against up to three random people from around the world, proving their skills in a battle of global proportions. The rules are the same as usual, with time limits locked at two minutes and stages chosen by the combatants. Players choose their characters, and get the chance to practice their moves on Sandbag while waiting to connect.

I can't accurately judge the quality of the internet play in Brawl, considering I've only fought online about four times. And although every battle was incredibly laggy, I cannot blame that on Nintendo. The blame lies entirely on my crap-tacular wireless internet, which I hate. But in the rare instances when the wireless was working well and things were moving at a good speed, battling online was smooth and problem-free. It's fun, but I'd like it a whole lot more if I could play it more steadily.

And finally the review comes to an end...

The Final Score

Gameplay: 10/10
Without a doubt, Brawl gets a perfect score for it's gameplay. With so many characters to choose from, so many modes to play in, and so many things to unlock, Brawl is sure to keep any Smash fan busy for ages. I've played this game for a week, and I still feel like there's so much for me to find. I'll be unlocking things for weeks to come, and I doubt it will grow any less exciting any time soon.

Graphics: 10/10
Really, no other score could do these graphics justice. It's an amazingly beautiful game, right down to the texture on Mario's overalls. Everything moves so smoothly, and each and every facet is rendered with the utmost care. Definitely one of the Wii's best looking games yet.

Audio: 10/10
Again, any score less than this would be wrong. Mario's "Yahoo"s, Snake's "Show time!"s and Sonic's "Come on, step it up!"s are all acted out amazingly, with crystal-clear clarity. The sound effects are also brilliant, with classic sounds mixed in here and there with the high-end audio of today. And the music is simply stunning. I should expect no less from Nobuo Oematsu of Final Fantasy fame. His works have never let me down yet. An amazing game to both see and hear.

Multiplayer: 10/10
Almost everything in Brawl is multiplayer-ready. Home-Run Contest, Multi-Man Brawl, The Subspace Emissary... Unless it has "Solo" written above it, there's a multiplayer option! And from what I've seen of the online Brawls, even those without friends who Smash are sure to find opponents readily and fairly easily.

Longevity: 10/10
No question about it, Brawl is a game that will last any gamer for weeks at least. After about a month you may make another game your currently-played focus, but you'll be going back to Brawl for seconds, thirds and fourths for quite some time to come. With unlockables coming out the wazoo, there's plenty of reason to play this game over and over again.

I feel somewhat bad giving the a ten out of ten score. It really deserves an eleven! With breathtaking graphics, engaging gameplay and dozens of different play modes, it's a game for the history books. But that's not to say everyone will like it. There are those out there who don't get the charm of Smash Bros., and this will not change their minds. But those of us who love the series are sure to be extremely pleased by this latest offering.

So that's it. Brawl Week has come to a close. The review is done, and my verdict has been rendered. Feel free to sound off on this in the comment section, or in this forum thread. I look forward to hearing from you!

The Duck Has Spoken.

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