What is the Subspace Emissary? We've got some details on what you can expect in the game's adventure mode.
Hidden in plain sight at Nintendo's E For All booth was a large video display, showing cut-scene and gameplay footage from the Subspace Emissary. Brawl's single-player and co-op adventure mode is still shrouded in mystery, but we were able to extract some interesting information out of the video. Be advised that there are some light story spoilers in this preview. However, a lot of the action shown in the video has already been revealed in part on the Smash Bros. Dojo blog, just without context.
The opening sequence that shows Mario, Kirby, Peach, and Zelda all together as the Subspace Army attacks, for instance, doesn't appear to have any actual gameplay attached to it. What actually happens is before this event, Mario and Kirby are set to fight each other in a giant stadium. When the cut scene that illustrates this fact hits its end, it pauses with Mario and Kirby in frame, giving you a chance to select one of them for the impending fight.
At the end of the introduction sequence in the stadium, Petey Piranha scoops up the two princesses in cages. Before this happened, Mario and Kirby were in the stage together. In the exchange that preceded, Mario was blown sky high by an explosion during a cut scene, leaving Kirby to attempt the princess rescue by himself. However, he could only break open one of the cages, leaving the other to be snapped up by Wario ... but not before he turns her into a trophy using a strange weapon.
Out of the multiple cut scenes that set the stage for a level, each one of them we saw ended up with two characters to select from. Circumstances that may or may not be in your control can affect who will be in the cut scenes, and therefore, affect who you can choose from in the next gameplay section. For instance, you can choose to save either Peach or Zelda, but the game removed one of the characters from the action (in this case, Mario; but would it have been Kirby if you had initially selected a different character?) in a previous video interlude. Eventually, the game's intro comes to the point where you (as Kirby) rescue one of the princesses from Petey and high-tail it out of there on a Warp Star. In the video, Peach was the lucky damsel in distress.
Based on the video and information from the Dojo, it's more than likely that the Subspace Emissary adventure mode will take players through a set story with pre-determined stages and characters that appear at fixed times. However, that's not to say that branching or alternate story paths may not be a possibility. What is clear is that the rumor about each character in the game getting his or her own exclusive adventure does not seem like a realistic possibility at this time.
Adventure mode looks as if it will be a primary resource for collecting some of the game's unlockable goodies. In one sequence where Pit starts coming down to the earth below after witnessing the commotion at the stadium from the sky, he appeared to pick up a trophy capsule. It would be wise to look out for those during adventure gameplay.
Meanwhile, Pit saw that the Halberd was dropping the Subspace Army down into the stadium. The game footage shown during this sequence looked pretty much like the adventure mode in Super Smash Bros. Melee, except that enemies had health meters that appeared in the upper corner of the screen. During gameplay, the screen sometimes locked in place, resulting in a battle that resembled a multi-man melee against Subspace Army drones, albeit on a smaller scale.
After clearing that battle, Pit finds a dazed Mario, who was blasted way up there by the events that took place in the stadium. At the end of the cut scene showing this, the player is given the option to play as Mario or Pit. It's here where the co-op nature of adventure mode must be questioned: Before this sequence, Pit was the only playable character. Will there be other areas where a friend will be forced to sit and wait for another character to join the story? Just when I was thinking that this brand of co-op looked an awful lot like fan-favorite Kirby Super Star for the SNES, I saw a slide-a-pult on the ground—an item taken directly from said game. Mario and Pit both boarded it, then were thrust forward toward the exit door of the area. In fact, I observed quite a few similarities between Subspace Emissary and Kirby Super Star in the video. That makes sense, given Sakurai is the man behind both of them.
Speaking of Kirby, the video left him and Princess Peach zooming away on a Warp Star. The two made their way to the Halberd. Again, at the end of the cut scene, it paused and let you select a character, right there on the screen. However, part way through the area, an Arwing swooped in, causing the Halberd to take evasive actions, throwing Kirby and Peach from the top of the ship. At this point, you could select characters again in case you wanted to play with the other character in the same area.
The video then jumped to a different part of the adventure mode. The video of Donkey and Diddy Kong you might have seen on the Dojo was just the start of the Kong's adventures. The level they played through was very reminiscent of Donkey Kong Country, with barrel cannons filling the level. The enemies they had to face weren't the usual Kremlings, but instead, Goombas and Koopa Troopas. At the end of the level, the DKs found their banana stash, but also found the one responsible for stealing it: Bowser. The video ended here, but there's little doubting that there would be a clash between them.
Even with all the information available in the video reel, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the Subspace Emissary. How long is it going to be? What motivation will there be to replay it if it's pretty much the same every time through? Is there really only one main adventure? Hopefully, questions like that will be answered with subsequent Dojo updates or future playtime with the game.