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Japan

Dairantou Smash Brothers X

by Steven Rodriguez - March 9, 2008, 8:51 pm PDT
Total comments: 23

9.5

It's packed to the brim with content, it's awesome, and it's the worthy successor to Melee. But it's not perfect.

The Super Smash Bros. series is the ultimate in accessibility, lastability, and fan appeal. Since the release of Melee over six years ago, GameCube owners have been getting together with friends and beating the crap out of each other with an all-star lineup of Nintendo characters. The fact that Melee has been played for so long after its release is a testament to the series' solid gameplay and endless fun.

Despite several delays, the anticipation for Super Smash Bros. Brawl grew more and more as the game approached its release. Because the series has built up such a high reputation over the years, players' expectations for Brawl have reached dizzying heights. Needless to say, lead designer Masahiro Sakurai had to pull out all the stops to make Brawl a worthy successor of the Smash Bros. label.

Well, all of the hype, all of the expectations, and all of the excitement surrounding the release of this once-in-a-generation all-star brawler has been met. Nintendo fans and casual gamers will be playing and enjoying Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the next several years.

You're probably already playing Brawl because of the new goodies added to the multiplayer fighting that defines the series and makes it such a long-term enjoyable experience. I've already discussed, at great length, how I feel about the brawling action. Long story short, it's just as good as it was in Melee, made better by a host of new stages and the addition of the smash ball, though it's not entirely perfect.

Hands down, my favorite new thing about Brawl is its stages, which have been upgraded significantly for Brawl and are much more fun than those from Melee. Similar stages have enough differences so as to still feel unique. The levels pulled straight from Nintendo DS games—such as the frantic Pictochat stage—are some of my favorites. There is so much variety in the fighting locations that Melee's stages, some of which are included in Brawl, seem rather boring in comparison.

The key addition to Brawl's multiplayer fights, the smash ball, is brilliant. It creates interesting new strategies when it appears during a match because of how it floats around and must be broken open. The unpredictability of where it will go, and more importantly, who will get it, adds to the chaos that makes the game so great.


Yeah, this is as awesome as it looks.

Final smash attacks vary from character to character in damage potential and avoidability. Some of them are less effective on larger stages, where they are easier to dodge. However, since those very same moves are almost guaranteed to take out others on smaller stages, reduced effectiveness on larger stages isn't a deal-breaker. High-damage and instant-KO final smashes are almost always hard to successfully execute; landing one and sending your buddies flying off the stage will give you a big rush. The smash ball and final smash are very exciting additions to Brawl that will create cheers and screams louder than any of those you heard while playing Melee.

Another big upgrade for Brawl is the game's look. Characters are impressively detailed—all the more reason to pause the game and take snapshots of them up close. You'll also be impressed by the backgrounds, which are beautiful and dynamic. These pretty stages are a great, but they do create a minor problem.

Because the fighting action is more visually active than in Melee (even though it feels slower), it's very easy to lose track of your character in the middle of a fight. Despite the giant nameplate over your head, from time to time you'll simply lose sight of yourself amongst the game's very active backgrounds. I don't ever remember losing track of myself in Melee. The phenomenon isn't bad, but there will be a few times where it will cost you a life. Players will overcome this minor issue as they play the game more and get used to it, but still, something like that shouldn't happen at all.


Try to find Diddy Kong without squinting. Now imagine trying to keep track of him during a game.

An issue that's more prevalent is the relatively disappointing character lineup. Even though the final list is 35 strong, the generic feel of some new characters and the gratuitous use of clones for others make the list feel a lot smaller than it looks. Although characters with similar move sets have their own unique nuances and fighting style, it's very difficult to not see characters like Fox, Falco, and Wolf as just Fox plus two clones.

The character roster isn't quite as balanced as it could be, too. The winged, multi-jump, lightweight class of Pit and Meta Knight, as well as the addition of Wario and Dedede to the super heavyweight class, expands the ends of the character variety scale quite well. However, the middle of the scale didn't get as much attention as it should have. I hate to bring up the Star Fox trio again, but their regular moves are noticeably more powerful than many other characters. They also all have the same final smash, which can (a little unfairly) get as many as five KOs in one shot.

That said, the character variety is still good enough so as to allow any character to beat any character given a level playing field. Plus, both new and veteran characters are different from those in Melee, so overall it's an upgrade from the GameCube game. Besides, Smash Bros. gameplay is so tried-and-true that you're going to enjoy playing the game no matter what.

If you ever tire of the 35 characters and 40 stages available to you in standard, four-player brawls, you can go it alone or with a friend in the game's new, expanded single-player mode, the Subspace Emissary. The Subspace Emissary is a story-driven adventure wherein players must fight off a mysterious enemy and uncover what's going on. Cut-scenes tell the story without dialog, and the very Kirby-esque platforming levels feature a variety of locales.


Subspace Emissary greatly expands the single player capabilities
of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Because the story involves the entire cast of characters, players will control just about all of them at some point in the ten-or-so hours it will take you to play through it. Different characters jump into the story at different points, often in ways that are a little too unbelievable. (Pikachu and Samus, together? Inconceivable!) Characters often travel in groups during the story and the number of "lives" you have per stage is dependent on how many characters remain from that group in a given part of the adventure. Losing a character will make the next appear in his or her place, based on the order selected at the start of the stage.

This sort of multi-character model works well in the world of Smash Bros., as every single character in the game shares the same basic controls. This is one of the biggest reasons why the game is so accessible. You only need to learn one very basic set of controller inputs to maneuver all the characters in the game. This encourages new players to explore the entire roster during multiplayer fights, making it easier to discover favorites.

The accessibility factor is even greater because of the insane controller customization options available. The game supports the three Wii controller schemes—Wii Remote and Nunchuk, Wii Classic controller, and Wii Remote only—as well as the GameCube controller. Anyone coming from Melee will be used to the GC controller and will be very comfortable playing Brawl with the same interface. For new players, the Wii Classic controller is the best option.

No matter which controller you use, you'll find that character movement, and its interaction with level design, is one of the Subspace Emissary's major shortcomings. In a traditional Mario platformer, the jumping and movement controls are very tight. They need to be for players to be able to make accurate jumps over distances. In contrast, jumping in Smash Bros., by design, is not as precise. In the spectrum of characters, movement is also often sluggish.

You don't notice this during multiplayer brawls because basic movement is confined to a relatively small area and is just a part of general combat. But when applying the mechanics to a traditional platformer, where jumping is the focus, things don't work as well. For those times when you need to jump in a hurry, the game isn't completely willing to comply with your request, particularly while on a moving platform. At times it can get as frustrating as navigating the nefarious vertical-scrolling multiplayer stages, such as Icicle Mountain in Melee and DK Jungle Climber in Brawl.

This is a relatively small gripe in the face of such a large-scale single player game. It doesn't smother all enjoyment from the mode, but you'll wish the engine were better optimized for Subspace Emissary. It is still impressive, however, that the multiplayer engine can provide a pretty good single player game with no grand alterations. The story cut scenes are also pretty epic. Subspace Emissary is totally worth the ride, and helps bring the game's single-player mode closer to the level of its ridiculous multiplayer feature set.

Of course, there's so much more to do outside of the main game modes. Favorites like Event Match, Home Run Contest, Break the Targets, Multi-Man Brawl, and All-Star mode are addicting individual challenges, with high scores and best times to improve on the simplest of tasks. Each mode has refinements and additions, including two-player co-op, to make them better than they were in Melee.


Home Run Contest is way too addicting with two players
going at it at the same time.

Brawl's stage builder enables players to make arenas for brawls. The stages can be of different sizes and can be filled with a variety of platforms and objects. Although the available pieces are simple, there are infinite possibilities. You can send you stages to friends via the Wii Message Board and submit them to Nintendo for wider distribution.

Should you elect to send the stage to Nintendo, you may see it automatically downloaded to your Wii as the stage of the day. As long as your keep WiiConnect24 activated, a new custom stage will be delivered to your console on a daily basis. You can't save these stages, which is kind of a bummer, but since it's really easy to make your own you can just go into the stage editor and make some else's ideas your own.

The daily stage is just one of Brawl's online features. Far bigger is the ability to play online matches against anyone in the world. Actually, that's not quite accurate: you can only play against people that are near enough to you to allow for a low-lag match-up. You can play with your friends, wherever they may be in the world, but you can forget about a smooth match with anyone more than two timezones away. During poor connections, controller lag can grow to over half a second.

Random online matches are completely anonymous, meaning that you will have absolutely no way of identifying, contacting, or otherwise communicating with your opponents, and no way to add them to your friends list. There aren't any online records or leader boards, either.

While this may sound bad to a lot of people, it actually might be best for the game in the long run. Without a hill to climb or a way to identify superior players, there is little motivation for someone to cheat their way to the top of the charts. People with such ambitions can and have ruined the online experience for many people: just look at Metroid Prime Hunters and Mario Kart DS on Nintendo DS. If the lack of online statistics really gets you down, you can just go back to playing against three CPU opponents offline, which is a lot tougher in Brawl than it was in Melee.

With friends, the experience is much better. Not only can you adjust all of the settings during brawls with up to three friends on your list, you can do co-op Home Run Contest online, too. It's also possible to play online against friends with multiple players on the same console, something not possible during random matches. The only negatives, besides having to enter friend codes, is that you only have 64 spots on your Brawl friend code roster. Additionally, to be able to send pictures, replays, and custom stages to a friend, you must register his Wii friend code on top of his Brawl friend code.

Despite that, there is so much stuff to do in the game that you will actually forget about modes that you haven't touched in a while. You can wager coins in the online spectator mode, read trophy descriptions, browse the history of Nintendo's game releases, play Virtual Console game demos, listen to the game's gigantic soundtrack, and do at least a half-dozen other things that I can't remember at the moment. It is simply mind-boggling how much there is in this game.

Still, the little, nagging issues are persistent. There will be times when you will think "what if..." But they won't prevent you from enjoying Super Smash Bros. Brawl in all its glory. As the sequel to Melee, it had a hell of a lot to live up to. In most areas, it exceeded expectations. However, in the areas that matter, Brawl only feels like a moderate upgrade, and not a complete overhaul like some people would have liked. But if it isn't broken, why fix it? Brawl is more than worthy enough to carry the Smash Bros. name into the current generation. The core gameplay has remained largely unchanged since the N64 days, meaning we've essentially been playing the same game for nine years, and we'll be playing the same game for another five or six years, at least. Get it, appreciate it, and enjoy it.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 10 9.5 9.5 10 9.5
Graphics
9

Brawl is a very pretty game all around. Characters have astounding detail, and stage backgrounds are downright beautiful at times. However, the detail in stages sometimes works against the game, as it can be hard to pick out your character against busy backdrops during more frenetic moments.

Sound
10

Super Smash Bros. Brawl has the finest collection of music that will ever grace a video game. Period. With over 280 music tracks, including many that have been reimagined by an all-star lineup of composers, you'll marvel at its awesomeness. And for the few tracks you may not thoroughly enjoy, the My Music area allows you to set the frequency of each song for any given stage.

Control
9.5

With completely customizable control schemes over four controller configurations, you will have a hard time not finding a setup that you're completely comfortable with. The gameplay feels slower, which allows for more precise control. The big strike against the controls is that while great for fighting, Smash Bros. controls aren't so great for platforming.

Gameplay
9.5

The basic gameplay is a moderate upgrade over Melee, with the addition of the smash ball (almost) taking things to a new level. As a whole, final smashes are a perfect addition to the series, although some of them may be slightly overpowered. If the character lineup were more diverse, despite its being 35-strong, this game would have been even better. Fortunately, the stages make up for what diversity the roster lacks in spades, keeping every match fresh and exciting.

Lastability
10

With so many modes, options, features, and collectables, five years may not be enough to see it all. And the brawling action will never stop being fun.

Final
9.5

The little things prevent Brawl from being all it could be, but the game is still more than adequate for the purposes of beating the snot out of Nintendo characters. There are few sure bets in the video game industry, but this is one of them. Brawl, just like the GC and N64 versions before it, could easily be played until the end of time. If it ultimately winds up being the final game in the series, it's a hell of a way to go out.

Summary

Pros
  • Fantastic stage designs
  • No more delays! It's finally here! (Sorry, Europe.)
  • Screenshot and replay saves
  • The ultimate Nintendo music soundtrack
  • Way, way, way too much other stuff to list here
Cons
  • Character roster feels smaller than it looks
  • Smash Bros. controls not the best for Subspace Emissary platforming
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

DasmosMarch 09, 2008

Great review!

Caffeinated CheeseMarch 09, 2008

My issue is that I'd rather have more multiplayer, and I feel like Subspace took dev time from multiplayer, and that the final smashes aren't balanced.

For instance, the Ice Climber's final smash, Iceberg, typically has no killing power and deals only twenty damage if the opponent has any idea of what's going on.  The Ice Climbers are still vulnerable to everyone else, and while the iceberg can hit, unless it freezes someone, there's no knockback.  If you stand next to the Ice Climbers while they use it, you can still attack them after the animation is over for the summoning, and since the Ice Climbers can't bound over the iceberg most of the time, in a time match, it offers even more disadvantage, since they'll be getting less kills if they get separated.  Yes, it's awesome to see the Iceberg come up and all, but as it stands, as an Ice Climber player, I only grab the smash ball to keep the opponent away from it, because Iceberg sucks that bad.

In a related note, I played in a GameSpot tourney yesterday, and I wound up losing the battle I was in because I summoned Iceberg to appease the crowd with five seconds left.  I had sixty damage when this happenend, and was up 2 points, but after the summoning animation, my opponent hit me a knocked me out before the time ran out, then I couldn't force him off the edge because I spawned on the wrong side of the iceberg.  This was after I just got done telling everyone there that the IC's final smash usually hurts me more than my opponent.  When we got to Sudden Death, I started on the platform above the Diddy I was facing, and he up+B'ed me right away for the win.  Essentially, I had died from using my final smash.

Anyways, the point is, I've got no qualm with most of the items.  For the most part, I consider items pretty much an even thing.  They grant whomever reaches them about the same power, and all that.  The Smash Ball, however "oooh" and whatever awe it has granted, has gotten very old for me, because it seems to put me at a disadvantage whenever I find it.  There's a few other characters like that, as well.  However, for Bowser, for Sonic, for Wario, for Mario, for Link, for Zelda, and others, there's no disadvantage possible, which is unfair.  As an Ice Climber player, if I were given the choice to receive all the smash balls or to turn them off, I'd have to say turn them off, because they've truly killed me more than they've helped.

So honestly, I'd have deducted one more half point because of a lack of balance with final smashes.  It's not like anyone was complaining about the Ice Climbers being overpowered in Melee, and I've heard no complaints about them thus far from people who have the game, so I can't figure out why someone like Wario gets a clearly better final smash.

Shift KeyMarch 10, 2008

Quote from: Lando

as an Ice Climber player

You get no pity from me.

Caffeinated CheeseMarch 10, 2008

Psh.  Ice Climbers are the most awesome characters in the game.  They just aren't always the best.

Shift KeyMarch 10, 2008

Quote from: Lando

Psh.  Ice Climbers are the most awesome characters in the game.  They just aren't always the best.

Average final smash = average characters. What did you expect? Overpowered Inuits?

Caffeinated CheeseMarch 10, 2008

No, you don't get it.  In my experience, besides idiots killing themselves with land master tanks, their final smash is absolutely the worst.  Absolutely.  I'm thinking about Final Smashes in my head right now, and I can not think about a single worse one, even if that's only by damage. There's does less damage than their smash attacks regularly, no knockback, and leaves them vulnerable.  You won't get a kill off of it at all.  The most you'll do is make your opponent jump to avoid it, but they can still attack, so it's worthless there.

Shift KeyMarch 10, 2008

Quote from: Lando

No, you don't get it. 

You're right. I don't get it. I'm lining up for Mario Kart Wii as we speak.

NephilimMarch 10, 2008

Quote from: Shifty

Average final smash = average characters. What did you expect? Overpowered Inuits?

just that some are useless, like pikachu's which is just a ultra weak clone of sonics.

Caffeinated CheeseMarch 10, 2008

Have you seen the range when he electrifies things?  Tap the "A" button during it to shock a gigantic circle's worth of space.  It's much better than you make it sound like it is.

NinGurl69 *hugglesMarch 10, 2008

Brawl + Wii is apparently the worst product combo in Nintendo's history.

Their biggest software launch in history, only to reveal their system can't read their own discs.

DAaaMan64March 10, 2008

this game suck

NinGurl69 *hugglesMarch 10, 2008

Quote from: Obi-Kanobi

link=topic=24369.msg410111#msg410111 date=1205170104]
this game suck

You make a detailed and insightful assessment.  I haven't played the game yet, but the volume of public disappointment will be difficult to shake off when I encounter my very own disc read error.

I'm excited to play as Mega Man.  I hope there's more Turbo Grafix characters to unlock.

"But it's not perfect."

I absolutely hate this phrase.  You might as well say, "But it's not grape jelly."

Caffeinated CheeseMarch 10, 2008

Let me try:

"But it's not purple."

"Butternut pecan."

"But it's not a vagina."


This game does suck.

darknight06March 10, 2008

I agree Johnny, the only reason I can see anyone doing that for an article is just to get attention.

In 1 vs. 1 the majority of final smashes wouldn't be all that good anyways so I don't even remotely care about that.

To me, the game is fantastic so far but the issue I noticed people seem to have with the game is that they've overhyped it in their minds to the point where the final product will never satisfy no matter how much they get right.  Makes me glad I sat on the sidelines of this one.

PlugabugzMarch 10, 2008

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

"But it's not perfect."

I absolutely hate this phrase.  You might as well say, "But it's not grape jelly."

But it's not grape jelly. Made in Taiwan.

GoldenPhoenixMarch 10, 2008

Quote from: darknight06

I agree Johnny, the only reason I can see anyone doing that for an article is just to get attention.

In 1 vs. 1 the majority of final smashes wouldn't be all that good anyways so I don't even remotely care about that.

To me, the game is fantastic so far but the issue I noticed people seem to have with the game is that they've overhyped it in their minds to the point where the final product will never satisfy no matter how much they get right.  Makes me glad I sat on the sidelines of this one.

Well that and SSE is less than stellar and you need to go through it to get the majority of the characters (unless you fight a ton of matches). Personally I think the game is very good, maybe great, but has way a few problems that really should not have been there hype or no hype (roster being one).

trip1eXMarch 10, 2008

What are all these persistent nagging issues?  You summed up the review with that, but I don't see alot of mention of persistent nagging issues during the review or in the cons.  Then you say in areas that matter Brawl only feels like a moderate upgrade, but you score it a 9.5.



Caffeinated CheeseMarch 10, 2008

Nags:  A some obvious unbalance with some final smashes.  Character performance in Subspace Emmisary.  Wherever applicable, trophies re-use GameCube and Wii character models, and just avoid using characters from other games in main series.  For instance, Paula and Poo trophies no longer exist, whereas there are several trophies with models ripped from Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.  Because of this, even with hundreds more trophies, the game is less comprehensive of a Nintendo Encylopedia as Melee is, because most references date back to the GameCube, as far as trophies go.

Furthermore, the necessity to beat some modes with all characters to unlock challeges is flat-out annoying.  I don't want to go through classis 35-ish times with 20 of those times with characters I don't prefer to play as, but I want to unlock everything.

The Break-the-target stages are no longer customized, and are generic, uninspired, and bland.  Multi-Man Brawl is just as annoying as it's predecessor.  Race to the finish is now gone.

Online mode currently has poor speeds right now.

The Stage Builder Stages that come with the game can't be turned off from random.

For some reason, some characters, such as Pikachu, only have four costumes.  He may be the only one like this, I can't recall.

Only Wario has alternate costumes, no one else.  There were one or two obvious alternates that should have been made solely because of Melee's character roster.

That's off of the top of my head.  I've been waiting for this game for seven years, so I did have a certain level of expectation with it, whether you disagree or not.

Oh, and there are numerous glitches that aren't too difficiult to spot, too.

MarioMarch 10, 2008

Wow this sounds awful, hopefully all these glitches and oversights are fixed for the PAL version. This should teach Nintendo a lesson not to hand out their big games to some random nobody who happened to be cleaning Iwata's toilet during the development of Melee. It's a shame it got so much hype before release, now everyone new to Wii is going to try this game out and say "is this it?" at it's ancient control scheme, sloppy presentation, kiddy mascots and niche fan service. This is a case of a Wii game that would be ten times better on PS3. Don't be surprised to see PS3 sales shoot through the roof now.

SvevanEvan Burchfield, Staff AlumnusMarch 11, 2008

My review of Brawl:

I love love love this game so much I could cry. I played the Subspace Emissary and I DID cry, cause it was like sticking scissors in my anal cavity. Now I have awesome characters and I can pretend the SSE never existed.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterMarch 13, 2008

Translation: If Brawl was a hooker we would all be doing her, even if we get AIDS, Herpes, Hepatitis and erectile dysfunction from it. That's how hawt she is...

vuduMarch 14, 2008

Hence, why Nintendo is shipping out free Wiimost Condoms.  :D

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Wii

Game Profile

Super Smash Bros. Brawl Box Art

Genre Fighting
Developer Game Arts
Players1 - 4
Online1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Release Mar 09, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingTeen
jpn: Dairantou Smash Brothers X
Release Jan 31, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Release Jun 27, 2008
PublisherNintendo
aus: Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Release Jun 26, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingParental Guidance
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