Wii resurgit. After more than a year of lackluster third-party titles, strap width debates and aggravated, pointless wiimote shaking, the sly white box is winning the console war with grace and dignity.
“Who’s your daddy?” the Wii asks Sony and Microsoft.
The answer is, as it has always been, Nintendo.
This isn’t to say that Super Smash Bros. Brawl is somehow a transcendent video game experience, a bold re-envisioning or even a flawless rendition of a Nintendo classic. Those accolades belong to Super Mario Galaxy, the Wii’s only heavy hitter to truly live up to the high standards of Nintendo’s past. Brawl is one thing, and it’s the only thing it needs to be: it’s good enough.
The Smash Bros. formula is simple. All of the biggest names in video games, mostly Nintendo but also featuring some Rare, Konami and Sega, are in the arena together and beating the crap out of each other with fists, projectiles, hammers and a rapidly increasing list of other weird shit that falls from the sky. The more damage a character receives, the more likely he is to go flying off the edge of the map.
The game remains essentially unchanged, though the graphical update is actually quite impressive this time around. Somehow, Nintendo is the only company capable of making good-looking games on the Wii, and here they once again show how careful design serves a game far better than artless HD. This is the first time that the material of Mario’s blue overalls has ever come into focus – looks like denim.
Mario, however, is old hat. There are plenty of other new characters here – Meta Knight, Pit, Lucas, King Dedede and others – but none caused a bigger stir than the first third-party characters in the series: the old rival, Sonic, and the hilariously out of place special agent, Snake.
Sonic feels right at home in this cartoony world, but it’s a surreal experience to see Snake in the mix. His rocket launchers, claymores and mortars feel a world apart from anything in the series thus far. I feel like we’re only one game away from my perpetual dream of seeing Carl Johnson holding Luigi on the ground and beating him bloody with brass knuckles.
For multiplayer play, Smash Bros. is one of the best experiences out there. A four-player game toes a wonderful line between incomprehensible mayhem at some times, and an intricately tactical game at others. Still, the simple fun of the first title has become somewhat obscured under absurdly powerful final smashes, the weight of shifting stages that overpower the combat and the growing list of weird items.
This is alleviated by the fact that a multiplayer game is completely customizable, and it’s easy to replicate a simpler experience. With the new level editor, a game of Smash can look any way that you want.
If Brawl has one thing going for it, it’s having a whole lot of things. The amount of content here is absurd. Between challenges, characters, variations on multiplayer, the stadium and the endless, endless quest for stickers and trophies, there’s an innumerable number of hours hidden here. Add to that online play, and that number becomes infinite. Add to that the Subspace Emissary mode, and you have all the other stuff with a really terrible adventure mode tacked on.
Subspace Emissary is a massive expansion of the platforming segments in Brawl’s adventure mode. If I’m reading my Wikipedia correctly, then Smash Bros. is a fighting game. It is not a platformer, despite what appear to be Nintendo’s worst efforts. What little can be gleaned of the dialogue-free story is confusing and/or stupid, the level design is boring and it sometimes makes you play as Lucas, who I hate.
In the end, if you like Smash Bros., then this is a perfect game. Correction: If you liked Smash Bros. Melee, than this is a perfect game. Unfortunately, the first game was still the best in the series. The endless new characters, stages, game modes and items have served to do little more than to further beat the brilliant gameplay of the original into the ground.
But Hank just thinks I’m angry because I can’t beat him.