One thing I vowed to do when I got my Nintendo Wii was to not own only three games. Unfortunately, with games being $50 a pop and consoles being expensive as well, you can’t go out and buy a new game every week. You have to be careful which games you buy as your chance of finding a dud on the Wii is rather high. Thankfully, one truth still remains when it comes to Nintendo: the games Nintendo makes themselves are usually well worth the price.
I found out this weekend that the new Super Smash Brothers Brawl is no exception. Believe it or not, this was another game I bought sight unplayed. I’ve been reading about it forever, it seems, but I never played the N64 version of the game – so for all purposes, it’s a completely new game. All I knew is that it was a fighting game, and I like fighting games.
However, Smash Bros. is not your ordinary fighting game. It certainly lives up to the “brawl” moniker because that’s exactly what it is – just out right button smashing. You won’t find any combo moves or fatalities here. No rolls. No towards-towards-away. Just mashing. All you need to do to play Smash Bros (and be decent) is hit buttons feverishly while walking the in the right direction – that being towards your opponents.
So far, Smash Bros. delivers for both single-player and multi-player modes. Alone you can fight the computer in one-off matches or in a story mode. The story mode is great for learning as it forces you to use different characters, of which there are plenty. Possibly the game’s greatest strength is the wealth of characters it has, and they’re not all Nintendo-brand faces. I must admit one notch in the “want it” column for me was the inclusion of Metal Gear’s Solid Snake in the game.
There are also tons – and I mean tons – of collectible items throughout the game. Call them tokens, or stickers, or unlockables…whatever…there’s a bunch of hidden things to collect while playing alone and with others. For me, this type of collecting isn’t very motivating because you don’t get to see any immediate effects, at least not like you do with other fighting games. But the laundry list of unlockables should prove to keep the game open for a long, long time.
You can play with others either on your console or over the internet. While Nintendo doesn’t have all the kinks worked out in the downloadable contest arena yet, their over-the-net play is pretty solid. Fighting against multiple opponents is fast furious and chaotic. This is really not a game if you can’t stand a fighting game that requires almost no skill whatsoever. In fact, if you learn what few “moves” there are and try to use them in a 4-player battle, you’ll lose. There’s just no time to plan your moves that far ahead and there’s not way to really know what your opponents will be doing.
There are two things going against Smash Bros., however. One is the controls. You can play the game with any number of controller types or combinations. Since I only have the remote that’s what I had to use. Let me tell you the remote is not the best controller to use. It works, but I’d prefer something with more substance. Since you have to hold the remote like a normal controller the buttons are too small and poorly positioned to lend itself to a fighting game. Of course, since you just need to button mash it’s far from unusable.
The other down side of Smash Bros. is the zooming of the game. When you have four players fighting at once, each level is constantly zooming in and out to show all of the action. This is necessary but very annoying and will make your player very tiny, very fast…at which point all you can do is mash since you have no way of knowing what your fighter is really doing.
Super Smash Brothers is a different type of fighter. It’s not DOA, it’s not Mortal Kombat, and it’s not Street Fighter. It’s a fighter for everyone, literally. Anyone can grab and go on this one. The entry barrier is extremely low. But at the same time, it makes it hard to gauge how good you are in the end. Since there isn’t a long list of moves to memorize it almost doesn’t seem challenging. Yet the fast and furious play keeps you determined to continue fighting. But if there was ever any sort of “casual fighter” game, this would be it.