Thursday, November 20, 2014

Super Smash Bros Retrospective: Brawl

Today is the release date of Super Smash Bros for Wii U. Before everyone goes off and spends the rest of their days playing this game, let's take a quick moment to close out this retrospective with a look at its immediate predecessor, Super Smash Bros Brawl.

To me, this is the perfect Smash Bros game. It has everything that I'm looking for in the series and does it all with a level of design and skill that we don't normally see in modern fighting games. Like Melee, Brawl is orchestrated chaos, but now on a scale like never before. Everything moves faster, plays smoother, and just looks better. Hell, it still looks pretty good, and it's a six year old game on the Wii. By all accounts, it should look awful! Instead, it holds up really well.

If Melee is the definitive tournament fighter of the series, then Brawl is the definitive party game of the series. It has a perfect pick up and play style, like Melee, but unlike Melee, Brawl is balanced perfectly for newcomers. Anyone can pick up and controller and win a few matches without serious effort. Now a lot of people may say that that makes Brawl inferior and mostly comes down to luck, but that's not the case at all. Mario Party is a game based on luck. You can't control what happens in the game and the game controls your every move. You have very little input in Mario Party, which necessitates the player relying on luck to win. Brawl has its mechanics perfectly in place and victory is determined not only by planning, but through skill and knowledge of a character's move set. I truly don't understand why people say that Brawl is inferior to Melee when both of them have the same fundamental mechanics.

Well actually, I know why some people think that Brawl isn't as good as its predecessor, and that can be described in two words; Smash Ball. Smash Balls were added to this game and served as a means to unlock each character's super move. Once a Smash Ball appears on a stage, it's a mad dash to see who can get to the ball first and break it. Once you break it, your character unleashes an insanely powerful move that can decimate the entire field and dramatically shift the standings in a match. Some say that Smash Balls are too strong and can make a strong player even stronger and a weak player win a match completely by accident. When people talk about everything that's wrong with Brawl, players usually point to the Smash Ball as the source of the game's imbalance.

To that I say "NO SHIT!"Look, if we're going to argue about Smash Bros being fair, I think the argument is a bit irrelevant. Melee was anything but imbalanced because if a good player was playing, it would be nearly impossible to beat them fairly without doing cheap tactics like ganging up on them or handicapping them. In Brawl, the Smash Balls are game mechanics that give everyone a fair chance to win, both dedicated players and newbies. Anyone can win when a Smash Ball appears, and that's what makes them so brilliant. So no, Smash Balls are not the death of the series. They're the rejuvenation of the series.

Anyway, Super Smash Bros Brawl includes a plethora of content that would make any Nintendo fan cry tears of joy. You have event mode, a constant stream a challenges to get new stages and trophies, a soundtrack player with several HUNDRED SONGS to play, mini demos for games whose characters are featured in Brawl, an online mode (the less said about that the better), a ton of new characters, Sonic the F*%#&@! Hedgehog, and so, so, so, so much more. I've had the game since release date and have played it once every couple of months and I still haven't gotten everything or seen everything!

And then you have the Subspace Emissary, the series first attempt at a story mode. I'm not going to deny it. The Subspace Emissary has a LOT of problems in it that keep me from truly loving it. It gets boring after a few hours and the end of the game takes forever to get through when you have to re-defeat the entire roster of fighters in a giant maze that could take hours to do, but you know what? I think that it's worth it. It's worth it for two reasons. One) The story that it attempts to tell is actually a lot of fun. To see characters like Mario, Pit, Yoshi, and Kirby team up with other characters to fight Master Hand and his servants Bowser, Ganondorf, and Wario is just goofy enough for me to enjoy it unironically. Two) This one cutscene. Totally justifies Subspace in my eyes.

So is Brawl a decisive game in the series? Yes. Is it a bad game? God no. Can I see why people don't like it? Of course. Is this the best game in the series in my eyes? Well... tune in tomorrow to see my review of Super Smash Bros for Wii U. It's gonna take a lot of effort to beat Brawl...

I'd like to thank everyone for joining me on this mini retrospective into the Smash series, but all things must come to an end. Hope to see you all for my next retrospective, which may or may not be video game related next time... Till then.

Previous Entries

Super Smash Bros
Super Smash Bros Melee

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