It’s super and smashingWell it’s finally here. Super Smash Bros. Brawl has landed in the UK and much to Steven’s annoyance, I’ve been hogging all the playing time to myself… and you know what? It ain’t half bad.
Put simply, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a side-on beat-em up smacking its way down the well trodden path that has seen Streetfighter and previous Super Smash Bros. games tread before. The basic idea of the battles is to knock the hell out of your opponents, gradually ramping up their damage percentage. The high the damage, the further you can blast them off the platform you’re fighting on…. And the further they are away, the more unlikely it is they’ll make it back, leaving you the victor. Simple.
But don’t think that owning your opponent and having him fighting with a very unhealthy 157% of damage guarantees a win as all it takes is one slip off the edge and you’ve lost the match… so it’s not just about pounding the buttons but just as much about using the right move or pick up at just the right time. There is nothing quite as satisfying as knocking your enemy off the platform and see them fail their save manoeuvre and lose after they’ve given you a proper beating… Does it frustrate the loser? Let’s just say I’m glad I have those nice silicon covers on my Wii Remotes.
The list of characters for you to play isn’t quite endless but is certainly bloody huge and it’s clear Nintendo have thoroughly scoured the digital realm of videogames for iconic characters from the past and present. Yes, we’ve got the obligatory Mario and Luigi with the floaty Princess Peach. But then there’s Link, Zelda, Donkey and Diddy Kong, Kirby, Yoshi, Solid Snake, Sonic, Fox McCloud, Pikachu and Samus to name just a few.
I guess seeing Sonic a Wii isn’t too much of a shocker as he long ago started appearing on other formats but Solid Snake? It’s almost as if you’re playing a who’s who of the gaming world. If there was ever a digital game-Oscars, pretty much all this lot would be stepping out of limos and strolling down the red carpet. But of course this is a rather Japan-centric pick of the gaming world and pulls the talent from the consoles only… so there’s no Lara, Sam or any of those West-originated heroes and heroines. Still, I can’t say I missed them all that much, if at all.
For the solo player there’s a single player mode that, through a bunch of wordless cutscenes, gives you a storyline to play through where all the videogame bad guys appear to be teaming up to take on all the videogame good guys. But a nice touch here is that Wario won’t just take on Luigi and Mario, he’ll go up against Pokemon Trainer and Lucas or the Koopas take on Diddy Kong and Fox… it’s a crazy mixed up game world, kids!
Titled Subspace Emissary, this is your formulaic side-on fighting platformer where you’ll play your way through the story suing each of the different characters as you go. Now try as I might, I couldn’t really tell that much difference between them when it came down to the actual fighting… some have very fast but weak attacks which help keep the bad guys back, while others can take out an opponent in one hit which also helps stop the numbers building up. I guess your choice of character (you often get a selection to use in order at the start of each stage) comes purely down to who you like… though some skills, such as Peach’s float-ability or Pit’s flying, obviously can be more useful than others.
Anyhoo, you punch and leap your way across each stage, accessing secret areas, collecting various power-ups to help you fight off the bad guys and solving simple puzzles, all the while racking up a high score, unlocking new characters and little bonus items such as theme music. But the most useful collectables are the stickers, which are permanent stat-boosts for your characters. From the map screen you can select statues of your collected characters and add stickers imbuing stronger attacks, better defence etc, which can make your player into one mean fighter… I suggest giving Link or Ike some power ups and marvelling at the improvement, but that’s just me.
Anyway, enough on the Billy No-Mates single player side of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, what’s it like to play with friends… or online against complete strangers?