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Super Smash Bros. Brawl

By S.A. Renegade on August 26, 2008 in Reviews

Final verdict: B
Final playtime: 115 hours as of this writing but I’ll probably still play every now and then. Amendment: 173 as of posting and I’m probably done with this game for good now.

So Brawl. This game is huge man. It’s been my most anticipated game for quite a while. I pre-ordered this shit like a year before it came out. I played Melee to hell and back seven years ago when I was a kid in middle school. It even made me stop watching Rurouni Kenshin on Cartoon Network! Trust me, you do not stop watching Rurouni Kenshin unless there’s some serious shit going on in your life. But yeah. You have no idea how much I played melee back in the day. Let’s just say a lot. I’d bring pals over, we’d play melee all day nonstop. Good times.

So when I heard Brawl was basically Melee but with online capabilities I was all like shit yeah. Plus, I just knew they couldn’t fuck this game up. Don’t ask me how I knew this. Because I already forgot.

But let’s get to the heart of the matter. Brawl. Is it good? Yeah.

What? You want more? Ugh, you people and your demands! Look, I’m not here to fulfill your every freakin’ whim, alright? Well I guess I can make an exception this time. But only because I love you.

Uh, so, um, right! Where to start? I know, the gameplay. That’s always a good place. I’ll tell you, it’s solid. Not a whole lot has changed from Melee, which isn’t a bad thing. The vast majority of characters have been nerfed. Wavedashing has been taken out. I’m not a stuck up tournament player so you won’t see me complaining about that. In fact, I’m glad they took wave dashing out. What I am NOT glad about is that some assfucker decided it would be cool to add in a feature that makes your character randomly trip and fall like a goddamn toddler. I swear it’s like fucking kindergarten in this game, you’re about to hit someone but nope, TRIP AND FACEPLANT. Mind you it doesn’t kick in very often, only maybe around 5 times a fight in a 5 stock match. But that’s still way too often on an annoying thing that isn’t even necessary.

So the biggest news with the game is its online factor. What’s there to say about it? Quite a lot actually. First off… god dammit, Nintendo. No one likes your friend code system, give it up! Not only do we gotta give a longass wii friend code to our friends, but also another longass SSBB code on top of that. Bleh. Oh well. Secondly, god dammit, Nintendo, no voice chat? I’ve seen terrible online in my time, but this! Why all the bullshit? What’s that? Someone’s gotta protect the children? Fuck the children man. If anything you gotta protect us from the children, always ruining the experience for everybody with their nursery rhymes and whiny ass bitching. You’re playing some Gears and you find a match with a little kid? Chances are he’s a little faggot.

God dammit I hate children. Always whining about being bored, breaking your stuff, asking stupid questions, spilling punch on the carpet… fuck. Oh, uh, where was I? Right, god dammit, Nintendo. Ok nah, but I gotta say online With Friends works well regardless of Nintendo trying so hard to fuck it up. The first few times I played I had so much lag as to make it almost unplayable, but once you know the score things smooth out quite a bit. Once you know you should have 3 signal bars, no one using your connection for other shit, and forward ports/set it to DMZ, the lag gets much more bearable. I’ve had a lot of lag-free matches since then, although, of course, the slightly laggy match every now and then will come up depending on who you’re playing with. The good news is the lag is the same for everybody, so you won’t see any examples of the piss-poor Gears of War online model where the host is an untouchable god who wins 90% of the time. Funny thing is, the overwhelming majority of people bitch about how unplayable online is in SSBB, so you might wanna take that into consideration. Me, ever since I forwarded ports I haven’t had problems online With Friends, so rather than hopping on the bandwagon and bitching I’ma say fuck all’y’all. Yes, online will never be as smooth as fighting with 3 friends on the same TV, but overall it works well enough and I didn’t find myself complaining, aside from the very first few matches when I still hadn’t gotten used to it. I don’t think you’ll find much to complain about here either, unless your name is Climpa, in which case you’ll bitch and whine every time you lose about how the lag makes it unplayable and how everyone else in the entire world is a conspiracy against you and in cahoots to take you down. Seriously man what the fuck? Get over yourself. You’re not even that big of a threat for people to consider allying against you.

In any case, I would venture to say online With Friends is the heart of SSBB. Truth is, once I played it, nothing else in the game was quite as fun. Almost everything else felt stale and boring in comparison. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We have yet to talk about Online With Anyone mode. I gotta put it bluntly: it’s a piece of shit. When you look at it, it just screams lazy and arbitrarily restrictive. First of all, it takes for fucking ever to find opponents to fight with. While in the other mode you simply ask your friends if they want to play with you over AIM or something and then get right down to it immediately, in With Anyone you have to sit around waiting for ages. Why? Who knows! Surely there aren’t so few people playing it that I have to sit around for ten to twenty minutes waiting to get matched up with somebody? Well, who knows. Maybe everyone is playing With Friends. Wouldn’t blame them, considering how much With Anyone sucks. Next on the list of offenders: why the fuck is the only option to play a timed match of 2 minutes? Everyone on the entire planet likes stock matches better! I don’t care what your personal vision of what the game should be played like is, Sakurai, nobody likes your style! At least let people have the option to play stock matches if they want, which I can almost guarantee everyone will.

Next: Fuck CPUs. No one likes those sons of bitches, they just make the experience worse for everyone. So at least give people the option of whether or not they want CPUs fucking their game up. But nope, the game randomly decides whether you’ll play with CPUs or not. Also: why don’t we have the option to play team matches with a friend but against strangers? This would be a great feature. I can understand why you wouldn’t let friends play with strangers in free-for-alls since they could gang up against other guys, but what’s the problem with team matches? Friends would have better communication than strangers? Sure, but that’s hardly a big advantage in this type of game. Besides, if you don’t have a friend to team up with, you don’t have to play team matches, you could just go play free-for-alls. Like I said, I don’t know why a feature like this wasn’t added. It makes sense to me. Then again, Nintendo loves to do things that don’t make sense and are just restrictive for the sake of pissing you off.

Now that’s about it for the online aspect of SSBB, which is definitely the most important part of the game. Yeah, there are a couple unimportant modes I haven’t talked about: team home-run contest and team multi-man brawl. But these things are small-time and just slight diversions. Not to mention the lag is horrendous in Team Multi-Man Brawl for some reason. Let’s move on and talk about the rest of the game.

Regular offline multiplayer is still there, and sadly, Nintendo seems to still favor it over online. If you’re old-school and still have RL friends that swing by your house to play games with you, this mode might even top online for you. Me, RL friends isn’t even part of my vocabulary anymore, so I never touched it. Hell, if Brawl hadn’t had online mode I wouldn’t have bought it.

New in SSBB is the Subspace Emissary, a kind of adventure mode for solo play. How is it? Well, uh, it’s um. It’s dog shit. Yeah I said it. Nigger, the only reason I went through it was to unlock all the characters but it’s seriously such a chore. I would literally begin falling asleep after playing it for more than a couple hours. That’s how damn boring it was! A lot of people I talked to seemed to think the cutscenes were the shit, and while I agree they were kinda cool, they were definitely nothing special either. And certainly nothing that would make the Subspace Emissary worthwhile. The story? What story? I think there might’ve been something like that in there but it was probably so bad I subconsciously blocked it out of my memory. No, but seriously, no one was expecting a story for SSBB, I mean, there’s really not a whole hell of a lot you can do with it, considering it makes no fucking sense. Yet they still hired Kazushige Nojima of Final Fantasy VII fame to help write it? Man, Kazu, I respect you and all but dude, way to lower your reputation helping make this piece of shit’s storyline.

I wouldn’t even mind all this if the Subspace Emissary was actually, y’know, fun. But the criminally boring and annoying enemies always getting in your damn way when you’re sick of fighting them, coupled with the uninspired level design that presents approximately zero challenge or fun as a platformer force me to tell you that the only reason to play it is to unlock the hidden characters, and even then it’s begrudgingly. Oh, and did I mention how they shamelessly pad out the playtime by forcing you to basically go through the same fucking levels you’ve already beaten in the final level and fight the same fucking characters you’ve already beaten to boot? Yeah. It’s a pain. The whole thing is made much more passable if you play it co-op with a friend, but then again, most bad things in life are more tolerable when you’ve got company.

Before we continue I have to stop and make a quick nod towards one area in SSBB: the music is made out of win. If you’re a gamer you’ll really appreciate what they’ve done here. I’ll even quote the Smash Bros Dojo by saying that having so many big name musicians for a single game may constitute an historic achievement in videogames.

Anyways, back to your regularly scheduled bitching. Classic mode and All-Star mode and Event Battles are still the same, which automatically makes them better than the Subspace Emissary, though with so many fucking characters now, coupled with being more jaded than I was back in the day, completing both modes 39 times (once for every character) seems like an overwhelming task. Overwhelmingly repetitive anyway.

And while we’re on the subject of the overwhelmingly repetitive, god dammit, what the hell happened to Target Test? Back in the day every character had their own Target Test, making it at least a little interesting to do it with every character. But now? Nope. There are only 5 different target test stages and they’re the same for every fucking character. At least they wouldn’t make a challenge where you have to complete all 5 stages with every single character, right? Hahaha, but that would be the sensible thing to do. Seriously here people, who the hell would find doing the same target test 35 times fun? Nobody. I somehow managed to do the first stage with all characters and I almost died of boredom.

And that’s really the problem with most challenges in SSBB. They’re just an exercise in tedium. The kinda thing where after a while you’re just staring blankly into space and playing on auto-pilot.

There is one challenge that rises head and shoulders above the rest of the crap though: Boss Battles. This is secretly the best and most fun single player mode in the game. Thing is, you wouldn’t know this by fighting the bosses in the Subspace Emissary or completing Boss Battles on something mundane like normal. Nope, it’s not until you try to beat Boss Battles on Very Hard and Intense difficulty that you see how cool it is. It’s basically along the same vein as stuff like Devil May Cry or Trauma Center: a challenging thing, where the fun is in failing over and over and over, but getting better and better at it (in this case dodging the bosses’ attacks) until you get so good that you master it and manage to do it perfectly. Of course, this isn’t as hard as those other two games I mentioned. You certainly won’t fail quite as many times. But the general feel is the same.

Anyways, I think it’s about time we started wrapping up this review. What am I missing here? Right, trophies and stickers. There’s a shit ton of these things, and you can get them by playing a little minigame with coins you get from playing the game. There are others where you’ll have to complete challenges to acquire them though, and as I mentioned above, a lot of the challenges in SSBB are bullshit. Back in melee I got every trophy, but in this one? Fuck it. I guess I might be too jaded now. I mean, I’m a completionist and everything but I have a fucking limit. And my limit is when I’m falling asleep and dying on the inside from the sheer monotony.

One thing I like is that you can save the replays of some matches, and can send them to your friends so they can watch you be awesome. Or watch you suck. Either one really. But yeah, it’s actually a pretty cool feature.

What else? Oh right, Stage Builder. You know what? Fuck that shit. It can be nice as a little gimmick or diversion, but that’s about it. Your stage isn’t going to be better than what’s in the game. It’s no secret that the most popular stage in Super Smash Bros. is a single fucking platform in the middle of fucking nowhere. And that’s exactly why your little shitty stage will never be better than anything in the game. Because the quality of an SSB stage is measured by three things: First and foremost, people want to be able to fight each other without the stage getting in the way or making it difficult to maneuver. That’s why the best stages are also the simplest ones. I’ve seen tons of custom stages that ignore this most sacred of mantras. They put so much emphasis on innovation/gimmicks/being unique that it makes their stage become impractical. Second thing by which stage quality is measured: how cool the music in the stage is. You can only set the songs which are already in the game, so you can’t use music to make a better stage than already is in the game. Lastly: How pretty it looks. You only have like 3 backgrounds to choose from, and they’re not exactly that great. You won’t be able to make a stage as pretty as Distant Planet or Pirate Ship so give up.

So, to summarize… online With Friends = good. With Anyone = bad. Single player = generally waste of time. In a lot of ways this is a very safe game. And hey, I love safe games! Yet, while I see myself still playing SSBB in the coming days, I don’t think I will play it and love it quite as much as SSBM. Why? It’s certainly not the game’s fault. It’s just times have changed. I’ve changed. My friends have changed. I’m no longer the little kid I was seven years ago who was content to team up with a friend and pointlessly beat down CPUs for months. Is this a sad thing? I don’t think so. While many extol the ignorant bliss of childhood, I would never give up the awareness I have now if I could go back to that time. In fact, I don’t consider myself to have been happier then. I only consider my tastes to have been less sophisticated. Fuck, I’m going on a huge tangent here. In any case, SSBB is fun, yes, but it can’t be what SSBM was for me seven years ago. SSBM was probably my favorite GC game back then. SSBB isn’t my favorite wii game. Second Opinion still steadfastly holds that spot.

Final Verdict: B

Final Playtime: 115 hours as of this writing but I’ll probably still play every now and then. Amendment: 173 as of posting and I’m probably done with this game for good now.

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