Super Smash Bros Brawl is a platforming tournament fighter for the Nintendo Wii. As this is the third installment of the Super Smash Bros series, I’m going to assume you’ve either read my previous reviews on the others or know about them yourself. I’d also like to note that it has been a while since I last played Brawl, but I played it a ton before so the information should be fairly accurate. Just… understand that if I miss a few details or get some wrong… that’s why. Well, since we’re all up to speed now, let’s get ready to rumbrawl!
The basic gameplay is the same, but the combat has been cleaned up a bit further. The overall speed of the combat has been slowed down and the weight of your blows has been increased. Now you can do dodges by simply hitting down and shield at the same time or hitting the shield button in the air. The dodge no longer takes away your jumping ability and allows you to recover from it faster too. There’s also a glide mechanic that a few characters can take advantage of why jumping up and then holding jump. At this point, they’ll activate a forward glide that can be controlled by swooping up and down through the air. The other big addition is the introduction of the Smash Ball. This is a glowing, multicolored ball that floats around the stage when it appears. If you hit it enough times you’ll absorb it. Then hold the special button to unleash a mighty, character-specific final smash. This is generally your most powerful technique in the game… and it looks pretty fancy, too. Just don’t let someone knock it out of you before you get a chance to use it. Once again there are even MORE stages, items, and characters than the previous game. The two most notable inclusions are non-Nintendo characters. There’s Snake from the Metal Gear Solid series and Sonic from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Classic Mode, All-Star Mode, Home Run Contest, breaking the targets, Multi-Man Brawl, and event matches all make a return. Even matches now even have co-op events to be played with two people. The adventure mode has been replaces with something called Subspace Emissary, which is a campaign that can be played with one or two players. You go through a story that slowly brings all of the characters in the game together in a unique, original crossover adventure. And of course, there’s always the standard multiplayer with its own variety of customization options. But wait, there’s more!
Trophies make a return as well, sporting even more than before. Now you can collect stickers as well. They’re similar to trophies, but they offer no tidbits of information. However, these stickers CAN be applied to characters in the subspace emissary to give certain stats boosts and effects which will help you get through. You can also obtain coins through playing certain modes or picking up pieces of paper in others. These coins can be used in the coin launcher minigame which allows you to shoot enemies and trophies that come by periodically. Doing so will reward you with even more trophies and stickers. There’s also a set of challenges you can try to complete. They’re all hidden at first, but as you complete them, they will unlock and reveal the others near them on the grid. You can even gain golden hammers to use on this screen to bypass any challenge of your choosing. Completing challenges will reward you with a variety of items such as trophies, music, and even new parts for the stage builder. That’s right, the stage builder. You can actually create your own stages in this game. You place preset items on a grid to create levels and you even get to choose the background music for them. These can be traded online. And speaking of online, for the first time you can play Smash Bros online with people from all over the world!
So there’s no doubt that there’s tons to do. The challenges and event matches kept me playing for a long time and had me trying out interesting things I might not have tried otherwise. The subspace emissary was brilliant, bringing a campaign mode with a definitive start and end to experience. It also was done in a smart way, making the characters all interact without ever speaking. This makes you have to fill in the blanks a bit with your imagination and let the universes come together in your own head. The ability to make stages is very interesting to me, and I spent many hours planning out and experimenting with different stage ideas. I even enjoyed checking out that player statistics the game keeps track of just for the fun of it. I can also appreciate the attention to detail while trying to put in original visuals, music, and sound effects for the given franchises. It adds that magical bit of care and attention that shows this isn’t just some lazy cash-in sequel.
That being said, the dedication to the source material doesn’t really mesh very well with all the different franchises involved. Sometimes it’s just painfully obvious that some things don’t belong in the same universe together, making it a tad awkward. The visual style in general is nicely detailed, but it’s also a bit on the dark side of things, which I wasn’t too fond of. The online play is great in theory, but in practice it’s lagged to the point of being unplayable. I mean, I often would make direct contact with characters only to have it do nothing, while on the other hand they would be knocking me around without even touching me on my screen. This type of lag makes the gameplay a joke. The characters aren’t too impressive either. There seem to be too many characters, items, and stages to balance them properly. That, or not enough time was spent doing so. Most of the characters feel like they’re at a complete disadvantage on certain stages or against certain other characters. Some characters seem to have poor move sets, while others seem overall overpowered with theirs. Not to mention that some of the final smashes are WAY more useful than others. Some of the items are really bad, too. Pokeballs and assist trophies will bring out random allies to help you, but some of them do nothing and others can even harm the user. So it’s a big gamble to even bother using some items at all as they’re too inconsistent. However, by far the worst thing in the game, and those of you who know the game know what I’m about to say… prat falls. Prat falls are when you slip and fall on your ass. You can have this happen from slipping on a banana peel, which makes sense. The problem is that prat falls can happen at any time for no reason whatsoever. So even if you turn off all items and only play on Final Destination for the fairest fight you can get, these prat falls can come up and completely destroy that even playing field based solely on chance. I get that it’s give everyone hope of possibly winning against even the toughest of opponents, but it’s just frustrating. This should have AT LEAST been an option, but no. And that’s basically the main problem with the game. It’s all too based on random chance. You need to get lucky not to prat fall, to get a properly functioning item, to not be countered by the stages or opponents, and even to get the most powerful variant of certain moves for some characters. The unbalanced, random nature of the game is what keeps it from being the incredible experience it was meant to be.
It’s still a lot of fun, though. I like it more than its predecessor because, though there are less characters that are fun to play as, there are more things I enjoy doing in the game. The stage building, even matches, subspace emissary, and the challenges made it really stand out to me. I spent so many hours doing those things. I spent even more hours playing multiplayer with my friends. It’s still an amazingly impressive game that once again supplied a gigantic leap in content from Melee. I would highly recommend it to Wii owners and Smash fans alike. It’s not for tournaments, but it’s great for anyone just looking to have some damn fun. So how do you outdo such a huge experience? Perhaps we’ll find out… meaning yes, we will.