It's hard for a game like Super Smash Bros. Brawl to live up to expectations. It's easily been one of the most highly-anticipated games on the Wii, and Melee did phenomenal sales on the GameCube. So was it everything I had hoped it would be? Hit the jump for my full review.
For those that played the original and Melee, you'll feel right at home with the overall concept of the game. However, they've added various a few different modes of play that give you a little something extra to do. Big changes in Brawl include customizable levels, online play and the 8+ hour single player story mode.
You have a total of 35 different characters to choose from, though you'll have to unlock a portion of those. This time around they've added non-Nintendo characters such as Solid Snake and Sonic, which are really cool to see. With such a selection of characters, it'll take some time to master them all.
If you're worried about playing with the Wiimote and Nunchuk, don't worry, you've got plenty of options for your controller. You have four combinations that you can use: Wiimote, Wiimote+Nunchuk, Wiimote+Classic Controller or a GameCube controller. Personally, I just can't get used to the Wiimote for playing Brawl, so after trying out all of the control schemes, I ended up sticking with my trusty GameCube controller. It just feels a little more natural to me, but you'll figure out that one for yourself. Having this many options assures that you'll have enough to go around with your friends.
Like the previous titles, gameplay is so easy that a beginner can pick it up and have a blast. Yet at the same time, those that dedicate their time to studying each character will be rewarded with a better understanding of strengths and weaknesses which can be essential
The graphics are stunning, easily the best-looking game that I've seen on a Wii. Equally as wonderful is the soundtrack which was recorded by some of the best composers Nintendo has access to.
I spent a little while brawling online and was rather impressed with it. Only once did I notice any lag, and even then it was brief. While you're waiting for opponents you're put in a practice area with a punching bag to get warmed up. Of course, if you're wanting to duke it out with a specific friend you'll have to deal with the Friend Code system which to put it bluntly, sucks. Unfortunately that's just how things are done on the Wii. Perhaps someday Nintendo will figure out a better system to use.
Other downfalls of the online play are a lack of voice chat and a severely gimped text chat. Honestly, I could really care less, as I don't really have the desire to taunt or be taunted by anonymous persons during every single 2 minute match I play. I'm sure others will be disappointed, but it's just really not my thing.
One thing I would like to touch on is the single-player Subspace Emissary mode. It has to be one of the most random single-player modes I've played. You're playing through a series of 2D platformer levels with different characters following a fairly vague story line. It's not really bad, though it does seem a little repetitive at times. I played through it for a while, and will likely go back and complete it, as it is a nice break at times. It just seems a little out of place is all.
I could go on talking about this game for a long time, but what it all boils down to is how it stacks up against Melee and the original. Overall I'd say that it is the best so far. There are more characters, levels and customization than ever, and the inclusion of online play is icing on the cake.
There were a couple of downsides that I'd like to touch on briefly. First, the load times were a bit longer than I'm used to on a Nintendo title. They weren't horrible, just a little annoying now and then. It's the first time that anyone has utilized a dual-layer disc for the Wii, so it's understandable to see an increase in load times. The other is the lack of decent communication for online players. Again, nothing major, but it's worth noting.
In the end, I'd say that this game is going to keep me occupied for quite some time. There is so much to do and unlock, I doubt I'll ever get bored with it. I've missed the days of duking it out with my friends on Melee, and I see this game bringing back those good times. I give Super Smash Bros. Brawl 4.5 out of 5 gears.