As I said I would, here are some of my thoughts on Smash Bros Brawl now that I’ve had some serious experience with the game.
To start with let’s talk about the general feel of it. It’s been made easier for newcomers…..and in a number of ways too. First of all it’s way harder to fall of the screen in this game then it was in Melee. The edges of the screen are much wider then they appear and allow for a lot of leeway in getting back on before it counts the kill. To add to that is that you fall much slower in this game then in Melee. In fact it feels downright floaty with some characters like you are hovering in air (and no I don’t mean just peach) and it gives you almost a laid back feel like, “Oh in about 3 or so seconds I’ll just hit the Y button and hop back on the platform since this game only really requires you to be within about 20 pixels of a ledge to count it as a grab…so whatever….”. What this new “Sweetspot” system (as I’ve told the 20+ pixel leeway is called) allows for is a lot less cheap deaths, but it can also lead to frustration when it can sometimes take almost a ridiculous amount of pummeling to finally get rid of an opponent. It’s best to look at it this way. If an enemy doesn’t immediately die when they are hit towards the edge the screen, get ready to edge guard. Not that that is likely to help much anyway…..
Well it’s different as are a lot of things. For one there’s now the Subspace Emissary, which when I heard was supposed to be written by the guy that wrote FFVII I jokingly started referring to as the Subspace Emosarry. I know this is supposed to be a huge selling point but I really groaned when I heard they got Kazuhige Nojima for the Subspace Emissary. Much to my lack of surprise the thing plays out in moderated gameplay moments complete with rather overwrought and long cutscenes. There’s no dialogue thankfully because having to hear any of Square’s recent schlock that they call dialogue would probably ruin the experience. So yeah it’s a story about evildoers trying to pocket the land with Subspace and the big baddies of Nintendo turning people into soldiers and it’s pretty damn emo all things considered. Of special note is the Ancient Minister who has this sad depressing look about him and these little bug things that look like the Heartless as ripped from Kingdom Hearts, another groanworthy moment for me. One of the Squariest scenes in all of it is right near the beginning where you catch up to the Halberd (Square Style….which means it happens in a cutscene) and literally just run across it for a few moments encountering nothing before another cutscene starts up and you are blown off the ship. Seems about right to me.
And I know I’m being a bit hard on the Subspace Emissary, but they are asking for it by bringing in Mr. Overwrought storyline creator to do what Square does best….making movies. Well they’re at least good at it because the cutscenes are pretty exciting. The gameplay ranges from fun to chorish to a bit of a grind later on as it just seems like they are clogging the screen with objects that are trying to kill you. Luckily you can use those stickers the game gives you to power up your characters a little. Not to much, but enough that it can help. Stages come in a 4 flavours including Get from Point A to Point B, fight a wave of baddies, fight a brawl with a computer controlled opponent or fight a boss characters with it’s own life bar. Some are so short that you wonder why they bothered while some others seem to drag on forever and you just want them to end. Luckily most of them are just right and provide for a long and moderately fulfilling experience. Certainly better than the adventure mode in Melee.
The music is an interesting spectactle in and of itself. One thing to note, you know that theme song that plays when you start the game. I hope you like it. No I REALLY hope you like it because it’s literally everywhere in the game at almost every conceivable point you can imagine. For a game that boasts somewhere in the region of 300+ songs from a variety of Nintendo, Konami, Sega and other games you’d wonder how they could find the time to overplay that song. They do it though, oh boy do they do it and you are probably going to get sick of it at some point. Turning it off on the menu isn’t good enough because it’s just going to be there at some other point not to far into your game. It’s honestly not even that good either, just your standard latin ballad of the variety that’s getting overused a lot in movie trailers these days.
Luckily the other music makes up for Uematsu’s contribution and is collected from almost too many games to count. It’s great that Nintendo decided to bring all this music aboard as not only does it hold some great nostalgia value, but a lot of it has been remixed and sounds amazing. Not everything sounds as good as it used to (Hyrule Castle sounds much more subdued and some of the Star Fox themes honestly sounded better on the SNES’ SPC700. There’s not really much to say other than GET THIS SOUNDTRACK IF YOU CAN. Skip the theme song though…..you won’t miss it….no really you won’t as you are going to hear it at some point in your life.
Events make a return as well as the Stadium and Homerun contest. You can also complete certain challenges to unlock rewards and they even give you a golden hammer to use to skip some of the challenges and get the reward anyway. This is good because some of the challenges are absolutely ridiculous. Most are reasonable, but the Clear Target Smash X In Y Number of seconds one seem like they tossed up a random number to assign to each that was progressively large for each challenge increase. Honestly some of them seem borderline impossible. Rewards range from music, to trophies and even in some cases entire stages or gameplay modes. It’s fun unlocking stuff but some of them are a bit tedious like create 15 custom stages. There’s no challenge involved, it just takes freaking forever.
So that covers most of the game I think. Obviously the Brawl or versus mode is in there as is the ability to play online, so instead I’m now going to go ahead and talk about the characters and how they play…..using my judgement:
Pretty balanced all thing considered. Range is a bit of an issue, but can be worked around to some extent by his fireballs. His B attacks honestly suck though. You have of course the standard fireball, the Forward+B which is his cape, the Up+B which is his coin punch that is probably his most decent one, and then his Down+B which is FLUDD. I have yet to figure out any sort of use for FLUDD. You can’t really edge guard in this game and it does no damage, plus they also took out Melee Mario’s most useful B attack which was his Tornado…..SO WTF?! Decent character, but not one I use often. His Final Smash is a Kamehameha like fireball which will carry you to the end of the screen if you are caught in it. It’s probably one of the better ones all things considered.
Pretty much still a carbon copy of Mario except for his Final Smash, which I can’t really figure out. I call it the disco breakdown as it looks like glowing disco ball comes out of Luigi and he starts freaking out and mumbling a whole bunch of stuff. If you are caught in it you will take gradual damage, be slowed down and possibly (?) put to sleep. A friend of mine seems to think it has a random effect, but I just think it’s designed to maximize damage as you are trying to run away. Who the heck knows.
Yeah that’s right, I find Peach more usable then the Mario Brothers. For one she’s decently fast and has some surprisingly good in near close range with her kicks and slaps (which also have good recovery time), and for another she’s good at a mix up game. Her Standard B is the Toad which punishes enemies for attacking it, her Down+B let’s her throw turnips ala Mario 2 USA for decent damage and with much faster speed than Link’s Bomb, and her Forward+B is a hip check that is pretty fast and does some alright damage and knockback. Her Up+B is a Parasol that is one of the few attacks that is both good for recovery and doing damage and will also allow her to float even longer than she would with her standard Hold Y jump. Did I mention her grab range is also deceptively wide. Anyway, her Final Smash kind of sucks in that to hit the enemies have to be touching the ground. It puts enemies to sleep and requires you to be pretty close to have a chance of KO’ing them before they wake up. In the meantime it also summons peachs (quite fitting) which can be used to heal, but if an enemy wakes up before you can kill them they can use the peachs to heal as well. It’s really a crap shoot. Did I mention Peach is also the games fanservice character in that her high kick is an upskirt that I’m sure more than a few people have taken snapshots of, and that her moves such as her hip check and down+b grab (causing her to literally sit on the enemy) are the kinds of moves you’d expect someone like Mai Shiranui to use? Well she is.
Bowser is a power character, something I’m also pretty good with (just about the only kind I’m not comfortable with are ones that are so balanced that while they have no real weaknesses to watch out for, they also have nothing that you can use to advantage in their arsenal. That or ones that have no real usability like Diddy). His Up+B is the turtle shell which has good upward knockback and excellent priority, his Down+B is the butt stomp which is honestly the best that any character has (looking at Yoshi) and can be directed towards your target. His Standard B is like an instant fire flower and good for racking up damage, and his Forward+B is like Donkey Kongs old grab that he could use to pick you up and run off the stage with you in that if you are near an edge you can grab the enemy and flip you and him off the edge for a sacrifice kill. Pretty cheap. All of his standard attacks are pretty powerful, but his Final Smash looks more useful than it arguably is. It turns him into Giga Bowser which means extra damage and size, but makes him so big that it can be somewhat difficult to hit you opponent. It’s not really that handy and doesn’t last nearly long enough so bleh….
I find Donkey Kong pretty useful. His attacks are strong and he has surpringly good speed for a gorrilla of his statue. His Standing B is still the good old sucker punch charge and it’s still just as effective as in Melee. His Down+B is one of the few useful ones in that it has a wide area effect and knockdown as he’s pounding the ground. His Forward+B is good to as when charged enough will bury the enemy a little in ground for some free hits. His Up+B is the old swinging helicopter that is great for getting back on ledges and unlike a lot of Up+B’s in the game does good damage. So DK’s a pretty solid character and the only thing that really brings him down is his Final Smash which doesn’t really do a whole lot of damage, requires the enemy to be touching the ground and leaves you vulnerable.
Diddy is pretty useless in almost every way, and were it not for one character that ties with him for uselessness he’d probably be the Dan Hibiki of the game. His Standard B requires you to charge to aim it forward so if you want any chance of hitting you have to leave yourself open….it also does next to no damage and can be reflected by Fox’s shield. His Forward+B is to do a stupid little flip that almost sails right over the enemies head or puts you in a gap. His Down+B I honestly can’t remember at the moment, but I’m pretty sure it’s something useless and his Up+B is completely useless in that it requires you to charge to get any effect out of the rocket barrels (they don’t even take you that high up either) by which time you are probably already off the screen if you’ve fallen down a gap, and to make matters worse, if you accidently charge it to full they will explode and deal damage to you. To cap off this character that I honestly think was a staff joke is the ultimate Suicide Final Smash which causes his jets to go out of control and for him to fly back and forth pretty much never hitting anything (and if it does by god it does almost no damage) and terminating in one of three way, a) you fly off the left or right edge of the screen, b) it takes you under the stage at which point you can’t get back up and die, c) terminates when you are over a gap, or d) you are extremely lucky and survive, possibly having actually damaged you enemy and tell yourself never to do anything so stupid as using Diddy’s final smash again. What a total waste of a character space that could have gone to somebody like Sanaki or Chibi Robo.
Here’s one of those characters that is just so balanced without any real strengths and weaknesses that I have no idea what to really do with him. He’s pretty fast, has decent comboability, but is just so mediocore in damage dealing and Ko’ing that there’s no point. His moves aren’t even really exciting in his Forward+B which is your standard roll around in an egg attack (and possibly off a cliff) that you can’t cancel and hardly seems worth it, his Standard B is the swallow and turn the enemy into an egg attack which is mostly usable in scoring extra hits or trying to force an enemy off a cliff, and his Down+B is a butt stomp that you can’t control, does almost no damage and is good for killing yourself with by accident since it doesn’t terminate until you hit the ground. There’s also his Up+B which is to throw an egg and unlike Yoshi’s Island you can’t aim or control the arc so it’s kind of useless. You also expect his the wretched flutter jump to be tied to it, but it’s not and you don’t know how many times I’ve killed myself by accidentally throwing an egg instead. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t use Yoshi all that much. No, with everyone’s favourite effiminate Dinosaur (seriously look at how he’s evolved into this sort of doe eyed kind of goofy mascot character over the years. He’s a politically correct metro-sexual dinosaur. Don’t believe me, look up the old Super Mario World cartoon where he’s even more effiminate) Nintendo threw logic to the wind and instead made it a hold Y move to trigger the flutter jump. This means the flutter jump is his sole means of recovery in all it’s screwy confusing gravity defying physics glory that has killed me so many times in how oddly it moves both up and down, believe me it’s really confusing these days (especially in Super Mario Sunshine) and I miss Yoshi’s Island where it had a bit of lag instead of coming out and resolving super fast like it does nowadays. I swear it moves you down more rapidly then a standard fall before moving you up to create a forced arc in the jump. Yoshi is saved from being a total waste by his rather decent Final Smash which is the Super Dragon from Super Mario World (remember when you’d swallow that invincible koopa enemy and get all his power ups at once, the wings, fireball and sand cloud, well just throw away the sand cloud and thats’ what this is) that allows you to fly around firing pretty powerful fireballs to try and knock your enemy off the screen. It lasts pretty longs, but is a bit hard to aim with and you have to be careful not to fall off the stage when it terminates. So it’s uber balanced, much like the rest of this mediocore below average character.
Nowhere near as good as he used to be, but still pretty good. His bow, bombs and boomerang are still intact, but his boomerang is now the Gale Boomerang which means a slightly greater area of effect around the tornado. His Up+B is still the spinning attack and it can be charged. What makes him not as good in my opinion as that he seems to have absolutely terrible collosion detection with his sword. I find myself using his Up+A a lot because it moves in an arc around him and I am afraid to do a standard forward slash a lot of the time for fear of missing (sometimes I swear it just goes right through the enemy) and leaving myself wide open. It’s really random and sometimes really annoying to the poin of me screaming at the screen in frustration at missing a key hit that could have landed and paying the price by losing a life. His clawshot can be used as a tether to rescue himself and it seems to work a lot better than it did in Melee (if it did at all since I honestly can’t remember). His Final Smash is all right if you can get it to hit (It requires you to be pretty close and on the same level of the stage as them) and will kill an enemy if they are damaged enough.
The first character I think is really usable here. Zelda is pretty damn powerful all things considered and her magic seems to translate into her doing greater damage with her standard A then most characters. She’s also really good at a mix up game and frankly so am I. I love using her Forward+B for Din’s Fire and triggering the explosion by releasing the button right when it crosses over the enemy. It does good damage. Nayru’s Love provides decent in close damage with Standard B and Farore’s Wind teleports her around and can be used for recovery. Down+B transforms her into Sheik who sacrifices damage dealing capability for speed and the Belmont Limp Whip ability returns for good damage racking ability. His standard B charges up a quick knife attack that can also be used for racking damage and his Up+B is another teleport. Sheik can also hop off walls and is just plain fast. I love that Zelda plays into all three of my favourite styles of play in fighting games, raw damage+tricky/speed with but two button presses. Somebody at Nintendo obviously likes her more than Link because her Final Smash is better than his with even a little less stinginess on where you have to be. It’s the Light Arrow and you merely have to be on the same level of the stage as the enemy to fire off it’s speedy and seemingly impossible to dodge goodness. I have yet to not kill somebody I hit with it so I think it’s an insta-kill. This Zelda get’s me wondering if maybe it’s time that she got her own adventure to save poor Link from Ganondorf and crappy collision detection.
I’ve always been pretty good with Ganondorf and love his power, but now with the introduction of an arguably better pure power character his influence has waned a bit. His moves are all really powerful including his standard smashes, but extremely slow. In fact his Down+B is pretty much his fastest move, which is still a pretty slow gliding ground kick. His Up+B is actually a grab with limited damage and knockback capability (it’s good when the enemy is damaged though) with the key advantage that it’s unblockable technically. His Forward+B is a straight punch and his Standard B is the slowest move in the game that I’ve seen, but if it connects then it can KO an enemy on smaller stages at as little as 20% damage. The hard part is getting it to connect as are all his moves. Expect to take a lot of punishment as Ganondorf, but if you are good you can dish it out in equal or greater doses. Not recommended for people who can’t handle slow characters and delayed attacks well. Also of note is that when you taunt with Ganondorf he will pull out his sword and laugh before putting it away as if to taunt the player that he still can’t use it. His Final Smash is pretty much a one hit kill as it causes him to transform into Ganon (Twilight Princess version), which buries the opponent in the ground before he gores them with his horns and sends them flying off the screen.
Samus/Zero Suit Samus:
Samus is still pretty solid all around. She has pretty good range with her in close attacks (especially in Zero Suit mode) and her Up+B Screw Attack is still a great way for causing quick damage as well as a good recovery move. Her Forward+B is a tracking missile if you don’t hold down the B Button, and if you do hold it down it becomes a fast Super Missile that does 10% damage. Not bad but not great. Her key attack is still the Charge Beam which of course can be charged and stored for when the time is right to finish someone off. Her bombs are still pretty useless though. What isn’t is her Final Smash which is the Zero Laser/Beam. It covers a wide area of the map and is pretty much guaranteed to kill whoever it hits. After it’s used though the Varia suit falls off and you get Zero Suit Samus who is one of the fastest characters in the game at the cost of much of her power. It’s a similar relationship to that of Zelda/Sheik only ZZS is faster than Sheik and the choice to turn back into Samus isn’t immediately there. Her Standard B is now one of her weakest weapons with really short range, but if you charge it up you can get a quick stun. Her Down+B is a flip kick that is good for getting above or behind your opponent to do quick damage and her Forward+B and Up+B is a whip attack that is her most powerful attack, but really only does great damage when you hit with the tip of it. It’s also a tether and her only real recovery move. ZZS can be very hard to not die with, but is good for people who can handle a light character. Luckily if you do get a Smash Ball you can use it to transform back into Samus, and if you are near an opponent you can probably kill them in the process. Also of note is that if you hold down the Shield Button while selecting Samus on the menu, you will start the match as Zero Suit Samus.
(More To Come As My Time Permits. I Will Make People Aware Of Updates To This Article, I Just Haven’t Decided How Yet) 😛