[A celebration of video games!]


System: Wii
Publisher: Nintendo
Designer: Ad Hoc Development Team
Release Date: March 2008
Genre: Fighting/Action/Platformer
Players: 1-8
Save Feature? I certainly hope so!

What more can be said about Super Smash Bros. Brawl that has not already be said in gaming circles? For hardcore gamers who incessantly thirst for the ultimate fighting experience, Brawl is happy to oblige! This game has been played more than any other game in my household over the past four years which makes it absolutely mind-boggling why it took so long for a review to surface here at The Tigmo Dimension. This Super Smash Bros. Brawl review is dedicated to my brother Nathan who has shared countless battles with yours truly and a host of friends over the years. With its all-star cast, overwhelming content and depth, and near-eternal replay value, Brawl certainly belongs in any all-time great discussions.

Overview: When it comes to excitement and anticipation, few things get a gamer's juices flowing like the announcement of a brand new Super Smash Bros. video game. I remember back in early 2008 when my brother Nathan and I were simply beside outselves with glee as we brought a brand new copy of the game home. We had played Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Gamecube to death and beyond and both of us had a very strong feeling that Brawl would be just as good as Melee if not better.

Immediately after firing up Brawl, our already high expectations were met and then some! Not only was this a fresh, all-new experience but the game still felt a lot like Melee and as a result, we were able to pick up the gameplay with remarkable ease. It's pretty safe to say that if you have played Melee or even the first Super Smash Bros. hit for the N64, you shouldn't have too much trouble making the leap to Brawl.

Although I would imagine that most of my readers are probably well-versed in the Super Smash Bros. series, let me just briefly discuss what this series entails to those of you who perhaps have not yet encountered this marvelous trifecta of games. Basically, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a multi-genre game that encompasses the fighting, action, and platforming styles all wrapped up into one neat little package. The main goal of any battle is to use your repetoire of attacks to effectively increase your opponent's damage with the hopes of eventually K.O.-ing them (i.e. knock them off the screen or into a chasm). Damage in Brawl is measured by percentage points with 0% being perfectly healthy and something like 125% being in the danger zone. Anything above 100% damage is pretty significant since a decently charged smash attack can K.O. you at that point.

In addition to fun, intuitive gameplay mechanics, the incredible cast of characters found in the Super Smash Bros. universe is one of the series' main perks. This is by no means a Mario game or a Zelda game or a Metroid game. It is one of those rare specialties that fits into the "all of the above" category! Imagine a video game that includes not only a myriad of characters from all walks of video game life (e.g. Mario, Link, and Samus are only a handful of characters found in Brawl), but certain stages, gameplay elements, weapons, items, and mini-games within Brawl are directly related to the game's all-star cast! For example, in the game's extensive single-player game (entitled the "Subspace Emissary"), you venture into the worlds of Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus, Donkey Kong Country, and a host of other areas all within the same game! Considering that Super Smash Bros. Brawl features a whopping 21 characters with an additional 16 unlockable characters, you can only imagine the diversity that this game features!

In addition to traditional characters like Donkey Kong, Kirby, and Yoshi, there are some real special treats in the Brawl cast. Pit from Kid Icarus fame was a pleasant addition since, well, he hadn't been in a video game for more than two decades! Lucas from the Mother/Earthbound series was another real surprise (and is one of my favorite characters to boot!) while Wario, not necessarily being a huge surprise, provides some welcome comic relief with his hilarious moves and special abilities. Another surprise was the shocking addition of R.O.B. in this game! For those of us who grew up during the NES era (and actually know what R.O.B. was), this character choice brought a sentimental tear or two to our nostalgic eyes.

As wonderful as those characters are, however, the two that really stand out have to be Sonic and Solid Snake only because of their affiliation with Sega and Sony respectively. By including these two characters, this game suddenly wasn't just another Nintendo game anymore. The possibilities for future Super Smash Bros. games suddenly grew expotentially. It gives me hope that one day, my beloved Mega Man will be included in the series. C'mon Nintendo! Give the Blue Bomber a shot already!! ;)

As far as actual gameplay mechanics go, there is a ton of meat to Brawl's system. Brawl plays a lot like Melee yet is still its own game with its own rules and nuances. Each character has basic moves, basic charge attacks, and special abilities. When you consider that pressing up, left/right, and down allow you to use different attacks (for basic and special attacks), you quickly discover that this game features incredible depth. Think about it for a second. You have 37 characters all with their own repetoire of moves and abilities (I haven't even mentioned airbourne moves, save moves, or Final Smash attacks yet!) You want a game with truly endless replay value? Brawl is more than willing to acquiesce this request. While anyone can truly enjoy this game, it is catered to diehard, hardcore Nintendo fans more than anyone else.

As I just hinted at above, the Final Smash abilities were one of Brawl's brand new additions to the series. At random intervals in any given battle, you might suddenly see a rainbow-colored ball floating around the battlefield. By hitting this ball several times (or fewer times with strong attacks), the victor gains access to his or her Final Smash ability. These abilities vary wildly depending on the character but virtually all of them are incredibly strong and almost guarantee that you will get some easy K.Os. For example, Samus unleashes a ferocious gun/beam attack that takes up most of the screen (transforming her into Zero Suit Samus in the process and making her a more Sheik-like melee fighter), Sonic turns golden and can fly across the screen as Super Sonic causing damage and mayhem to his surroundings, and Jigglypuff literally grows to nearly the full size of the TV screen as a cute-yet-effective K.O. machine! All of these Final Smash attacks are fun to execute yet send shivers down the spines of the unfortunate victims. As you can imagine, whenever a Final Smash Ball appears on screen, chaos and pandemonium will surely follow.

[Warning: Smash Balls have been known to bring out the worst in even the most civil of gamers]
[Final Destination...home of some of our most epic battles ever!]

Graphics: If you enjoy bold, majestic, detailed graphics containing a seemingly endless amount of variety and diversity, you can't go wrong with Super Smash Bros. Brawl in the visual department. This game simply screams "quality" and after playing Brawl for mere minutes, I completely understood why it took more than two years to develop this game. I like the fact that the developers at Nintendo allowed third-party developers to help in the process because it really gives Brawl not just one particular set style but a whole plethora of visual styles to behold! This might be the defining case where there really is something for everyone in terms of Brawl's graphics.

As a result of Brawl's diversity, some of the characters and battle arenas lean more on the eye-popping, realistic side (Characters: Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, Solid Snake, Samus; Battle Arenas: Final Destination, The Bridge of Eldin, Norfair) while others gravitate more towards the whimsical, cartoon-ish side of things (Characters: Toon Link, Pikachu, Mr. Game & Watch; Battle Arenas: DK Arcade, Mario Bros., The Pirate Ship). As a result, you get a beautiful blend of both worlds and a nice sense of balance with Brawl. Whether the graphics are realistic or cartoony, there is a real boldness that leaps off the TV screen. The lighting/shading effects are outstanding (I wish all gamers could appreciate some of the more mundane details like this.) as are virtually all of the animated effects in Brawl. Something is always happening in Brawl and the graphics/animation perfectly capture this point with relative ease. Trust me; this game has it all in terms of eye candy and retro goodness. You can't go wrong with Brawl in the visual aspect...you just can't.

Music: If you thought that the graphics in Brawl have something for everyone, just wait until you hear this game's music! You want to talk about variety? This game has it in spades with one of the best, most comprehensive soundtracks in a video game to date. Imagine a game that features a plentiful amount of music from all of your favorite games. Now, imagine a game that goes a step beyond that and features all-new, remixed versions of your favorite songs. In a nutshell, that's the Brawl soundtrack!

Honestly, why can't all video games be like this? I would rather have one game a year like Super Smash Bros. Brawl than 10 very good games that are fun to play, but lose their luster after a while. As far as the Brawl soundtrack is concerned, you might as well go all-out when making a video game and hold absolutely, positively nothing back because that seemed to be the mantra when making this game. In a world record performance, 36 individuals (yes, 36!) participated in composing the Brawl score which, in the end, features more than 250 different tunes! The word "grandeur" doesn't even begin to describe how incredible of a feat the Brawl soundtrack was in terms of its scope and its execution.

Not surprisingly, the music in Brawl features a multitude of classic tunes (and beautifully remixed ones as well) representing every character in the game. The Legend of Zelda alone is well-represented with countless tracks from Twilight Princess, The Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time, and the original NES game among others. Mario tunes are all over the place, Metroid adds a nice dark element to the game with its eerie, haunting melodies, and even Pit from Kid Icarus brings back his age-old ditty with him. Getting to enjoy classic Sonic the Hedgehog and Metal Gear Solid music was another positive addition to Brawl's score. Even the bizarre is given a spotlight in this game with some wild stages (and tunes to match!) such as Warioware, Mr. Game & Watch, and Pikmin getting a little fanfare in this one.

It isn't just about the characters in Brawl though. There is a lot of retro music and just off-the-wall tunes gracing this game in general. There are tributes to previous Super Smash Bros. games in the form of music (I love the credits theme to the original Super Smash Bros. game!) and there are original themes and performances that will "wow" you as you play this game. It's almost as if Super Smash Bros. Brawl wasn't just a great fighting game that celebrated its character cast; this game celebrates video games in general. And that's something worth getting excited about!

While the music itself truly is a work of art, I also love the fact that you can choose which music you want to play in each given stage when duking it out with friends (or CPUs if no one is around). There are literally 5-10 tracks that can play at any given time on any given stage and you can weigh each tune and basically set your preferences to a "T." This was just a nice little feature that didn't have to be included in the game but thankfully was. Granted, while the music in Brawl is amazing as a whole, there are certainly more than a fair share of tunes that will leave you scratching your head (or laughing yourself silly) at times. But since more than 250 tracks are part of the Brawl soundtrack, it's pretty much a given that some of them aren't going to be all-star material, right?

Lastly, I just want to say that the game's voice acting and sound effects are equally sensational! Considering the enormous character cast and the seemingly infinite amount of items used in this game, it is natural that Brawl would have a large pool of sound effects used in the game. And I love how varied the voices are as well. From the grunts of Link to the cutesy voices that will inevitably drive you crazy ("Pikachu!" "Pikachu!" "Pikachu!" or "PK Fire! PK Fire! PK Fire!"), you've got to love what Brawl has to offer. At least this game is never dull or boring in the auditory sense!

[This vertically-scrolling jungle stage is tricky!]
[Kirby cooking someone's goose!]

Play Control: Whether you choose to use the Classic Controller like me or gravitate towards the Wiimote or Gamecube controllers, it's pretty safe to say that you will eventually find a controller/control scheme that suits you perfectly. I personally don't prefer the default control settings in Brawl but with the endless customization options, I don't see why anyone could have trouble with the controls in this game. The complexity and long learning curve might turn off a few gamers at first, but for what it is, Brawl was executed beautifully.

This game is definitely like fine wine in that it becomes better and more enjoyable the more you play. As you figure out the controls and the moves for each character, you will find yourself having a great time! Super Smash Bros. Brawl goes far beyond simply jumping and attacking foes; it is all about strategy and timing and learning to defend as well as to attack. Although charging up a smash attack is great fun, so is shielding and side-stepping in order to dodge a ferocious attack. If Brawl emphasizes anything in particular, it would have to be balance. Only by becoming a complete fighter will you succeed at this game (especially if you want to beat my younger brother!) Overall, though, I think that the controls in Brawl are spot-on, intuitive, and incredibly complex. This makes for a new gameplay experience each time you fire up Brawl which only adds to the game's already staggering replay value and endless appeal.

[Things don't look good for Kirby...]
[Link and Solid Snake going at it!]

Challenge: Whether or not you are playing Brawl alone or with friends, you will always find yourself being pushed to the brink in terms of the game's challenge. Thanks to gobs of gameplay and difficulty customization options, both noobs and veterans of the series should find plenty of ways to break out in a cold sweat. Since several of the mini-games like "Endless Brawl" and "Home-run Contest" take the old-school approach and emphasize your score, you will constantly try to do just a little better and score just a little higher. After all, isn't every gamer's dream to put up a score so gaudy that no one can beat it?

Although the balanced and adjustable challenge level is yet another feather in Brawl's cap, the replay value and lasting appeal of the game itself is where this game really shines. There is a reason why my brother and I have played this game more than any other video game (Dragon Quest IX might hold the personal record for me at nearly 400 hours but I digress.) and it is the near-infinite replay value present within Brawl's world. Especially in the multi-player/party game scene, Brawl seems to win out over pretty much any other game the vast majority of the time. It never really gets old or stale and I doubt that this game will ever grow out of the style. Without a doubt, this game is the ultimate "buy" instead of "rent" game.

Storyline: As if the outstanding gameplay, overwhelming gameplay options, beautiful graphics, and sensational score weren't enough to impress you, Super Smash Bros. Brawl even features a surprisingly enjoyable background story! You wouldn't think that a game of this nature would necessarily need a story but I suppose that the developers felt that they should add something in Brawl that wasn't present in Melee. Whatever the reason, I am glad that the Subspace Emissory (the one-player main game) was included because it is simply a blast to play!

To complement the main fighting mode of Brawl, the Subspace Emissory is more of a platforming experience that honestly reminded me of the classic Mario, Mega Man, and even Donkey Kong Country games! Not only does this game feature a fun, old-school platforming element, but you get to literally jump and fight your way through all of the Nintendo universes in order to make your way towards the final showdown with an incredibly powerful enemy! Not surprisingly, the main protagonists are noble heroes and heroines such as Mario, Link, Zelda, Peach, Samus, and Pit. On the flipside, Ganondorf and Bowser join forces in an attempt to turn all of the heroes into mere figurines! There are other villains to consider like the wizzrobes and R.O.B.s and of course, Master Hand makes an appearance as well. Without spoiling the details, I will just say that this main game is quite epic with plenty of fun twists and turns along the way. The developers truly left no stone unturned in their quest to create the perfect Super Smash Bros. game.

[The cheapest special in the game!]
[...along with one of the cheapest attacks in the game!]

Funfactor: As far as one-player games go, Brawl is a very solid, respectable video game. When it comes to the multi-player scene, however? That is when Brawl really stands out! If you want to have the definitive multi-player video game experience, you honestly can't do any better than Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Granted, few games have a love-hate relationship like Brawl due to the sometimes "cheap" nature of the game (I hate the Landmaster special! Aaarrrggghhh!!) but then again, what games can really get the juices flowing and your blood boiling like this one? In terms of intensity, Brawl is top-dog in my opinion! The gameplay itself and the amount of variety surpasses virtually every video game out there and the fact that Brawl features so many legendary video game icons in one game is a miracle in itself! If you love video games and want to try something more on the hardcore side of things, you simply must play this game before I use Donkey Kong's charge up punch to knock some sense into you!

Although any "all-time" video game discussion is difficult to rationalize when you consider that games across genres are difficult (if not impossible) to compare to each other, I think that simply narrowing it down to how enjoyable and how fun the overall gameplay experience is might be a fair litmus test for creating an argument either way. As far as Brawl's place in history is concerned, I know that this game is an incredibly fun experience and is one of only a handful of games that never really gets old or tiresome. I just can't get burned out on this game no matter how many times I play it with friends and family! That burning desire to compete and to get better and to win "one more time" will always keep me coming back from time to time. With that in mind, I do feel that this game at the very least belongs in the discussion. It has everything that a great video game needs to have and there are really no glaring flaws present. So there you go! Only time will tell but something tells me that we'll be talking about this game for a long, long time.

Negatives: For being such a deep, complex video game, there are remarkably few flaws to discuss in regards to Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I think the main reason for this is the outstanding customization options built into the game. You can literally make each battle whatever you want it to be which is huge for any fighting game and particularly one of this scale.

That doesn't mean that Brawl is perfect, however. Although the ability to create your own arenas and battlefields is a wonderful option found in this game, I do wish that the developers would have included a larger selection of backgrounds to choose from. Ten or so backgrounds would have probably been adequate but only three? Three choices just isn't enough...especially when you consider the fact that between my brother, his friends, and me, we have probably created something like 20-25 stages ourselves.

Another aspect of Brawl that bothered me a little bit were some of the character choices (and notably the omissions). I am sorry but it is an absolute crime that Mega Man was left out of this game. How awesome of an addition would Mega Man be to the series? Not only the character himself but you would have an incredible library of stage ideas and music to choose from if you included the Blue Bomber! Mega Man is such an obvious choice for this series. I just pray that the next Super Smash Bros. game features him. Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden fame, Zero (from the X series), and maybe someone totally random like Cranky Kong would be great for a laugh or two. Heck, they should have 50 characters total in the next game! Why not?

[Sonic is Golden...a lot like this game!]

Ratings: Graphics: 4.8 Music: 4.9 Play Control: 4.7 Challenge: 4.8 Storyline: 4.1 Funfactor: 4.9 Overall Score: 28.2 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Golden Classic!!

[BACK TO WII WONDERS] Back to Wii Wonders

Last Updated: May 18, 2012
WebMaster: Matt Hull tigmo55@yahoo.com
copyright 2012 The Tigmo Dimension