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Published March 20, 2008


They’re heeeeeeeere.

It’s been six years.

Six years of duking it out with friends, six years of arguing about cheap characters, six years of practicing to become better, and six years of playing the same damn game with that goofy smile on my face.
You know a game is magic when you can’t stop playing it…for six years.

Once a console generation, Nintendo decides to grace us with the next iteration of what can only be described as the zaniest game I’ve ever come to love in my entire life. The new Smash Brothers is here, finally.

In some ways it was very fitting that we had to wait through a new console launch, two delays, and in my case, fight through one of most wicked snows storms I’ve seen in years, in order to get my paws on this beauty. But oh god was it worth it. I’m going to use tonight’s blog entry to discuss a little bit more about Brawl, and what it means to me, so please indulge this long-time fan.

Probably the most notable difference between Brawl and Melee, (and the first thing I noticed) was the reduction in speed in this new iteration. Not only that, but it seems that Sakurai-san has taken out some characteristics of what made Melee the “twitch” game it was, and focused the gameplay more toward timing and away from ninja-like reflexes (although I’m sure they’ll still be useful). Gone is the “wave-dash” exploit that allowed characters to slide along the ground by dodging quickly towards a stage, the quick recovery move performed by dodging as a character landed in order to shorten recovery time after a downward attack, and throw combos, performed by throwing a character into the ground (by pushing down after grabbing them) and then following up with a quick attack, such as Link’s Spin-slash or Fox’s reflector shield.

Other notable differences include being able to grab items by performing a dash attack (where in Melee you’d simply attack over them, or blow them up in the case of a Bomb-omb), catch items by simply pressing A, the standard attack button, when thrown at you (instead of having to dodge and press the throw button when the item passed by you), and the ability jump on people’s heads as a springboard in order to dunk them off the stage or reach new heights.

Perhaps I’m alone on this topic, but it seems to me that Sakurai and Nintendo have, in many ways, simplified the Smash Brothers formula. No longer do break-neck speeds and waving dashing characters hold such a huge advantage over the slower heavy-weights, and it doesn’t take substantial practice to develop item-catching skills. Could this be Nintendo attempting to provide a more “casual” smash to its large Wii install base, while still hiding it behind the hardcore curtain of new attributes such as the Final Smash techniques, assist trophies and third-party newcomers Sonic and Snake?

Either way, the game is fantastic. The character list is robust, the new stages are incredibly inventive (a Wario Ware and Picto Chat stage??), the music is incredible (an amazing amount of remixed tracks and old classics), and the tweaks to the gameplay simply feel right. It blows my mind that Sakurai-san can improve upon an already winning formula, and at the same time still stay loyal to not only previous iterations of the game, but to the incalculable masses of die-hard Smash fans around the world. And the inclusion of a stage editor and online mode? Icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned. If you couldn’t tell, I’m absolutely thrilled with it.

But I can understand why some people don’t like Smash. The hardcore fighting game fans don’t consider it a “true” fighting game, platforming fans are turned off by its ambitious but ultimately lacking adventure mode, and players late to the party feel like they can never gain headway in a series that’s overrun by waaay-too-vocal Smash fanatics. Maybe it’s too zany for them. Perhaps it can be a little daunting. Or maybe they’re just too mature to want to beat the living daylights out of Mario and company.

But for the rest of us, the series is nothing but gold. Super Smash Brothers, and Brawl in particular, was made not only for Smash fans, but for Nintendo fans of all shapes and sizes. The sheer volume of mainstream as well as obscure Nintendo history stuffed into this game (in the form of characters, items, trophies, stickers, stages and music) does nothing but scream of Masahiro Sakurai’s sincere devotion to Nintendo and the video game culture it has created. It’s one of those extremely rare titles that’s accessible to both complete scrubs as well as series veterans, and offers an amazing amount of rewards for each. I can say without a doubt that I’ll be unlocking things in this game for years to come, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic. There’s so much fantastic content here for me to enjoy, both by myself and with my friends, which is really what it’s all about.

I’ve never experienced a sweeter, more gratifying, and ultimately just plain fun multi-player series in my entire life. It’s an understatement to say that Brawl is indeed a worthy successor to the series.

Thank you Sakurai-san. Thank you for giving me the fantastic multiplayer game I was looking for. You’ve impressed both the mature multi-platform gamer in me as well as tickled my Nintendo-nostalgia bone, and pulled both off masterfully.


Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Here’s to another six years.

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