Frankenreview: Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Honestly, I don't get it. It's not that I didn't play the hell out of the last Smash Bros. title. It's just that, as far as I've been concerned, Nintendo only has so many throw-backs to nostalgia left in them—like a band that keeps releasing greatest hits collections...without putting out any new records.

But after double-checking with the critics, it appears that I'm definitely in the minority. So hit the jump for our Frankenreview on Super Smash Bros. Brawl—what is pretty much a 5-chapter review of a fanboy wet dream.

From a visual standpoint, Brawl doesn't look much better than Super Smash Bros. Melee did on the GameCube. There is some slight improvement, as you can run the game in 16:9 widescreen format at 480p, and the difference is more noticeable on newer television displays. The real benefit is that everything runs at a silky-smooth 60 frames per second. But outside of the new characters and stages, you'd be hard-pressed to tell this game apart from its GameCube predecessor when viewed side-by-side.

Hands down, my favourite new thing about Brawl is its stages, which have been upgraded significantly for Brawl and are much more fun than those from Melee. Similar stages have enough differences so as to still feel unique. The levels pulled straight from Nintendo DS games—such as the frantic Pictochat stage—are some of my favourites. There is so much variety in the fighting locations that Melee's stages, some of which are included in Brawl, seem rather boring in comparison.

Brawl's biggest Wi-Fi Connection support, and it functions... fairly well. If you're brawling with pals off your Friend Code list, the experience should be generally clean and lag-free. However, our attempts to play random opponents led to more than one unplayable choppy scrap that ended in disconnection. There's also no practical way to communicate with other players, and it's a total pain in the arse to share saved pictures. Apparently swapping 16-digit Friend Codes isn't enough, as you also have to share 12-digit Brawl codes. We'd say this'll get ironed out as the weeks wear on, but Wii's online "presence" has never seemed a priority.

I encountered some difficulty in putting a score on this game. Do I give it a B+ and say, "But if you're a huge Nintendo fan, add a point?" Or do I give it an A and say, "If you're a less committed fan, drop a point?" The answer was simple: This game was made for Nintendo fans. If you'd like to debate that fact, question whether Joe Schmo in Best Buy, who buys Madden once a year and maybe Halo cares whether or not Saki from Sin and Punishment is an unlockable trophy. As a Nintendo fan, I found great pleasure in unlocking all of the minutiae, in playing with characters that, to me, were unexpected surprises, and in reveling in what is clearly the greatest celebration of Nintendo culture around.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl improves upon its predecessors in every way imaginable - a truly worthy successor to the Nintendo fighting throne...[it]isn't just a game that will sit in your Wii for months, it's a game you'll actually play for months, if not longer. Alright, alright. I'll give in to the masses and pick up a copy.


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