A Smash hit

After what seemed like a nearly endless wait, the big day finally arrived. On Sunday, March 9, the game that Nintendo fanboys had been dreaming about for months went on sale. That game is none other than Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the third installment of the epic fighting game featuring a cast of popular Nintendo characters, from Super Mario himself to Metroid’s Samus.

In its first two weeks on sale in Japan, the game managed to sell over 1 million copies. By the looks of the enormous lines people waited on to purchase the game the morning of its release, and also in special midnight releases the day before, there might just be comparable figures here in the US.

The Super Smash Bros. franchise is famous for bringing together Nintendo favorites from a whole range of old and new game series. Brawl is no different. Characters featured in past games were joined by a whole new line-up of even more Nintendo classics. Additional characters from famous titles like Star Fox and Legend of Zelda and lesser-known franchises, like Earthbound and Fire Emblem, have been added to the game.

In addition, new characters from previously unused game series, like Pit from Kid Icarus, make an appearance in Brawl.

Perhaps the most anticipated new members of the game’s cast, though, are the third-party characters – Sonic the Hedgehog and Metal Gear’s Solid Snake.

While the basic premise of the game has been unchanged, a number of new features have been added to Brawl to spice up the gameplay. First of all, a new story mode was created, The Subspace Emissary, with a much longer and more cohesive plot than had been seen in past games. Throw in the new set of event matches and the fourteen unlockable characters, and there’s a recipe for players to be hooked for hours before beating the game.

The addition of the new “final smash” move adds another new element to the flow of multiplayer battles. When the smash ball item appears on the screen, the player that breaks it first is able to unleash his character’s extremely powerful final smash move. This tends to cause the game to break from the usual manic pace of battle into something more like a race to burst open an extremely valuable piñata.

The use of WiFi is perhaps the best new feature in Brawl since it allows players to test their skills against friends or complete strangers as they like. There’s even the ability to become a spectator of an online match and to even bet fake coins on the outcome. However, the WiFi battling is the source of the one downside to the game, which is lag time. Fortunately, lag in Brawl only ranges from slightly annoying to barely noticeable, a marked improvement on WiFi features of similar Wii games.
The newest installment in the Super Smash Bros. series lives up to all expectations with enough new features to keep both a solo player and a group of friends entertained for hours on end. Just as important, the standard four-player multiplayer is as good as in past games, with improved responsiveness in the controls in addition to quirky and fun battle stages. Finally, the game’s graphics are excellent, including updated models of every character and breathtaking cutscenes. Super Smash Bros. Brawl is looking to be one of the best games of 2008, with addicting gameplay that could easily keep gamers from ever taking the disc out of their Wiis.