Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Week of Smash Bros.: Super Smash Brothers, Super Smash Brothers Melee and Super Smash Brothers Brawl.

Its surprisng to see just how far the series has come, only 4 (technically 5) games in this series, and its one of Nintendo's guaranteed System Sellers. But just how did it become that? Time to look at Super Smash Brothers for the Nintendo 64, Super Smash Brothers Melee for the Gamecube and Super Smash Brothers Brawl for the Wii.

Super Smash Brothers for Nintendo 64: And Nintendo thought it wouldn't sell...

Before I even review the game, I have to get this off my chest. Watch this:

I stand with the general consensus here, this is the best commercial Nintendo has ever made and its perfect for the game itself.

So Super Smash Brothers for the N64. The game that brought 12 of Nintendo's biggest names into one game for a all out slam fest. It was the must have game for the second half of the N64's life cycle (due in part for that trailer and also this:

It was simpler times back then...

Mario, Kirby, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, Link, Samus, Fox McCloud, Ness (also known as "That kid who's exclusive to this" because no one cared about Earthbound back then), Captain Falcon, Pikachu and Jigglypuff, the 12 characters who will be in every game in the series (probably). The concept was simple. 2-4 characters could be on the screen at once, your job was to either score the most points or be the last character on the stage by building up your opponents percentages and send them flying off the stage using standard attacks, special attacks, items, smash attacks, throwing and other advanced techniques. This was a party game at heart where you had to rely on skill (maybe not this game, but for the latter entries) and should you be alone, singleplayer is available. In what has now become "classic mode" in later installments. You had to fight a set roster of fighters in the same order. Start with Link, end with Metal Mario, splatter Team Yoshi, Team Kirby, Giant Donkey Kong, a few platforming mini games and more along the way all in the lead up to your battle with Master Hand. Pretty basic stuff but for the first game and with the development history that it had, it works.

While the art style hasn't aged well (its a N64 game), the music and sound effects are still greats. When I play a fighting game, the sound effects are crucial for my experience as they need to illustrate just how much of a impact you made. If it sounds like you mildly poked them, then it kills the immersion. The sound effects in Smash 64 have a "crunch" to them. You feel the power in the moves when you hear the sound effects (which I've included above if you're curious). They're still cartoony, but pack that punch, akin to the Loony Tunes shorts.

The big problem with Smash 64 is "First game Syndrome". There's nothing particularly wrong with it, its just that later games do the job so much better. If you want to see how the series started off, you can find it on the Wii (and maybe WiiU) Virtual console but otherwise, there's no reason to play it now.

Super Smash Brothers Melee: "The one that you suck at, no seriously, you do"- Honest Trailers "Super Smash Brothers series"

Super Smash Brothers Melee, the game loved by competitive Smash bros players (hell, its the reason why Project M exists)... and the one I've had the least experience going into this review... I never owned a Gamecube and even when I had my Wii set up, I never bought Melee or any Gamecube games. I've played Melee... twice at most. Most of this review is based on Youtube videos that I've found on the game, but I will write a new review once I've had the chance to properly sit down and play it (if I ever end up owning a copy).

If you owned a Nintendo Gamecube, you had Melee. It was everywhere and for good reason, what some describe to be the best version of Super Smash Brothers, but for what reasons?

With the sucsess of Smash 64 and the anticipated launch of the Nintendo Gamecube, Masahiro Sakurai headed development again and the result was a game better in everyway. More characters, more stages, more songs, trophies, events, Adventure mode, changes to Classic Mode, more graphics, better aesthetics. There's a reason why Melee is the favorite game for most people (mainly the competitive players but still...)

So what new characters were introduced? Princess Peach, Bowser, Doctor Mario, Princess Zelda, Gannondorf, Young Link, Mewtwo, Pichu, Marth, Roy, Mr Game and Watch, Ice Climbers, Falco and Shiek. Do you want to see Peach finally defend herself from Bowser? Now you can. Want to have the three most well known villains in Nintendo history (I'm considering Mewtwo due to the Anime at the time)? Now you can.

The Gameplay is still the same, but is much faster, allowing for more competitive play. But on top of that, more options for Single player were added. Classic mode now randomizes its order using a set selection of scenarios (the fights with Mario Characters will always be on Mario stages ect), but on top of that. Adventure mode was added. In between standard matches, mini levels based on Nintendo franchises would play (depending on the franchise) and extra levels would be added if criteria was met. People loved this feature as it was, what most believe to be, what a Smash bros Singleplayer campaign would be like. The mode itself plays out as you'd think it would. One moment you could be in the Mushroom Kingdom, then you're in Hyrule, then your racing F-Zero Race cars and so on.

Trophies, the collectables of the Smash Bros series. As you complete the game, you'll be awarded a trophy depending on what happens. Each trophy is based on something in the games to which the roster comes from. It could be a barrel from Donkey Kong Country, Princess Daisy, Metal Mario, a Metroid, or even trophies of the roster which you get from completing modes like Classic Mode. Each trophy has a small bio with them that gives you more info on what the actual trophy is. These do nothing in game, but they are great to collect as this feature has remained relativity untouched in later games, but added to in the form of collection methods. There are 290 trophies that can be collected in game, but 3 bonus trophies (all three exclusive to Japan in some form).

I'm not going to give a summary of Melee, due to again, not enough hands on experience with the game. But what I lack in experience with Melee, I make up for in Brawl.

Super Smash Brothers Brawl: THE HYPE TRAIN IS REAL!!!

When people say that the Nintendo Wii is just for "filthy casuals", I direct them to several games, one of which being Super Smash Brothers Brawl. At this point in time, most people would be thinking "how can this be, how can people get more excited for this game?" Well there are a few things you could do

1. You debut with this
2. You launch the Smash Dojo, a site that would release information about the game every Monday- Friday. Link here: http://www.smashbros.com/wii/en_us/index.html

3. You drop this bombshell. October 10, 2007. "The day the internet almost died" was the day this trailer was first shown.
Sonic the Hedgehog. Rival to Mario, enemy of Nintendo and the mascot of SEGA. In the same game as Mario. People were hyped when Solid Snake was confirmed, but thats nothing compared to the reaction when Sonic was confirmed. But enough on why there was hype for this game. What about the game itself?

While I never had any (that I can remember) experience with Melee at the time and my knowledge of Smash 64 is minimal, throughout my fist year of High School, all I heard was "You got to get Brawl, you have to play Brawl" It wasn't until Boxing Day 2008 that I got both Brawl and Super Mario Galaxy (that was a good summer). I played both games to death that Summer, when I wasn't playing Galaxy, I was playing Brawl and while I may not have had as much of a shock as I unlocked more characters, I assure you there was still plenty. 

"Audi famam illius.
Solus in hostes ruit
et patriam servavit.
Audi famam illius.
Cucurrit quaeque
tetigit destruens.
Audi famam illius.
Audi famam illius.
Spes omnibus, mihi quoque.
Terror omnibus, mihi quoque.
iuxta me.
Ille iuxta me.
Socii sunt mihi,
qui olim viri fortes
rivalesque erant.
Saeve certando pugnandoque
splendor crescit."

As with Melee, very little has been removed from the game, but so much more added in. New characters (Pit, Wario, Zero Suit Samus, Ike, Pokemon Trainer (aka Red), Diddy Kong, Meta Knight, Solid Snake, Lucas, Sonic, King Dedede, Captain Olimar and his Pikmin, Lucario, R.O.B, Toon Link and Wolf) however Mewtwo, Roy, Pichu, Dr Mario and Young Link were cut from the roster. The Subspace Emissary (replacing Adventure Mode), more events in Event Mode, more songs (330 including jingles and "The Lost Tracks"), more stages, better visuals, more controller options (Wii games like Brawl tended to have controller options. In this case the Wii Remote, the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, The Classic Controller (and Classic Controller Pro (get the pro, much better)) and the GameCube Controller. However it is possible to play with other peripherals like the Wii Zapper and Wii Wheel (because they're more cosmetic). More collectables in the form of more trophies, CD's for songs and new Stickers. Stage Builder, return of All Star Mode (debuted in Melee), return of classic mode, Online multiplayer and more. However this much content came at a price. Brawl suffered loading times, a first for the series, due to the disk being "double sided". Brawl used both sides of its disk which means that Brawl disks are much more fragile when compared to other Wii games.

Lets start with the Subspace Emmisary (SSE is what I'll be calling it for the rest of this review) and its plot... which I can barely decipher. The SSE's plot has a lot of problems with conveying its message due to all the characters being mute in this story and possible missing cut scenes. "Why are Bowser and Gannondorf working for Master Hand"? "Who the hell is Tabuu?" "Why is Rayquaza in a lake?" "Why doesn't Meta Knight have the Halbird at the start?" "What the hell is a Pimid?" "What's with the black spores?" None of those questions are answered. All we know is that Tabuu wants to take over the world by using (what I call) Subspace bombs. This leads to several mini plots eventually leading up to most of the roster being playable and you trying to stop Tabuu. While this does lead to some humorous encounters, it doesn't convey any form of story well.

Gameplay wise, its like Adventure mode but with less "Nintendo Charm". Most of the enemies in SSE are brand new and exclusive to SSE while only R.O.B variants, Goombas, Hammer Brothers, Bullet Bills,  and variants of Koopa Troopers show as Nintendo enemies (that I can recognize). You could argue some enemies, like the Roader, some I'd agree with, others not so much. The standard game play though is the same (get from A-B, defeat enemies, complete small challenges, defeat a boss when needed, move on) and while I do like it, the flaws don't stop at the plot. There's a map screen that shows you all the levels you've done and what level you unlock as you progress, but that map can get cluttered very quickly. There are a lot of levels in SSE and the more levels you unlock, the harder it gets to keep track of them, especially if the level isn't near a key location lie the stadium or the entrance to Subspace. Is the mode completely flawed like people say? No, there is stuff to like here, but it could have been much better. Its worth a playthrough, but there's no reason to replay it unless you want collectables.

While combat has pretty much stayed the same, there is one new move for each of the characters. The Final Smash! When a character destroys one of the new items introduced to the game called the Smash Ball, they can use their special move by pressing the heavy attack button. And as you can see from the video above, the result could either be brutal for your opponents... or a joke. While it is easy to avoid Final Smashes, some characters have pathetic FS's (one of the worst being Kirby's personally). While some characters are comedic in nature like Luigi's ZA WARLDO or King Dedede's Waddle Dee army, others are can be repetative (WE DIDN'T NEED THREE LANDMASTERS!)

All star Mode: This mode plays out very similar to Classic mode, but with slight changes. You only have one stock and your health doesn't heal between matches. In order to progress, you need to defeat your opponents in franchise order (all Mario characters are grouped together, all Zelda characters are grouped together ect). You have a limited amount of regeneration items so you have to be sparing with them. While not very substantial, it is good for a small singleplayer activity that has more substance then the mini games. This is also in Melee and behaves the same way, I saved it for here due to experience.

Graphics and Aesthetics wise, the game looks nice, but it does look like time's not going to be kind to Brawl. As with Melee, the game goes for a realistic approach and a heavy (for Nintendo) use of darker colours. But this leads to some characters looking realistic like Solid Snake, while others looking really cartoony like Pokemon Trainer (in fact every other character aside from Snake...). While nice, I think the game suffers from its darker colours in several areas.

Customization is (kinda) introduced here in the form of Stage builder and Stickers. In the Stage builder, using pieces you unlock by completing specific objectives, you can (as the name implies) make your own stages. the stages themselves are limited to a grid and as a result, my Minecraft building habits kick in and I keep the stage looking symmetrical. (Raise your hand if you built a Box Factory and a Tetris stage, that's what I thought). The mode itself is quite fun if your the cynical "I will torture anyone who wants to play this stage" kind of person. As for the stickers... they're useless in the game. They give your characters small buffs when equipped, but I never noticed their effects and as a result, never used them. While they are nice and have a good assortment of artwork for the stickers themselves. Aside from my sticker book, I never used them.

Finally, Online mode. The one thing I never did in Brawl and am glad not to have. Its infamous how bad Brawl's online was at this point so I'm not going to go into detail. A good concept on paper, but horrible execution.

 "I've heard legends of that person
How he plunged into enemy territory
How he saved his homeland
I've heard legends of that person
How he traveled the breadth of the land, reducing all he touched to rubble
I've heard legends of that person
I've heard legends of that person
Revered by many-- I too, revere him
Feared by many-- I to, fear him
Now, that person
Stands at my side
Now that person stands at my side
Now my friends are with me
Some of them were once heroes
Some, my mortal enemies
And as we faced eachother in battle, locked in combat
We shine even brighter"

If you have a chance to get any or all of these games, GET THEM!!! Even though it sounded like I was hating Brawl, it isn't a bad game. I've spent hours playing Brawl with friends and family (mostly friends, my family never got the hang of it) and loved every moment of it. Each of these games have had love and care put into them and you can tell just by looking at the quality of each of them. There's a reason why Smash Bros. never fails to push units, never fails to sell, and why it occupies site feeds for days, even weeks at a time. When you get a Smash Bros. game, you're getting your money's worth. With 4 games, what are the characters you'll see me use? Tomorrow: Top 10 Smash Bros Fighters.

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