With the year coming to end, I had to make sure I got this game in my year for the sheer fact of it being hands-down my favorite fighting game of all time. I poured more time and energy into this game back when it was first released than any other fighting I can remember, including the Mortal Kombat games back on the Super Nintendo as a kid. Hours and hours spent playing, practicing and unlocking everything possible, and just when it got to the point where there was nothing else to do in the game, I kept playing, if only out of love for the game.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl was the third installment in the franchise, but far and above the best of the series. It was the biggest, the most expansive and for obvious reason, the best looking game of the series. Looking back, it truly is a crowning jewel for the Wii generation.
I feel in love with the franchise back with the first game on the Nintendo 64, but never had as much time with that game as I would have wanted, much less the time needed to get good at it. When Melee came out for the GameCube, it was one of the games I played most on that system, and as great as it was, it always felt like it was missing something. With Brawl, however, everything I always wanted from the franchise was fully accounted for, and I couldn't ask for more.
Just in case it hasn't been perfectly clear in this crazy year of gaming, I am a HUGE Nintendo fan. I love everything about the company, and their first party games that they develop are easily some of my favorite franchises and their games, despite other games think they are just repetitive, continue to enchant me even after all these years. So naturally, a game featuring a mash-up of all the classic Nintendo characters is sure to strike a chord.
Don't get it wrong, though, because it isn't just about the playable characters that make these games magical, especially when talking about Brawl. Once you add in all the stages that accurately represent the games that the characters come from, the weapons and items that you are already familiar with and the addition of seemingly countless numbers of non-playable yet still participating characters that pop up all throughout the matches, and it's almost a Nintendo sensory overload. But if my senses are ever going to be overloaded, what better cause than Nintendo, right?
In Brawl, the addition of the Smash Balls was an excellent choice, and might have been the biggest ingredient missing from the previous two titles, and certainly something that I didn't even know i wanted until I saw it in action for the first time. Throughout each match, Smash Balls will randomly generate and float around the stage, waiting to be hit to the point of breaking. Not every Ball has the same damage tolerance, and each one is randomly generated it seems. One Ball may take one or two hits, while the next one may take up to five. And generally, as if not to over-saturate the gaming experience, you will see about two Smash Balls per match on average, which can always be adjusted in the match settings if you choose.
So what do the Smash Balls do? They give your character, if you are lucky enough to break it open, a super charged super special ability, with each characters having their own unique Smash attack (for the most part, as there are a couple of exceptions, but don't get my started on that). Each special move is awesome to watch and experience, and you can't help but sit back and watch each one as they happen with a smile on your face, even if you're on the wrong end of one. They aren't finishing moves, however, just automatic knockouts, and like I said before, can be used several times per match. Better yet, if you or an opponent has a Smash move available and is running around trying to get into the best position to use it, it can be stole with a single attack, thus making the anxiety of having one or seeing one in play that much more heightened.
The single player story mode, called the Subspace Emmisary, has always been a point of contention for most gamers, and while it isn't the best mode to play, it's certainly not horrible as many would lead you to believe. I actually enjoy playing through it, despite it making little to no sense, but honestly, what fighting game as a great storyline that makes perfect sense? Go ahead, think about it. I'll wait right here until you come up with one.
Unlocking characters, stages, items and everything else, however, is the best part of the game for me, without question. Sure, there are ways to farm them and speed up the process, but that takes all the fun out of it. And once you unlocked everything, which is a lot, I still never felt like there wasn't any reason to play. If anything, it just made me want to play and explore everything that much more, enjoying all the unlockables that were now available to me.
Before this game was released, Nintendo decided to start the hype train themselves, by creating the Dojo website, which released screen shots, bits of information and made character reveals on a daily basis, leading up to the release of the game. Sure, it was filled with spoilers and for those people who wanted to be surprised by what they were unlocking, it wasn't for them. But it is a fighting game, and Nintendo banked on the reveals as a good way of marketing, and I think it worked. In fact, Nintendo is so confident in the strategy that they are doing it again for the upcoming Smash Bros. game coming out next year, as they release a new screen shot every single day, which have included some previously unannounced characters and stages.
Truth is, I simply can not wait for the next game. Just playing Brawl again made me want the next game that much more. There is a version coming out for the Wii U, which looks absolutely gorgeous, and a version coming out for the 3DS, which features a slightly different and more cartoon/comic art style, which looks like it will be beautiful and perfect on the handheld system. They are still vague on the details of the game at this point, but of every game we know about being in development, this game is at the top of the list. Is it 2014 yet?