Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Does this Nintendo IP explosion offer quantity over quality?
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Three very common cries from those playing SSBB, most from players unfamiliar with the series, but some from those with past experience:
- "What the hell is going on?"
- "Where the hell am I?"
- "What the hell am I supposed to be doing?"
And this is where SSBB falls flat on its arse. It's supposed to be one of those experiences deep enough for the hardcore and simple enough for the casual, but it ends up being a bit of a clusterfuck. It's too confusing to keep the attention of the passing player - Nintendo's new core market - and it doesn't offer anything in the way of real depth to keep the committed player hooked.
SSBB, for those unsure, or simply for those that have forgotten all about the game's existence seeing as it came out originally about 49 months ago in the countries Nintendo cares about, is a fighting game using a vast selection of Nintendo's back catalogue of characters, as well as some new foreign-based brawlers showing up (Solid Snake and Sonic, both of whom have to be unlocked). And that's about it. You fight, it's over the top, it's silly and I'm sure it used to be a lot more fun than this. Melee dominated many hours of play time all those years ago when it was released for the GameCube, so why is this version - essentially the same thing again - such a letdown?
Well let's look at a few of the issues then, shall we: the game is years in the making, hyped to hell and on a new console that offers a totally new form of control. Yet it's essentially the same game we were playing back in the early noughties - it even plays best when controlled with a GameCube pad. This isn't progress, this isn't taking advantage of the hardware offered and this isn't the kind of thing that fans of the series want - if we wanted to play SSBM again, we would. Thanks to the relative lack of power under the Wii's hood, it doesn't even look that much better than Melee. So maybe you can see why I feel so let down by Brawl.
But we can't ignore the fact that there is still fun to be had - when people aren't thoroughly confused, when you can see things actually going on and when you get a few mates together to take part in some of the wonderfully frantic battles that can be had, then things can be well and truly fun. It's a fine line between 'frantic' and 'confusing', mind, and Brawl does seem to spill over into the latter more than Melee ever did. I don't know, maybe it's my aged bones making me unable to cope any more. Maybe it's the credit crunch. Or knife crime. Or, maybe it's just the game is unbalanced, oversimplified and somewhat broken.
Online play is one of the few truly new additions to Brawl and it works as well as you would hope - relatively lag free and with some fine battles to be had. So long as it doesn't descend into cheap victories and unfair losses, and so long as your controls actually work ("up is JUMP, YOU STUPID PINK TWAT!"). But then things are, again, held back by Nintendo's friend code policy, meaning it's too much hassle to really bother sorting it all out. I know a lot of people can be bothered with all that crap, but I can't, so Nintendo isn't catering for me.