Games for Lunch: Super Smash Bros. Brawl
0:00 Given the amount of time I've spent playing the first two Smash Bros. games and covering news about this version, I'm scared that this is going to be anticlimactic. We shall see.
0:01 A required system update, creating a save file and a longish initial load takes up most of the first minute. The game tells me I can't save replay data over three minutes in length. Um, rats?
0:02 Slow pans across the characters and they look over an ocean. Jump cuts to close ups of Mario, Link, Pit, Meta Knight, Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, King Dedede, Sheik, Roy, Samus, Wario, Yoshi ... I'm sure I'm missing some. Just watch this.
0:04 And the title screen. There's no one else around at the moment (and I'm not about to wait for someone to try out the game) so I try out the online mode first. My friend code is 4296-2599-7618, if you care.
0:06 The game lets you choose a character as you wait for others to connect. That's nice. Unfortunately, the game can't seem to find any opponents in the 40-second time limit. Trying again...
0:07 No connection again. I find it hard to believe no one in Japan is playing. Maybe it's too far away?
0:08 I guess this is gonna be a solo affair. I choose the Subspace Emissary story mode, because it's meant for one player. I choose Hard difficulty because I'd like to think I'm decent at Smash Bros. games...
0:10 Zelda and Peach look out over a stadium of cheering fans. Life-size Mario and Kirby statues gets thrown in and are brought to life to battle. Looooooading ... five or 10 seconds' worth ... more than I've seen in other Wii games.
0:11 And it's over... Kirby barely touched me. First impression: The game is a little more slowly paced than Melee. It's easier to tell what's going on and much better animated. The Nunchuk and Wii remote controls feel familiar, but I have to get used to using my right index finger (B button) for an attack.
0:12 Pit watches the Mario/Kirby match from his shadowy lair. Dark clouds appear, and a huge ship drops black snow that turns into some extremely generic-looking monsters. Zelda and Peach come to help, and I get to choose the order of my lineup from among the four of them.
0:14 So I get to fight a seemingly endless repetitive procession of these scrubs, along with some floating, spark-shooting clouds (reminiscent of Kracko from the Kirby games, actually).
0:16 Thirty or so enemies later, Mario is at 208%, but he's still alive. Cut scene: An Ancient Minister floats in. Two R.O.B. robots appear and open up a bomb with a three-minute timer. Mario runs to defuse it, but is knocked into the stratosphere by ... something. Petey Piranha abducts the princesses and it's up to Kirby to beat him, I guess...
0:19 I lose one life in the battle before I realize I'm actually supposed to be attacking the cages, not Petey himself. At that point I hang back and attack gingerly from the outside and rescue Peach easily.
0:20 Wario appears and uses a big add gun to shoot a dark arrow at Zelda, who becomes a statue. Meanwhile, the bomb goes off just in time for Kirby to fly away on a star. This story is entirely too random ... like bad fan fiction. Anyway, the first ?stage? is clear. I get 24 coins and my first sticker: Telly from Chibi-Robo! Where my Nintendo nerds at? I'm at 2% completion.
0:21 Applying the sticker to a pad helps Kirby's attack power somehow. Don't ask me how that's supposed to work.
0:22 Pit watches the carnage unfolding in his magic orb, then he's visited by ... Athena, I guess? She gives him a bow, and he's back, after decades away! The eight-year-old Nintendo fanboy in me is bawling uncontrollably all through the rest of the cut scene.
0:25 Time for another fight with some of the random grunts, this time on the cloudtops. Ho hum.
0:26 First impressions of Pit: I like him. The fast, weapon-based action of Link with flying of Kirby.
0:27 New item alert... spicy food makes me shoot red fireballs out of my head automatically as I fight. Nice!
0:29 Boss fight with ?Greap,? a big axe-wielding robot. He gives me a little trouble, until I remember to roll away from his attacks.
0:30 Pit spies statue-Mario in the clouds and revives him. They leap off to adventure, together! Just like that dream I had back in 1990!
0:31 An extended side-scrolling section. I try simply avoiding enemies for a minute... that doesn't work very well. Guess I gotta fight 'em.
0:33 The battles are getting a little harder. The enemies are ganging up on me, and it's working.
0:34 The stage ends as a Star Fox Arwing flies by. I got 27 coins, three statues, four stickers and a partridge in a pear tree. Time to try some other modes, I think.
0:38 I play around in training mode a bit with Wario. Love the pratfalls and the goofy animation. I get a banana peel trophy for my efforts. Interesting...
0:39 ?Event match? seems as good a place as any to get a feel for the game's variety. The first level has Mario fighting Kings Bowser and Dedede. Pretty easy, but there's always room for improvement on the time.
0:41 The next event involves using Fox's final smash over and over to call in a huge tank and pretty much destroy everything that moves with ease. I'm saying it's really powerful.
0:43 Meta Knight in level three is a bit hard to control... I scale it back and stop trying fancy stuff, and it goes OK.
0:45 Somehow I did not know this game had breakable terrain. Now I do, though, because I had to break it.
0:46 Giant Ivysaur = cutest thing EVER! I take a picture to prove it.
0:47 New cutest thing EVER: Ivysaur with a beam sword in his mouth. Awwww...
0:48 I like Ivysaur a lot. Seems to have a good variety of ranged, directional attacks.
0:50 The Super Bowser Bros. Stage -- navigating Bowser through World 1-1 from Super Mario Bros. brings a goofy grin to my face. Then I die four times in a row. The grin has become a determined scowl. I must WIN!
0:51 I cross the flagpole just as I'm about to die. Those attacking Marios are merciless.
0:53 On to Target Smash. Seems pretty easy so far with Mario and Donkey Kong. It's a little depressing that the stage is the same for everyone... I liked the custom designs in the previous games.
0:56 The home-run contest was a favorite time-waster for me in Melee, and it's much-improved this time around by a force field that keeps the bag on the platform until you're ready to whack it. I get 1327.9 ft. on my first try. In Melee that would be close to a world record...
1:00 More fun with the home run contest. I get too greedy and get 0.00 a lot. The ?aww? sound effect when I do is heartbreaking.
Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? Given how much I played Melee, the better question might be ?Would I play this game for more than a thousand hours??
This column was based on a retail version of the game provided three days before the release date by Nintendo. Yeah, I know... I'm a lucky bum.
Don't miss Tom Chick's review of Super Smash Bros. Brawl -- you can read it here.
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