QJ.NET reviews Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Part 2

SSBB Thumbnail - Image 1The ultimate collaboration between Nintendo, Game Arts, and Sora Ltd. is already ’round the corner, just waiting to leap at the throats of long-suffering gamers. Yes, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is here, but it’s more than just being able to rumble with your friends both online and offline. After Part 1 of our in-depth review, we now show you how to Brawl by yourself, and with style.

Originally posted on March 12, 2008 at 1:21 p.m.

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(Editor’s Note: Are you guys still breathing over there? All Brawled out with cracked virtual ribs and black eyes? Well, with Part 1 of our in-depth review for Super Smash Bros. Brawl already published, now comes the second round of beating! Here in Part 2, we’ll take you through all the good stuff to be had when you’re on Solo flight!)

Here’s the harsh reality: people won’t always be there to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl with you. No matter how epic the game is, Real Life™ is still around to foil people’s plans to do some heavy Brawling. But fear not, since gaming meister Masahiro Sakurai had this fact in mind when Nintendo, Game Arts, and Sora Ltd. developed Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

So what is it that Sakurai and Co. came up with to fill the absence of friends to play with, or lack of online connection? Yes, you guessed it right, they’re the Solo modes that are packed into the already sweet package that is Brawl.

The solo game modes aren’t to be scoffed at, either, with a chock-full of game play variations that are sure to cater to every Brawler’s needs. Epic side-scrolling game? Check. Mindless beat-em-up? Check. Silly mini-games? Check. How about some mission-type modes that require some amount of thinking? Oh yes, check.

But where to start? That’s one question that you’ll need to answer as soon as you grab your own copy of the game. But for now, let’s start off with…

Epic battles: Subspace Emissary

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When Sakurai introduced the Subspace Emissary, Smash fans were stumped. What the heck is Mario doing with Kirby? Why is Kirby a trophy? And why are Princesses Peach and Zelda having a tea party with Petey Piranha? What’s happening? Needless to say, it was something that quite boggled the minds of those who were expecting a more predictable storyline for Brawl‘s single-player adventure mode. Yes, this time, the Smash adventure mode finally has a story, and an intriguing one at that.

While the idea of having an adventure mode in Smash isn’t quite new, the way Subspace Emissary turned out to be is. There’s an engaging plot – though it may hook you in only in the later parts – as well as character development that you never thought possible with a tale that lacks any spoken dialogue. Not even Snake, who is usually verbose with his frequent sarcastic banter, gets to say any lines during the Subspace Emissary cutscenes.

But Subspace Emissary isn’t about dialogue or drama. It’s more about epic battles, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl is full of them, guaranteed. You’ll know that you have a great game in your hands, when you witness Meta Knight and Marth’s shiny blades clash against each other in their first encounter, or when you get to take over Link as he battles Mario, as he… alright, we’ll stop there. No use in spoiling the game for you, yes? But you get the drift.

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There is only one liner path, however, but it is one that encompasses the storylines of all characters involved, and players get to play as every character in the story as long as it’s their turn in the spotlight. There may be times when you’ll be forced to play as someone you don’t particularly like – maybe Donkey Kong, for instance – but thankfully most of the time you can have two to four characters to choose from, for every scenario.

Some of the scenarios are also catered to the characters who are tasked to go through its obstacles: it’s a different flavor per stage. For instance, the area that the Ice Climbers and Meta Knight tackle together is a mountain which takes advantage of their ability to either jump and grab ledges or, in Meta Knight’s case, fly. The jungle that Donkey Kong stampedes in, on the other hand, is not unlike an obstacle course filled with moving platforms that either frustrates or entertains you – but is befitting a lifeform that loves to “barrel” through, if you get our drift.

Of course, the stages aren’t complete without the enemies that litter around the area, chucking what-have-yous at the character you’re controlling. Which puts into mind the other thing that makes Subspace Emissary so darn wonderful: the menagerie of enemies that you will encounter within the game.

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While some enemies from old-school Nintendo games make their appearance (Goombas, Hammer Bros, et. al), Sakurai paid more dedication to the game and created a whole slew of new quirky monsters, instead of just being complacent and rehashing the same old – but no less remarkable – enemies that already exist in the Nintendo universe.

There’s just so much to be seen when it comes to the new baddies, which range from the typical to the utterly bizarre. There are the normal-looking Primids, the two-edged sword Auroros (so-called because you can use them as weapons against other enemies), and the Pokeball-like Bytans, which put Gremlins in water to shame when it comes to self-replication.

If you find playing through an in-depth story not that appealing, and would like to skip Subspace Emissary anyway, here’s something that you need to know: you’ll need to play through it to unlock characters who aren’t in your roster. If you’d rather get down and dirty with your friends in multiplayer Brawl, well then better hold your horses first, sit back and relax (or not), and enjoy the awesome story it offers.

There’s just so much that can be discovered within Subspace Emissary, but detailing them one by one will pretty much spoil everything for you. We’ll leave it up to you to discover Subspace Emissary, for yourself. You don’t have to worry about missing any detail – you can always go back to stages that you already went through, to make sure you’ve gone through all the doors and gotten all items. You’ll have to do it, anyway, to complete the Clear percentage of the Subspace Emissary adventure mode.

Mindless Brawling: Classic Mode

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What if gamers don’t want to tarry around to watch some cutscenes, but prefer to just go ahead and Brawl? It’s a good thing that Nintendo and Sora had those no-nonsense Brawlers in mind, and added the Classic Mode to provide everyone’s fill of no-frills action. Unlike Subspace Emissary, Classic Mode is pretty much linear: pick out your favorite character, and take down enemies to clear each stage. Sounds simple enough? Well, not really.

While the main objective in Classic Mode is to beat all characters thrown your way until you get the chance to beat up Master Hand, the circumstances really aren’t that straightforward. The first battle, in Stage 1, may just be another ho-hum one on one duel with Link or another hero, but the next battles won’t be so… normal. You’ll know what we’re talking about once you’re pitted against Giant Ike (as if his sword wasn’t large enough), or even Giant Snake. Or Giant Kirby, if the gods of randomness are nice enough.

The are also other variations and rules in every match. You’ll find yourself besieged by a horde of Peaches, or Nesses. And when we say horde, we do mean horde. Imagine yourself all alone, surrounded by identical enemies at all sides – who even dare to respawn, God forbid – eventually enjoying the consecutive cries and screams of your opponents as you throw them off the stage, one by one, with your trusty and cathartic Smash attacks.

We can now assume, at this point, that Super Smash Bros. Brawl will no doubt be the game of choice of frustrated people from all walks of life: angry, bullied kids, jilted teenagers, or even employees who harbor vendetta. Ah, Brawl, what can we do without you.

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There’s another reason why one should pick up the Classic Mode. For every stage cleared, you’ll receive a certain amount of coins – coins which can be used to obtain items in another mode, which we’ll touch upon a bit later. If you’re plowing through the Classic Mode for coins, you have to take note that for every visit to the Game Over Screen, you forfeit a number of coins, the amount depending on the difficulty setting of your game. The more difficult the game, the more coins you lose, so you have to make sure that you’ll either have enough skill, or possess a lot of coins to see you through the Intense setting.

Mission Complete: Events Mode

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The Events Mode is back, in case you’re a little bit worried that it got excluded due to the already rich content crammed into the game disc. Those who want a little more rules and specifics to their usual Brawling will no doubt find the Event mode to their liking: strange situations will always be good for a little smackdown, if we do say so ourselves.

More or less, it’s still the same old Events Mode that we know and love from Super Smash Bros. Melee: all you need to do is to clear the stages according to the mission objectives outlined. However, the situations you can find yourself in the Events Mode in Brawl is no doubt stranger than those of Melee. In one, you’ll need to eliminate three Wario clones at once using Kirby and his Dragoon. Another event will have you help Zero Suit Samus retrieve her armor, though we won’t spoil you on how to do it exactly.

The main difference in the Event Mode this time around is the ability to choose the difficulty setting, unlike in Melee. Can’t clear a certain event because you’re too stumped? The solution is quite simple: lower the difficulty setting to Easy. Easy as pie, yes? We personally liked this change, and there’s no doubt that other Smash fans will appreciate it – this should also significantly lessen the possible number of Wiimotes thrown at the direction of the TV screen out of sheer frustration.

But that’s not the only thing you can do to try and tackle difficult stages. Of course, the other obvious solution when you’re stuck in an Event stage is this: get a little help from a friend. Yes, Events Mode can also be played by two players at the same time. What better way to defeat enemies than to get assistance, yes? Situations wherein you were getting pummeled to bits by two or more enemies will no doubt become an easier run once you pull in a friend to help even out the odds.

And now we say hi to some familiar Smash staples in the Stadium Mode:

Stadium: Break the Targets

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Target Smash, as well as the other two Stadium games (Home-Run Contest and Multi-Man Brawl), is already a staple of every Smash game. Basically, all you have to do in Target Smash is to break ten targets within a given time limit. Yes, it’s just a mind-breaking, simplistic mini-game when you read the description, but you won’t have that kind of sentiment once you play through it and see for yourself the challenges and perks that this mode presents. The main challenge, of course, is to break all the targets in the shortest time possible.

There are five different stages you can play Target Smash in, where items are littered about, waiting to be used when you need their assistance. That said, the shortest time record that can be achieved in Target Smash doesn’t only depend on skill alone: it also depends on the stage, the items you use, as well as the character you’re controlling.

Now, let’s say you already achieved the shortest time possible in Target Smash, something that you never thought you’d be able to do. No, the next thing to do is not to rest on your laurels and celebrate the feat by yourself. The next thing to do, of course, is to show off your scores. Thankfully, the Wii will let you show off your score big time. How, you ask? Simple: send a replay of your stellar Target Smash run to your friend’s Wii. That will stop them from asking for proof of your achievements.

Do take note that the option of being able to save replays is not only there for posterity’s sake. Those who are truly mindful of their scores will use the replays to review how they did on their previous runs.

Stadium: Home-Run Contest

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The Events Mode and the Target Smash aren’t the only modes making a grand comeback in Brawl. Say hello to Mr. Sandbag, because you’re going to have another great time bludgeoning and launching it into the air as far and as high as you can in the Home-Run Contest.

This time, Brawlers are given only 10 seconds to do everything needed: grab the bat, beat up Sandbag (will Mr. Sandbag even get any sort of love from this game?), and do a Smash attack on the poor thing to send it soaring the skies.

There are some differences in the Brawl version of Home-Run Contest. One is that the stadium platform is surrounded by a barrier: this ensures that Sandbag won’t be dropped off the platform prematurely, thus making things easier for you to just go ahead and hit Mr. Sandbag all you want before attempting a home-run.

If you’re having some trouble with the Home-Run Contest, you can now get a friend to help you out and attempt to get even higher records. On the other hand, you can also compete against a friend, both online and offline.

Granted, they’re just subtle additions to an already winning formula, but that’s what we like most of all about Brawl: Sakurai did not make any changes on anything that made the previous games great, but rather just added more layers to give Super Smash Bros. Brawl even more depth.

Stadium: Multi-Man Brawl

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Now we go to what can be considered as the meat of Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s Stadium mini-games: Multi-Man Brawl. Scratch that, this isn’t a mini-game. Multi-Man Brawl itself has six modes of gameplay, with their own different rules. Can you outlast the 10-Man Brawl? Yes? Then how about the 100-Man Brawl?

Smash fanatics most probably already recognize the following modes from Melee: 10-Man Brawl, 100-Man Brawl, Cruel Brawl, and the others. Brawl has the same bunch of Multi-Man modes as well, but again, there are only some subtle differences added to revamp the game the right way.

First of the differences is the replacement of the Fighting Wire Frames as Brawling dummies by the four-man Fighting Alloy team, loosely modeled after the popular Japanese sentai show stereotype. There’s a male leader-like Red Alloy, a female Blue Alloy, a childlike Yellow Alloy, and a hefty Green Alloy. Each of them have their own special set of moves, so you better have to study them carefully if you want to survive in the more difficult game modes.

Just like most of the other modes, what distinguishes the Brawl reiteration of Multi-Man Brawl from the others is its inclusion of two-player cooperative play. Yes, if beating through 100-Man Brawl in Melee was a bit of a hopeless feat, now you can have a chance in Brawl, provided you have a friend (beside you, or online) to help you out and see you through the game.

Ah, the thought just brings tears to our eyes.

Pew! Pew! Pew! Coin Launcher

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We mentioned earlier that you’d need the coins obtained from Classic Mode, right? Well, here it is: the Coin Launcher. While not exactly part of Solo Mode, you can consider it such since you’ll be using the fruits of your effort from the Classic Mode on the Coin Launcher anyway.

If you missed the awesome prize dispenser from Melee, well, it’s high time that you mourn for its loss, because you won’t find it anywhere in Brawl. But after that, wipe those tears from your eyes because Sakurai put something even better in its place, a sort-of mini-arcade game where you shoot at trophies to get them.

Contrary to what you may think, the coins you earn from the Classic mode won’t be used as tokens to be able to play the Coin Launcher, no. Instead, the coins will be used as bullets… the main reason why you should be careful when playing through Classic Mode, since every visit to the game over screen will make you lose precious ammo.

It’ll take a few hits before you finally get the trophy, though. Also, you need to make sure your aim is straight and true: the trophies won’t be playing sitting ducks for you to get them easily; they tend to move a lot across the board. Don’t let your coins go to waste!

Friends? Nah.

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Well, there you have it. Some gamers will reason out that they will never buy a Wii only for Super Smash Bros. Brawl because they don’t have somebody else to play it with. Let us make things straight for you, then: you DO NOT need other people to enjoy Brawl.

Sure, maybe playing the Group modes with only CPU-powered behinds to kick may get a little bit lonely at times, but remember, aside from the superb collaborative effort between Nintendo, Game Arts, and Sora Ltd., there’s a whole lot other things that make Super Smash Bros. Brawl even more than just enjoyable. That adjective doesn’t do this game justice.

Originally posted on March 12, 2008 at 1:21 p.m.

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