When one thinks party games, one tends to think of Nintendo and their many contributions to the genre. Unless of course, you’re my good friend Sean and the first thing that comes to mind is Muppet’s Party Cruise. What generally follows when the topic is brought up in his company is at least ten minutes of whining until I agree to play. And then several hours of party games in a desperate attempt to finish the cruise. Thankfully, Super Smash Brothers Brawl doesn’t have this problem. Each brawl can last as long as you want, and it is relatively easy to stop. The real question is whether or not you’ll want to stop.
For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Super Smash Brothers pits characters from various (and occasionally obscure) video games against each other. The cast contains old standards such as Mario, Link, and Samus in addition to less well known characters such as Olimar (from Pikmin), Lucas (from Earthbound), and the Ice Climbers (from, you guessed it, Ice Climbers). This game also has a few special characters that aren’t from Nintendo. Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid and Sonic the Hedgehog are also playable characters in the game. Snake seems a bit out of place with respect to the rest of the cast, since he is usually slipping past guards and using sniper rifles as opposed to jumping on turtle shells or collecting bananas. But that is what makes him so much fun. Whoever you pick, you can fight in a classic arcade type line up or you can get a bunch of friends together to duke it out.
To keep you entertained and to help you unlock new characters there is an “adventure mode” entitled The Subspace Emissary. The many worlds of Nintendo are under attack by sinister forces with very large bombs. No explanation is ever given as to why; they’re bad guys, blowing stuff up is what they do apparently. It is your job as Mario and then every other playable character in the game to stop the forces of evil and rescue whichever of your comrades has been kidnapped. There are a lot of jumping puzzles and annoying mazes to contend with, so I let someone else play that and reaped all the rewards later. If you are a gaming spaz such as I am, stay away from Subspace – you will be so frustrated that you’ll want to hurl your controller against the wall. The wrist strap will slow you up, which may be the real reason why Wii controllers have them.
Speaking of controllers, this is a game not well suited to the “innovative” and “unique” Wii remotes. They do well enough, I’m stumbling along with them just fine but they are a bit lacking. If you have some old Gamecube controllers lying around you may want to plug them in instead. But if you don’t, that’s okay too. Only a die hard brawler would feel the need to go out and buy some old controllers just to play this game. I have a feeling that such a person would probably already have some on hand.
Since this is at heart a party game, it really is a lot more fun when playing with other people. Nothing can quite beat the look on my husband’s face when I beat up his Samus with my Jigglypuff. My triumphant shout of “Fear the Jiggly!” resonated throughout our apartment. You can tailor the rules in multiplayer Brawl to suit your own needs: setting time or KO limits, giving someone a badly needed handicap, or limiting what items drop in battle. The game even includes a rotate feature if you find yourself with five people wanting to play a four player game. Almost every single-player feature in the game is available as a multiplayer option as well.
There’s also an online feature that I haven’t used, but I think playing people across the internet lacks a great deal of the fun you get playing with them in your living room. Mostly, you can’t mock them nearly as effectively or “accidentally” jostle their elbows. All in all, I would recommend you go pick up this game, but only if you have someone to play with. Playing by yourself can be fun, but not nearly as satisfying as battling friends and loved ones. So if you’re an antisocial loner, you probably shouldn’t waste your money on Super Smash Brothers Brawl. On the plus side all you have to do is go out and make some friends and the game will become a worthwhile investment of time and money. So go out there and start introducing yourself to complete strangers! You probably won’t be sorry you did.
This columnist would love to hear your thoughts on her work. All glowing praise should be sent to her via the link on our 'About Us' page. Hate mail on the other hand, should be directed to me as well since I have no idea how to retrieve my mail hateful or otherwise, exactly where it belongs.