Visually, Brawl is one of the slicker productions on the Wii. Its pseudo 3D stages have a lovable old-school Nintendo style, but the game can throw in lashings of background detail when it wants to, and the characters are brilliantly rendered, lit and animated, with plenty of awesome flash and particle effects. The only minor criticism is that there are times when the view zooms out so far that only those with a large HD screen will be able to see what’s going on.
Level design, meanwhile, is the strongest of the series to date. Levels based on familiar Mario, Donkey Kong or Zelda environments are a no-brainer, but it takes a weird sort of genius to put together something like the Pictochat stage, where platforms and hazards are literally sketched onto the screen before your eyes. It’s also great to see stages based on Sonic’s Green Hill Zone and Metal Gear Solid’s Shadow Moses in a Super Smash Bros. game. It’s clear that Brawl was built with a real love for video gaming as a whole.
So why am I not slapping a 9 on it and telling anyone and everyone with a Wii to buy it? Well, it’s partly because I think only real Nintendo fans will get the most from it. Brawl isn’t a superficial game by any means, and the action has the potential to keep you hooked for long periods of time, but unless you know who Olimar or Gandondorf are or have some emotional connection to the Metroid, Mario and Zelda sagas, then you may be left wondering why everyone thinks this experience is so special. It’s also because, while Brawl is an awful lot of fun, it’s not as rich or magical an experience as, say, Super Mario Galaxy, GTAIV or Bioshock, and nowhere near as big a step forward for gaming or a genre.
Don’t be too put off. If you bought your Wii because you HAD to play the next Mario or Zelda, then you should have bought Super Smash Bros. Brawl already. Get it now; you won’t be disappointed. And if you just bought a Wii because of the hype or because it seemed fun, then you can still buy Super Smash Bros. Brawl in the knowledge that you’ll enjoy thrashing seven bells out of mates or close relatives, and they’ll enjoy doing much the same to you. If, however, the whole thing sounds rather pointless and silly, then Brawl probably won’t change your mind. It’s another strong, core Nintendo title, but would I love it quite so much if I didn’t have those nostalgia buttons to push? I think so, but I’m not 110 per cent sure.
A must for Nintendo fans, and strongly recommended to anyone with a Wii, Smash Bros. Brawl is the ultimate Nintendo universe fighting game.