Logic’s Last Stand

March 21, 2008

Early Brawl Impressions

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , , — Zurahn @ 5:53 am

While I usually don’t bother with impressions given that I at least usually have the intention of eventually writing a review. In the case of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, it’s going to be so long before I actually play everything that a review is a distant concern.

The first thing to notice is that this is Melee 2, and not a new generation, a new experience. That said, there are some adjustments to the battle system. This is namely noticed in rebalancing of some characters, seeing Marth and Shiek slowed down significantly and with some weaker attacks, while Zelda has become something less than worthless. Inexplicably, Lucas, the new Earthbound character, is just a Ness clone. Some characters do feel a bit unresponsive due to how they respond for turning while grounded.

Subspace Emissary is a bit of a conundrum in terms of judgment. I’m 50% through, and find the results very mixed in that, on one hand, it is a landmark achievement in a strong story mode and single player mode in the fighting genre, while on the other hand, for all intents and purposes, it’s just generic matches spread across mediocre platforming.

The “Masterpieces” are complete disappointments. The time limits are absurdly short, making them clearly nothing more than a very bad marketing gimmick. 1:00 for Super Mario Bros? 30 seconds for Donkey Kong?

The level designer is a bit limited, but I have to go back to that. Maybe there are some unlockables.

The AI is improved both in good and bad ways. It’s improved for the better in avoiding your charged up attacks and not walking into them as they would in Melee. However, crank up the difficulty and you see a bit of excessive response time to make up for lack of strategy.

The items suck. There, I said it. They’ve developed Mario Kart syndrome, and will hopefully die a quick, painless death. Fortunately you can turn individual items off (see: dragon pieces, final smash, hammer, golden hammer, pokéballs, assist trophies, those stupid fire crates that you can’t throw).

My reaction so far is “expansion pack”. One fine expansion pack, but not exactly convinced that they gameplay additions/tweaks were actually even beneficial for what little they did. The other side to this, of course, is the state of fighting games and their nature to stagnate. This is a game required by sheer demand, and meets it well.

I see simply two ways to look at the game: While compared to other fighting games, Brawl follows Melee in being a leader is progressing the genre more than any. But when compared to what can be said of other genres that have the ability, even with incremental gameplay improvements, can provide a fresh experience through the progressive single-player gameplay. Subspace Emissary gives it a go, and at 50%, hasn’t done enough. Here’s to the second half picking up the slack.

Objectively, I can only reasonably give it the benefit of the genre, and say that Smash Bros. once again is on top of the world. As someone playing it, I have to say that I’m playing for the sake of the content rather than the gameplay, which while I am thoroughly enjoying, I worry about the implications of taking that route of development. For a case study, see the decline of Harvest Moon.



  1. Brawl felt kind of old to me, and I had only played Melee at your house beforehand. I was actually thinking while I was playing, you would probably be disappointed by the lack of change…. Pokémon style.

    You can unlock approximately 4x as many Stage Builder pieces as you currently have. I haven’t unlocked them yet either, but I know the options are there.

    Subspace Emissary has to be taken in chunks of about 10% at a time for me. The cinematics are what keeps you going. The gameplay is just monotonous. Good for one run-through but I will probably never touch it again once I finish it.

    I don’t even consider “Masterpieces” a part of the game. I only tried the Mario one to see if it was really as bad as you said.

    Items are unbalanced. I have a love-hate relationship with that red “B” bomb. Some items are overpowered (100% rate of success, instant kill with no chance of survival), or underpowered (pokeballs and assist trophies have nearly all been reduced to the strength of the goldeen from Melee.)

    That being said, I still have to unlock at least 3/4 of the game.

    Comment by Dustin — March 21, 2008 @ 1:19 pm

  2. Disappointment isn’t the right word (aside from Masterpieces. You know, Animal Crossing had sevel full NES games in it), this is what I expected. The items could have been less crappy, though. That slow-motion item is the worst.

    Comment by zurahn — March 22, 2008 @ 2:15 am

  3. Late post, but yes… Melee 2, or as I coined: “Super Smash Bros. Melee: Turbo”.

    Comment by Coopersville — April 27, 2008 @ 8:16 am

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