All posts by Eddie

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Complete Score: 28 / 42 = 67%

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the third entry in the beloved Nintendo fighting franchise and the first iteration for the Wii. It is a fighting game that brings together many popular and obscure Nintendo characters for a brawl fest on multi-tiered organic stages.

It has that “OK, only more game…” quality

In the newest installment, Nintendo decided to include popular characters from other companies, the main additions being Solid Snake from the Metal Gear franchise and classic Sega character Sonic the Hedgehog. With few gameplay changes, the game manages to keep the fighting as fast and intense as the previous editions. But can it stack up to the deep fighting experiences of games like Soul Caliber IV and Virtua Fighter 5?

Value

At $50, the game is priced the same as many of the Wii games on the market today. However, with the amount of unlockables in the game, the replay value is very high. The single player story mode will take most gamers about seven hours to go through. The game also features 35 characters and over 30 different stages to battle on. On top of the single player story mode, there are also numerous challenges to complete in order to unlock character art, game music, and trophies that encompass nearly every game in Nintendo’s library.

To go along with the single player, the multiplayer mode supports up to four players simultaneously. Adding four players to the levels can become overwhelming with the amount of objects on screen at once. However, this adds to the intensity when four people are huddled in a room yelling at each other every time a player gets knocked off the stage. Multiplayer is incredibly addictive and gamers with a good group of friends could challenge each other for months. For people who don’t have friends, there is the stripped down online mode where gamers can challenge anyone from the world. There is enough packed into this game to keep people busy for a long time.

The only reason this game doesn’t receive a perfect score in Value is because gamers who don’t have online or people to play with locally could easily become bored with the game. The carrot on a stick grind that the single player is based on could turn some people off.

Score: 4 / 5

Bowser smashing some fools
Bowser smashing some fools

Quality

The first thing that you notice about Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the presentation itself. It is the best looking game on the Wii, barely edging out Super Mario Galaxy. The colors are bright and vibrant with excellent character movement. The game sometimes slows down, but usually stays at 30 FPS. This is incredible when you see the amount of different characters and objects that can fill the screen. Also, the sound is amazing and will make many Nintendo fan boys tear up. The music ranges from popular games such as Zelda and Mario, to more hardcore beloved games like Excite Bike and F-Zero. The presentation is excellent and much credit goes to the game’s developers.

While there are many different characters and stages packed into the game, the most important aspect is the actual fighting gameplay itself. There are no health bars, but instead a percentage on the lower half of the screen. The more a player gets hit, the higher the percentage bar increases. The object is to weaken a player to the point where they can be knocked off the level and lose the match.

The levels can get crazy, with many moving parts to each stage. For example, one level is on an airship where different sections are falling off, forcing the player to jump onto different platforms. For a gamer new to the fighting genre, this can be fun and unpredictable, creating a different experience each time.

Speaking of new players, gamers who are picking up a fighting game for the first time will love Super Smash Bros. Brawl They can easily mash away at buttons and slowly ease their way into the fighting game genre. However, more experienced players can use the stages and certain power moves to their advantage to knock the players off the level.

The nature of the ever changing stages creates an imbalance that leads many cheap deaths, frustrating more experienced gamers who are used to pulling off precision combos. When stacked up against a game like Virtua Fighter 5, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is child’s play. The button mashing happy gameplay can become real shallow, real quick. After a couple of hours of play, I began to tire of hitting the same one or two buttons over and over, no matter what character you use.

Score: 3.5 / 5

The Princess punishing fools
The Princess punishing fools

Innovation

Super Smash Bros. Brawl feels like a minor tune up from Super Smash Bros. Melee more than a true sequel. Nintendo decided to keep the gameplay intact, instead focusing on overloading gamers’ senses with more character, trophies, and stages. If you have played any of the other games in the Super Smash Bros. series, you will feel right at home with this game.

The only major addition to the game is the Subspace Emissary story mode in single player. The story mode feels more like a platforming game with fighting game elements mixed in. While much more creative than the story mode in Soul Caliber IV or Virtua Fighter 5, the story isn’t that great, especially since none of the characters speak. It’s your typical evil villain tries to destroy the world and only the game’s characters can stop it. It is not enough of a change to make it feel new, only slightly refined.

Score: 1.5 / 5

Social Benefit

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is one of those games that can bring people together and keep them glued to the TV for hours. This can be a problem because it can prevent people from going outside and catching the occasional rays of sun light that the world has to offer. Fresh air is a great thing, and this game can prevent people from getting it.

But then again, you can get many people together in a room to play and have hours of fun. On weekends, this could prevent people from getting drunk and driving, leading to possible fatal accidents. It is also a good stress reliever and a good way to vent frustration, especially with friends. A heated argument between friends could easily be resolved with a game of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Score: 3 / 5

Mario vs. Zelda, the ultimate Nintendo brawl
Mario vs. Zelda, the ultimate Nintendo brawl

Freestyle!

Personally, this was a difficult game to review because I had so much fun playing it. Fun is a word that seems to pop up over and over again in this review, but the only time I really had fun was when I was playing with other people. I’ve had some sessions that lasted for more than three hours when I had a good group of friends playing. It has that “OK, only more game…” quality that many games lack.

However, the single player gets very boring very quickly. Part of the fun of this game is the competitive nature of trash talking and psyching out your opponents. If that element is missing you begin to realize how simple the gameplay is. Online play could have remedied this problem if it wasn’t limited due to the lack of voice chat and an easily accessible friends list.

While many Nintendo fan boys are already itching to respond to this review with nasty responses even before I’m finished, what I am saying is true if you really think about it. It’s a shame because you can tell that so much love and hard work was put into the game by the developers. I only wish that they focused more on creating a deeper fighting experience rather than throwing in more bells and whistles.

Score: 16 / 22

Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Nintendo Wii is available at Amazon.com. (Note, Amazon.com is our affiliate).

Note, all gameplay images are via the Nintendo web-site.

Complete Score: 28 / 42 = 67%

Nintendo Wii Classic Controller

Complete Score: 27.5 / 42 = 65.5%

When the Wii was released originally in September of 2006, all of the attention from media and fans was focused on the much hyped Remote/Nun chuck setup. The wireless motion sensing setup overshadowed the Wii Classic Controller released on the same day as launch.

When I first picked up the Wii Classic Controller, I felt a rush of nostalgia that made me feel like I was 10 years old again. It feels almost exactly like the classic SNES controller where I busted many a friend with my Ryu skills in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, put in marathon sessions of arguably the greatest RPG ever made in Chrono Trigger, and uncovered every square inch of Zebes in Super Metroid.

But is nostalgia enough? Does the Wii Classic Controller stand up in the face of over a decade of controller innovation from other game hardware manufacturers? Well, yes and no.

Value

At $20, the Classic Controller is far cheaper than the $40 and $50 you will be spending for a Xbox 360 and PS3 controller respectively. The controller plugs into the Wii Remote to make it wireless. Because it doesn’t run off of the power of the Wii, expect to go through many sets of AA batteries or spend a little more for rechargeable batteries.

The Classic Controller is meant to be played with the hundreds of titles on the Wii’s Virtual Console and with select Wii games like Super Smash Bros. Since it can’t be used with all Wii games and the fact that you will have to spend money for AA batteries, the value of the controller is simply average.

Score: 3 / 5

Quality

The Classic Controller is a well made controller, simply put. It has a smooth white finish that matches the look and style of the Wii system. It has eight game play buttons, d-pad, and dual analog sticks. Also, it has start, select, and home buttons that mimic the style of the Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers. The number of buttons is perfect for the Virtual Console because of the range of titles available for the service. The titles range from the early days of the NES and Turbografx-16 up to the N64, which the Classic Controller handles almost to perfection.

The front of the controller
The front of the controller

The controller is durable as well. The controller worked like a charm after playing multiple sessions of Contra and Ninja Gaiden II, two games which have caused the destruction of thousand of controllers over the years. I threw the controller against a carpeted ground five times and against a sheet rock wall twice with no ill effects to the controller. Also, I used the controller with Super Smash Bros. The Classic Controller makes it easier to pull off combos than the Wii Remote/Nun chuck setup, which forces players to move the controller in the air a certain way to perform moves. The fighting style of the game is much more conducive to inputting commands with the multiple face buttons of the Classic Controller.

The major problem that holds back the Classic Controller is the actual design itself. After about an hour, the palms of my hands began to ache and my thumbs were cramping up. The dual analog sticks are too close together on the controller, causing the user to put their thumbs in an awkward position. The evolution of ergonomic controllers for other systems has left much to be desired with the Classic Controller.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Innovation

There really isn’t much innovation with the Classic Controller. It borrows heavily from the design of the SNES controller, as previously stated. Also, the addition of dual analog sticks and wireless play borrow from the evolution of controllers instituted by all three major console hardware manufacturers. While it might not be innovative, it gives owners of the Wii a great alternative for playing classic games without the use of the limited buttons on the Wii Remote. Because of the fact that it helps players enjoy classic games with a better controller than previously available at the time, the Classic Controller receives an average score in the Innovation category.

Score: 2.5 / 5

Social Benefit

In terms of the world of video games, the Classic Controller, in conjunction with Virtual Console, gives the average gamer access to a world of games that many of them have never played before. In order to understand the current state of the video game industry, one must look at the evolution of games and game play over the years. Playing classic games such as Super Mario Bros., Super Metroid, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Super Mario 64 can help gamers and designers see what made games so fun to play in the first place. If we can learn from the game design of all these classic video games, maybe someone will be able to make a game that stands out from the slew of yearly minimally updated sports games and the multitude of sequels that plague the current industry.

When thinking about the grand scheme of things, the fact that this controller, in conjunction with the Wii Remote, goes through so many batteries is a bad thing for the environment. I know that most people, including myself, usually toss batteries into the trash without a second thought about the hazardous material that we are contributing to trash dumps all over the world.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Freestyle!

As a serious player of classic and retro games, the Classic Controller is the best option currently available for the Wii. It is much better suited for the Virtual Console than any other controller setup for the Wii. However, I can’t give it a higher score only because the use of the controller is limited. Once more Wii games become compatible with the Classic Controller, then maybe the true potential of this small controller can be fully unlocked.

Score: 15 / 22

The Nintendo Wii Classic Controller is available at Amazon.com. (Note, Amazon.com is our affiliate).

Complete Score: 27.5 / 42 = 65.5%