09 March 2008

Brawl: The First Ten Hours

A brief history of my Super Smash Bros. expertise-

I started playing Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64 in my first year of college. The game had been out for two years and I'd tried it once or twice in a GameStop, but I didn't get into it until my stay in the freshmen dorms. Smash was easily the most potent bonding medium for my group of friends in the dorm for the whole year. I never want to know how many hours we spent playing that game, but truth be told, it was for the best because as an activity, it tied us together for many years to come. Short story: I played a lot of Smash on the N64. It's one of the few games I say I've "mastered."

That Christmas of freshman year, Nintendo released the GameCube and shortly after, Super Smash Bros. Melee. At first, I rejected the game as radically different. The pacing was frantic and the power of the GameCube rendered some dizzying levels. It took me a few months to come around and get the hang of the changes made to the series. Six years later, I wouldn't say I've mastered it, but I'm as good as I'll ever be. Melee has been a staple of my gaming essence for many, many years. You could say Brawl has a lot to live up to.

We picked up the game from Walmart at 12:01AM on Sunday morning, raced back to the house, and played it for three hours straight. After a brief nap, we clocked in a few more hours (the game says it had been on for ten hours, but I don't believe that!) and here are my initial impressions...

I agree with the early review statements that this game is a fusion of elements from both N64 Smash and Melee. The pacing has been scaled back, quick KO's seem dramatically harder to execute, and items are 100% overpowered.

Brawl introduces mechanics that make for more "error-proof" play. Characters don't fall off the stage as easy due to slower falling speeds and generous edge grabbing. Air-dodging no longer causes the player to lose control... no more accidental self-deaths due to a bad roll. The reduced gravity coefficient both helps and hinders aggressive offense. It is easier to time a connecting juggle or combo, but characters float away at 64-esque angles from even tiny hits.

I see this change to the core gameplay as a way to be more accessible to the Wii crowd, but ultimately maintains the depth of strategy that the hardcore Melee fanatics crave.

So far, my favorite characters are Bowser, Dedede, and Marth. The heavy characters are extremely viable and Marth is a favorite from Melee that fortunately wasn't nerfed! I'm still getting familiar with the changes to Peach; they aren't too drastic and I think she will remain in my top 5.

We don't actually have a Wii in the house until later this week, but I'll hopefully have some more impressions of Brawl soon!


  1. i'm just glad that it wasn't a disappointment, because i don't think i could handle seeing your heart be broken like that.

  2. Unfortunately it hasn't changed enough to actually let n00bs play on a remotely even field, so the rest of us were stuck playing strip cranium. Poor us. :)