Continuing on from a previous theme, the Super Smash Bros series, though obscenely popular and capable of selling millions, is a series that I just can’t seem to get on the right wavelength to enjoy.
Though I’ve been known to, I’m not going to get on that high horse about how it’s not a proper fighting game and the world would be much better off if everyone would master the intricacies of Street Fighter III or Mark of the Wolves. It would, but the point is that Smash Bros is as much a party game and a Nintendo museum as it is a fighting game. It’s all very tongue-in-cheek; a snakes and ladders to Street Fighter’s chess. I’ll just leave that argument there since I’m sure you can find several theses’ worth of fanboys clashing over it.
I have my copy of Brawl, just like I had Melee and the original game before it, and yet the huge appeal still eludes me. Subspace Emissary, the bizarrely titled adventure mode, is a painful slog that’s totally at odds with the classic mode and that had me bored senseless after an hour. I’m not opposed to a story mode in this – indeed, the FMV scenes and the ludicrous contrivances that bring Mario, Sonic, and Solid Snake together in one universe can be pretty brilliant – but the platforming just doesn’t do it for me. How about wrapping the story around the normal fighting engine?
Regardless, the basic fighting has a certain charm, and when played online (when that decides to work – Nintendo WFC makes PSN seem reliable) or in local multiplayer it’s a blast. The arenas also never fail to impress me, from the schizophrenic Wario Ware stage to the quite beautiful [insert ‘for a Wii game’ disclaimer here] Twilight Princess one, all with their own little idiosyncrasies and gimmicks. Coupled with the fact that the game’s basically one big fan-wank – hundreds of music tracks, even more obscure characters to unlock in the form of trophies and stickers – I can see the appeal, but to me the underlying game is just incredibly overrated.
Still, credit for Nintendo for really going all out with this game. The fact that it allows you to create maps and save screenshots (the above one is mine) and replays to be shared on SD card or – get this – traded online, shows that if they can move on from the friend code rubbish (mine’s 2621-2435-6589, incidentally), Nintendo might not be completely left behind when community features like those in Halo 3 and LittleBigPlanet become commonplace. God knows what they’re going to put in there for the next version. Every Nintendo character ever playable?