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?
So Solid Snake isn’t the only non-Nintendo character to make it into Smash Bros Brawl, as Nintendo has announced that Sonic will be pitting himself in mortal combat against Mario for the first time. Now we know how Sega got permission to put Mario into its Olympic game, then.
I was very indifferent towards Smash Bros Melee, probably because it came out at the same time as I was getting into Street Fighter III: Third Strike’s home debut on Dreamcast and, let’s face it, in a battle of fighting mechanics only one of those is going to come out on top. It was an enjoyable little fanwank but I find myself constantly baffled by lists putting it up there as one of the best games of all time. It’s not. Seriously, it’s not. It’s not even close to being the best game on GameCube, and that’s saying something.
As such, my anticipation for Brawl was almost nil. I still need to buy Metroid Prime 3, and that gets the nod over Smash Bros for having a proper single player experience in there. But this has changed things entirely. The original Smash Bros may have been wish fulfilment for a lot of people who grew up with Nintendo, but in making a fighting game with Mario and Sonic, Nintendo have gone and created my most wanted game from about 1993. Seriously, if I’d told 8-year-old self about this game my little head would have exploded.
So what are the odds on Snake slitting Sonic’s throat for that awful next-gen abortion? Don’t go all family friendly on us, Nintendo.
I’ve just seen IGN’s ten reasons to wait for a Revolution, but has the irony escaped anyone else that the second reason they give is “Same Games, Prettier Graphics” and then goes on to list a new Zelda, a new Metroid, and a new Smash Bros as reasons to get a Revolution? Those won’t be the same games with better graphics?
OK, so we’ll get them with some quirky new control scheme but will they really be new gaming experiences or will they be the same games shoehorned onto the new controller? To give Nintendo credit they’re far better with original concepts than either Sony or Microsoft, but even their new stuff isn’t always as new as they’d tell you – The Wind Waker took a shocking new direction but was essentially Ocarina of Time with cartoony graphics and dull sailing sections, and although the DS has some great stuff now what was Nintendo’s first big game for it? Super Mario 64 with either less-than-ideal digital controls or unworkable analogue controls. While a Metroid Prime might work with the Revolution controller without any concessions, I really can’t see a Zelda or Smash Bros on that controller without some kind of add-on, which essentially makes them the “Same Games, Prettier Graphics”.
Maybe Nintendo will prove me wrong, but if they want to gain the popularity that Mario, Zelda, and Metroid can afford they’re going to have to stick to the status quo and not make it so that we have to swing a remote as if it was Link’s sword. Their original concept really needs original games, as the DS has shown, and when one of the main selling points is that it plays Nintendo’s whole back catalogue (same games, same graphics?) is that going to happen?