Brawl really leaves nothing unfinished, almost no feature omitted
I've been playing video games for almost as long as I can remember. As of this review, I've beaten 572 and played many more. Perhaps one of my favorite games so far is Super Smash Bros. Brawl. OK, it's only in the top 3, but that's still quite a statement. But why do I love this game so much? Brawl attempts something different when it comes to fighters. Rather than depleting your sole opponent's life bar with arcane button and joystick sequences which fire fireballs from your hands , you bash your opponent senseless over large and intricate stages that can twist, turn and threaten you with instant death, until their percentage is high enough for you to knock them off the stage and into oblivion.
The characters in this game are incredibly well balanced, well varied and quite easy to use. Gone are the arcane button/joystick sequences I just referenced, as all characters perform their moves in the same manner. For example, the B-up moves of most characters act as a third jump to keep you from falling to your death. To compensate for the balanced character roster, the items are far more chaotic than in the previous iteration, Melee. Almost all can quickly turn the tide of battle, like the force of a falling Warp Star or the devastating power of each character's Final Smash. Speaking of that, Final Smashes are perhaps the biggest change to the fighting system, as the focus of all players in a match will quickly change to the frantic beating of the orb until it allows you to unleash fiery death on your foes.
You've probably caught onto the fact that the game is best played with multiple people at this point. There's an ungodly amount of modes to play, from team battles and custom matches to co-op affairs and player made stages. But worry not, lonesome readers among you, as Brawl allows you to play online. Yes, using the Wii Wi-Fi, you can play against people all across the globe (except Europe and Australia, where it has yet to arrive). Lag, however, can be a problem. Some matches can be silky smooth, others being so rough as to make the play think it's been tossed down a gravel road only to later fall down a cliff. Overall, though, online is still pretty good and a good alternative for those who can't organize a four player killfest.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl also offers quite the single player experience, too. You have events, Classic mode, Subspace, All Stars, and a plethora of other modes that can also be played with a buddy. The only one that especially stands out amongst the crowd is the Subspace Emissary, the game's story/campaign mode. The basic story is that an Ancient Minister is blowing up areas into nothingness, and characters from all over the Nintendo universe (and even beyond) have some role to play in it. What I absolutely love about this campaign is that the tale is told without a single word uttered throughout the entire duration. That takes an incredible amount of talent, whether it's the emotion portrayed when all the ROBs are ordered to suicide bomb the heroes or the humor of Princess Peach obliviously going out for a Sunday stroll while being fired upon by enemy ships (and then inviting others for tea). Subspace also wins me over with classic platforming levels influenced by some of the best of the genre, like Donkey Kong Country and Kirby's Dreamland (not surprising, considering the same person designed the two games).
Classic and All Star seem to have suffered to a degree, though. The randomized order of each has been replaced with a pseudo-random one that can be predicted and planned out, which can remove a bit of the difficulty of a system that never turns out anything near the same result twice. Target practice is no longer custom per character, but rather by difficulty level and certain characters (essentially the villains) aren't well suited to these trials.
You may think that's quite a lot to say about how a game is played, but that's just a testament to how large the game is. Perhaps the only thing within it to rival the high amount of ways to play games is the soundtrack. Brawl contains over 300 songs from Nintendo to Metal Gear to Sonic the Hedgehog, and you're bound to find something you'll fall in love with, like the "ripped right from your Sega Genesis" Sonic stage themes to the instrumental version of With Mila's Divine Protection (from the Japan only Fire Emblem Gaiden). Truth be told, the game contains a few duds (essentially anything with lyrics), but the game has the courtesy of allowing you to prevent those failures from ever appearing if you don't want them to. Ever.
Finally come the graphics, which definitely show signs of improvement over Melee (which itself looked fairly good). The characters show more detail than the somewhat flat models of its predecessor, and the game is generally appealing to look at. Quite a lot can be happening on screen at once, but it doesn't slow down for anything (except during online matches, but that's a completely separate issue I addressed earlier).
As you've probably guessed by now, I love Super Smash Bros. Brawl. It is easy to pick up and get into but hard to master, the music is a godsend to gamers who loved their older systems and the myriad of modes and unlockables still has me playing it long after its release. This is a game every Wii owner should have in their library, if they don't already.