10 years of Super Smash Bros

Released March 9th, 2008, Super Smash Bros Brawl continued the more is more tradition of the franchise, adding more characters, more modes and the long awaited online vs mode. Anticipation had been building for months for the game thanks in large part to daily updates from Sakurai’s Smash Dojo website, which unveiled new features, characters and details almost every day for the months leading up to the game’s release. The game’s last minute delay was agony for fans that were, at that point, frothing at the mouth, speaking in Animal Crossing tongues, and waking up in cold sweats wondering whether Solid Snake could beat Charizard.

The game supported a number of control schemes, though the classic GameCube controller compatibility was a godsend for players concerned with the Wiimote’s awkward waggle smash mechanic.

Brawl also included, for the first time, the chance to battle against friends and foes alike online, a huge draw for a game whose appeal is primarily in its multiplayer. While the game was playable online, persistent latency issues made it too imprecise for the more serious players, though it’s fine for a casual game.

Solid Snake, Zero Suit Samus, Sonic the Hedgehog, King DeDeDe, Pokemon Trainer, Diddy Kong, Ike, Pit, Lucas, Toon Link, Wolf, Wario, Olimar, R.O.B, Meta Knight, Lucario.

Phew. Brawl added a slew of characters to the game, many of them villains or slightly less recognizable characters from Nintendo franchises. Most of the characters had also been updated stylistically to resemble their newer games. The Legend of Zelda characters (Toon Link excepted) were now styled after Twilight Princess, while the Starfox characters were now from Starfox Adventures. The game also introduced another character with an oddball fighting style, Captain Olimar, who relies on replenishing his inventory of Pikmin to remain effective.

Sakurai has a history of paying close attention to what SSB fans want, and for Brawl, he turned to them to vote for the character they wanted to see most in the game. Sonic the Hedgehog won the vote handily despite his now decade long trail of god awful, miserable games and became SSBB’s last announced character.

On paper, Brawl looks very similar to its predecessor as it retained virtually all of its combat mechanics, but the game is notably slower than Melee. Characters in Brawl fall much more slowly than they did in Melee, and characters’ movements around the stage are also somewhat slower. To say the game felt a bit more ponderous would not be an exaggeration. Most importantly, wavedashing was removed from the game, slowing down serious gameplay even further. In general, the game is a lot floatier and requires the player to fight in the air even more than before.

Brawl’s single-player adventure mode also increased in scope and size, attempting to work a story into the game via animated cutscenes that followed preset groups of characters around. The Subspace Emissary was more in depth than any of the previous games, featuring multiple paths, secrets and a (relatively) cohesive plot, although attempting to build dramatic tension between Pikachu and Samus will always be an exercise in futility.

The mode introduced multiple original new characters not previously seen in any game, known as the Subspace Army. Their leader Tabuu also serves as the game’s true final boss, after disposing of the franchise’s perennial final boss, Master Hand. While the mode is certainly far more detailed and varied than the previous game’s adventure mode, it’s fairly repetitive and the emphasis on platforming and fighting small enemies makes it incredibly difficult to complete with certain characters who simply weren’t designed for it.

Given the commercial and critical success that the Smash Bros games have received, it’s inevitable that Nintendo will be releasing another sequel, though gamers will most likely have to wait until Nintendo’s next console. In the mean time, speculation will surely run wild as gamers fantasize about the new additions to the roster. Link’s Uncle? Bubbles from Clu Clu Land? One of the Excitetrucks? Bayou Billy? If the previous games are any indicator, Super Smash Brothers: “Fracas” will be full of the classic characters and gameplay that have made the series one of Nintendo’s, and the fighting genre’s, best.

Apr 24, 2009

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