Has the Wii really improved anything?

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

What is it?

The jam-packed latest entry in Nintendo’s mascot fighting franchise. It has a bigger cast of characters than the Bible and a whole new, story-led platformer mode that tries to tie them all together.

Is it better than the last one?

Yes, but largely in terms of quantity rather than through any major additions to the game formula. Not that we can blame Nintendo for that one. Through its brief, two game evolution from the N64 to the Gamecube, Super Smash Bros. was perfected. Accessible but deep, hilariously knockabout but deadly hardcore, SSB was everything it needed to be before it ever came anywhere near the Wii. We just wanted more, and that’s exactly what we got.

More characters, more stages, a metric shed-load more music, a stage building tool, online play, a side-scrolling platformer… Brawl was a case of Nintendo just lavishing as much additional love as it could muster upon the franchise’s existing framework. But with a love matching that which E. Honda has for tasty fried dumplings, boy did we get a hell of a game. Brawl, in short, is the ultimate Super Smash Bros. game. It gaveus everything we’d ever wanted from the series as well as a whole bunch of things we’d never even though of, and we can’t imagine how any sequel could ever improve upon it.

Did the Wii really help?

Not in the slightest. The small amount of additional processing horsepower might have helped the graphics slightly – they’re noticeably better than in Melee on the ‘Cube – but other than that, not a hint that Brawl is on the Wii.

Motion control doesn’t get a look in, except when navigating menus. Bizarrely, there isn’t even an option to use it to control the cursor on the stage building screen. Perhaps Nintendo recognised that Smash’s granite-core fanbase mightn’t take too kindly to a motion-controlled overhaul, but whatever the reason, even though there are two control schemes available that use the remote, not one of them makes any use of its motion sensing abilities. We’ll happily concede that too much waggle might have killed Smash’s precision play stone dead, but we can’t help feeling that the odd remote flick would have made a really satisfying replacememt for the quick smash moves usually mapped to the right analogue stick.

But whatever might have been, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is an excellent game, and justifiably one of the Wii’s biggest successes. It’s just weird that it doesn’t do anything that Nintendo used to sell the machine in the first place.