To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever be in the position to review Super Smash Bros. Why? I can objectively look at all of my favorite games. I could talk your ear off for hours about what makes Paper Mario great. Or my favorite game of all time, Xenoblade Chronicles. I would consider my review of that game to be very objective. Those are two of my favorites, and I feel perfectly comfortable looking at them both as a consumer, and as an aspiring designer. Smash is easily the most complicated game series I’ve ever tried to address as a game journalist, even dating back to the old blog.
I have played every game in the Smash series extensively. I mean truly extensively, but I have to say, contrary to popular opinion, my favorite of them is Brawl. So that’s the game I want to talk about when I really try to critically break down, not why Brawl is objectively a good game, but what is the “wow” factor that makes it truly resonate with people.
To give some background, I am by no stretch a competitive Smash player. I would consider my skill level at the game to be above average, but by no means professional level. So I don’t look at these games from the angle of their competitive viability, as I don’t believe they’re supposed to be taken that seriously. Perhaps the combination of the super cartoony aesthetic and the overall tone give me that impression, but I see Smash as a fun way to settle those schoolyard debates between Mario and Link, or Peach and Zelda…nobody ever debates for Luigi. 🙁
I don’t think there’s ever been a game that paid better tribute to Nintendo than Brawl. It manages to hit nostalgia points in ways no other in the series could do. Be it the new characters, such as Pit from the obscure classic Kid Icarus or Meta Knight from the Kirby series, the expansive cast includes characters that were seemingly forgotten in previous titles. Yes, Smash for Wii U and 3DS have even more classic characters, such as Duck Hunt, Little Mac, and even Pac-man, but it still doesn’t compare. Brawl introduced Assist Trophies, which allowed us to drag into the fray, those interesting characters that just didn’t make the cut for the main game. Characters like Waluigi and Isaac from Golden Sun.
Brawl introduced Final Smashes, which truly brought the best of each character to the foreground. Seeing Bowser turn into the mighty Giga Bowser from Melee for the first time, and learning that you could control him, was an incredible experience. Seeing Link’s Triforce Slash or Ike’s Great Aether showed us the light in which our favorite heroes could shine. It was a beautiful tribute to the majesty of these legends. Final Smashes in Smash 4 are better, don’t get me wrong. But the leap from Brawl to Smash 4 doesn’t compare from the leap Melee took to achieve the awe that Brawl could induce.
Along with these things, Brawl had a huge selection of interesting trophies, but it also had this huge book of stickers! Stickers from games as popular as Metroid Prime to games as obscure as Fire Emblem Sacred Stones. The sheer amount of content in this game surpassed everyone’s expectations.
Regardless of how you feel about its quality, the biggest and most impactful addition to Brawl was the Subspace Emissary. While I realize it wasn’t received as well as I enjoyed it, I gave it a real good think and understood why people didn’t like it. That being said, it was the first time in series history that we got some context (albeit not much) to the scenarios that made up the premise of Smash in the first place. We got to see our childhood heroes fighting alongside and against each other in a riveting adventure. Like this was a big deal, guys!
Alright. Now that I’ve gushed about Brawl, I think this post is starting to get a little long so I want to get to the point. The actual mechanics of Smash are fun. They’re awesome, and someday when I review the game officially, you’ll understand why I think they’re awesome. But most importantly, Smash is a tribute to decades of culture, and that is why people are always so excited. With stages, characters, music, and many more elements that honor the heroes and villains we hold near and dear, Smash will forever prove its mettle as one of the best options out there for gamers of all ages.
Thank you all for reading! Two posts in one day. Crazy, right? Gotta love Super Smash Bros! I can still think back to all the hours me and my brothers poured into Brawl. I could talk about it all day. As much fun as objective reviews can be, nothing really measures up to anecdotal recollections. I mean, that’s kind of what makes this whole thing fun. Exploring the way games impact us as people is probably the main reason I started doing this. Anyhoo, I’m getting rambly. Thank you all, it’s been a great day on the Game Room. For more on games like Super Smash Bros, and other kick butt titles for all ages, come back soon for more from the GAME ROOM!!!