Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Punches and pyrotechnics in Nintendo's ultimate party game.
Few would think that Nintendo’s mascots facing-off against each other in frantic, firework-like displays of violence would make any sort of decent game. Yet this is the exact formula of the Super Smash Bros. series. The result is a bizarre blend of fighting, party and sports-like game mechanics and a fantastically crazy experience.
The Wii continues the tradition with the series’ third installment: Super Smash Bros. Brawl (SSBB for short). Following the motto of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”, little has changed even since the first game, let alone the second. The simple, intuitive control system works as well as ever. SSBB is as complex as you want it to be; new players can “button-mash” their way through bouts, while veterans can dominate with their own complex, high-damage combos. On top of that, the wide character selection – now wider than ever, with 39 characters total – includes household names (Mario, Yoshi, etc.) and ones only the “hardcore” Nintendo fans will recognize, each with his, her or its own play style.
The battles themselves take place on floating islands in the sky. The characters duke it out; the more damage anyone has, the further that character flies when hit. You lose a life if you cannot make it back to the stage after being hit, falling to your doom in the abyss below. In this way, SSBB is less like a brutal, war-of-attrition fighting game (e.g. Soul Calibur, Mortal Kombat), but more like a peculiar, fantasy sumo wrestle.
A new addition to the series is the “Final Smash”. Every now and then, a floating blue ball appears over the stage. The character that breaks this ball gains the ability to unleash a single unique, devastating attack that, more often than not, leads to utter destruction for all other characters involved. These game-reversing moves change the dynamics of battle completely. It may end up sacrificing some of the fairness of the game in favour of dumb luck, but this new feature leads to even more excitement and craziness.
“Crazy” is definitely the best word to describe SSBB. The characters are larger-than-life, the items are absurd, the levels are silly and the sheer volume of stuff that’s crammed onto a single DVD boggles the mind. There’s a 10-hour adventure mode, numerous mini-modes, a variety of 1-player challenges, a stage builder, hundreds and hundreds of collectibles and endless fighting to be had in either local or over-the-internet brawls.
SSBB is definitely a game designed for families and friends – and you shouldn’t stress if buying it for children. Even more than the Mario Party series, most gamers identify Super Smash Bros. as Nintendo’s ultimate party piece. For this reason, young and teenage Christians have used these games as a way to encourage friends to come over, hoping to win a hearing for the gospel at a favourable opportunity. It’s great to have an attitude towards spreading the gospel through any good means. That said, SSBB is perhaps not the best game for this. Games like Singstar for the Playstation 2 & 3, for example, encourage people to loosen up, putting them in a good mindset for chatting. SSBB, with its wild pyrotechnics and highly competitive nature, tends to put people on edge and drain them mentally. When people play SSBB, they tend to close off rather than open up.
While other games may be better suited for evangelism, SSBB is still a great game for anyone. With its enormous variety and content, you’d be hard-pressed trying to find a bigger-bang-for-your-buck game than this.