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July 18, 2014

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Part 1)

This is it! The final review of Planned All Along: Year One! The one so many of you have been waiting for! Before I jump into this enormous game, I have to explain a few things. Not related to Super Smash Bros. Brawl, actually. Most of them are related to the blog.

-Due to the blog's first anniversary tomorrow, I will probably write a post about the year's history, the ups and downs (downs? There hasn't been such things as downs this year! ...Or has it?), the progress made...
-Tomorrow, the blog's design will greatly change. Yes, I will change everything through Blogger's system, the colors, the backgrounds, and other elements. I hope this way to get a site that will look good to your eyes just as much as mine. If you got any suggestions, send me a message on my Twitter account @hamelnico.
-As an addition to the blog, starting this Wednesday: I will promote one of my reviews from this year. In fact, I will promote each and every one of my reviews of this year, one per week. I will usually follow this with a little comment on the review, my thoughts on it in hindsight.
-A Google+ Community has been created, and any Google+ users will be able to join. On the plus side, this will give me an idea of my number of fans (on Google+, anyway), and it will also give users another place to promote their blogs or review series. You can also join by clicking "Community" on the black bar on top of this screen.
-Last but not least, a forum has been created. I will link to it on my blog. You'll be able to reach the forum through the black bar just below the title. I plan to use it to get suggestions from you, but also to promote new things, ask the fans' opinions on additional modules to add to the blog, have polls that really work (in comparison to the  Bloggerpolls) and to bring up ideas I get in the future. I want it to be a fun place, where exchanges are made in peace, so I'll probably also be looking for Moderators. I hope to see many of you there! It's a bit empty for now, but keep in mind that I've created it, like, two days ago. Again, this can also be reached through the black bar on top.
-Finally, if you've seen my last videos for Planned All Along (one in this review and another in this one), you'll notice my spoken English is... um... lacking. Not in words, but my accent. Therefore, pardon me if I don't frequently publish videos, but I'll try to have at least one small video for each review. An I do mean a small one. I'll probably use them for quick jokes. Once I gain some self-esteem and I stop fearing my god darned Quebecois accent, I might start posting longer videos, always in vlog form from my webcam. Until I get enough money to buy an actual camera...

Now, as I said at the beginning of this blog post, I know that Super Smash Brothers Brawl is a truly massive game, there's a LOT to discuss (and even if I spent ten parts on this game, I just wouldn't be able to talk about everything that can be done in the battles, all the existing techniques, and so on and so forth). However, this blog is called Planned All Along for a reason: The plot is usually a core element of the games I'm reviewing. In other words, I'll put extra care in describing the Adventure Mode, better known as the Subspace Emissary. So here's how it's gonna work: The first half of each review will cover the other elements in the game (the other Solo modes, the characters, the Multiplayer mode, the items, the other features, etc.) and the second half will be just me, riffing on the plot to the Subspace Emissary. So, why not start now? The review itself, not the riffing, that will be in the second half of this review and the four following parts.



Just throwing it out there now, I might review this game in
the future.
On the Nintendo 64 appeared this little game called Super Smash Brothers. It was a neat little fighting game containing twelve fighters from famous Nintendo series. It was a new idea back then and it remains today an idea that hasn't been done a lot outside of Nintendo. There'a few few examples of multi-crossover fighting games, like Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, but that's one of the few examples I can name. The game contained a number of famous characters (Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Link, Kirby, Pikachu) and even some that were less known (Captain Falcon and Ness are major examples, but Jigglypuff still deserves mention as the most unexpected one of the bunch). The game was a success, and as a result a new Smash Bros. game was created for the GameCube, years later. Melee was another success, and is considered even today the stronger game in the series. It had its problems (an overabundance of clone characters with Dr. Mario, Roy and Pichu, to name just a few), but it's best remembered for the physics system in the battles, which made it very fun in Multiplayer mode. So much, in fact, that when things got changed around for Brawl, fans of Melee actually created their version of Brawl with Melee's physics system, a “mod” that was called Project M. Even now, while Brawl is still seen as a strong game, a lot of gamers actually prefer Melee. It helps that Super Smash Bros.'s small roster wasn't exceptional, while Melee had twenty-five characters to choose from, bringing even more Nintendo favorites to the battlefield. Then Brawl came around in 2008, with an even greater selection of 35 (and technically 39) characters, including two third-party characters, Sonic and Snake. As most of you probably know by now, a fourth Smash game is in the making, and the new characters revealed were Mega Man, Animal Crossing's Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, Little Mac, Greninja, Palutena, Rosalina and Pac-Man. And even the Miis will be playable fighters!

But let's keep it to the third installment in the series, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Like its predecessors, it has a single-player mode that includes the Classic Mode, the Adventure Mode, an All-Star Mode that is available once all the characters have been unlocked, and a load of options for multiplayer matches. Like its predecessors, its stages and items are also from the numerous Nintendo universes. Unlike the other Smash games, which were much less, um, “worlds of their own”, if I can put it that way, Brawl tried to explain why this massive crossover exists: While in the first game the characters were puppets apparently fighting each other before battling Master Hand, the embodiment of their puppeteer's, well... hand, of course, here they are trophies that can be brought to life to battle. And whenever they are defeated they return to their trophy form. It seems like the characters are all living inside the Smash world, which just seems like the great wilderness, with lots of stages to fight on. But more will be explained on this with the Subspace Emissary.

So much choice.
Since this is Part 1, I find it fitting to start this review by explaining the one-player modes. I dunno for you, but it does make sense to me! Now, when you start a game, you create a save file (though obviously, with the size of that game, only one can be created – duh!) and you can already pick among the five choices of the main menu: “Group”, “Solo”, “Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection” (cannot be used anymore), “Vault”, “Options” and “Data”. When you select Solo, you're brought to a screen with six more choices. This is gonna get complicated... The choices are “Classic”, “Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary”, “All-Star” (unlocked only once you've unlocked all characters) “Events”, “Stadium” and “Training”.

Woah, a major villain as first battle of the Classic Mode?
It happens. But that's quite a start. Well, then again,
here Ganondorf is less powerful than in the LoZ series.
Classic mode is, well, Classic Mode. You pick a character, and he or she fights against a number of other Brawlers. The enemy fighters are chosen randomly, but some of them may gain effects. Sometimes you'll battle a whole team of clones of the same brawler (which makes one wonder how the Hell can they have so many copies), or a Metal version of a brawler (with a never-ending Metal Box; hey, where do we get those?). Other times, you'll have allies and you'll be fighting either two opponents at once or a giant version of a brawler (again, where do we get never-ending mushrooms?). Also, between the real battles, you'll have to complete two extra levels, Break The Targets (and if you're annoyed by them, tough luck, there's two of those in every Classic Mode). The eleventh natch pits yo against three randomly-selected characters. After which you battle the mighty Master Hand. Yeah, very little is known about that hand, aside from the idea that it's the child playing with his dolls who uses his hand as a final enemy. Does the trophy hurt the kid's hand when it finally defeats Master Hand? ...Then that means the kid gets hurt quite a lot while playing with his toys... Suddenly that metaphor becomes a bit darker...

Look at the number of fighters in the top left! Sadly, none
of them ever gives up even as you get closer to fight them.
Then there's the All-Star Mode, unlocked once you got all the characters. In that mode, you have to fight every single playable character in the game and try your best not to die. Also, you don't recover between battles. I like to call All-Star Mode “Sadist Mode” because of your single life and, therefore, a single chance to win. I'm not even telling you how difficult it gets later on! On Intense, it's better described as “Insane”. Anyway, as you may guess, since you need all the characters, this is usually the mode you'll unlock last. Also because all the characters can be found in the Subspace Emissary, though three of them can be reached in it only once the Adventure Mode is beaten. Otherwise, some characters' unlocking criteria are just crazy. Play hundreds of matches? Wow!

One event has you defeating all 12
starting fighters from SSB. Time
to defeat a whole lot of veterans!
After which you can also play in Event Mode, where 41 different Events are available in single player, and 21 Co-Op mode. Yep, you can play over 20 events with another player helping you. As usual the Events contain either the simple task of defeating an opponent or multiple opponents, but in some cases the challenges are a tad different. As an example, one challenge demands that you take down three Warios with the Dragoon only. Imagine the stench on the stage after that one... One Co-Op Event requires you to get 300 coins on the Luigi's Mansion stage without breaking any part of the house. Many of these Events are creative and give way to ideas that cannot be replicated in the usual matches, so it's pretty fun.

Beat te crap out of your opponents without being afraid
of receiving hits yourself! I love this mode!
Oh, I also like to use it to summon tons of Pokémon.
Gonna cover the Training Mode immediately before the Stadium Mode. Okay, so, in Training Mode you select your character, you select an opponent and a stage, and then you can play around with all the special elements of the game. The character you selected as an opponent is only a trainer of sorts who will not fight against you, as long as you don't select the option that he/she fights back. In other words, you can turn any character into a living punching bag unless you want him/her to hit you. You can also play around with the game's speed, the number of computer opponents, summon lots and lots of an item to the field (this is the best place to see all the Pokémon and the Assist Trophy characters!), and do other fun things around. Also, the game calculates the number of combos you achieve in Training mode and some trophies can be unlocked once you've managed to do enough combos in Training Mode.

Now I can talk about Stadium Mode. In it, you first have access to all Break The Targets levels, given that you've seen them when you play Classic Mode. You have to beat each of them with every character, and beat a certain for each of them as well. This is very tricky. After that there's the Home-Run Contest, in which you have to punch, kick and bruise the infamous Sandbag before picking up the bat and sending poor Sandbag away with a HOOOOOOOOME-RUUUUUUN! Then there's the Multi-Man Brawl, which is fun in its own right, but some of the trophies linked to this one are very hard to get. Picture that: You have to complete the 100-Man Brawl with all characters (and it's dfficult regardless of the character you pick), survive a 15-minute brawl, and even defeat many Alloys in Cruel Brawl, where it's so freaking difficult that you'll wish it's over soon. Actually, no, it WILL be over soon, as you will hardly survive longer than a minute in a Cruel Brawl (and that's a shame because the music rocks.)



Also, once you've completed the Subspace Emissary, you unlock the Boss Battles Mode, which plays like All-Star except you have to defeat all the bosses from the Adventure Mode, one after the other, without much of a rest between them. Oh, also Master and Crazy Hand must also be fought in there. It is a very difficult mode, and the Intense difficulty on that mode is so freaking hard that you'll want to skip that challenge... But you cannot skip it! Picture Masahiro Sakurai blowing a raspberry at you.

Now that this has been covered, it's time for...

The Subspace Emissary Episode 1: The Primid Menace.


The Subspace Emissary is the Adventure Mode in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and, instead of being a simple additional mode like it was in Melee, here it's a large-scale adventure in which nearly all the playable characters have a role; In fact, all except three out of the 35 become playable at one point or another.

Their passion is so strong that the screen catches fire.
It starts as the camera zooms in on the Midair Stadium which, as its name indicates, floats for the only reason that it looks cool. Mario and Kirby appear on the stage, first in trophy form and coming to life as they reach the floor. For some reason, Peach and Zelda are watching, though they're closer to the stage than the thousands of faceless characters who are also watching from the seats. Mario and Kirby fight! Hey, wait a second! That's not enough of a context! We don't know why they're fighting- Oh, am I a silly guy. This is Brawl, there is not much context for the fighting, there is only fighting.

A nice little thing in this Adventure Mode is that most of the time, you're facing a situation where more than one character is playable; in that case you can select which character to use, or even select many of them in a particular order, and when you lose a life, the next character in the order you picked appears on the level. Fun. This forces you to use characters you don't normally pick in multiplayer mode. Want an extra challenge? When you have to pick numerous characters, pick the ones you're less talented with to start, and then go in reverse order, always picking the next character you're least used to, until all characters have been picked or you leave out the ones you're using most.

Anyway, after Mario or Kirby has defeated the other – let's hope it's the one you controlled who won, or else you wouldn't be seeing this – the winner revives the loser, and both wave at the audience. Pit the angel has been watching up there. Wait, they have TVs in Heaven? Makes one eager to try becoming a better person! Now, do they have video games... That's a trickier question.

Imagine watching the Superbowl in Holy-Vision!
Or, imagine watching The Avengers on that screen!

Just the first of multiple armies of Primids.... They're
definitely a menace. And not a phantom one.
But the peace is troubled with the arrival of the Halberd over Midair Stadium! Meta Knight, you jerk! But, wait a second... the machine releases thousands of little purple dots that reach the ground and reshape into creatures, the Primids. Uh oh... Mario, Kirby, Peach and Zelda take on the mini-army and defeat them. I hope you're fine playing with either of these four characters. Plus, even though they can do that in every part of Brawl, even outside of the Adventure Mode, it's still fun to see the princesses kick ass.

Audrey III, what the Hell are you doing here?
Go back to your universe! ...Oh wait, that's Petey.
Well, Petey, go back to your universe!
The characters thought they were fine, well... Not! An enemy, the Prime Minister-er, I mean, Ancient Harper- er, I mean, Ancient Minister, arrives with two R.O.B.s and a large sphere, which is revealed to be a bomb that is going to blow up in three minutes. Mario gets flung away by a cannonball (Looks like Mario's blasting off again! *ting*). During that time, Petey Piranha has captured Zelda and Peach and is keeping them in cages! Oh noes! And Kirby has to free them by attacking the cages! Wait. What sense does that make. Not only does he risk hitting the princesses by accident, but also Petey's attacks mostly involve him trying to hit Kirby with the cages! I don't want to imagine the pain for the two girls. Anyway, Kirby manages to defeat "Audrey III" by breaking one of the cages, and somehow the second cage also breaks. Wario appears the Hell out of nowhere with a badass gun. Hey, where did you come from? He first aims at the princess saved by Kirby, but then decides the other one would be a better trophy for his collection. Urgh, what a creep. Girls aren't collectibles, Wario! Even your dear Mona would slap you if she knew that's what you're thinking! Anyway, the fat biker turns the other princess into a trophy thanks to his Dark Cannon and escapes with her.

"I'm gonna bring her back to my place and touch her all over!"

Kirby and the princess (for the record, I saved Zelda, I was tired of always saving Peach) chase after Wario but the bomb is too close to exploding! BOOM! The Midair Stadium gets surrounded by purple darkness, a great big sphere of nothing. Kirby and Zelda escaped in the nick of time.

"Hang on, Princess! Huh, Mario never brings you on that
kind of ride, does he?"

Christ! You gotta be kidding me!
In Heaven, Pit sees the fight, and decides he has to help. He sees Palutena, one of the very few non playable characters (aside from the villains, of course) to appear in this mode, and hands him his bow/double blade. Ooh, what else you got in there? Anyway, Pit runs up the stairs with his new toy, extends his arm – Jesus, not that symbolism again – and lets himself drop and flies away to Skyworld. Well, I guess we can count on Pit if there's ever a need to break an alien's neck. After he lands, he sees the Halberd pass by again, releasing more of the purple goo. The goo shapes itself into more Primids, which Pit fights. Man, not even Heaven is safe from them! I can tell goodbye to my sky television...

Invading Heaven? Oh damn. I'm having flashbacks to
The Simpsons Game now...

Pit finds Mario and revives him. Though some sort of flashback, the angel explains what happened to Midair Stadium. Wait, how could Mario see that flashback??? Anyway, the two keep going ahead in Skyworld. Still, despite their best efforts, they cannot reach the Halberd. Though they do see an Arwing chasing after it...

"Oh. We're too late. Want-a some ice cream?"

Wait. I say Zelda, but here it's Peach... WHAT IS GOING
ON? Oh, just that my source for pictures picked Peach
instead of  Zelda. Nothing's perfect.
During that time, Kirby and Zelda get rammed into by the Halberd and land on the ship. Whoa, it's windy on here! After pointlessly running on the Halberd, Zelda and Kirby see the Halberd is attacking the Arwing! The pilot avoids most of the Halberd's missiles but gets hit by a claw, and loops down towards Zelda and Kirby, almost hitting them! The two fall off the ship. (sarcasm mode) Good job, Fox or Falco! Very, very good job! Urgh. Anyway, Zelda and Kirby make their way through more of Skyworld until they reach solid ground.

Anyone looks cool in front of an explosion. Even Jigglypuff.
Meanwhile, someplace else... Bowser's mooks have stolen Donkey Kong's banana hoard! The ape and his nephew Diddy chase after them. Man, those two are some of the most badass primates I've ever seen! Yep, even Diddy. The two chase after Bowser's Goombas, Bullet Bills, Koopas and Hammer Bros, and eventually retrieve their banana hoard. But, oh surprise! Bowser shows up! The dragon-turtle pulls out a Dark Cannon and aims for Diddy, but Donkey Kong punches his nephew away, getting trophized in his place.

Donkey... PAUNCH!

A little further, Mario and Pit are now crossing the Plains, when Mario sees the Ancient Harper-Dammit! I meant: Ancient Minister carrying another bomb. He tries to get the Minister, unsuccessfully. Pit also tries, but fails. Which makes no sense, considering he could have started flying and he would have had a chance.

"Darn, we suck." "I told-a you not to stop for ice cream!"
"YOU are the one who suggested we go for ice cream!"

This story will continue... in Part 2!