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August 1, 2014

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Part 5)

Need to catch up? Read all the preceding parts! Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4.

Oh, hey! Good to see you're back again for this ultra-long review of Super Smash Brothers Brawl! I've covered about everything outside of the Adventure Mode through the last four parts, so today... It's time to go back on just about everything I discussed since the beginning of this review. And man, is it going to be difficult to do that in a thousand words! Here's what I'm going to do. I'll sum up my thoughts here today, not just for the game as a whole but also for the Adventure Mode (because I won't do that at the end of this one, considering I will probably spend most of it riffing on the final chapters of the story). And this Monday. I'll have a sixth part, an unofficial one, in which I go more in-depth on my full criticism, citing many points that I like about this game and many points I don't like about it. As you can guess, I'll probably have less to say on the negative side than I have for the positive side. Still, I consider it important to do that, as I would never have enough space in this review.

Super Smash Brothers Brawl is an amazing game. It took me over 4,000 words to explain all the options and the modes, which gives you an idea of how much there is in it. I needed another 5,000 (minimum!) to crack jokes about the Adventure Mode, which is a very good game in its own right. The Solo modes are very fun, with a somewhat randomized selection of opponents in Classic mode every time (with a few rules, such as “the first enemy is always from the Legend of Zelda series”), and the mode makes sure you never encounter the same opponent twice. Which is a good idea. As for the All-Star Mode, you will always encounter all the brawlers in about the same order (same order of franchise, after which the order of fighters is kind of randomized within each franchise for those that have more than two), but as a result you will be battling almost every fighter in the game, which is a decent challenge. That excludes the forms (you'll fight either Zelda or Sheik, and then either Samus in her armor or in Zero Suit form; oddly enough, you still have to battle all three of Pokémon Trainer's Pokémon). The additional Solo modes range from amazingly fun to rather unnerving. I classify the Home-Run Contest, the Target Tests and some of the Multi-Man Brawls as fun, along with the easier difficulties of the Boss Battles mode. But the harder Multi-Man Brawls (especially Cruel Brawl) and the final difficulties of Boss battles aren't as much fun as they are unnerving, nigh-impossible tests that even good gamers can't beat without some rage. I HATE Boss Battles on Intense Mode. HATE IT.

Especially Duon. GOD do I hate Duon.

But the Brawl modes are also a lot of fun, whether you play alone or with friends. Aside from the main kinds (Stock, Time, Coin), there's also the bajillion different ways to customize the brawls themselves, so much that it's impossible to test them all. That includes the Special Brawl settings as well as the rules you can change. I'm not even counting the ability to turn on or off almost every item in the game! Add to this the Rotation mode, and the tournament, and this game is definitely a must-have for parties with friends. I'll go a step beyond: I once went to a Video Game Party Night held at my university and a Brawl Tournament was REQUESTED by the people there! That tells you how popular the game is.

As for those who preferred the physics programmed in this game's predecessor, Melee, I can see why. Both games are quite different on that aspect, and Melee had some sort of realism in its physics that many felt wasn't present in this version. As I said at the very beginning, this is why Project M was created; to give Brawl the physics and general feel of Melee's battles. Some people actually push it a step further by using programs and hacks to create their own 3D models of characters over the ones of existing Brawl characters, items and even stages. With knowledge and talent, some darn great things can be done. Which isn't to say it is recommended, but still, great to see the kind of thing people can do to a game like this. Who knew? SSBB is much more open to creativity than it lets out with the Stage Builder!

And of course, the incredible amount of rewards that can be collected in this game makes one want to play to get them all, a task that takes more than just a day. No, it can take weeks. And that's even if you manage to collect a few of them every day. Between the modes that must be completed with every character, the hard-ass challenges, the random encounter of trophies and stickers both in the Adventure Mode and the Coin Launcher... There's a lot. Brawl should never bore you. Or, if anything, if it does bore you someday, that's after you've completed most of the challenges... After most of the game has been beaten, after most of the collectibles have been found.

Now, one could make the argument that the Adventure Mode is a mess... Well, I've seen worse. The story does have too many characters. Keep in mind that the large development team behind Brawl had to make room in the plot for almost all the characters. They had to have all these characters interact and team up, form numerous alliances. Because they all had the same enemy. Well, okay, at first the villains who are part of Brawl's roster were working for said villain, but when they switch to the good side, now they all have a common enemy. One that none of them knew about until much later in the plot. The creatures invented for the game are varied and entertaining, and some of them even have interesting gimmicks. Sure, some are annoying (there are definitely some baddies in there that I despise), but others are well thought-out. The best, however, is when we see the game universes clash: Villains teaming up, and then heroes teaming up as well, forming very unlikely teams you would have never thought of. This is shown very well in the relationship between Samus and Pikachu, as a very odd team-up that works very well in the end. Plus, the idea of having all these characters have a role in the same adventure does raise the problem of an overabundance of characters to put on the scene, but by the end you see all your childhood heroes, and then some, entering their greatest adventure. For each one of them. The Subspace Emissary is the Smash series with a plot. Because I doubt there would have been a better story to feature these characters. Yes, as a result the story is kind of messy, but you cannot say it is insulting, compared to that piece of crap of a movie I reviewed recently. Every character gets his/her shining moment, and therefore everyone has a chance to see their favorite character do something awesome.

All of them, except three, have their moment of awesomeness.

Brawl is a great game in most possible ways. Bloated? Maybe. Too much to do? Again, maybe. I consider it great, so better than good, but not the most fantastic thing ever. A game that takes so long to be completed already fulfills one of the requirements for fun in my book. A game that offers so much to keep its players entertained in every possible way, by offering just as many modes for single players as it does for multiplayer? Count me in. Of course, there are choices I disagree with (whether it is some characters, ball Pokémon, Assist trophies, modes or challenges; I'll go over those this Monday). But at the end of the day, the things I enjoy about this game greatly outnumber the amount of things I dislike. If you do not have Super Smash Bros. Brawl, find it, buy it. Chances are you'll overlook its problems and enjoy it. And if you can't bring yourself to like it the way it is, well... there's Project M, hacks, or GameStops to bring it back.

Now that this has been done, I realize that I still need to talk about the final chapters of the Story Mode.

The Subspace Emissary Episode 5: Return of the Smash World 

(Hey, let's see YOU try to find a joke to make with “Return of the Jedi” to describe the final chapters of the Subspace Emissary! Try it, you'll see, it's really hard! Besides, mine counts because technically the Smash World returns, except put together as a Great Maze, and then it really does return, you see what I mean. Okay, that parenthesis was long enough, let's go!)

Last time, when we left, we... we... we had lost everything and everyone. No single character was left alive. All trophized. Forever. And... everything in the Smash World was gone too. All... all gobbled up by the Subspace and Tabuu. My... My God. The closest to victory any Nintendo villain ever got... Even Loki, in all his might, didn't get so far in the Avengers... Even Turbo did not eliminate Ralph... Nothing... nothing can be done...

"Hey, what's that on my nose? It's too big to be a booger."
But... wait! Is it... Yes! In the ruins of Dedede's “castle”, the brooches suddenly act up on Ness and Luigi. It revives them! The two look around, but all they see is a trophized Dedede near piles of rubble. They revive him and the penguin king sure looks happy to see them again! Ah, Dedede, you magnificent hero! You saved all of Smash thanks to these brooches! I knew it wasn't totally lost! I mean, of course I knew, it isn't the first time I play through the Subspace Emissary, but still... I'm trying to become better at conveying emotion in written form.

The two greedy kings battle tonight. Or today. There's no
clear daytime in Subspace.
Dedede, Ness and Luigi head out into Subspace. While venturing around Subspace, the three notice that all their friends are in trophy form, scattered around! So they pick them all up and revive them. And now, they're back into your roster. And you'll be free to select them for the final levels. The unlikely team eventually rescues about fifteen of their Smash comrades, until they reach the fallen Master Hand. They see the trophized Bowser on the ground and revive him. Bad idea, he's going to attack! Dedede takes on Bowser all by himself... and the crazy part? He wins!

Dedede gets more awesome moments than he should deserve.
The dragon-turtle who gives Mario a hard time, defeated by a penguin from an even more kid-friendly series! You know, I'm starting to think that the Subspace Emissary is more a shining moment for the Kirby characters than for everyone... Dedede even flicks Bowser's snout when the boss seems to want to go into battle yet again! The four head towards the Stairway to Hell. ...What do you mean, it's either Stairway to Heaven or Highway to Hell? It's the Great Maze up there, not a cute little Heaven!

So cold... so... lonely...
Further away, Kirby's trophy is revived, as he had eaten one of the brooches. He spits it out, deduces what happened, and then realizes he's in that dark, dark place. Subspace: Now open for family reunions, weddings, bar mitzvahs and even bachelor parties! Just hope you know a way out. Anyway, Kirby also goes through a level of his own, where he keeps picking up allies. He eventually finds the trophized Ganondorf and approaches to revive him... but Bowser zooms in and gets it first, and then gives the trophy a beating. Without reviving Ganondorf. Take that, you traitor! Oh, but don't worry Bowser, Ganondorf has betrayed every person he's worked with. At the end of this adventure, I'm betting that he'll betray Kirby by stealing a piece of cake from him.

"Oh yes! Yes! I missed your pillow-ness! Oh, right. Hey,
Kirby. Good to see you again."

"Maybe not today, Link. Maybe not today, Zelda...
But someday, I will GANONIZE your games once again!"
Dedede arrives from behind and GLOMPS Kirby! Wow, if that isn't friendship... If Kirby has rescued Link and Zelda, they revive Ganondorf, who suffers from headaches once he's awake. Wait, the trophized characters feel pain? Man, that should have been a reason to let Bowser hit him! The Gerudo has thoughts about betraying the Hylians (gee, stop the presses, we have here a rather rare hapening!), but finally decides against it, as they need him and he needs them in this final task. Also, Wario, revived, tries to get revenge on Dedede but faces many angry smashers. The heroes start going up the stairs leading to the Great Maze...

"Wah! Bah-bye, suckers! *loses control of the bike*
"Waaaaaaaaaaaah! Help me, suckers!"
Also, Dedede's penetrating stare on this picture... creepy.

And you get thrown into it without any form of explanation. How does it start? With another battle against Petey Piranha! This sets the mood: Not only are you going to travel across all the levels of the game, but you'll also meet all the bosses in the Adventure Mode once again! Wow...But that's not all; you also have to defeat a Subspace version of every brawler who took part in the Subspace Emissary! These fights are scattered around the levels, in doors that weren't there in the original levels. Also, you'll notice that all the levels are linked together, forming, you guessed it, a Great Maze. Not like you needed any extrasensory powers to guess that, the name made it obvious. It is entirely made of bits from the Smash world, BUT those bits are a little different from before.

TRONman? Evil Dr. Manhattan?
Can you find another joke about his appearance?

It's a long fight, an exploration that takes hours, but at the end, every boss has been defeated, every shadow brawler has been beaten. Time to enter the great big Subspace Door towards Tabuu! It's about to unleash the wing attack again, but a blue blur runs by and smashes Tabuu's wings, weakening them!

BAM! Right in the wings!

"No matter how late it is, no matter how long it took me,
I am always there at the right moment to stop evil!
Except Eggman, that sucker's really lame."

You know, Tabuu, you have unleashed quite the impressive force. Dark Cannons, that giant subspace gunship, and you even got the help of major villains! Not to mention your subspace army, the R.O.B.s and the bombs! What do you have to fear? The brawlers. That's how I call them. I would have been screwed if you had appeared in Melee... It took them a while to all get along. But I think they worked it out okay.

You want a drink? Kahlua, pina colada, vodka? Pepsi, cream soda, fruit punch, Smirnoff? No, nothing? Oh, right, you don't have a mouth. I had forgotten. You still think you have an advantage? Let's do a head count here. Three plumbers, two of which are brothers, major ass-kickers. Four swordsmen, one Hylian, two princes, and one from Dream Land. Two ace pilots who also do a damn good job in hand-to-hand combat. Two children with ESP, two primates, two princesses, two greedy kings, no less than FIVE Pokémon. You've taken it a step further, you even got in the way of racing superstars, space bounty hunters, pink puffballs, toy robots, 2D characters, dinosaurs, mountain climbers, warriors from Heaven, unlucky astronauts, sorcerers mighty as Hell, super soldiers... and a blue hedgehog.

And you've managed to get them all MIGHTY PISSED.

Think it's over? If you ever come back again, we'll even have another pilot, another puffball and another swordman in this team to get in your way. You have an army? We have a Kong. I imagine you still attempting to put up a fight, trying desperately. You're missing the point. There's no version of this story where you come out on top. No version where you win. If they couldn't protect the Smash world you can be damn sure they're gonna avenge it. They'll brawl to retrieve it. They'll wipe the floor with your blue TRONman ass. One after the other. Each and every one of them will punch and kick you until you're down and dead. And when you're down and dead, they'll keep fighting, because that's what they exist for. They'll kill you five times over before you even realize you're dead. And your little butterfly tricks will not help you much.

You sure you still don't want a drink? Oh right. No mouth. Pardon me, I had forgotten again.

Nowthat my little Avengers speech parody has been done, let's move on to the final part of the story. Tabuu is a dangerous foe with powerful attacks. So much that you select SIX characters before entering battle against Tabuu. And his attacks are so damn strong that you will need to use the brawlers you're best with. When Tabuu is defeated at last – he sure lived up to the hype – he goes into fetal position like a little scared baby, and the Great Maze around him implodes, releasing every piece of the Smash world. Somehow, every piece returns to its place. I love when puzzles solve themselves.

There is only one problem. The island of the R.O.B.s never reappeared. The research facility, the bomb factory... all gone forever. That area has received too much damage, it was impossible to retrieve it. The R.O.B. in the team is now the only of his kind left.

All the unlocked characters stand together near a cliff, looking towards that great big X in the skies. Cue the credits. Any joke at this moment would ruin the mood, so I will leave with the “translated” main theme in quotes.

I’ve heard legends of that person
How he plunged into enemy territory
How he saved his homeland
I’ve heard legends of that person
How he traveled the breadth of the land, reducing all he touched to rubble
I’ve heard legends of that person
I’ve heard legends of that person
Revered by many -- I, too, revere him
Feared by many -- I, too, fear him
Now, that person
Stands at my side
Now that person stands at my side
Now my friends are with me
Some of them were once heroes
Some, my mortal enemies
And as we face each other in battle, locked in combat
We shine ever brighter

Now that the story has been covered, I am almost done with this long review. Tune in this Monday for my final lists, what I like and what I don't like about Super Smash Brothers Brawl. See you then.