No other series – save for “Mario Kart” – harks back to memories of four-controller communes centered around the good ol’ TV quite like “Smash Brothers.” Online play is fine, but nothing compares to local multiplayer gaming when you can trash-talk with your buddies in person. After a kill, you can’t air-hump your buddy’s head over voice chat.
The third “Smash” game hits the Wii with hopes of rekindling that spark. In short, it succeeds. A cavalcade of Nintendo characters beating the crap out of each other remains a quaint premise for a fighting game, but the success of “Smash Bros.” can be attributed to its unique multiplayer mechanic: Pummel your opponents with attacks and items until their hit percentage is high enough to knock them off the stage.
Taking cues from the incredible “Super Smash Bros. Melee” on the GameCube, “Brawl” doesn’t deviate from the formula too drastically. But as Nintendo’s overarching strategy demands, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “Melee” provided hundreds of hours of playability with its multiplayer mode and still holds up as a deep fighting game of a more accessible variety than the likes of “Virtua Fighter.” The addition of new characters keeps the game fresh, such as Lucas from the “Mother” series, who’s a new favorite, as well as Snake from “Metal Gear.” New stages will give longtime players some extra meat to chew on, while the gameplay remains largely unchanged so noobs can still hop in and have a good time.
The new single-player mode has some cool ideas, though the execution leaves something to be desired. “Smash Bros.” is not a platform game and doesn’t control like one, so trying to shoehorn in such mechanics leaves an odd taste in the player’s mouth. It’s worth playing through, but it won’t change any lives.
Nintendo’s attempt to get with the times and add an online mode has unfortunately crashed and burned. Nintendo’s server setup has reportedly had issues, something they’ve yet to address. It’s sad to see a great game get cheated by poor network support from Nintendo, but at least it’s still a blast to play with friends in a living room.
“Super Smash Bros. Brawl,” hands down, wins the award for best game to play with three buds and some brews. You won’t have more fun anywhere else on the Wii.