Super Smash Bros. Brawl
|Super Smash Bros. Brawl|
North American box art
|Developer(s)||Ad hoc development team|
|Series||Super Smash Bros.|
|Genre(s)||Fighting, action, platformer|
Super Smash Bros. Brawl, known in Japan as Dairantō Smash Brothers X (大乱闘スマッシュブラザーズX?, lit. "Great Melee Smash Brothers X"), is the third installment in the Super Smash Bros. series of crossover fighting games, developed by an ad hoc development team consisting of Sora, Game Arts and staff from other developers, and published by Nintendo for the Wii video game console. Brawl was announced at a pre-E3 2005 press conference by Nintendo president and Chief Executive Officer Satoru Iwata. Masahiro Sakurai, director of the previous two games in the series, assumed the role of director for the third installment at the request of Iwata. Game development began in October 2005 with a creative team that included members from several Nintendo and third party development teams. After delays due to development problems, the game was finally released on January 31, 2008 in Japan, March 9, 2008 in North America, June 26, 2008 in Australia and June 27, 2008 in Europe. Twenty-seven months after its original Japanese release, the game was released in Korea, on April 29, 2010.
The number of playable characters that players can control in Brawl has grown from that in Super Smash Bros. Melee; Brawl is the first game in the series to expand past Nintendo characters and allow players to control third-party characters. Like its predecessors, the object of Brawl is to knock an opponent off the screen. It is a departure from traditional fighting games, notably in its simplified move commands and emphasis on ring outs over knockouts. It includes a more extensive single-player mode than its predecessors, known as The Subspace Emissary (SSE). This mode is a plot-driven, side-scrolling beat 'em up featuring computer-generated cut scenes and playable characters from the game. Brawl also supports multiplayer battles with up to four combatants, and is the first game of its franchise to feature online battles via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The game can also be uniquely played on four controllers, which include the Classic Controller, GameCube Controller, Wii Remote and Nunchuk and Wii Remote, simultaneously.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl received critically positive reviews, with critics praising the game's entertainment value, despite issues relating to Brawl's loading times. The game's musical score, which was composed through a collaboration among 38 renowned video game composers, was lauded for its representation of different generations in gaming history. It received an aggregate review score of 93% on Metacritic and 92.84% on Game Rankings. Brawl was ranked "Fighting Game of the Year" of 2008 by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. In 2010, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. As of March 2012, it is the eighth best-selling Wii game by selling a total of 10.79 million copies worldwide.
Following its predecessors, Brawl uses a battle system unlike that of typical fighting games. Players can choose from a large selection of characters, each attempting to knock their opponents off the screen as they fight on various stages. The characters in Brawl include most of the same ones as the predecessors, such as the well-known Mario and Pikachu. Instead of using traditional health bars that start at a maximum value and lose value, Brawl characters start the game with 0%; the value rises as they take damage and may rise over 100% to a maximum of 999%. As a character's percentage increases, the character flies further back when hit. When a character is knocked beyond a stage's boundary and disappears from the screen, the character loses either a life, a point, or coins, depending on the mode of play. Brawl includes a function which allows players to create profiles with personalized button configurations for each control method along with their chosen username.
The characters in Brawl fight each other using a variety of attacks, that give the player a wider selection than the predecessors. Players execute each move by pressing a button in conjunction with a tilt of the control stick or a press of the D-pad, depending on the mode of control. In addition to basic attacks, characters have access to more powerful moves, known as smash attacks. Each character has four unique moves, which often cause effects besides damage to an opponent. Brawl introduces the ability to perform character-specific super attacks, referred to as "Final Smash" moves. Significantly more powerful than regular attacks, these moves have a wide variety of effects that range from nearly unavoidable blasts to temporary transformations. Final Smash moves can be performed by destroying a Smash Ball: a colorful, glowing, orb-like item bearing the Smash Bros. logo that floats around each stage every so often depending on the selection of items that were set before the start of the match.
Characters can use items ranging from projectiles to melee weapons; each has a different effect on the characters around it. Although many items have returned from previous Super Smash Bros. games, new ones have been introduced as well. Some returning items have changed appearance and function. Two varieties of items, Assist Trophies and Poké Balls, temporarily summon guest characters and Pokémon, respectively, that generally aid the summoner. They cannot be controlled by players and are usually invincible.
In addition to the standard multiplayer mode, Brawl features other multiplayer modes and options in Group mode. Special Melee, from the previous game, returns as Special Brawl. In this mode, players are able to battle in matches using special rules for a greater level of customization. Whereas previously standard options such as "Giant Melee" or "Invisible Melee" were limited to one feature per match, players may now select multiple options for a single match. Another returning game type, Tourney mode (formerly Tournament mode), enables players to create an elimination-based tournament, where up to 32 players can play, with a large number of game-controlled or human-controlled opponents. A "Rotation" feature has been introduced in Brawl, which allows up to sixteen players to compete in sequence by switching out winners or losers after each round.
Like its predecessors, Super Smash Bros. Brawl includes various modes of play from the previous game designed for a single player. Classic mode, as the name implies, is a classical approach to the game, in which players fight individual characters in a selected order. Each match features an arena or opponent from a particular series, such as The Legend of Zelda or Pokémon. Several matches have a unique battle condition, such as a metal opponent, large opponent or a two-on-two team battle. Similar to Classic mode are All Star mode and Boss Battles, where the player has only one life to defeat all of the playable characters and bosses, respectively.
Brawl features Events, which are matches with predetermined battle conditions such as defeating opponents within a time limit or reaching a specific goal. New to single-player mode, each of the 41 Events has three difficulty levels, with a distinct high score recorded for each. In addition to the normal set of 41 Events played with a single player, a smaller set of 21 two-player Events is included.
Stadium mode is a collection of objective-oriented minigames, or small games within the game. Returning from the two previous games is the "Target Smash!" minigame, in which the player must break ten targets as quickly as possible. Additionally, items scattered across the stage are available for use. In the Home-Run Contest, the player must beat Sandbag to inflict as much damage as possible in 10 seconds, then strike it with a Home-Run Bat. Updated from Melee, all Stadium mode minigames feature cooperative or competitive multiplayer.
Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary
Super Smash Bros. Brawl features a new Adventure mode titled "The Subspace Emissary" (SSE). This mode features unique character storylines and numerous side-scrolling levels and bosses to fight, as well as cut scenes explaining the plot. SSE introduces a group of antagonists called the Subspace Army, who are led by the Ancient Minister. Some of these enemy characters appeared in previous Nintendo video games, such as Petey Piranha from the Mario series and a squadron of R.O.B.s based on classic Nintendo hardware. SSE boasts a number of original enemies, such as the Roader, a robotic unicycle; the Bytan, a one-eyed, ball-like creature which can replicate itself if left alone; and the Primid, enemies that fight with a variety of weapons. Though the game is primarily played as a single-player mode, cooperative multiplayer is available. This mode features a mechanism which strengthens the selected character's abilities. They are in the form of collectible stickers that can be applied to the base of the player's character trophies.
Unlike other game modes, SSE has a team system for the characters, with a limited choice of characters at the beginning of the mode. Others join the team as the game progresses, while some characters may leave the team temporarily. Most characters start off with their own teams, but the teams merge occasionally until they become a unified team by the end of the game. In cooperative multi-player, once one player loses a life, an ally can take his or her place until the number of lives run out. If there are no lives left and player one is defeated, the game is interrupted, with the choice of starting again from the previous "door" the player passed through or quitting.
The game's director, Masahiro Sakurai, said that this mode would be more "fleshed out" than the single-player modes in previous Smash Bros. titles. Shigeru Miyamoto has explained that Sakurai always wanted to have a deep single-player game, but he wanted Sakurai to focus more on the multiplayer aspects in the previous titles since there were already many single-player games of this kind. Both were possible with the development time allotted for Brawl. Sakurai enlisted the help of Kazushige Nojima, a scenario writer known for his work on the Final Fantasy series, and constructed a plotline for the mode in cooperation with him.
The mode begins as Mario and Kirby face each other on a stadium located in the Smash Bros. world. In this world, when a fighter is defeated, they turn into a trophy form, which can be revived by touching the base. Suddenly, smoke pours from the sky and the Battleship Halberd flies over. It releases a stream of black purple-clouded bugs called Shadow Bugs that form the soldiers of the Subspace Army. The Ancient Minister, a cloak-clad, mysterious hovering General of the Subspace Army, arrives with his Army and detonates a Subspace Bomb, which can only be detonated by the sacrifice of two R.O.B.s, and which transports the stadium into Subspace, an alternate dimension where the Subspace Army resides. The Ancient Minister's advance prompts the heroes to progressively team up and attempt to repel the enemy, while villains harvest the power of the allied characters by converting them into trophies, and using shadow bugs on some of them to fight the protagonists during their adventure.
The Ancient Minister is revealed as a subordinate to Ganondorf, Bowser and Wario who are under orders from Master Hand to draw the world into Subspace. The Ancient Minister's true identity is found to be that of the Master R.O.B. unit, who rebels against his superiors to join the allied characters. The allied heroes enter Subspace, where they find that R.O.B., Ganondorf, Bowser, Wario and even Master Hand were all being manipulated by a higher being, known only as Tabuu. Tabuu releases a power blast called "Off Waves" which transforms all the protagonists into trophies, although a select few (Luigi, Kirby, and Ness) are revived by brooches that were attached to them by King Dedede earlier in the story. They work together to revive the other characters scattered across Subspace and make their way through a great maze where Tabuu is located. Tabuu is about to use his "Off Waves" to turn the characters into trophies, but he is ambushed by Sonic, who weakens it; with that done, the allies ultimately destroy Tabuu and save the Smash Bros. universe.
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
Brawl allows players to play against distant opponents via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Online multiplayer games can be played either with registered friends or with randomly selected participants. Additionally, players can converse with up to four phrases that are preset by the player, which appear as speech bubbles when activated. These names and phrases are not displayed in random-player matches. The Spectator mode allows players to watch matches being played between other players, and bet on the outcome using coins earned within the game. The winner of the match earns a jackpot of coins.
Snapshots may be taken during battles or in certain other modes, which can later be sent to friends or submitted to Nintendo. Video replay footage can be captured in specific game modes, including Brawl and Target Smash! modes, and sent to friends in the same manner. Snapshots, custom stages and replays can be submitted to Nintendo's "Smash Service" for a chance to get the content featured and updated on all Smash Service-enabled Wii consoles. Since Brawl's launch, the Smash Service has updated the game's Vault with one user submitted snapshot, custom stage and replay data chosen by Nintendo every day; each new update overwrites the previous. The user can choose to not receive updates from the service through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection options menu. After June 30, 2009, the Smash Service stopped accepting content from its users.
Returning from Melee are trophies, statuettes of video game characters and objects that give brief histories or descriptions of their subjects, such as Mario and Link, or other characters and items that appear in their respective series. A minigame, the Coin Launcher, replaces the lottery machine from Melee as the primary method of obtaining trophies. The Coin Launcher is a machine that uses coins as projectiles to shoot trophies and counter incoming dangers such as missiles. Coins can also be used to bet on the victor of online battles via Spectator mode. Trophies unavailable in Coin Launcher mode are obtained by using an item called the Trophy Stand on weakened enemy characters and bosses within The Subspace Emissary. Trophies obtained in this manner may contain information on the backstory of the Subspace Emissary.
In addition to trophies, players can now collect stickers of video game artwork. Players can place stickers and trophies onto virtual backgrounds and take snapshots, which can be sent to other players via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Stickers can be applied to characters to power up their abilities during the Subspace Emissary.
Other stickers or trophies which cannot be collected through the Coin Launcher minigame, Subspace Emissary, or Vs. matches can be unlocked from the Challenges menu, an interactive display which catalogs unlocked features and items in gridded windows. Once a window has been broken and its contents are unlocked, horizontally adjacent windows display the conditions necessary to unlock them.
Brawl contains demo versions of several Nintendo games, named "Masterpieces", which were originally released for older consoles and feature characters playable in Brawl. These games use Virtual Console technology to emulate older hardware and have time constraints ranging from thirty seconds to five minutes. Some use save data to allow the player to play a certain scenario or level. Along with Masterpieces comes the inclusion of the Chronicles section, a library of previous Nintendo games which lists games either previously made or published by Nintendo on all of its consoles. New games appear when certain characters, trophies or stickers related to the game are unlocked.
Brawl's character selection screen contains 35 buttons for characters, although a total of 39 characters are selectable via additional input by the player. Some are new, but others return from Melee—in some cases updated or refined, either in appearance, fighting capabilities, or both. For example, Link and Fox have adopted designs from more recent titles, while Samus has gained the ability to change into a new form, Zero Suit Samus. Dr. Mario, Roy, Young Link, Mewtwo, and Pichu are the first characters to not return from a previous game, though they do appear as stickers or trophies.
Some previously represented series have had more characters added to Brawl. Diddy Kong, from the Donkey Kong series, Ike, from the Fire Emblem series, and Lucas, from the EarthBound series make their first appearance in the Smash Bros. series. Other newcomers are the first to represent their series. These include characters such as Pit, representing the Kid Icarus series for the first time since the 1991 Game Boy game Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters, Olimar of the Pikmin series, and Wario, from Nintendo's WarioWare. Solid Snake, the main protagonist of Konami's Metal Gear franchise, and Sonic the Hedgehog from Nintendo's former rival Sega are the first third-party characters to appear in a Super Smash Bros. game.
Brawl's stages are generally based on plot devices from the various game series of Super Smash Bros. Stages range from floating platforms to moving areas where the characters must stay within the field of play. Each stage has a boundary that cannot be passed, or the character will be "KO'd", thus losing a life or "point", depending on the mode of play.
Brawl contains 41 selectable stages, 29 of which are initially available. Many stages undergo elaborate changes while battles take place, such as a cycling day-to-night system and changing seasons. A stage based on the Animal Crossing series features a live events system in which special events may occur depending on the date and time. Environmental gameplay mechanics are featured in this installment, such as destructible terrain and the ability to float. Unlike its predecessors, Brawl includes stages based on third-party games such as the Metal Gear Solid-inspired Shadow Moses Island. The game also includes stages taken from its predecessor, Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Brawl allows players to create their own stages using several options in a mode called Stage Builder. Players can save their stages to an SD card or to the internal memory of the Wii console. Through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, players can submit their creations to their friends, or to Nintendo to receive a daily stage from the service.
At the pre-E3 2005 press conference, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced that the next installment of Super Smash Bros. was soon to be in development for its next console and would be a launch title with Wi-Fi compatibility for online play. The announcement was a surprise to Sakurai, who left HAL Laboratory in 2003. He was not informed of Nintendo's intent to release another Smash Bros. game, despite the fact that Iwata told Sakurai shortly after his resignation from HAL that if a new Smash game was to be developed, he would want Sakurai to again serve as director. It was not until after the conference that Iwata requested that Sakurai hold a private meeting with him, where he was asked to be involved as Brawl's director. Sakurai agreed to become director, and development of the game began in October 2005, when Nintendo opened a new office in Tokyo just for its production. Help from a variety of studios such as Monolith Soft and Paon was enlisted, with Game Arts as the main team in the preliminary development stages. In addition, several Smash Bros. staff members that resided in the area of the new office joined the project. Altogether, roughly 100 individuals worked on the project full-time, and were given access to all the original material and tools from the development of Melee, courtesy of HAL Laboratory.
The game was absent from Nintendo's Wii showing at its 2006 pre-E3 press conference. Nintendo officially revealed the game under the name of Super Smash Bros. Brawl the next day, May 10, 2006, along with the game's first official trailer during the E3 After-Hours Press Conference. In an interview with IGN, Sakurai said the Wii's motion sensing features might not be included because "[his team] found that trying to implement too much motion-sensory functionality can get in the way of the game". As far as Wi-Fi play is concerned, Sakurai stated his plan was to include Wi-Fi connection compatibility from the start. He goes on to say, "One of the primary reasons Super Smash Bros. Brawl was created was that Nintendo, when taking Wii online, wanted to have Smash Bros. to do that." However, Sakurai stated on the Japanese version of the Smash Bros. website that there were "hurdles of all sorts that [made] it very difficult" to implement online battles. Furthermore, he said that an online ranking system is unlikely to be implemented. During a test play between Sakurai and Hideo Kojima, Kojima stated that the game felt complete and that Nintendo "could put it out now and it would sell millions of copies". Starting May 22, 2007 and ending April 14, 2008, the site had daily weekday updates.
At the Nintendo Media Conference at E3 2007, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime announced that Super Smash Bros. Brawl would be released on December 3, 2007 in the Americas. However, just two months before its anticipated December release, the development team asked for more time to work on the game. During the Nintendo Conference on October 10, 2007, President Iwata announced the delay,
"In order to fine tune Smash Bros., with this unprecedented game depth, we have decided that we have to take a little more time to complete the game than we announced before. We are sorry for the fans that are already anxiously waiting for the launch, but we would like to launch this game on January 24, 2008 in Japan. As for the North American launch, we will review that too, and our local subsidiaries will make their own announcements."
On October 11, 2007, George Harrison of Nintendo of America stated that Super Smash Bros. Brawl would be released on February 10, 2008 in North America. On January 15, 2008, the game's release was delayed one week in Japan to January 31 and nearly a month in the Americas to March 9. On April 24, 2008, Nintendo of Europe confirmed that Brawl would be released in Europe on June 27. Similarly, Nintendo Australia announced on May 15, 2008, that the game would be released in that region on June 26, 2008.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl uses a dual-layer disc due to the size of the game data. Nintendo of America has stated that some Wii consoles may have difficulty reading the high-density software due to a contaminated laser lens. Nintendo is offering a free repair for owners who experience this issue.
Sakurai revealed a list of 36 composers providing music for the game on May 22, 2007. He asked composers such as Koji Kondo, Yasunori Mitsuda, Yoko Shimomura and Yuzo Koshiro, who came from a variety of companies and had written music for first-, and third-party games, "to listen to an elite selection of Nintendo music and arrange several of their favorite songs." The game's various stages have multiple musical tracks which players can listen to using the new "My Music" feature, including some pieces taken directly from other games without any modification or special arrangement including "Sonic Heroes" from the game of the same name performed by Crush 40. This feature allows the player to select how often a piece gets played during a stage. Some of the pieces need to be unlocked by collecting CDs which spawn randomly while playing. The main theme was composed by veteran Final Fantasy composer, Nobuo Uematsu.
Inclusion of characters
Sakurai originally stated that he did not want to emphasize Japan-only characters. However, reflecting upon Marth and Roy's inclusion in Melee, which led to the international release of the Fire Emblem series, he became more interested in characters exclusive to Japan-only releases. Sakurai said that third-party characters would amount to two at the most, aside from Snake. The inclusion of Konami-created character Solid Snake may seem to conflict with the Super Smash Bros. paradigm—to only include characters from games made by Nintendo and its second parties—but Sakurai said that Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima "practically begged" for Snake to be included in Super Smash Bros. Melee, which did not happen since the game was too far into development. This in turn led to his appearance in the following game instead. Similarly, the now-playable Lucas from Mother 3 was intended to be used in Melee, but was left out due to the delay of Mother 3.
Japanese fans were asked to submit their desired characters and musical themes via a forum on the game's official Japanese site for possible inclusion. The most requested third-party character, Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog, was announced to be in Brawl on October 10, 2007.
Reception and legacy
Super Smash Bros. Brawl has been critically and commercially successful. In the United States, the game sold 874,000 units on launch day and 1.4 million units in its first week to become the fastest-selling video game in Nintendo of America's history, according to Nintendo. According to the NPD Group, it was the best-selling game of March 2008 in Canada and the United States, selling 200,000 and 2.7 million units, respectively; the game is the best-selling game of 2008 in Canada as of April 1, 2008. Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich attributed the game's strong US sales to it fulfilling "the needs of the casual, social, and sub-13-year-old markets". Upon release in PAL regions, Brawl reached number one on both European and Australian sales charts. According to the NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track, and Enterbrain, the game has sold 3.539 million units in the United States, 213,000 in the United Kingdom, and 1.681 million in Japan, respectively, for a total of 5.433 million units as of August 1, 2008. It is also the fifth best-selling game of Japan in 2008, selling 1,747,113 copies. It was the fourth best-selling game of 2008, selling over 4.17 million copies. By March 2012, the game has sold 10.79 million units worldwide, according to Nintendo.
The editors of Japanese game magazine Famitsu, who awarded it a perfect score, praised the variety and depth of the single-player content, the unpredictability of Final Smashes, and the dynamic fighting styles of the characters. Chris Slate of Nintendo Power awarded Brawl a perfect score in the March 2008 issue, calling it "one of the very best games that Nintendo has ever produced". GameSpot editor Lark Anderson noted that Brawl's "simple controls and gameplay make it remarkably accessible to beginners, yet still appealing to veterans", while GameTrailers mentioned the amount of content that gives the game "staying power that few other games possess". Eurogamer praised the game's ability to stay fun in both single-player and multiplayer modes, while "fulfilling its usual role of dominating a willing crowd's evening into the early hours, and now allowing you to sustain that after everyone's gone home". Game Revolution hailed Brawl's soundtrack as "spectacular ... spanning a generous swath of gaming history". Game Informer highlighted Brawl's "finely tuned balance, core fighting mechanics, and local multiplayer modes". Edge concluded that, while the Smash Bros. games have often been "derided as button-mashing", Brawl features "one of the most enduringly innovative and deep systems of any fighter".
IGN editor Matt Casamassina, however, noted that, although Brawl is "completely engrossing and wholly entertaining", it suffers from "long loading times" and "uninspired enemies and locales" in the Subspace Emissary adventure mode. He also described the graphics as "an enhanced version of Melee", with backgrounds that lack detail in areas. GameSpy echoed this by equating the quality of the graphics to that of the GameCube. Mitchell Saltzman of Gameworld Network expressed disappointment at the lack of "stat tracking, voice chat, and a mostly lag free environment" in the online mode. NGamer's Matthew Castle points to the franchise's lack of innovation with the verdict, "Smash Bros risks growing too familiar. It never breeds contempt, but it doesn't quite muster that Galaxy magic." Jeff Gerstmann rated the game 4 out of 5 stars on Giant Bomb, saying that players who are not into Nintendo's history or multiplayer "probably won’t understand what all the fuss is about in the first place". 1UP.com, however, suggested that Brawl is not directed exclusively towards serious gamers, as it offers "a curious diversion for uninterested gamers" as well.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl won multiple Wii-specific awards from IGN in IGN's 2008 video game awards, including "Best Fighting Game", "Best Local Multiplayer Game" and "Best Original Score". It was also nominated by them for several other Wii-specific awards, including "Best Graphics Technology", "Best Use of Sound", "Best Online Multiplayer Game" and "Game of the Year". The game also won "Best Fighting Game" in GameSpot's Game of the Year awards 2008. The game placed 15th in Official Nintendo Magazine's 100 greatest Nintendo games of all time.
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