Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gettin' Smashed (again(for the last time))

Let's get this out of the way, first: Super Smash Bros. Brawl is marvelous. I always thought that Melee felt a little uncontrollably fast and broken, and Brawl thankfully steps away from that. The speed of individual characters has been slowed down across the board, but that's cool, because the rest of the game has been improved enormously.

All of the new characters are interesting and fun to play as. Ike is ridiculously powerful and has excellent range and recovery! Pokemon Trainer is three characters in one! Metaknight sounds vaguely like Darth Vader! Even Olimar, who looks useless at first glance, has enough tools to prove devastating in the right hands.

Probably the best of the new play mechanics in the game is the Smash Ball (seen at right), a seizure-inducing item which appears at least once or twice a game, assuming that items are turned on. When it shows up, the screen changes colors subtly for a few seconds, letting everyone know to stop what they're doing and go nuts.

Hitting the ball once doesn't do anything. Like a pinata, it requires a little bludgeoning before it gives up the goods. Whoever deals the finishing blow to the smash ball is bestowed with a horrible, multicolored aura, and the entire screen goes dark for extra drama, while everyone else yells angrily.

At this point, the victorious player can press the B button to perform a "Final Smash," an extremely powerful, character specific special move that will almost always turn the tide of battle in their favor, or end it outright if they're already ahead. Mario blows everyone away with a giant fireball. Captain Falcon runs you over with his space car. Luigi does... something. It's awesome. Of course, if you're a hardcore smash player and hate the idea that your game could be ruined at a moment's notice by something like this, you can, as always, just turn them off. Smash is cool like that.

In conclusion, Brawl done play wicked good. I can't remember the last time a multiplayer video game resulted in more mutual enjoyment for everyone involved, although for the sake of transparency, I have to admit that the last time I played Halo with anyone, it consisted of me losing 25 to 0 for about four games in a row.

There're actually so many game modes, doodads, options, music and so on to think about in this one game that I question whether I'll even be able to internalize it all for a long time. It's actually a little scary, just thinking about all of the slightly goopy, caramalized game stuff in here!

Also scary: the idea that Kazushige Nojima, the scenario writer responsible for apocalypse-class dreck like Kingdom Hearts and its sequel (and uh, more of the same), was actually paid to pen Brawl's single-player story mode, which plays a lot like the SNES classic Kirby Superstar if they forced out most of the charm with a shovel.

Which means that it's still really enjoyable if you play with a friend. But... goodness. The last area of the story mode is a massive maze consisting of previous areas from the first half of the game connected together randomly via doors. Nearly every one of said doors has a fairly sloppily designed boss fight in it! Fantastic!

That's about as much criticism as I can level at this game, other than that the manual is written entirely in comic sans. And that it's (intentionally) so absurdly fetishistic. But that's cool. It's not like it has any pretensions of being anything but.
What wasn't cool was the big midnight release of the game at the Foothills Fashion Mall Gamestop. A friend of mine had pre-ordered the game there, and we showed up at around 9:45. He had planned on playing in the planned release tournament that Gamestop had planned, but after seeing the mass of black hoodies seen in the above photo, we decided that it would be in our better interest to not spend the next two hours in the company of people we would probably want to elbow repeatedly.

So we didn't! We left, and returned 10 minutes before midnight. The crowd had more than tripled in size by then, and now included future KCSU station manager and fellow blogger Justin Weber in its ranks. He had shown up for similar reasons, and also had a friend who wanted to play in the Gamestop tournament, which was ruined by inefficiency.
"I thought it was going to start at 10, but it didn't start until 11, so I ended up having to wait around for an hour. The Gamestop employees actually started playing an hour earlier, at around 10, and a bunch of kids waiting outside the store just pushed their faces up against the glass."
Two stores away from Gamestop is Game On, a LAN center boasting two enormous TVs and a wii, but the Gamestop tournament forced players to use their tiny wii demo kiosk, which was barely visible from the crowd. There was probably a lot of red tape and stubbornness preventing Game On from working with Gamestop on this one, but Weber and I were nonetheless disappointed by the unwatchable tournament conditions.
"I went in hoping to experience something akin to The Wizard, but that wasn't the case at all."
Also a bummer were the rules, which forced all 32 players to play 1-minutes matches 1v1 with no items. It was in the interest of time, sure, but talk about boring. Also, none of the unlockable characters were available for play. Double bummer.

Thankfully, my friend who pre-ordered the game managed to get a copy at midnight in about 5 minutes. Considering the massive line, which Weber guessed to be around 300 people long, I couldn't have been more pleased. How did we show up 5 minutes beforehand and walk out earlier than people who had been waiting there for 4 hours? I have no idea!

Weber didn't have as much luck, but was he bitter about the whole experience?
"I don't regret it, because I got Smash, but there were definitely better options available, like Wal-Mart."
Another friend did take the Wal-Mart route, and walked out with a copy in 15 minutes. Even better would be to, I dunno, wait until the next day and buy a copy then. But hey, whatever. Good game!

Post your friend codes in the comments or something! Mine is 1762-2351-3558!


Matt Brown said...

Depressing kids in hoodies...Sounds like a Smash Brother's release for sure... We need to play this sometime after spring break!

Mazo said...

Adam, Kilroy and I planned on going to the midnight release at Southwest Plaza, but the people working at the Gamestop there forgot to tell the mall security, so they had to cancel it. We found this out around 11:20 and decided to go to the other place on the list that I could think of: Westminster.

We made it to the Westminster Gamestop around 11:45. There was a big old line, full of all different types of completely interchangeable boring people. Meanwhile, I painted my face green, Kilroy made himself into a shirt ninja, and Adam was Adam, so I think we beat out the guy up front dressed as Got His Army Fatigues From His Dad Snake.

A little bit after midnight hit, one of the Gamestop guys announced that they only had enough games for the preorders. Undaunted, we stuck around in line, watched people run out of the store, copies of Brawl in hand, like they were being chased by the same kind of ruffian that would beat people down and steal their PS3, and generally act as paranoid as usual. When we finally got in, Adam tried a bluff, but it wasn't very effective.

Then we went to the Wal-Mart up the street. They had a ton of copies left, and this is after their own midnight release, which we missed completely since we were waiting around at the Gamestop. We got two copies, running all three of us broke. The end.

Jason Moses said...

"Got His Army Fatigues From His Dad Snake" is pretty fantastic!