Editorial | 4/3/2010 at 12:22 AM

Co-Op Casual Friday: Super Smash Brothers Brawl

Growing up, I was a huge fan of giant monster movies, like Godzilla and King Kong.  My favorite movie of this type is Destroy All Monsters, which features all of the Toho monsters: Godzilla, Anguiras, Mothra, Rodan, and a  whole slew of others.  The plot is wacky and totally ridiculous, even by giant monster movie standards, but who cares?  Seeing all the fantastic creatures battling it out together in one movie is amazing.  Today for Co-Op Casual Friday, we'll look at the gaming equivalent to Destroy All Monsters: Super Smash Brothers Brawl.

Super Smash Brothers Brawl is the third in a series of games stretching back to the hallowed Nintendo 64 system.  The focus of the game, as you'd guess from the title, is on beating one another up.  Players choose from a huge selection of characters, pick a battle stage, and duke it out.  Points are scored when opponents are knocked out, and lost when you are knocked out.  When time runs out, a winner is crowned, and you can do it all over again.  It is a simple formula, that's easily accessible, and yet there is room for quite a lot of strategy, which makes the game appeal to both the casual gamer, and the more experienced player looking for a challenge.


Adding to the considerable appeal of Super Smash Brothers Brawl is the variety of characters available for you to choose from.  After a few hours of play, literally dozens become available, ranging from Nintendo stars like Mario and Link to lesser knowns like Ike from Fire Emblem and Mr. Game and Watch.  Each character plays differently, though a few archetypes are repeated with only minor variation.  An extensive moveset for each character, coupled with different attributes like speed and jumping ability, give SSBB an almost unheard of level of variety and replayability.

While the Smash Brothers series has always been a great time, it is definitely a competitive game franchise.  We have owned each iteration of the series, and while beating the tar out of each other is fun, sometimes even for long periods of time, it often leads to hurt feelings.  (By this, I mean my kids are cheaters and use cheap shots all the time, naturally.)  Luckily, AI players can be added in, and by teaming up against the computer, any grumpiness and whining can be diminished somewhat (as long as you don't play against Pikachu, or as we know it, the cute yellow ball of electric death).

Super Smash Brothers Brawl included one major addition that will please those who tire of endless AI matches, or just general fans of co-op: a more highly polished story mode, called Subspace Emissary.  Two players can team up to travel through some dimensional portals, or alternate realities, or something similar  to rescue a cosmic McGuffin or some such; really, like with Destroy All Monsters, the plot is largely irrelevant; it's all about mixing up the vast array of characters.  Subspace Emissary plays more like a traditional side scroller, and features bosses from across many different game series, such as Rayquaza from Pokemon and Meta Ridley from Metroid.

Subspace Emissary could almost be a full game release of its own.  It is a tad on the short side, but there are replay options aplenty.  There's a great blend of steady progression and seemingly impossible challenges, along with a serious dose of fan service.  The few problems with this mode are very minor, most notably the fact that the screen follows Player 1, and Player 2 can often get teleported into new places with little to no warning if Player 1 moves too far away.  All in all, this is really no more than a nitpick, and Subspace Emissary is a fantastic co-op experience.

If you own a Wii, and enjoy local multiplayer gaming at all, you simply must get a copy of Super Smash Brothers Brawl.  It is one of the more kid-friendly series around, yet is deep enough for a hardcore gamer to really sink his or her teeth into.  The humongous roster of both all-stars and distantly remembered characters gives the game serious replay legs.  If all this wasn't enough to convince you that Super Smash Brothers Brawl is a worthwhile game, let me put it to you this way: Mario and Kirby vs. Sonic and R.O.B.  'Nuff said!