Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Echo Chambers

I finished Super Smash Bros. Brawl tonight. Well, not "finished" per se, since collecting all the random trophies and such would take the better part of my free time for the rest of the month - but I did finish the Subspace Emissary mode, and I'm about halfway through the challenges. So, for single player, I'm functionally done with the game.

It's fun. The mechanics are still a bit "mashy" to me - I absolutely despise the "up to jump" functionality of the controls, and even playing with a classic controller, if I hit Y (to jump), and then hold up, I immediately double-jump, which is idiotic.

Still, the fighting is fun, fast, and frenetic. It's largely accessible to new players, though I'm not sure whether that's because of, or in spite of the visual chaos that makes the game nigh-unintelligible. An unfamiliar player can quickly jump in, smash some buttons, and periodically hit an experienced player out of the ring, getting some sense of satisfaction in the process.

So, it's a reasonably entertaining multiplayer game, and if that was all it was, it's successful. But that's not all it is. It has a single player mode, and online multiplayer - and it fails pretty dramatically on both counts.

The single player mode has one (or two) player(s) basically doing a combination of platforming and fighting through a series of levels, periodically unlocking little cutscenes that nonsensically pair up the various casts of Nintendo characters in improbable ways. The major problems with this mode are that the controls aren't particularly good for platforming - the jumping problem I mentioned above made a lot of the jumping sequences really, really frustrating, and that there's little reason to actually stop and fight except for the few areas where the game requires you to. For the most part, you can simply run by everything until you get to a little staged fight, beat that, and be on your merry way. It's repetitive, it's boring, and while charming at times, all that charm is undone by the last level, which basically recycles half the content from the earlier parts of the game and makes you play through them again.

Why this has become a staple of Nintendo games I have no idea. It's boring, it's tedious, and really, really annoying.

Worse still is the online multiplayer. It's impossible to find your friends online, impossible to get a game together while using the Wii, impossible to do anything while waiting for your friends to get coordinated (since you're "not online" unless you're explicitly connected to the WFC), and even when you can get people together, you can't talk or even type. It's intensely pointless, and compared to Xbox Live, it's so utterly backwards and ill-conceived that it has almost no practical use. I don't see myself ever playing Smash Bros. Brawl online. Ever. I've tried for three weeks to get a game together with absolutely no success. What a waste of my time and theirs.

So, what's that all mean, in the end? The mechanics are good enough that I tolerated the absolutely horrid last level of the Subspace Emissary mode. It's the first game on the Wii that I've actually finished (SMG and Zelda included). So that says something. But I don't often have friends over to play games in person, and the unusable online functionality basically means that the multiplayer portion of the game is totally lost on me - which is a real shame, because it clearly has the potential to be a good time.

All in all, if you have friends over for games regularly, it's worth getting. If you're a die-hard long time Nintendo fan, you have to pick it up simply because it's fan service explosion. But for anyone else? It's really nothing special.

Single Player: C/70
Multiplayer In Person: B/90
Multiplayer Online: D/0

A huge amount of content, a lot of love of the characters, and a lot of really, really big disappointments.


s said...

You can turn off up to jump in the options...

s said...

Yo I don't have your vegas. I gave it back to you awhile ago so you could research for something...