Super Smash Bros. Brawl (大乱闘スマッシュブラザーズX, Great Fray Smash Brothers X), often abbreviated as SSBB or Brawl, is a fighting game developed by Sora Ltd. and published by Nintendo for the Wii as the third installment in the Super Smash Bros. series.
It was released in Japan on January 31, 2008, on March 9, 2008 in North America, and was be followed by Australia on June 26, 2008, and Europe on June 27, 2008.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl received generally positive critical reviews, became the fastest selling video game in Nintendo of America's history, and has sold 4.85 million units worldwide as of March 31, 2008.
Following the style of its predecessors, the game uses a battle system different from that of typical fighting games. Choosing from a variety of characters, one to four players fight on various stages, each attempting to knock their opponents off the screen. Instead of using health bars like those used in most fighting games, percentage displays are employed.
These start at 0% and increase as the characters take damage, up to 999%. As a character's percentage increases, the character flies farther back when hit. When a character is knocked beyond a stage's boundary and disappears from the screen, the character loses either a life or a point depending on the mode of play.
The game can be played using the Wii Remote on its side, the Wii Remote and Nunchuk together, the Classic Controller, or the Nintendo GameCube controller, for a total of four possible control styles. 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 can fight each other using a variety of attacks. Each move is executed with the press of 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 smash attacks.
Each character has four unique moves, which often create distinct effects beyond damaging an opponent. The game introduces the ability to perform character-specific super attacks, referred to as "Final Smash" moves.
These moves are significantly more powerful than regular attacks, having a wide variety of effects that range from nearly unavoidable blasts to temporary transformations. These abilities may be performed upon destroying a Smash Ball, an item bearing the Smash Bros. logo.
The characters can make use of a variety of items, ranging from projectiles to melee weapons. Each item has a different effect on the characters around it. While many items return from previous Super Smash Bros. games, new items are also introduced in Brawl. Some returning items have received upgrades, changing their appearances, and occasionally, capabilities. Two varieties of items, Assist Trophies, and Poké Balls, temporarily summon guest characters and Pokémon, respectively, that generally assist the summoner. They cannot be controlled by players and are usually invincible.
In addition to the standard multiplayer mode, Super Smash Bros. 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 only one feature per match, players may now select as many options as they like for a single match. Another returning game type, Tourney mode (known as "Tournament Mode" in previous installments), enables players to create an elimination-based tournament with a large number of CPU or human opponents. A new feature known as "Rotation" has been introduced in Brawl. This feature allows up to 16 players to compete in sequence by switching out winners or losers after each round.
Keeping consistent with its predecessors, Super Smash Bros. Brawl includes various modes of play from the previous game designed for a single player. In Classic Mode, the player goes through a number of randomly generated matches, though there is a specific order of appearance for each series. 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 or a two-on-two team battle. Similar to Classic Mode are All-Star Mode and Boss Battles, but the player has only one life to defeat all of the playable characters and bosses, respectively.
As in the previous game, Brawl has Events, which are matches with predetermined battle conditions. These conditions include defeating opponents within a time limit or reaching a specific goal. New to the mode, each of the sixty-two Events has three difficulties, with a high score recorded for each. In addition to the normal set of forty-one Events played with a single player, a smaller set of twenty-one two-player Co-op Events is included.
Also returning from Melee, Brawl features objective-oriented minigames in Stadium Mode. Returning from the two previous games is the "Target Smash!!" minigame, in which the player must break ten targets as quickly as possible. In addition, items scattered across the stage are available for use. In Home-Run Contest, the player must beat the Sandbag to deal as much damage as possible in ten seconds, then strike it with a Home-Run Bat to send it as far as possible. 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. This mode features unique character storylines along with numerous side-scrolling levels and multiple bosses to fight, as well as CG cut scenes explaining the storyline. The Subspace Emissary features a new 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 Super Mario Bros. and a squadron of R.O.B.s based on classic Nintendo hardware. The Subspace Emissary 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 come in many variations. Though primarily a single-player mode, The Subspace Emissary allows for cooperative multiplayer. This mode features a unique power-up mechanism in the form of collectible stickers that can be applied to the base of the player's character trophies.
Unlike other game modes, The Subspace Emissary has a team system for the characters. The player begins with a limited choice of characters. 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 from time to time (and in one instance, a character separates into his own team), until they become one single, unified team by the end of the game. Once one character loses a life, another character on the team can take his or her place until the stock count, of which each stage has a set number, runs out.
Masahiro Sakurai claimed that this mode would be more "fleshed out" than the single-player modes in previous Super Smash Bros. titles. Shigeru Miyamoto has explained that Sakurai always wanted to have a very 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. With the development time allotted for Brawl, both were possible. In order to put together a plotline for the mode, Sakurai enlisted the help of Kazushige Nojima, a scenario writer known for his work on the Final Fantasy series.
The story opens with Mario and Kirby battling in a stadium in the Smash Bros. world. A purple cloud slowly forms around the stadium, where the Ancient Minister and his Subspace Army appear and detonate a Subspace Bomb, which transports part of the world into Subspace. As the Ancient Minister's armies spread across the land, some heroic characters team up and attempt to repel the enemy, while a number of villainous characters compete to harvest the power of the good characters by converting them into trophies.
It is revealed that the Ancient Minister is subordinate to Ganondorf, who is 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, and he eventually rebels against his superiors and joins the allied characters. The allied heroes enter Subspace, where it is revealed R.O.B., Ganondorf, and even Master Hand were all being controlled and manipulated by an even higher being, Tabuu. Tabuu unleashes a power blast which transforms all of the protagonists into trophies, but a select few(Ness and Luigi) 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 waits in the center. Receiving the help of Sonic the Hedgehog, they ultimately defeat Tabuu, saving the Smash Bros. universe.
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
Super Smash Bros. Brawl allows players to play against distant opponents through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Online multiplayer games can be played either with registered friends or with other randomly selected participants. The players' nicknames will be displayed during multiplayer matches. Additionally, players can converse with up to four phrases that are preset by the player. The four phrases correspond to the characters' taunts and will appear in speech bubbles above the characters. These names and phrases are not displayed in random-player matches. A Spectator mode allows players to watch matches from players who have enabled the "Allow Spectators" option, and bet on the outcome using coins earned within the game. The winner of the bet receives a jackpot of coins. While waiting for a match to start online, players may practice fighting against Sandbag. Some other gameplay modes, such as the Home-Run Contest, can also be played using Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
Additionally, snapshots may be taken during battles or in certain other modes. These snapshots can be sent to friends or submitted to Nintendo through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Video replay footage can be captured in specific game modes, including Brawl and Target Smash!! modes, and sent to friends in the same manner.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl features 35 selectable characters, with some characters having the ability to transform into alternate forms with different move sets and play styles. The cast of characters includes various returning characters from Super Smash Bros. Melee and a variety of newcomers. Some returning characters have been updated or refined since their last appearance, either in terms of appearance, fighting capabilities, or both. For example, Link and Fox have taken on new designs from more recent titles, while Samus has gained the ability to change into a new form, "Zero Suit Samus".
Some previously represented series have had more characters added to Brawl. Diddy Kong from the Donkey Kong series and Ike from the Fire Emblem series make their first appearance in the Super 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, and Wario, from Nintendo's Wario Land and WarioWare series and an antagonist of Mario's. 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.
The thirty-five playable characters in Super Smash Bros. Brawl are Mario, Luigi, Peach and Bowser (Mario), Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong (Donkey Kong), Yoshi (Yoshi, a spin-off of Mario), Wario (WarioWare, a spin-off of Mario), Link, Zelda/Sheik, Ganondorf and Toon Link (The Legend of Zelda), Samus/Zero Suit Samus (Metroid), Pit (Kid Icarus), Ice Climbers (Ice Climber), R.O.B. (Robot series), Kirby, Meta Knight and King Dedede (Kirby), Olimar (Pikmin), Fox, Falco and Wolf (Star Fox), Captain Falcon (F-Zero), Pikachu, Pokémon Trainer, Lucario and Jigglypuff (Pokémon), Marth and Ike (Fire Emblem), Ness and Lucas (Mother), Mr. Game & Watch (Game & Watch), Snake (Metal Gear) and Sonic (Sonic the Hedgehog). Fourteen of these characters must be unlocked by achieving certain goals within the game. They are Luigi, Ganondorf, Toon Link, R.O.B., Falco, Wolf, Captain Falcon, Lucario, Jigglypuff, Marth, Ness, Mr. Game & Watch, Snake, and Sonic. It should also be noted that a number of characters did not appear in a playable role in Brawl, that did in Melee. These characters are Dr. Mario (Dr. Mario, a spin-off of Mario), Pichu and Mewtwo (Pokémon), Roy (Fire Emblem) and Young Link (The Legend of Zelda), however many consider Toon Link simply a re-design of Melee's Young Link.
Stages are arenas that are generally based on levels from the various represented 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 knocked out, thus losing a life or a "point", depending on the mode of play.
Brawl contains forty-one selectable stages, with twenty-nine 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 floating in water. 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 some stages originally seen in its predecessor.
Brawl allows players to create their own stages using a variety of options in a mode called Stage Builder. Players can save their stages to an SD card or the internal memory of the Wii console. Through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, players are able to submit their creations daily to Nintendo and receive a daily stage from the service. Through this service, players can also send stages to registered friends.
At the pre-E3 2005 press conference, the president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, announced the next installment of Super Smash Bros. was not only already in development for their next gaming console, but would hopefully be a launch title with Wi-Fi compatibility for online play. The announcement was a surprise to Masahiro Sakurai, creator of the Super Smash Bros. series. In 2003, Sakurai left HAL Laboratory, the company that was in charge of the franchise's development. He was not informed of Nintendo's intent to release another Smash title, 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 Sakurai was called to Iwata's hotel room, where he was asked to be involved in the production of the new title, if possible as its director. Sakurai agreed to become director, and as of May 2005 was the only member of the new development team. Development of the game did not begin until October 2005, when Nintendo opened a new office in Tokyo just for its production. Nintendo also enlisted outside help from various developer studios, including Game Arts. Sakurai stated that these people had spent excessive amounts of time playing Super Smash Bros. Melee. This team was given access to all the original material and tools from the development of Melee, courtesy of HAL Laboratory. In addition, several Super Smash Bros. staff members that reside around the area of the new office joined the project's development.
The game was absent from Nintendo's Wii showing at its 2006 Pre-E3 press conference. The next day, on Wednesday, May 10, 2006, its first official trailer was unveiled at E3 and at the After-Hours Press Conference, Nintendo officially revealed the game under the name of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. In an interview with IGN, Sakurai said the Wii's motion sensing features might not be included because "we 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 and online functionality 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, as stated in the Toukouken on the Japanese version of the Super Smash Bros. website, "there would be many hurdles to cross", and 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 right 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, it was announced by Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime that Super Smash Bros. Brawl would be released on December 3, 2007 in the Americas. However, just 2 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, Nintendo of Japan 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 24th, 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 announced that Super Smash Bros. Brawl would be released on February 10, 2008 in North America. On January 15, 2008, the game's release was pushed back one week in Japan to January 31 and nearly a month in North America to March 9. On April 24, 2008, it was confirmed by Nintendo of Europe that Brawl will be released in Europe on June 27.
Due to the fact that Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the first Wii title to use a double-layer disc, Nintendo has admitted that some Wii systems have trouble reading the game due to a dirty laser lens. Nintendo is repairing systems with dual-layer problems free of charge, regardless of warranty status.
On May 22, 2007, Sakurai revealed a list of 36 composers providing music for the game. Sakurai stated that he has asked the composers, who come from a variety of companies and have written music for first, second, 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 that were taken directly from other games without any modification or special arrangement. This feature allows the player to select the likelihood of how often a piece gets played during a stage. Some of the pieces need to be unlocked while playing the game.
Inclusion of characters
Sakurai originally stated that he may not want to put much emphasis on Japan-only characters. However, reflecting upon Marth and Roy's inclusion in Melee leading to the international release of the formerly exclusive Fire Emblem series, Sakurai expressed more interest in including characters exclusive to Japan-only releases.
Sakurai also 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, with some possibly appearing in the game. Likewise, fans from other countries were asked to submit ideas on Nintendo's official forums.
Suggestions were no longer being taken as of June 9, 2006. The most requested third-party character, Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog, was announced to be in Brawl on October 10, 2007, though the decision to have him in the game was made earlier that year.
Reception and sales
Upon release, Super Smash Bros. Brawl has received widespread critical acclaim. The editors of Japanese game magazine Famitsu, who awarded it with 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 also awarded Brawl a perfect score in the March 2008 issue, calling it "one of the very best games that Nintendo has ever produced." GameSpot editors 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 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 Super 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 The Subspace Emissary Adventure Mode. He also described the graphics as "an enhanced version of Melee," with backgrounds that lack detail in areas while GameSpy claimed the graphics look "like the GameCube game." Mitchell Saltzman of Gameworld Network expressed disappointment at "the lack of a truly robust online mode, complete with stat tracking, voice chat, and a mostly lag free environment." 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, suggests that Brawl is not directed exclusively towards serious gamers, since it offers "a curious diversion for uninterested gamers" as well.
In Japan, Brawl sold over 500,000 copies on launch day, 820,000 copies in its first week, and 1.61 million units total as of March 31, 2008. According to the NPD Group, it was the best-selling title for the month of March 2008 in Canada and the United States, selling 200,000 and 2.7 million units, respectively; as of April 1, 2008, the game is the best-selling title of 2008 in Canada. According to Nintendo, the game has sold 4.85 million copies worldwide as of March 31, 2008. Electronic Entertainment Design and Research analyst Jesse Divnich explained the game's strong sales, "Super Smash Bros. Brawl fulfilled the needs of the casual, social, and sub-13-year-old markets."