Longtime Nintendo fans look back to the days of the Nintendo 64 as the dawn of a gaming golden age.
In this period of time, a little more than 10 years ago, gaming mechanics and innovations were invented that are still used as a default by the industry at large.
For instance, fans of the Grand Theft Auto series owe quite a bit to Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for their depictions of fairly non-linear, free-roaming experiences that, quite frankly, had no equal in their day.
Halo buffs have Nintendo to thank for the first-ever inclusion of an analog stick, instead of a directional pad, a control scheme that greatly facilitated movement in a three-dimensional environment.
Aside from gameplay mechanics, several major franchises were also re-tooled to make the jump to 3-D, and new intellectual properties were designed in order to take advantage of the aforementioned improvements in gameplay.
One of these was the almost-universally popular Goldeneye. Another? The original Super Smash Bros.
The Smash Bros. series is built upon the premise of Nintendo’s most popular characters from various franchises, beating the crap out of one another in order to determine who is the greatest of them all.
After the first game sold just less than 5 million copies on the Nintendo 64, the inevitable sequel made its way to the GameCube in 2001, under the title Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Melee went on to become the No. 1-selling game on the GameCube, at last count, selling more than 7 million copies.
The latest entry in the series, now available for the Nintendo Wii, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, is a chip off the old block for all the right reasons.
Aside from beefing up the roster of playable characters, Brawl continues the Smash Bros. tradition of fantastically frantic slugfest gaming that the series is known and loved for.
Although Brawl contains a serviceable single-player mode, the story doesn’t really make any sense and only serves to throw iconic Nintendo characters together that really have no business being in the same universe at all.
To put what this means to a Nintendo fanboy into perspective is a little hard to explain; it would be like Optimus Prime and Jack Bauer teaming up to take down a terrorist group made up of a resurrected Hans Gruber and Darth Vader. Crazy? Yes. Awesome? Totally.
However, as ridiculously over-the-top as the single-player mode is, multi-player is where Brawl really shines.
After choosing one out of 36 uniquely balanced, playable characters, gamers can duke it out with as many as three other people, CPU opponents, or both.
Fans of the series will be thrilled to learn that Brawl supports some of the meatiest, multi-player, online support that has ever been seen on a Nintendo console.
Friends can compete in mini-games, tackle the story mode as a co-op adventure, or just whale on each other.
Although this sounds simple enough on paper, a four-player game of Brawl is anything but straightforward. The controls are deep, the power-ups are plentiful, and the gameplay varies wildly, depending not only on the characters, but the stages, as well.
From fighting on top of a plain platform, to a magma-filled cavern that intermittently fills with hot lava, to a pirate ship where other ships shoot cannonballs at your avatar, Brawl’s locales run a wide gamut of variety.
And maybe the No. 1 reason to add Brawl to your game collection is just that: variety.
Because underneath its Nintendo-fan-service exterior, Brawl really does have something for everybody. Whether its competing in online tournaments, playing some mini-games with mom and dad, or meticulously searching for all of the in-game collectibles or secret bonus content that the game is almost literally bursting with, the latest addition to the Smash Bros. franchise really does live up to its tagline as "The Brawl To End Them All!"