Friday, January 2, 2009

Smashing and Spazzing

My son has a new (current) favorite video game; Super Smash Brothers Brawl please step forward. His sister thinks its fairly decent too, but for him its just a ragin’ good time.

Me? Enh, not so much. I’d probably have called it Super Spaz Brothers Brawl.

Here’s the deal. It is just so chaotic and frenetic there doesn’t seem to be any strategy to it. I think that there probably is… but I’m just not interested in sorting it out amongst all the flashes, characters, and items. I’ve never seen a game with so many power ups. A lot of characters is kind of becoming the norm, but power ups? There seems to be almost as many different items to pick up and use as there are fighters, and I think the game boast sixty-two combatants! And they all seem to have basically the same (or very similar) moves, that are all executed the same way. Nintendo’s answer to game balance issues seems to have been just make all the same character with different skins and a few tweaked nuances.

I’m sure I’m waaaaayyy simplifying, but that’s what it looks and feels like. I’ve spent about three hours playing it now. I get why the game was anticipated, why it sold a ton, and why it is still pretty popular as of this writing which is a half-year after its release. There is a lot to do in the game; it has a nearly full-size single-player adventure mode despite its basic design as a multi-player fighting game. It has cool character designs, many of which span the entire history of home video game consoles (Pitt from Kid Icarus? Wow!), and tons of unlockables. If you like the basic play you have tons of reasons to stay at it. But every time I’ve played it, it becomes an exercise in alternating button-mashing with trying to stay/float/jump/glide on to the platforms of each stage.

All the flashes, blams, item effects and specials make a Soul Caliber 3 fight look dim by comparison. Even with making the characters look quite different from each other it is still quite easy to lose where you are and wind up getting socko-ed into the sky. I’ve enjoyed other spastic fighting games… not Smash Brothers so much, I’m more of a Power Stone man myself… but this one is just too much, I guess. It kind of reminds me of the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series. Those are closer to a traditional 2D fighting game in presentation, but they are still muy spastico with very little in the way of finesse, and a lot of items, flash, and running around all over the stages.
Like I said, I can see what is great about Super Smash Brothers Brawl. There’s no way I’m going to criticize it around my kids. But I gave it a shot, to see what all the hype was about, and it just ain’t my thing. Am I getting to old for this stuff?

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