It's Brawl Launch Day!

Today, the sequel to the widely-popular Super Smash Bros. Melee: Super Smash Bros Brawl, launched in the US. Getting an average of 96 out of 100 according to the major game review sites, it's quite a great game! While I do not own a Wii, I've played both the Japanese import and the English version, and Brawl takes everything that Melee had, made it better or kept it the same, and added 9 more characters, many more items, and an extensive story-arc called "The Subspace Emissary" which makes a valiant attempt to spice up the otherwise shallow single player modes. It's an ~8 hour long game, which gives the players the opportunity to flip through almost all of the 35 characters in the game, spiced along with short and beautiful cutscenes that introduce new characters and move along the story quickly. What's more, the whole single player game can be played two-player, where players run through all the levels simultaneously (although there may be sections where only one person may be playing, I don't know for sure).

The multiplayer action is superb! The gameplay has been slowed just a tad, which may be cause for excitement or sadness, depending on how you enjoyed Melee. All the characters have definite strengths and weaknesses; My favorite new character, Sonic, for example, moves like the wind, and can juggle an opponent midair for quite some time, but has no real moves for launching an enemy offstage. The new items are a welcome addition, as well as a bunch of new assist trophies that hurt other opponents or help you. Video of all the different assister trophies below.

A completely new facet of the game, the Final Smash, provides a good mix of fun. When a Smash Ball appears on the screen, everyone in play tries to rush for the ball. The first player to strike the ball a sufficient amount will gain a 'Final Smash'. This is a powered-up super move that normally destroys any enemy it touches instantly. It's a definite crowd-pleaser, as the effects and massive damage rack up the excitement. However, those on the receiving end may not enjoy it as much :). Video of all the Final Smashes below.

This is the first of the Super Smash Bros games to be playable online, either with friends, or random people. I haven't tried this out myself, although the general jist I get from reviews is that friend play is nice and light, but random play is plagued with lag issues, although we'll see how it goes after the service matures. There's more to mention, but too long to write down, so just check out all the new features on the official site linked above, and specifically on the Game Modes page. Sadly, some Wii's have had problems reading the Dual-Layer disc that the game comes on, as the laser may be slightly dirty. Luckily, Nintendo is on the case, and has set up a free repair program to get Wii's back up and running ASAP. If it happens to you, go get it repaired!

I might have to reallllly get a Wii and Brawl now. *sigh*