‘Brawl’ will keep fans entertained for years

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As time goes on, Nintendo fans just want more characters, stages, options, moves and ... Nintendo-ness. Quite simply, “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” represents the most complete and thorough form of Nintendo fan-service in disc form, while still offering a kick-ass and addictive fighting game.

Is it even a “fighting game,” though? Sure, but instead of replicating the traditional one-on-one style of fighting games that require players to deplete their opponent’s life bar, winning in “Smash” requires physically knocking opponents off the screen.

Like sumo wrestling ... if the sumo wrestlers could jump in mid-air and use fireballs.

“Brawl” is four-player madness at its finest. The amount of characters, stages and items on display makes for wildly unpredictable matches every time.

Every character now possesses a unique “Final Smash” that can obliterate their opponents, making the action all the more frantic.

People who wanted a full multiplayer game of “Super Smash Bros. Melee,” however, could find dragging other players in front of the TV a real hassle. For those times when friends just aren’t readily available, “Brawl” offers the long-awaited option for online play.

As with most fighting games, however, lag during game play and the control inputs can kill the online experience. Players who have exchanged friend codes tend to receive much smoother connections, while lone wolves can experience some pretty unbearable lag, to the point that matches with two-minute timers can take five minutes in real time to finish, which is, to put it bluntly, a total bummer.

The last two “Smash” games offered vague skeletons of a single-player adventure mode, but “Brawl” offers a more fleshed-out eight to 10 hour adventure called Subspace Emissary. First and foremost, don’t play this mode for the story: it makes zero sense (something about an army of darkness invading Nintendoland and turning all of the characters into statues), and feels crafted by rabid Nintendo fan-fiction writers.

Subspace Emissary is a lot of fun, though, because it keeps those story elements light while focusing most of its effort on letting players beat the snot out of a bunch of enemies and bosses. It also provides some light platforming elements and secret doors to find, and even includes a few RPG elements for buffing up the characters in your party. Best of all, two players can play this mode cooperatively.

For the first time, “Smash” includes the appearance of non-Nintendo franchises with playable characters Snake (“Metal Gear Solid”) and Sonic (“Sonic the Hedgehog”). They fit right in while still representing their series’ heritage well. Hopefully these two characters are a sign of things to come from the series, where “Smash” becomes a home for all recognizable video game characters outside of Nintendo as well.

There’s no shortage of things to do in “Brawl.” The Classic and All-Star modes, Target Smash!!, Home-Run Contest, Multi-Man Brawl, Boss Gauntlet, Coin Launcher, Stage Builder, Events and even a spectator mode for online matches. With 39 unique playable characters, 41 stages, hundreds of trophies and stickers to collect and options for near infinite replay value, “gargantuan” doesn’t even begin to describe the amount of content in “Brawl.”

I can’t give “Brawl” a perfect score in good faith, because quite frankly, some things, like the sketchy online play, will drive people mad. Nintendo fans probably won’t let such wrinkles bother them, though. Sora designed this game with the Ninendo fan in mind.

Just like “Melee” on GameCube, “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” is probably the most raw, addictive fun you’ll have with the Wii all year. And next year. And the year after that.

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