Super Smash Bros. Brawl – coming soon

Whilst its title appears to allude to an almighty bust-up between some tin-skinned aliens over instant mashed potato, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is, of course, the latest instalment in the massively popular Smash Bros. series that first appeared back on the N64 in 1999.

Smash Bros, essentially a light-hearted beat-em-up affair, is something of an exercise in nostalgia; characters from across the Nintendo canon, including A-listers such as Mario, Pikachu and Link, rub shoulders with less well-known heroes and heroines including Ness from Earthbound (a title which never saw the light of day in Europe) and Samus Aran from the Metroid series.

The pace of the Smash Bros. games is fast, frantic, but above all fun. The controls are simple enough for anyone to pick up and play, and the basics can be mastered after a couple of rounds, so much like Wii Sports and Wario Ware, Brawl seems perfect for post-pub silliness. Even so, there is enough depth and hidden moves to keep combo fans happy, so Soul Caliber fans should think twice before thumbing their noses at Nintendo’s colourful scrapper.

Smash Bros. also differs from other fighters in that the multitude of stages feature a number of hiding places, and items routinely drop from the sky packaged in wooden crates a la Worms. Items include traditional Nintendo fare such as the big mushrooms from the Mario series and the deadly Proximity Mines from GoldenEye. By far the most annoying item was the Pokeball, which unleashed a random Pokemon creature onto other players, spewing lightning, fire, ice or a combination of other nasty elemental effects across the screen. It’s unpredictable and unrelenting in pace.

The GameCube sequel, Smash Bros. Melee upped the ante with a more characters, more stages, and colourful visuals delivered at a retina-shreddingly fast frame rate – things could get quite scary at times with the number of polygons on screen reaching critical levels.

Brawl looks to be the most complete title of the Smash Bros. series to date, bringing with it a host of new features including online play and a more developed single player mode – an area where critics felt the original was lacking. In another shocking twist, it was announced last year that Metal Gear star Solid Snake was to be made a playable character alongside the traditional Nintendo line-up – if this gave purists cause for concern, then they must have balked when it became known that Sega mainstay and arch nemesis Sonic the Hedgehog was to join the ranks.

However this hasn’t stopped copies flying off the shelves – In Japan, the game sold over half a million units on its first day of launch in January and over 1.6 million by the end of March. Nintendo of America announced that the first week sales of Brawl totalled to over 1.4 million copies in the first week, officially making it the fastest-selling game in Nintendo history.

“Super Smash Bros. Brawl has made the leap from video game to cultural phenomenon,” says Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of sales and marketing. The date for release in Europe is set to be 27th of June 2008.

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