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Gripes and Glees: One week with Smash Bros. Brawl


Oh Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Our blogging super-powers have given us an entire week with your dual-layered, nostalgia-filled awesomeness, where most gamers have only had the past few days. In spite of the nega-review, Brawl still seems to be pure gold in the eyes of most gamers and reviewers.

Of course, a game as massive as Brawl is bound that have hidden its imperfections somewhere. So let's go hunting, listing the game's many gleeful points, each followed by a gripe that may have been overlooked in our fanboyish devotion to the franchise. No facet of the game will go untouched here, so be warned that spoilers may abound. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let's play Gripes and Glees!

Glee: The opening cinematic to Brawl is gorgeous as always, and even updates as new characters become unlocked.
Gripe: The initial load-screen for the cinematic lasts around ten to fifteen seconds, a wait time normally unheard of in first-party Nintendo titles. The unskippable load time feels even longer due to the lack of music and an almost entirely black screen.

Glee: Many of the new-to-Brawl characters have incredibly unique play styles. Playing as Olimar reminds us of how much we loved the Pikmin games, and the strategy of switching between Pokemon while using Pokemon Trainer is a faithful recreation of that classic RPG element.
Gripe: Far too many characters just feel like near-clones of each other. Pit, Link, Metaknight, Marth, Ike, Fox, Falco, Wolf. We love them all, but so many are just so darn similar.

Glee: We're pleased as punch that Nintendo saw fit to include a smattering of classic Melee stages in Brawl.
Gripe: We're a tad disappointed, however, that our favorite original Smash Bros. stages couldn't make surprise appearances. Where's the love for Dream Land, or Hyrule Castle? At least that horrid Kongo Jungle is nowhere to be found.

Glee: The demos offered in Masterpieces mode are a surprising and welcome addition to Brawl's compendium of nostalgia.
Gripe: The 1 to 3-minute demos force you to exit Brawl in order to play them, making it cumbersome to try out the "Masterpieces" back-to-back. Having to re-boot Brawl from the Wii menu after playing each super-short demo hardly seems worth the effort.

Glee: We not only get trophies, but STICKERS too? We love stickers!
Gripe: Collecting stickers in Brawl just makes us wish we had those stickers in real life, to adorn our Wii-motes and Trapper Keepers. Pretty please, Nintendo?

Glee: The Subspace Emissary's numerous cutscenes are amazing, with just the right blend of bizarre character cross-overs, action scenes, and humor.
Gripe: The cutscene menu in the Movies section is a slow-scrolling list, making it surprisingly difficult to find that one particularly awesome cut-scene that comes late in the game (or Peach's hilarious "tea-time" scene).

Glee: The controversial "toon-shaded" version of Young Link makes his appearance as a playable character.
Gripe: He isn't toon-shaded! Toon Link in Brawl is the lanky, poorly-rendered awkward teenage version of that bright and colorful Wind Waker Link we've all grown to love (or hate).

Glee: The Subspace Emissary blends character storylines together in surprisingly clever ways. Nothing makes us giggle more than the team-up of Samus Aran and Pikachu, and certain character introductions made our hearts go all a-flutter.
Gripe: Without ruining too much, we'll just say that Sonic is so poorly woven into the fabric of Brawl's story mode, it honestly spoiled the entire wild ride a little. We recommend low expectations for the Hedgehog's entry into the fray.

Glee: Attaching stickers to character trophies adds a surprisingly refreshing RPG-esque twist to the Subspace Emissary mode.
Gripe: Attaching stickers to every last character that you control in SSE quickly becomes a tiresome and repetitive process.

Glee: Brawl offers fickle players four possible controller options, with customizable controls on each. Hooray for options!
Gripe: Boo for not enough options! While the D-pad on the Wii-mote turned sideways is used for movement, D-pads on the classic controller or Gamecube pad can not be assigned to anything other than taunting. The sideways Wii-mote customization options are also woefully limited; if hitting 1 and 2 simultaneously can activate a smash attack, why can't holding 1 and B (or 2 and B) do something as well?

Glee: Melee haters will be happy to know that Brawl brings the speed down to a level more akin to the N64 original. Playing it brings back fond memories of 1999.
Gripe: Though slower, characters feel "floatier" as well, and the precision control of Melee seems to be missing somewhat in its sequel. What's more, using the basic attack of many characters feels like you left the turbo button on by accident; they kick and punch automatically at such a high rate that we're honestly wondering if it might be a [gasp] glitch.

Gripe: Brawl's dual-layer DVD has proven too much for certain dirty or banged-up Wiis, which won't properly play the game without being sent in to Nintendo first for an optical laser cleaning.
Glee: Ours was miraculously fine, even after being checked through baggage for an eight-hour flight to France (and spending an extra day as lost luggage at Heathrow Airport). Carrying cases and tender loving care FTW.

How about it, fellow Brawlers? Any other gripes or glees that we missed? Let them be heard in the comments.

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