a review of Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Dairantou Smash Brothers X)
a videogame developed by hal laboratory
and published by nintendo
for the nintendo wii
text by tim rogers
So this is it. This is the big Nintendo Wii game. What’s even coming out for the Nintendo Wii after this? A quick visit to Nintendo.co.jp (which we’ll use because on Nintendo.com it’s impossible for anyone who’s not a robot-scientist to tell the difference between an in-site link and a McDonald’s advertisement) shows us that, of the 19 games on the “upcoming” list, 18 of them have already been released, the only one that hasn’t been already released is just a refitting of Common Sense Training for the Nintendo DS (now with the words “For Everyone” and “In Front of Your TV” shoehorned into the title to admirably allow maximum accessibility and minimum shame for the people the game seeks to fix), one of them is that terrifying Donkey Kong Jet Race game where you have to shake the controller and the nunchuk belligerently just to move, precisely three of them are games that haven’t precisely existed in another form on another platform (and one of those three is packed in when you buy a spare controller), and five of them feature Super Mario as a playable character. We’ve got Mario flying through space, Mario foot-racing against Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario playing soccer (not too much of a stretch given that some (many (most)) European soccer players have even uglier facial hair), Mario as a sheet of paper in a fairyland world where you have to open a god damned menu to “equip” the ability to jump (exagerration (critics loved it, anyway, citing the brilliance of the insipid gameplay mechanic wherein you press a button to rotate the screen into THREE-DEE MODE every time you arrive at an obstacle or puzzle whose solution isn’t immediately, painfully obvious)). It goes without saying that, of all these games in which Mario dons different hats while still donning his signature hat (I am a wordplay master) , the one most looked-forward-to by game-lovers the world over is the one in which Mario is permitted, both by the rules of the game and by simple operation of a game controller, to punch his younger brother (named “Luigi”) in the face. This is also something you can do in real life, unless you don’t have a younger brother (in the interest of the Nintendo fans in the audience, reading this review because this game stars Link from the Zelda series, I’ll explain that the reasons you might not have a younger brother are: you have only older brothers, older sisters, younger sisters, some combination of those three, you are an only child, or your younger brother has died, either by walking in front of a bus or jerking off too much, et cetera), though if, like me, your younger brother’s part time job involves accidentally keeping stampeding antelopes out of Wal-Mart at two in the morning, there’s a danger of your fist being consumed like by acid (or literally by teeth).
The only game on the list of Wii games on the Nintendo.co.jp website that I can actually applaud is Wii Fit, which doesn’t make sense because I like Wii Fit in concept alone; the execution is half-baked, and when you get down to brass tacks, it’s really hardly as much fun as “Billy’s Boot Camp”, which at least features appearances by gyrating, punching, kicking, furiously toned, tight, white-hot black women.
At any rate, here’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the biggest little dollop of gruel yet slopped on the lunch tray of gamerkind. The Japanese title is “Smash Brothers X“, which sounds so much cleaner. “Clean” is the biggest compliment-word this game should ever be awarded, and I don’t precisely mean that as an insult: it is undistilled, pure, gelatinous videogame essence, sat on a table to wobble until eternity. It’s the third game in a series that, in the interest of politeness, we’ll say “has two other games”. Both of those games were popular; this game (sequel #2) takes the “more of the same” model plopped out by the last game (sequel #1) to a new extreme, stuffing it full of more playable characters, more collectible items, more gameplay modes, and more Kingdom Hearts-influenced scenario (which in the previous games was set at zero).
Nintendo masterminded a breathtaking PR plan: literally, they managed to halt the mouth-breaths of mouth-breathing near-thirtysomethings the world over at least once a week in the half-year-long run up to the game’s release, all by regularly updating a simple, clean website. Some players — old enough to have fathered children and not noticed — kept steely resolve, vowing to avoid spoilers and not look at the website until after the game was released.
That is to say, it’s Memorial Day, we’re going to go see Mel Gibson in “The Patriot”, wherein any of the main characters could die at any time, and Nintendo has managed to get all of the kids into the minivan with just one no-popcorn warning.
In the end, what’s there to spoil? I’m sure someone could send me a long, psychotic email peppered with subtle allusions to child abuse, and by the end of that email, I’d know one person’s opinion, though I sure as hell wouldn’t understand it. What we have here is a videogame with a time- and sales-proven conceptual play hook, populated by characters that the player has already seen, or else he just plain isn’t interested. If the player has already seen all the characters, what’s to spoil? Well, for one thing, the way these characters, from classic 2D games, are represented in brilliant 3D, and the reason they appear in the “story”.
The “story” mode begins with Mario fighting Kirby in a giant arena that’s floating in space. The player chooses to play as either Mario or Kirby. If you choose Mario, when you win, you’ll see a cut-scene in which Mario punches Kirby so hard he turns into . . . an action figure of Kirby. Mario then walks up and touches the Kirby action figure, which turns back into Kirby. Mario pats Kirby on the back, and the two salute the wildly cheering crowds.
Then sinister stuff starts happening. A giant airship (owned by MetaKnight from the Kirby series, of course) shows up, et cetera et cetera, eventually we’ve got a running adventure in which Nintendo characters interact with one another with no dialogue (spoken or text), fighting for the vaguely defined “good guys” against hordes of “bad guys”; whenever a bad guy (Wario, Bowser, Ganondorf) shows up in a cut-scene, they’re equipped with a big sci-fi gun which, when fired, turns any Nintendo character into an action figure. Someone is trying to collect all of the Nintendo action figures! Who the flaming heck is it? If you want to know the answer, turn to the last page, and then buy the game.
Three, four, five, six times in the game, there’s a scene where a Big Bad Guy fires a gun at a Helpless Nintendo Character, and a Big Strong Nintendo Character jumps in the way of the beam, is turned into a toy, and is carted off. In all of those occasions, the Helpless Nintendo Character is, less than two seconds later, greeted by a Big-Brother-Like character. Fox McCloud comes down to help Diddy Kong after Donkey Kong is carted off by Wario, for example. (If you consider this a spoiler and are actually angry right now, please don’t visit this website anymore.)
The reason the characters are turning into action figures is simple: because the theme of the first Smash Bros. game was that all of the characters were action figures, and the player was just a kid playing with these action figures. Only the Kingdom Hearts II scenario-writer could say, “What if the action figures in Super Smash Bros. were real?” and then answer the follow-up question (“. . . you’re not hecking serious, are you?”) with “. . . Why wouldn’t I be serious?”
Yes. This is how game scenarios go when you’ve hired the guy who wrote Kingdom Hearts II.
As I slogged through the single-player experience, I looked on the bright side of things more than several times, going so far as to hope that the person collecting all the Nintendo action figures was a fifty-foot tall pimple-faced mama’s boy. Eventually, as story point after story point cascaded down the pipe, as I started to get tired of control quirks (like how hard your character snap-grabs a ledge over and over again when you’re trying to drop down), my optimism and patience wore to nanomachine thinness.
To be fair, Super Smash Bros. isn’t a platform game; it’s a fighting game that is occasionally a hit at parties. Still, that the team felt it crucial to include a twelve-hour-long mode consisting of side-scrolling stages interrupted by the only computer-animated cut-scenes in the game is proof that a lot of work went into this. Which is a shame, because all this mode really does is highlight just how dull the game’s core engine is. Why can’t it control just like Super Mario Bros. 3? Some of these level designs are okay, I guess, though when they start breaking out the Super Princess Peach-like “puzzles” (giving you a key literally two feet in front of a door), the air all around you may or may not become polluted with groans.
Some of the battles are satisfying, I suppose; the little animation when you kill an opponent in the deathmatch mode is fine-tuned to be satisfying, to be your motivation to kill more opponents — as used in single-player mode every time you kill anything, it provides a weird crunchy pace that is, at the very least, a lot better than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Arcade Game or its sequels. Back in the heyday of the multi-player money-sucking beat-em-up, games like The Simpsons or X-men The Arcade Game were brainless, ultimately metaphysically unsatisfying exercises that ended when the pizza arrived at the table. Those games just bled perfectly into the pizza-eating experience. Now, with Smash Bros. X, we have a game where the most satisfying elements feel like breaking the world brick-stuffting land-speed record. I’m not even messing with you here: about an hour into the “story” mode, (the timing of the previous night’s dinner might have had something to do with this), I nonchalantly paused the game, went to the toilet, and shat so hard I must have seen a ghost. Just as the eternally iron-pumping black man I sometimes call my “inner monologue” shouted “Hell Yeah Mother hecker!” Smash Bros. X was beyond the point of making perfect sense.
It was from that point on that I avoided playing the story mode with a second player; with such a random slog, when something satisfying somehow juts in, it becomes hard for either one of you to take credit. Credit — knowing who killed who — is everything in Smash Bros. X, and somehow having two players in the single-player mode somehow makes staying alive feel as cheap and dirty as dying repeatedly and credit-feeding Golden Axe. That stuff just isn’t funny.
Well, at least it isn’t “Tekken Force” mode from Tekken 3.
Eventually, the game got pretentious, portentous, and actually kind of rude. There are moments in the run up to the last stage (a hilariously giant Castlevania-like “exploration” maze) where the cut-scenes stop being funny and start feeling vaguely like what pornography must look like in the ecology-drenched world inhabited by the “Captain Planet” kids.
There’s a moment close to the very, very end that turns this game with sudden fierceness into The Anti-Literature. A tear literally escaped my body at the point, though it actually came out my nose, and not my eye (had a car accident as a kid), so I’m still not gay. Faced with a terrifyingly bland, Final Fantasy-like final boss, the Single Greatest and Worst Moment in Videogame History happens. If you’re like me and you always play videogames with one of those sofa-side TV trays hovering over your lap, for God’s sake, if you don’t want tomato soup on the ceiling, exercise caution when approaching the final boss of this game.
I’m actually kind of serious when I say that, if the clusterhecking nonsense of the story mode — headgear-wearing &^#$# cutscenes, twelve hours of sloggy gameplay and all — existed only to increase the hideous size of that exclamation point right before the final boss, then I take back everything I said, and champion this game as worthy of Andy Warhol.
I’m more or less positive, however, that it was all just an accident.
And then, it’s over. The game doesn’t need to put an ending in after what just happened; all we get is a wide-angle shot of all of the playable characters standing on a cliff, facing an orange sunset, the camera zooming back, as an orchestra, live via a cellular phone with really clear reception, belts out a terrifically banal, Final Fantasy-like “credits theme”. There’s a choir, singing in German, or Latin, or one of those languages spoken only by people no one likes, and every once in a while, the screen fades to black to show us title cards informing us of the deep and invigorating (warning: exact opposites used for hyperbole effect) meaning of the words being sung: “He was my friend! He helped me out when I needed help! He was great! He was my hero! And then we stood there, together!”
Remember that scene in Final Fantasy VIII, where the main characters went up into space and were suddenly like “LOL, we’re in space”? And though the game graphics were still jaggy polygons, and though the dialog still existed in boxes, suddenly a real song started playing, with the fruitiest lyrics, and being sung by a girl? Most human beings, if they were living in a college dormitory the first and last time they played that game, got up and did the “rape-prevention” deadbolt. With the ending of Smash Bros. X, a deadbolt doesn’t feel like enough. The feeling that your mother walked into your room (impossibly, because you are now an adult who has his own house and your mother is dead) to find you masturbating with an exuberant grin while staring at a tray of paperclips will not slide off your epidermis until you’ve taken at least six showers.
Of course, this music was composed by Nobuo Uematsu, no doubt submitted to Nintendo in the form of bleeping, blooping humming during a wicked Skype-powered conference call. The secretary took dictation, drawing a doodle of Hello Kitty with a tear on her cheek and a battle-axe on her shoulder, and twenty-five minutes later, we had us a videogame.
I don’t want to be rude — okay, maybe I do, just a little bit. Though yeah, some of this music is pretty bad. A lot of composers just fetishistically recreate the tracks with as much deadly realism as possible: The usually quite gifted (Wild Arms composer) Michiko Naruke turns in a shrill, ear-grating, fanboy-stroking, Nintendo-64-quality medley of the tinny and obnoxious little ocarina songs from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, set to gurgling little clumps of boring percussion. There’s not a single smile-cracker in the game aside from, bizarrely, (Lunar, Grandia, Radiata Stories composer) Noriyuki Iwadare and (Dawn of Mana, Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song composer) Kenji Ito’s exceptional, chunky-bass Fire Emblem tracks. I guess that’s because no single piece of Fire Emblem music is as iconic as, say, the Super Mario Bros. theme. Mr. Ito, who is the official torch-bearer for videogame composers as far as Action Button Dot Net is concerned, otherwise flails and cowers behind the sofa in fear of the slaps of gamers with tracks like “Space Armada” from Star Fox. Most of the time, everything is so by-the-book that the only way to even pretend to like this stuff is to already love it.
(Mr. Masafumi Takada (Godhand, No More Heroes, killer7) is disqualified from these discussions, for blatantly breaking Nintendo’s “whatever you do, don’t make something awesome” rule.)
Why would you call in a super-team of composers if you don’t want them to make music that reflects their personal style? It’s a little bit puzzling. Seeing as this game makes even Yuzo “Jesus” Koshiro sound like vanilla ice cream at best and potato chips at worst, I’m going to have to stand firm in my belief that all of the composers involved were doing their best to approximate what every other composer was going to sound like, and not succeeding. At worst, the music sounds like the background for a never-ending reel of eight-millimeter footage of ritualistically defecating Teletubbies; at best, the music sounds like something far too good for the ugly, noisy cacophony of cackles, heckles, squeals, screams, bonks, donks, honks, splatters, laser blasts, snuggles, snuffles, smacks, whacks, thwacks, snorks, and hee-hees of the on-screen cartoon orgy. Just as the sound of a circus strongman with a handlebar mustache tearing a wet cabbage in half with his bare hands punctuates a lovingly crafted piece of electronic music, a gong sounds, somewhere high in the sky: here we are, and we are finally old enough to have something worth being ashamed of.
Also, if this game’s Metal Gear Solid stage is any indication, the “Love Theme From Metal Gear Solid 4” is an almost direct rip-off of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme, which, as a person who once touched a violin on accident, is a downright awful piece of classical music.
In the end, Smash Bros. X is what it is. It’s a random, carnival-like brawling “experience” that is probably going to be pretty fun at parties if everyone has played and attained a fair degree of skill at various old 2D side-scrolling action games. It’s just — nope! — not quite enough for me. (Disclaimer: “Me” is a person who enjoys videogames and other forms of entertainment.)
For years, I’ve been telling people I wanted a big-scale “fighting” game that played exactly like the Castlevania games on the Gameboy Advance (or DS, I guess): I wanted snappy controls, I wanted quick fighting, I wanted real, human opponents. More than a dozen times, some jackass snapped his fingers and then pointed directly at my nose and declared “Smash Bros., dude!” I wish I remembered all of those guys’ names because I would tell each and every one of them, personally, to heck themselves. Instead, I’m going to use this paragraph to voice my concern about the game’s control scheme. Namely, the only way you’re going to be able to use a D-pad to move your character is if you play the game with just the Wiimote, which means that you have to press the A button with the side of your thumb and the hook-like pseudo-trigger B button with your middle finger to do a hard attack. Not too keen on that, thanks! I would rather use the Classic Controller’s brilliant D-pad (which I believe is the best D-pad of all time (I’ve verified this by playing through Landstalker with it)) to control my character. You can’t do this, however; though the game’s official website is smug enough to brag about the various controller-configuring menus, saying “We’ve thought of everything!” they actually haven’t thought of everything, because everything would mean I could use the D-pad to move.
Some people might say that the game doesn’t let you control movement with the D-pad because the analog stick is an integral part of the game design: you have to tap the analog stick hard in a specific direction as you press an attack button. I say that Virtua Fighter does a damn good job of having “short tap” and “long tap” special moves with just a digital joystick, and the execution time of said moves never feels longer than instantaneous. I want to double-tap that delicious, apple-pie-like, deep d-pad to run; I want to long-tap and short-tap to do smash attacks. My friends in the “Videogame Industry” tell me this is impossible in a game like Smash Bros. X, which is already taking huge risks and breaking tons of Nintendo’s internal rules (one of those rules being that a Nintendo-made game should neither have nor need a controller-input option menu), and that we should be glad we got as much as we did get, and that we should be doubly glad that this was all done in the interest of inviting The Casual Gamer to participate in the heated, old-school brawling action. Whatever. The default setting of the Classic Controller’s D-pad is left and right for “horizontal taunt”, up for “upward taunt”, and down for “downward taunt”. If Nintendo’s idea of inviting casual gamers into a hardcore game involves letting them do something useless in multiple directions, then I’d hate to see how they’re going to get hardcore gamers playing casual games, when that time comes. Are they going to invent overly complicated, customizable control schemes for a VCR-programming mini-game in Animal Crossing, where the A button operates the right index finger? On the other hand, a videogame that lets me customize my controls (thankfully, yes, I could make jumping button-activated and cancel the “up = jump” input) obviously assumes I know a thing or two about games, so why the stuff does it constantly put a little indicator over the character I’m controlling, even in the single-player mode — and only if I’m using a customized control scheme? I mean, why not put a “1P” indicator above someone who’s too dumb to make their own custom control scheme? It’s weird, and thinking about it actually kind of makes me lonely, like that screen on MySpace.com that keeps telling me “You must be someone’s friend to make comments about them”. Oh.
Seriously, not a single person whose hands I’ve plopped a Classic Controller into has not, immediately at the start of a match, pressed the D-pad to try to move, and instead initiated one taunt after another, after another, after another. I don’t know, though; maybe they were just really cocky professional players.
Also, for the record, I’ve never completed an actual match of Smash Bros. X online. Most of my opponents either drop out during the 60-second waiting period before matches start. Sometimes matches do indeed start, during which there’s no chat, of course, under the Friend Code Regime, so all players can do to communicate their sexual preferences or racial hate to opponents is name themselves CAUCASIAN PENIS and then stand there and not attack, demonstrating that their username is what they want to take; and the preset chat messages are ham-handed Japanese Uncle Jokes like “I think I dropped Ten Yen” (yeah, I’ll drop ten yen . . . in your ass (high five!)). During these matches, usually, people drop out due to lag, which is so bad that actually fighting is like trying to recommend a very long novel to a person in a train speeding outside and far beneath your bedroom window.
After attempting to play Super Mario Bros. 3 using the Classic Controller’s left analog stick instead of the glorious D-pad, I was absolutely shocked at how deliciously sensitive it is for 2D games. Going back to play Smash Bros. was kind of exasperating and floaty after that. All of the little weird things started popping out — like, the core mechanic of the game is that every time you hit someone their meter goes up, right? If it’s higher than 100%, then they’ll fly off the edge of the stage when hit with a strong attack. As they’re flying off, they can use a lovingly fetishistic mid-air jump plus a crispily implemented upward-thrusting special attack to grab on to the edge of the stage and get back in the game. This works really well, on the stages comprised of floating islands. The game goes ahead and vomits on its own gimmick’s shoes, though, with the multiple stages wherein the “edge” is just an edge of the screen. All it takes to die on these stages is to be knocked off, and out of sight. All of the friends I’ve played this game with have just shrugged and said “That’s how it was in some of the stages of Super Smash Bros. Melee, dude!” Oh? I suppose, in Nintendo’s case, that makes it alright to just do over and over again. Oh, well. Sometimes, though, you’ll be playing the game, and I swear that your damage meter will be at less than 80%, and some bastard like Ice Climber Kid will come up and whomp you with a hammer and you’ll just fly out into the background and “die”. What the hell is up with that? After a certain amount of single-player practice, I was getting to like the regular rules — try to get someone to fall off the edge, line up a brilliant smash attack to hit them just after they do their save move and before they touch the ground (so as to leave them helplessly flying, since they can only do the save once per flight). And then I start playing against people, and I’m on an FPS-worthy Killing Spree, and I’m barely getting touched, and then the game just throws me off into the distance after a random hit. What the hell is up with that? It’s like the inverse of Mario Party, where any player without any stars at the end of the game gets a star for achieving the worthwhile task of not getting any stars. It’s tacky and weird, and in a “hardcore” action game like this, it feels vaguely like Snickers suddenly announcing that their wrappers have always been edible — and delicious!
The high point of this game for me was, of course, being able to play as Sonic the Hedgehog, who I loved for his sharpness as a child and hated for his looseness as a man-child. In an age where every new game from Sonic Team controls like a stick of butter held vertical on a hot frying pan, Smash Bros. X emerges by default as the Best Game Starring Sonic the Hedgehog Since the Mega Drive Days. When I play as him, I’m so used to seeing him slide around helplessly in some of the most poorly-designed videogame stages of all time that I forget all my complaints about the controls and game design and allow myself to enjoy Sonic the Hedgehog not sucking.
I guess, by then, the game has its claws deep into my muscle fibers; I’m fantasizing, occasionally, about crafting custom stages for Sonic to play around in, and then sharing them with my friends. All the while, I wish that I could make my own characters, too. The recent-Smash Bros.-like Jump Superstars proved that Jump manga characters actually are cooler-looking than Nintendo characters. It’s enough to make you wonder.
It’s said that Katamari Damacy was originally plotted out with just spheres and cubes — roll this sphere around, sticking cubes and spheres to it, and it gets bigger. The personality of the game came afterward, and it kind of shows. I don’t even mean any offense by that: Katamari Damacy is a game of spectacularly skillful design. It’s fun, it’s amazingly well-conceived and executed, and the graphic design choices go above and beyond the call of duty to actually wedge some catharsis into the whole ordeal. The thing is, I’ve jerked myself into such a tizzy over Sonic the Hedgehog that it’s now very difficult for me to separate the concept of Smash Bros. from the execution. Did Hal Laboratory get an idea for an inverse fighting game (small characters and big stages instead of big characters and small stages) with a clever little play hook (knock the players off the edge, keep them from getting back up), or did Nintendo ask them to make a party-action game starring Nintendo characters, and this was the first thing they came up with? (*1)
Would this game be worth any time at all with characters I didn’t recognize? Is this game just another Mario Golf, pulling Mario-addicted gamers to a completely different genre? From a Mario Golf perspective, it’s a hell of a success, though as the videogame for the Nintendo Wii that’s sold a million copies in the shortest amount of time — and, fatalistically, without even using any of the Wii’s selling points — it’s kind of embarrassing. Where the previous game let you discover figurines of characters during solo play, this game’s “big innovation” as regards the “collection” gimmick is to let the player also discover stickers, which they can then freely — and in 3D! — place on the figures they’ve collected via the museum mode. That Super Smash Bros. Brawl inspires people to do this sort of thing is a resounding testament to the fact that it might, perhaps, not be a terrible videogame. On paper, however, these things look scary, as though “videogames made me do it” is becoming as equally viable a defense for kleptomania as for multiple homicide. I mean, it’s got a Nintendogs . . . thing in it, wherein a polygonal puppy bounds up and paws at the screen. The thing is, the puppies in Nintendogs are crude computer-animated compromises for actual puppies; they’re not “Nintendo characters” per se. Putting them on a more mechanically capable machine than the Nintendo DS doesn’t make you exclaim, “Yay! A Puppy!” so much as it makes you scratch your head, identify subliminally that it’s a reference to Nintendogs, which is, yes, a videogame compromise for people who want a puppy and are just too lazy to get a puppy, and wonder why they didn’t just film an actual puppy, and then realize that if they did film an actual puppy, it would basically shatter the game’s vibe.
Or would it? The question you have to ask, at the end, is one of integrity: is there anything that can shatter this game’s vibe? Really? It might just be crafted from the ground up in the interest of all-encompassing immunity. We’ve already got a realistic human Solid Snake brandishing a realistic rocket launcher or sniper rifle against ultra-unrealistic humans like Ness from Mother 2, armed with a baseball bat, and a cartoon dinosaur named Yoshi, on a stage based on the Nintendo DS Picto-Chat application, where an unseen hand draws scratchy, sketchy lines that function as platforms. As a person who recently finished watching the entire series of “The Sopranos” and was amazed by the craft and sheer artistry of the finale, I feel vaguely insulted even thinking about how, in a world where BioShock (a game I, for the record, don’t even really like) exists, this tittering sack of fetish fragments called Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the game that just about everyone else who tangentially shares this hobby is looking forward to above anything else. God help us all when the walls start caving in.
(**Note: The score of this game, which is “two stars (out of four)” has been decided with much scientific thought. The rampant and somewhat embarrassing Nintendo fetishism discussed at forensic lengths in this review is responsible for the game being docked six stars, bringing it to a negative two stars (out of four) on our scale; the fact that I have played this game for several hours every day since its release with a gaggle of dudes who just don’t give a heck about Luigi’s canonical significance, and I have not yet gotten bored of it, adds four stars to the score, bringing it up to a positive two stars (out of four). So there you have it.)
*1) My good friend Theodore Troops has pointed me to this article, which answers the chicken-egg question of Smash Bros.’ origin. It seems like they did have a concept before they shoehorned in the Nintendo characters. Not wholly unbelievable at all!
*2) Also, if you’re going to comment saying that I should try playing this game “as a fighting game” — well, I really don’t know why I didn’t mention that aspect! I guess it slipped my mind. I’ve been playing it with my “co-workers” in the Action Button Dot Net Laboratories for about an hour a day for three weeks now, and the fact that I haven’t quit playing it yet is the whole reason the game gets two stars. I swear, with a control scheme tailor-made to my needs (basically, I need it to feel just like Super Mario Bros. 3), this game would literally be a fourteen out of ten on the Action Button Dot Net zero- to four-star scale. Fetishism and all. Make of that what you will.
(*readers with a keen eye will notice that our rating system, which judges games on a scale of zero stars to four, with half-stars in between, can actually be interpreted to mean we’re rating games on a scale of one to nine. we leave the “ten” off so that only games branded “game of the year” will be regarded as “tens”. also, we leave the ten off so that two stars (5 out of 9) is the dead center of our scale, with as many ranking notches above it as below it. just to kind of stupidify what i just said (and to partly deflect hate mail), i’m going to paste this review into another review in about five minutes, and give it a four-star rating, add a different final sentence, and maybe cut a couple parts out or change a couple phrasings. make of that what you will. don’t worry, though: this is the real review.)