Friday, March 28, 2008

Smash Brothers Suxx0rs

Last weekend my sister and her boyfriend were in town (something I referenced in my China boycott article from earlier in the week), and they had just purchased the Wii edition of Super Smash Brothers Brawl. I had played the version of the game that came out for the GameCube and already hated it. It turns out that the Wii version is no better.

Fighting games often turn into a matter of who can smash the buttons the fastest; the only skill being a matter of learning which buttons not to mash when you're attacking. A good button-smasher can negate a more technical player's power moves simply by constantly advancing and constantly smashing the attack buttons and avoiding those blocking buttons like they're infested with alien flu. This constant barrage keeps your opponent from using his special moves because every time his character pauses to power up, you kick him square in the nuts, followed by a bitchslap to the face (or whatever combo your semi-random pressing produced). I know. I've kicked my buddy Hank's butt on countless fighting games using precisely this method despite his perennially superior gamer skilz.

Smash Brothers is the worst of these even on the best of consoles. The special moves aren't all that great and after you learn how to pick up the special items you're pretty much set. The graphics are so small and busy that you can't really see what you're doing so you end up just rushing into the melee and hoping you're actually landing some of your attacks on the other guys.

It only gets worse on the Wii. The GameCube still had controllers that were conducive to traditional button-based gaming. The Wii doesn't. The Wii excels at the control format that it introduced. It's perfect for a lot of sporting and racing games. It's even OK for old-school games like the Galaga game I downloaded for the console in my possession. The problem is that Smash Brothers doesn't make use of the motion sensing Wiimote. Instead you hold the remote sideways and play it like the NES controllers of old. There are only two buttons with which to work (the 1 and 2 turn into the traditional A and B) and the directional pad for moving. That's it.

That's not a big deal in itself. A huge part of the Wii's attractiveness is the simplicity and ease of play. This is the console for non-gamers and parties, which is totally fine with me since I'm not much of a gamer. The only problem is that the Wii remotes aren't really designed for comfortable sideways play, especially with those rubber jackets they come with these days. I really don't feel like taking off the jacket just to play one game, and there's a legitimate reason to keep the jacket on during normal use. Of course you could just use the nunchuk setup (I only have one) or the old GameCube controllers, but that's also a bit of a pain to set up, especially when the game sucks to start with.

I'd also like to point out that I don't just hate the game because I stink at it. I actually won the most brawls by far when we played it and the boyfriend is a bit of a gamer even. I just hate playing a game when I feel like I have no real control over the outcome even when I'm apparently playing well.