Chungking Espresso


Posted in Gaming by Simon Ferrari on March 10, 2008

So for the past two days, I’ve pretty much been playing Smash Brothers constantly. Somehow my apartment became the center of the Brawl mania – perhaps because my friends are poor. At one point I believe we had eight people over. And as a testament to the enjoyability of this game, nobody really cared that only half of us could play at a time. I’m fairly sure this trumps Halo 3, which isn’t very much of a surprise on account of the fact that guests can’t really take more than three or four steps in Halo 3 without getting sleazered from across the map by a team of GameStop employees who’ve been playing constantly (at home and at work) since the game came out. While I’m sure that after a couple of months it won’t be very fun to get destroyed by 12-year olds online with Brawl, it’ll surely be more entertaining to watch.  Most of the reviews coming out for this game quietly mention it’s major downside: the graphics. They don’t come out and say that they’re bad (because they already said that once this week while writing about Bully: Scholarship Edition), but they do mention that the graphics haven’t exactly come very far from those on the Game Cube. Despite this fact, there’s little denying the fact that those same graphics – with a minor pixel upgrade – go a lot further on the Wii. In tight stages, the screen fills to bursting with explosions, dashes, thrown items, and insane “final combo” moves. And on larger maps your avatars get swallowed whole by the complexity of the platforming and the fan-fodder backgrounds from everyone’s favorite games. Needless to say, Hyrule Temple is no longer my favorite place to melt faces. After a few rounds, whether they were won or lost, I gladly handed over a controller so I could sit further back from the screen and feast my eyes and ears from a more objective standpoint.

As far as playable characters are concerned, there’s really no way to go wrong – unless you make the same mistake that some elitist morons made in Melee by picking Ice Climbers. Whether you go for an old veteran or one of the more exciting or heretical newcomers (Snake! Sonic!), the learning curve for mastering both the new mechanics and the standby pwning strategies seems to be about the same for almost every toon. I myself preferred Solid Snake and his expansive bag of mechanical tricks from remote mines to a homing missile, while most of my friends chose to go with what they knew in Pikachu, Luke, and Marth. The major imbalance comes in the form of the final smash combos, and (more importantly) the fact that some characters have an oppressive advantage when it comes to hitting the floating neon metal balls that contain the power to perform these attacks. Take, for instance, Snake’s ability to hang from a ladder and methodically shoot one or two players off the side of the map with a grenade launcher, or Kirby’s cauldron of imploding doom that pulls every toon and item on the map into a high-damage boiler that eventually spits everyone out in an explosion that’s almost certainly fatal to anyone who’s already incurred 50 or more damage. On the other hand you get some annoyingly hard to control flying superball moves from Sonic and Pikachu (though these make up for this shortcoming in the damage they deliver) and an annoyingly pointless move from Peach that puts anyone nearby to sleep and drops about 8 pieces of peachy food on the ground. While this massive difference doesn’t exactly rule any one character out completely, one cannot deny the allure of knowing that some characters will consistenly be able to chase down and destroy the floating bubbles in order to unleash overpowered attacks multiple times in a single match.

 Thanks for reading! Online and single player reviews forthcoming…

Also, Gypsy beat me like ten times at it. Like at least that many, totally. Pwned.


One Response

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  1. Jonathan said, on March 12, 2008 at 7:53 am

    The map is zoomed out so often that the graphics usually look pretty decent. I only noticed the badness when all but two characters were dead and the camera started moving in.

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