SUPER SMASH BROS. BRAWL
(Nintendo; Wii; Teen)
After an interminable wait, Nintendo fans can finally say: It's clobberin' time! That's right, the third Smash Bros. game (and first on the Wii) is finally on store shelves. The uninitiated should know that this family-friendly fighting game also functions as a museum of all things Nintendo, albeit one where the exhibits routinely whomp each other silly with fists, scepters, swords, and the occasional turtle shell. It seems every character from the Nintendoverse can be found in Brawl Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, and Pikachu are here, natch many of them as unlockables. But this game also stars a who's who of...who?! Pit from Kid Icarus? In there. Captain Falcon from F-Zero? Yep. Among the iconic non-Nintendo characters who stop by for a piece of the action are Sonic the Hedgehog and Snake from Metal Gear Solid.
Of course, the bizarro mashups involve more than just the characters. Brawl delivers even more vaguely nostalgic moments with its exhaustive selection of fighting arenas and accompanying music. One moment, you may find yourself slugging it out on a track from Mario Kart to the tune of the Star Fox theme; the next, trapped inside a Pictochat screen, with music from Animal Crossing. (It was late, but we could have sworn we saw a puppy from Nintendogs come to our aid.) Yes, it's all pretty trippy. If Brawl is your first Smash encounter, you may be overwhelmed. Fights last only a few minutes, yet within that short time, you'll frantically mash every button on the controller and wonder even at the end just who actually won your unholy smackdown. Like us, you'll come to realize that the final KO may be the goal, but it's playing Brawl with your friends and wallowing in its familiar sights and sounds that gives the game its sizable punch. B+ Gary Eng Walk
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