Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

F38- How About Best Friends

Poor Love is building heaven on earth, a place of joy, a place of peace, and Greed is just throwing down sick burns. Questioning the game of a god-like being takes some gall. We could have Force beef! Beef! I'm only aware of what maybe one-third of the words that came out of my fingers actually mean.


Quick Critique: Smash Brothers Wii U-
You know what's a ton of fun? Regular-ass Smash Brothers. What isn't fun is every other mode in this game. They skimped on the stuff I care about and all-in on the stuff I don't like. There's no Adventure Mode but there's a lousy board game kind of thing that I have a hard time imaging the kind of human being that might actually enjoy it. There are no Board the Platforms-style skill tests but there's a godawful Angry Birds knock-off. All Star Mode was never fun, the event mode isn't particularly good, Home Run Mode has always stunk, Multi-Man Melee isn't fun, the Crazy and Master Orders mode that gives you random not-fun challenges is not fun, and all the Trophy mini-games have never been fun but none have been as tedious as the new one. But core/I just want to play the damned game Super Smash Brothers is still amazingly fun!
Customization looked like it would the big new addition to the franchise but it's all locked away from the start and you have to grind hoping for random drops, so the whole idea has a feeling of "I'll only touch this when I'm done playing the real game and found most of this", especially because the process of diving in and out of menus to customize every one of your characters is so tedious. There are characters I want to change the moves of, but because I haven't found the random drop for that specific character that contains that specific move, you can't use it. The Miis are the only good customization option and that... that is sad. When I have to praise Mii implementation over other customization options, we all die a little inside.
Smash Tour is horrific. One of the computer players will random on to a good item from the start and dominate the entire board and, without fail, if a bonus event appears on the board, it will spawn right next to one of the three computer players and nowhere near you. If you lose a fight (and you will despite your because the computer randoms onto items that will kill you in one hit or set all your stats to 0 and they just about always choose to use it against you), you have to sit there and watch the computer players fight each other. Slowly and badly. But for how terrible all these extra modes are, you still have to suffer through them because key features are locked behind them. Why do you have to put up with an Angry Birds knock-off to unlock a feature in a fighting game? The "Trophy Rush" mini-game where you unlock the extra moves and customization options is not even remotely fun to play. The most effective and useful tactic is to stand in one spot and spam the same move over and over. Any competent developer would look at that see that this means there is a gigantic flaw in how this mini-game is designed and it needs to be drastically overhauled. Instead, the Smash Brothers team just decided that if you stand in one spot for too long a lightning bolt comes down and knocks you away. This completely ignores why this mode is so tedious and awful and only makes it less fun.
The UI is also a horrible mess. The "Classic/I just want to punch the computer in progressively more difficult battles" mode is hidden several menus deep. It doesn't remember your profile and keeps defaulting you to the generic "Player 1" profile and the default controls are awful, so I never want to not play as my profile. Every time I start the game or change modes or play more than one round of Classic mode, I have to re-select my personal profile, and if I forgot, I have to quit out because my controls are messed up, and replay the mode. Every time you start the game, it warns you that you don't have an SD card and you have to clear multiple confirmation windows just to get to the title screen. Every. Single. Time.
For as hidden as it is, this new game doesn't even have a good implementation of Classic mode. They again needlessly messed with the concept, with the most mind-numbing way is how it handles lives. In every battle you now have two lives, making every single fight leading up to the final a piece of cake even on the hardest difficulty setting, but then when you get to the boss, you still only have two lives. So no matter how well or poorly you fought up to the end, the boss represents a massive jump in difficulty. And the final boss is a nonsensical mess that makes Tabuu from Brawl seem like a well thought-out creation. I'm thoroughly amazed that of the dozens of people that had to make, look at, and approve the game, nobody was able to bring their attention to how utterly stupid the last fight is. Fighting against that classic Nintendo character "morphing blob of black fuzz" that has more stages of the fight and forms than a bad JPRG boss capped off with running through corridors getting hit by enemies you can't see off-screen and if you bump into a wall you instantly die. It's like somebody just grabbed a level out of a completely different game and crammed it into Smash Brothers. A terrible game. A game that no reasonable human being would want to play. They took the main mode that I used to enjoy the most and made me want nothing to do with it because I know that once I stop having fun actually playing the normal game, I'm going to have to fight the final boss.
Even some of the stages suffer from a lack of common sense and proper play testing. If you have less than a 50-inch TV, you should remove the Great Cave Offensive stage from the random stage selection as soon as you possibly can. The stage is so big that I genuinely have difficulty seeing characters and spend the fight squinting because of how far the camera pulls out. I generally like the larger stages like Hyrule Temple and New Pork City, but this new stage defies common sense. I've completed the reward conditions for all of the Event mode challenges except two because one of them is them takes place in the Great Cave Offensive and it has dumb requirements compounded by the fact that I can hardly make out Kirby from the background. There's also a new Donkey Kong stage that has a background and a foreground area and characters also become specks in the background part.
And of course there's a Blue Shell item now. OF COURSE there is. Take the almost universally despised worst item from Mario Kart and stick it in Smash Brothers. Yay.
Roster discussions come down to personal taste, but the problem is the kinds of movesets they now have. As rosters grow, there are more and more characters and games I couldn't care less about. My main problem is that they keep piling on characters with swords and characters that spam projectiles. It feels like whenever discussion of how a new character should play, they went with sword, counter attack, or gun. It's kind of hard to get excited about Shulk when he's from a game I don't care about, he's barely distinguishable from the other sword-wielders, and he's horribly annoying to listen to.
The new characters are pretty lame and don't particularly control well or have fun gimmicks. I'm a die-hard Mega Man fan but I will use him to clear challenges that require him and then never play as him again. I adore Palutena's design and character and swapping out Larry for Bowser Jr should be wondrous, but both those character play like garbage so I never use them. Little Mac is the clear newcomer of choice. He's fast, a ton of fun to play as, and the best "have a bunch of friends playing and everybody goof around" character. Whether you're playing with finesse or just running at people with your fists flying, Little Mac is amazing.
I played a few of the "For Fun" online matches but the options are extremely limited. You can play with every stage and every item or you can play with no items on the boring stages. The matches I played in were very laggy and the frame rate frequently dropped to the single digits, with a match failing to start because of a network error. It's like they learned nothing from how awful brawl was online. People were about what you'd expect. They'd either spam projectiles or do the same move constantly or they'd spend the entire battle running away and shielding only to opportunistically pick off kills. Neither of those player types belong in "For Fun" in my mind.
All I want from the Smash Brothers franchise is Smash 64 with more fluid and responsive controls, faster gameplay, and the more fleshed out Adventure and Event modes from Melee. Recycle that old stuff with new characters and stages and I will be thrilled. Sadly, I know I'm never going to get that. Air blocking, dodges, side smashes, and all that collectible garbage are here to stay. New Smash Brothers games will always be disappointing because they're not what I actually want, but now I at least have Little Mac and a Brawler class Mii to punch Mario in the face with and to throw Bob-Ombs at Fire Emblem characters to soothe my hatred of them. Stop existing, Fire Emblem characters, you're terrible and boring! The core of Smash Brothers is still great fun, it's just all of the extraneous garbage that was piled on more and more with each extra entry in the franchise that brings the package down. You're paying full price for a game where a large chunk of the content has nothing to do with the reason you bought the game. This franchise desperately needs to be taken away from a group of developers that don't seem to understand why the original game was fun. These are the same people that made the disappointing mess that was Kid Icarus Uprising, so the sooner likable franchises are taken out of their hands, the better.



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