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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Though it didn't take as long as Guns 'n' Roses' "Chinese Democracy," (still waiting, Axl…) "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" was a long time in the making.

It took seven years for developers to come up with the Nintendo Wii sequel to Nintendo GameCube's best-selling "Super Smash Bros. Melee," which allows players to duke it out as established franchise characters in implausible combat situations.

For the casual game fan, the series provides a foray into mindless button smashing. For the enthusiast, it provides a chance to craft an art or hone a science.

As a result of the number of dedicated "Smashers," video game retailer GameStop is hosting a tournament which began on the game's launch date in selected stores and will continue until April 12 when the finals will take place in San Jose, California.

The Round 1 tournaments spawned long lines which began hours before the midnight release and were filled with competitors who had never before played the game.

The demographics of the line were strange, consisting of children with their mothers, teenage hoodlums and pockets of middle-aged men. Children dominated the competition, and most of them made it past their first battles.

Web sites like "The Dojo," a Super Smash Bros. Brawl fan site, was a popular way for many fans gain an edge on the competition without being able to prepare in the literal sense.

The tournament itself consisted of one-minute Brawls with all items, weapons and abilities on. The controls on the Wii-mote were difficult to master initially and players who did not plan ahead by reading about the controls online were left woefully in the digital dust.

The major change in game play in this installment of the series comes from the introduction of and item called a Smash Ball. After hitting this randomly appearing glowing orb several times and breaking it open, the player can unleash a game-breaking attack.

Oddly, the single best improvement in this party game is in single-player game play.

Adventure Mode now operates as a side-scrolling fighting game, much like "Kirby's Adventure" or "Super Mario World."

This platform-game within a fighting-game is a great way to break the monotony of straight up cartoon violence, adding an element of strategy and finesse into an otherwise all-out slam-fest.

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Other improvements include the ability to play Event Mode cooperatively with a friend, and of course, the much anticipated ability to play online through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi mode currently lags and runs fairly slowly. Nintendo claims that the current speed is a result of the newness and the popularity of the game, and that things will run more smoothly after a while.

Overall, "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" is the new must-have franchise game for the Nintendo Wii.

Although it plays as an updated version of its predecessor, Nintendo has sagaciously applied their number one credo: Don't fix what isn't broken.

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