After years of waiting, Nintendo gives gamers a fight for the ages with Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Whenever a new game console is released, gamers automatically expect certain games to hit the stores. Of the major console makers, Nintendo is almost always looked to for a new Mario, Zelda or Metroid. In 1999, the console heavyweight released Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64 system as little more than an experiment into the fighting game genre. Nintendo ended up recycling its trademark characters into a fresh concept, revolutionizing the fighting game genre and, most importantly, making one hell of a multiplayer experience for gamers who wanted a little something different.

After nine years and a sequel that effectively made the Gamecube worth buying, one of the most ambitious fighting games ever (the other being the upcoming Street Fighter IV) hit the Wii on March 9.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl seems to function on the simple formula of “bigger is better” and runs with it. They even got some third-party brawlers in on the mix. Is it everything that gamers have waited for? In a word, HELL YEAH!!

For the uninitiated, Super Smash Bros. takes characters from almost all of their most popular franchises and throws them into a test of Darwin’s theory of “Survival of the Fittest”.

Since Nintendo has such a deep roster of original characters, it’s quite easy for the list of fighters to get pretty deep. If nothing else, it keeps things pretty fresh when it comes to facing or playing as each character. The single player game has always been passable, but what will draw players is the frenzied multiplayer matches and the makeshift tournament potential each game presents.

There isn’t much that can be squeezed into a fighting game to make it fresh to veteran players, but Brawl feels as new as the first game did nine years ago. Any veteran gamer will tell you that a good fighting game has to have sharp control or it will be a simply horrible experience.

Brawl gives the player so many control options it borders on ridiculous. Nintendo seems to be the only company that continuously gets the control aspect of Wii games right.

Using a Wiimote on its own or combined with a Nunchuk or using a Classic or Gamecube controller, the player has perfect control over their respective character. No matter what you do on the controller, it translates quickly and seamlessly on-screen.

Now for the question everyone who has followed the development of this game wants to know: What characters are in the game? Brawl bumps up the player count to 35, the most in the series’ history.

On top of series mainstays like Mario, Link Pikachu and Samus, lesser-known characters – such as Olimar (from the Pikmin games on the Gamecube), Pit (from the NES game Kid Icarus) and the R.O.B. (short for Robot Operating Buddy), a gameplay accessory from the NES system – join the huge roster. On top of the standard roster of Nintendo characters, for the first time ever Solid Snake (from Metal Gear Solid) and Sonic The Hedgehog both make an appearance in Nintendo’s flagship fighter.

After spending a few days of quality time with this game, I can safely say that it is absolutely amazing. It was very easy to simply pick up and play, and every one of the people I played with were able to get in on the action with little to no learning curve.

The Super Smash Bros. series has always been about the multiplayer party game experience, and this latest entry is the most balanced yet. Not only can you play with friends in your living room, but thanks to the Wii’s built in Wi-Fi you can play anyone in the world.

Nintendo has mastered the art of the purely fun multiplayer game, and Brawl continues the tradition. With its easy-to-learn play mechanics, balanced characters and excellent feature additions, the series has indeed cemented itself as one of the premiere fighting games to ever hit home consoles in the U.S., as well as one of the best pure multiplayer experiences ever.

If you have anything important to do for a while, don’t bother going anywhere near this game. You won’t get anything done once you start playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl.