Technology never ceases to amaze us. Where the first computers used to fill a room, now we have more powerful watches. When Bill Gates said "640K of RAM ought to be enough for anybody", PCs now come with 4 gigabytes, and upwards of RAM. Things just keep getting bigger and better, whilst getting physically smaller, and more refined in the process.
Take Super Smash Bros. Brawl - a game with so many different facets, and so many different elements, that if we were to take the time to really do everything justice, we'd probably crash our server. And all this, crammed onto one, tiny sliver of metal.
At its core, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a beat-em up - and an incredibly good one at that. With a vast array of Nintendo characters to choose from - joined for the first time ever by characters from other platforms, including Sonic the Hedgehog, and Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid, everyone will have someone they want to play as, as you take to a variety of Nintendo themed stages, and proceed to, well, Brawl.
But it's not a hyper violent, knuckle breaking, blood spilling fight - this is Nintendo at its finest. Brightly coloured, slapstick melees, the fighting in Smash Bros. Brawl is as comedic as they come, as the pink blob Kirby swallows everything in sight, Donkey Kong sends people flying by smacking his huge fists against the ground, and Peach terrorises her opponents with her tiny Toad doll.
For the most part, each and every character they've included here is different - and each has their own special move set to contend with. Unlike other beat 'em ups, there are no confusing button combos here - instead, you simply press the 1 button (if you're using the Wii Remote - we'll come to this later), along with up, down, left, or right, to unleash one of four special moves. The 2 button punches, and pressing a direction at the same time as pushing the button, or holding it down will put more power behind your strike.
And while some characters are simply carbon copies of the others, complete with the same moveset, there's still a huge amount of a variety here, so everyone can find a character that matches their abilities. Kirby, for example can jump five times in a row - helping him get back to the stage when he gets knocked off - while other characters can only jump twice, making Kirby one of the obvious choices for beginners.
Smash Bros is a game that's obviously been designed to be easy for anybody to play - and to that extent, it's incredibly easy to get into. With four different control schemes on offer, everyone's catered for here - and regardless of whether you're using the Wii Remote, a Wiimote/nunchuck combo, the Classic Controller, or the GameCube pad, you won't be at a disadvantage, as each control method works just as well as the others.
And as if you weren't spoilt for choice enough with the control options, there's plenty of modes to deal with too. For multiplayer fun, you'll want the standard brawl mode, which lets you jump straight into a manic four player battle on your choice of stage - and with your own rules. Letting you modify the characters' weights, or even letting them breathe fire, there are loads of setting to tinker with, to ensure your already crazy fight is that little bit more insane.
If you're after single player thrills, you're catered for here too, with the Classic mode, which lets you play through a series of pre-set challenges back to back. Mostly simple one on one affairs, this mode often spices things up by either stacking the odds against you (one on three, or one on giant affairs often pop up), alongside break the target challenges, which push your dexterity, and control of the character to the limit.
If it's co-operative play you're after, then yet again, Smash Bros. Brawl has does its best to keep you satisfied, offering an incredible, fully co-operative story mode, known as the Subspace Emissary. While we're not entirely sure what's going on in the way of story, this is easily the highlight of the game, turning Smash Bros into a classic side on platformer - admittedly with a little bit more pummelling of the enemies, and a wide cavalcade of guest stars.
From Sonic to Solid Snake, and from Mario to Samus from Metroid, you're spoilt for choice in Smash Bros. Brawl - no matter which character, or mode you pick. You'll often find yourself switching between characters after every match, as it's so hard to choose a favourite. And with so many characters, and stages on offer, there's plenty to explore here - without the numerous unlockables to keep you coming back for more.
Completing certain challenges will net you a trophy - displayed in a huge cabinet that wraps around about twice the width of your screen. Whether it's simply playing on a stage a certain number of times, or whacking a sandbag a certain distance in a mini-game, the trophies reward you for a whole variety of things - and because there are so many, you're bound to be "just a few more" away from one of them - which will keep you coming back for more.
For fans of collectables, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is like paradise. With trophies, stickers, and tracks for the soundtrack to collect, the collectibles invade every aspect of the game - from standard multiplayer brawls, to the story mode, by simply popping up as a piece of paper, or even a trophy that you've got to collect, before it disappears. Which can be quite hard, when you've got three other players gunning for both it, and you.
And the stupid thing is, we're only just getting started. We've barely touched the surface of just how good the co-op mode is, and how great it is to see so many Nintendo classics included. Even Pictochat's got its own level! It doesn't get any better than that.
With countless levels, characters, and various other unlockables on offer, Smash Bros. Brawl is one of the few Wii games that will keep you coming back for months to come. Easily accessible by everyone, with the perfect blend of "just one more go" action, Smash Bros. Brawl is a classic. If there's one complaint we have - and it does let the game down just a little bit, it's that on the harder difficulties, the computer can often be just too good. Unfairly so. They seem to have an uncanny ability to predict exactly what you're about to do next, and react a lot quicker than any human possibly could, which makes the contest feel rather one sided.
Of course, for the people who only play on normal or easy anyway, the fact that hard is actually unfairly hard probably won't affect your enjoyment too much. While it puts a blot on the record of an otherwise pretty much perfect game, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is still the best game on the Wii. A platformer, a beat 'em up - a collector, and Nintendo fan's dream, and an incredible homage to all things Nintendo - Smash Bros. Brawl is everything you could hope for in a game - and a game that families, kids, and hardcore gamers alike will love.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo Wii