So what do I think of Brawl? After years of speculation, after writing hundreds of pages about the improvements that needed to be made from Melee, after making a list of my predictions, after studying hours of footage on youtube, what do I really think of this game now that I've finally gotten my hands on it. Well, I haven't played it for too long. I'm only fifty-three hours into Brawl and it's been five days since its release. Jokes aside, I've barely scratched the surface of this game. Though this phrase gets tossed around often, I assure you that I'm gauging my judgments based on how deep Melee is. After all, I haven't even played all the characters, levels, or modes yet.
Needless to say the game is massive, and I am more than immensely pleased with Brawl. Playing Brawl puts me in a strange state. It feels like I've played the game before. After picking apart melee by writing hundreds of pages worth in articles delineating Sakurai's personal style, his design choices, and using this information to project what Brawl would be like, now it feels like I've been playing Brawl for years. As it turns out, 34/50 of my predictions about various aspects of the game were actually implemented into Brawl.
When I play, all I see is the result of a true 3rd generation game that has refined and innovated every step of the way. Every characters, every move, and every animation clicks into place. Compared to Brawl, Melee isn't a very well designed game. There were so many poorly designed elements that we simply put up with and have gotten used to with Melee. As a game designer myself, I know the design principles behind the changes in Brawl are essential for a good game. By taking out invisible elements of the game, and cancels like crouch canceling and l-canceling, more about how the game is played is communicated through its visuals. Furthermore, by adding new types of hits like tripping and footstool jumping, and by carefully balancing each character, Brawl is deeper than any other smash.
Though it may be too early to make such a bold statement, what we do know about Brawl at this point certainly leads one in that positive direction. Some have said that options have been taken away in Brawl, while other complain about the design choices that have made Brawl more casual friendly. These stances are short sighted. And if you really think about it, crouch canceling and L-canceling took away far more options than Brawl ever could. Without a significant amount of stale move negation, Shffling a few moves per character became the norm in Melee. In Brawl, each move is more important in the overall options and flow of a players strategy. Additionally, each move in Brawl works. The damage curves, knock back, and lag times have been adjusted for every move making them viable in multitudinous situations in a dynamically shifting way.
Brawl is so good it's hard to believe. I'll have more impressions later going over many things in detail and even providing some commentary that isn't too positive. It's Brawl week now, and after secretly playing Brawl for months, it was well worth the wait.