Tuesday, February 05, 2008

JRN 203 Interview Practice... About SSBB

Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the latest installment in the Super Smash Bros. series and one of the most anticipated video games of this generation, was released in Japan on January 30 after numerous delays pushed back its release date.

In the United States, the first official release date for the Nintendo Wii game was in early December 2007, but that was pushed back to February, which was then delayed a second time until March 9.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” said James Appleby, Troy sophomore.

Appleby is just one of many gamers who preordered the game in hopes of receiving it in December, but instead wait impatiently through the delays.

Nintendo spokespeople gave no official reasons why the delays were called for, besides to help “fine tune” the game, so fans could only speculate.

“I think that Nintendo recognizes the Super Smash Bros. series is a cash cow, everybody loves Super Smash Bros.” said Jamelle Dooley, Naperville, IL sophomore. “I think they are making sure it is together and not let people be disappointed.”

Throughout the online community, message boards also gave speculation to the reasons why the game was delayed, and probably the most prominent one was allowing game developers more time to put a bigger emphasis on online play.

“I definitely think [online play] would make the game more addictive,” said Appleby. “That’s the appeal of Halo; you can sit down and play with people around your same skill level.”

Online play is one of the biggest reasons that the release of Halo 3 this past September was the highest grossing opening day in entertainment history. There were over one million people who were playing online within the first twenty hours of the game’s release.

Online play was not possible with the first two installments of the Super Smash Bros. series, whose first game was for the Nintendo 64 and the second, SSB Melee, was for the Gamecube. Instead, local multiplayer was a huge success, where four people could sit together on the same console and play together.

The multiplayer is the reason why Appleby finds the games so enjoyable.

“You can play with all different people and it’s always changing,” he said.

While the local multiplayer option will still be available, gamers are anxiously waiting for the first match they play online, either against a friend or a total stranger.

“It’s going to be amazing,” said Ben Lutz, Au Gres freshman, about playing online. “I look forward to being able to face a wide variety of people, and possibly being destroyed by people from around the world.”

With the online play, it may even add an extra challenge.

“Some people can dominate the AI; the AI isn’t really that hard to beat,” Dooley said. “But when you play against another person you have to use strategy.”

Perhaps the next biggest feature in the game fans look forward to is the larger cast of characters to choose from. All of the original characters from both previous games are making their return, plus new additions to make a total of 37 playable characters.

“I’m really excited that they have Meta Knight and the Pokemon Trainer,” said Lutz, “a whole other level of fighting right there.”

Appleby also looks forward to playing as Meta Knight, as well as other new characters.

“Meta Knight and Pit both look pretty cool,” he said, “and Sonic [the Hedgehog], I like fast characters.”

Indeed, Sonic the Hedgehog, a third-party character from Sega, will be making his fighting debut in the SSB series, as well as another non-Nintendo character, Snake from Konami’s hit Metal Gear Solid series. This is the first SSB installment which the character list is not made up of entirely Nintendo characters.

However, not every Nintendo character has been featured in the fighting series.

“I really hoped one of the hidden characters was one of the koopa turtles,” said Lutz. “In Mario Kart Double Dash, when you select him he is ready to fight and it’s not even a fighting game!”

Also for the first time in the SSB series, Brawl will feature customizable controls for four different ways of playing the game.

Since the Wii allows for backward compatibility with Gamecube games, the Gamecube controller can plug right into the Wii console and is one way players can control their fighter.

“I’m going to favor the Gamecube one,” said Appleby. “I’ve gotten so used to it from Melee.”

Other methods include using the Wiimote and Nunchuk attachment, holding the Wiimote on its side and using it like a regular controller, and using the Classic Controller attachment with the Wiimote.

“The fact that I don’t have a Wii is going to hinder, it is going to be a major problem,” said Lutz, who favors the Xbox 360 for this generation of gaming, but still hangs onto his Gamecube to play Melee. “I’ll probably buy one.”

It may be the case for Nintendo where they may see sales spike up surrounding the release of Brawl, similar to that of Microsoft’s sale of the Xbox 360 when Halo 3 was released.

Nintendo is still leading this generation’s console war in terms of sales, having sold almost 9 million consoles by the end of 2007, and according to the NPD group, consumers purchased 8 games for every Wii sold in December.

In the first day of its release in Japan, Brawl sold 500,000 copies, which is far more than the number of copies of 2007’s Game of the Year, Super Mario Galaxy.

“I don’t think Brawl is going to get game of the year,” said Appleby. “Fighting games have never made it to game of the year. It’s a really under the radar game, which is weird because everybody plays it.”