Short answer yes. Long answer, well, we'll take the next thousand words or so nit-picking our way through what is perhaps one of the most epic Nintendo titles to date. Seems like a somewhat strange statement to call a fighting game 'epic', but this one really is. If you thought Melee was a ludicrous masturbate-a-thon of why Nintendo is the most awesomest company in the whole wide world then you'll find Brawl goes to a whole different level. More things to unlock, more characters, more stages, more winks and nudges towards Nintendo games of old and in general just more of everything.
Stored on a dual layered disk, Smash Bros Brawl contains so much data that some Wiis break down in trying to play it, and with good reason. Graphically this game is super sexy, especially if you shove on Melee and look at the character animation and lighting effects before switching back to the Wii game to drool over its beauty. Everything is faster, more furious and, in our humble opinion, a lot more fun.
Purists might argue that the game is now a bit more down to luck and button mashing than it was on the GameCube, but what this game offers is a pace, a style and a sheer abundance of options and modes that will have you purring like a mildly aroused lion enjoying a cool summer breeze. What's so refreshing is that this game has not only moved on from Melee but it has taken what was a pretty perfect formula and made it unimaginably better. The characters are more responsive and nimble, the attacks are more effective and the fighting is more furious.
One of the big issues with this game is how it controls, such is the speed of the action the way you tell your character to move and attack is key to how well the game plays. We'd normally be telling a Wii game off for not using the hardware to its full potential, but waggling around motion-sensing controllers would not just ruin the game, it would ruin your wrist joints. Consequently, the best way to play Brawl, in our opinion, is with the good old fashioned GameCube controller. Or if you like, the Classic Controller isn't a bad alternative. Using the Wii-mote and nunchuk isn't a terrible option, but it just feels wrong and takes a little bit of getting used to.
One of the best aspects of the Smash Bros games is the sheer amount of things you can unlock and play around with. Brawl takes this idea and runs away with it a little. We've got trophies galore, stickers, music, levels, characters and a whole lot more. What's good about all the collectibles this time is that you can use them in the game. Music you collect and unlock is used in fights and stickers add new attributes to characters. And yes, you can spend hours and hours and hours browsing through your stupidly large collection of trophies. If you're sad enough that is, which we're most definitely not...
The single player mode has been beefed up rather substantially, which is nice to see. Classic Mode makes a welcome return alongside a brand new offering which replaces Adventure Mode. The Subspace Emissary is a surprisingly large fighting/adventure hybrid with platform elements chucked in for good measure. The best thing about it is undoubtedly the storyline that sees Nintendo characters old and new linking arms in the most bizarre of situations. Needless to say the story is great fun. What isn't the best of fun is the adventure itself. Prolonged and at times tedious you'll find yourself complaining when you see another sodding door or another bleeding level which involves you holding right on the control stick and not much else. That isn't to say it is awful, but perhaps best in small doses rather than a prolonged session.
The Target Smash is now a far more substantial challenge. Rather than levels designed specifically for individual characters as we saw in Melee, there are now a number of generic levels which you can attempt with every single character. We could complain that it is lazy to not design levels for individual characters, but some of them are genuinely challenging and really quite good fun. Aside from that you can smash the hell out of the ruddy bag in Home Run Contest and of course kill lots of wire-frame robots in Multi-Man Melee. What's nice is that even if you lack friends to play Brawl with (we shed a tear for your loneliness) or your Internet is supplied by AOL or Orange making it impossible to get a good enough connection to play online (we shed a tear for your decision to go with a poor ISP) you can still enjoy playing the game on your own.
Earlier on we got all excited about the epic nature of proceedings. Nowhere is this more prominent than in the quite brilliant music. If you actually take time to listen through some of the tracks whilst smacking the crap out of your friends you'll realise that this is perhaps one of the best sounding games ever created. Graphically the animation has come on in leaps and bounds and the whole look of the game is really well polished and certainly very shiny. The backgrounds for example, are at times busier than the action in the actual fights. Impressive stuff when you consider that the Wii don't do graphics too good and stuff. Moving on...
The online aspect of Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a bit of a tricky aspect to score. There isn't anything inherently wrong with it other than the fact that you lose the fun of kicking the arse of the person sitting right next to you and instead do it to someone sitting in a darkened room in Berlin. You'll normally find three opponents to go up against in a couple of minutes and be brawling in a timely fashion, but the problems come in when you actually get there. The lag can, at times, be crippling and really ruins the whole experience of a fast moving fight. If this was XBOX Live people would be up in arms saying the servers were terrible, but as it is Nintendo's WFC and you don't pay anything for it, complaining becomes a bit tricky. Sometimes it works fine and you'll enjoy playing away for four or five matches, sometimes you'll manage ten seconds before it starts to jerk around and die like a bugger.
One more minor grumble, and this is one that will only annoy purists perhaps, is the introduction of the Final Smash Ball (or ball of crap as we've 'wittily' named it). This delightful little glowing ball is meant to be a fun new introduction to proceedings, and sometimes it is, but it is also a disruption to the pure fighting element of the game. Whoever manages to collect it gets to unleash a hugely powerful attack on their opponents and create a whole shed-load of havoc. It really can turn a match on its head, which is fun, but the sheer lack of talent involved in the whole thing brings the intricacies of a well earned victory crashing down. Put simply, we're not quite sure we like it all that much. Sure it looks pretty and creates some fairly frantic moments, but it isn't half annoying.
We'll stop being bitchy now, we promise. When a game is this perfect and this much fun, it is pretty hard to find points to mark it down on. Put simply, this is one of the most enjoyable and insanely playable games ever conceived. In the few days we've had it we've clocked up nearly a day's worth of collective play in VS mode alone. That's a lot of fighting, over 1000 KOs in fact. We stopped playing Melee just two days before Brawl came, and we can imagine the latest Smash Bros filling our glowing Wii slot of joy and glory for many years to come.