By Josh Speer / July 19th, 2014
This was a doozy of a week at Smashing Saturdays! Not only that, it was insanely top-heavy, starting very strong early in the week, and slowly winding down till it reached Friday. Which isn’t to say the later posts weren’t compelling, just not as compelling as the early stuff. So, since we have so much to cover, I’ll stop reminiscing.
Let’s get Smashing!
Even though we knew last week that Monday was going to be a huge day for reveals, it didn’t stop Sakurai from trolling us with this initial screenshot, coupled with this quote – “In order to make Rayman’s trophy, we asked Ubisoft to share their references. We were expecting to receive 2D drawing references for Rayman, but to our surprise, they sent us data of a brand new 3D model that they rendered for this game!! And that was how this trophy was created. It takes a lot of work creating each model, so it’s wonderful that the creators contributed their own efforts!!” Pretty cool. But not as cool as the real purpose of Monday, the reveal of three Brawlers joining the fray!
First up was a complete surprise (to me, at least), the avatar from Fire Emblem: Awakening named Robin! Awakening was, and still remains, one of my all time favorite 3DS titles, so more representation from it is a always welcome. Even better is how diverse and unique Robin looks to play! But Robin wasn’t alone in representing the Fire Emblem universe…
Lucina also joins the battle! Long suspected, if even as a female costume swap for Marth, the iconic female swordfighter is actually her own character. I hesitate to call her unique, but more on that later. Finally, we had one returning Brawler who I wish had stayed away…
Yes, Captain Flaming Hugs…er, I mean Falcon, is back to join the battle. Yay. Now, before you all start unleashing hate upon me, let me clarify. I’m okay with Falcon returning, but the closer we get to the release date, and the more the roster fills up, the more worried I’m getting about Ness not returning. I was really, REALLY expecting the psychic schoolboy to be announced by now, and feel like the good Captain stole his (PK) thunder. Granted, we aren’t out of time yet, but I don’t anticipate there being many slots left on the roster… That said, that was a hell of a Monday, wasn’t it? Tuesday didn’t let up on the excitement, and went into great detail about the new Brawlers.
I admit that Tuesday, while exciting, did serve as a bit of a letdown. This quote should explain why – “Along with Robin, Lucina joins the battle!! Her physical ablilites are identical to Marth’s–it must be in her D.N.A. However, where Marth’s power is concentrated in the tip of the sword, Lucina’s attack strength is balanced throughout the weapon, which might make her easier to control. She’s also a little bit shorter than Marth.” Darn. I was REALLY hoping Lucina would have a unique moveset, since I thought Sakurai said he was done with clones. That said, I do like that she sounds like a more everyman (or woman) version of Marth. Maybe I can use her blade to put the arrogant swordsman to shame. But that wasn’t all Tuesday had to offer!
This next quote is how Sakurai justified his questionable decision to make Lucina little more than a Marth clone – “With the Wii Fit Trainers, the male and female Robins, the Villagers, and Little Mac, varying their appearances and voices works just like selecting alternate color variations. However, whenever there is even a small difference in abilities, that character gets an actual roster slot. That is why you can select Lucina individually.” So, the fact that her sword is more capable and she’s shorter make it okay to clone her off? Boo, Sakurai. I expected better. Oh, and one more screen.
Though I like Tuesday’s last screen, I feel it just served as a means for Sakurai to show off his attention to detail. Read the corresponding quote and see if you disagree – “By the way…there’s probably no chance you’ll be able to see this in the game, but Lucina has the mark of Naga in her left eye.” I didn’t see it at first, but upon closer magnification, it’s definitely there. Pretty cool stuff. Now, on to Wednesday and more exciting details!
Wednesday filled in a lot of juicy details about how Robin plays. To say Robin is unique is an understatement. Frankly, he/she sounds like a mix between Pokémon Trainer and Wario. Confused? Take a gander at the quote of the day – “The Levin Sword and tomes are Robin’s life lines. The Levin Sword can be activated by using smash attacks–you can even activate these moves in midair! However, just like in the original game, the Levin Sword can be used only a limited number of times before it breaks, at which point it takes some time to regenerate. When the Levin Sword is unavailable, Robin fights using the bronze sword.” So, just like in Fire Emblem, the weapons Robin wields have a limited number of uses. Though this should make playing Robin tricky, I do love a challenge. One more pic illustrates how Robin uses magic in battles.
Ouch. It looks as though Robin can make use of the vast majority of magical spells from Awakening. This particular spell is a familiar one – Arcfire! More from Sakurai – “The way Robin launches Arcfire is kind of crazy—he or she calls down a bolt of flame from above, then launches a pillar of fire! By the way, Robin’s tome changes with each special attack.” So, not only a wealth of magical might, but random selection? Me likey! Robin is now one of my most anticipated new Brawlers, bar none.
Though far less exciting than the previous screens, I do like this one quite a bit. The Living Room stage will have more than Nintendogs, it will also have kittens! Is it wrong I’m hoping they will scratch Brawlers and then scamper away? Yeah, probably. Moving on.
At first, Friday’s screen looked basic, but it actually revealed a very smart new gameplay decision. Read on to see why – “Here’s a Screen K.O. shot. There are also patterns where players will disappear into the sky for Star K.O.s, but as a match’s time limit approaches, those K.O.s will not occur anymore.” Very smart, since often times you would be robbed of a KO by the clock. Now, that seems unlikely. I credit this smart decision to Bandai Namco, but it could very well have been Sakurai. Either way, I’m glad to see they seem to have every little detail in hand.
But don’t leave yet! Got a great Character of the Week for ya.
Character of the Week
GUY: The Robotic Operating Buddy, known as R.O.B. for short. It’s likely that many people had no idea who this guy was when he was announced for Brawl. Those who did probably didn’t know what to think about him. The last time they’d played with him, he sucked.
For those who might not know, R.O.B. was originally an accessory for the NES. Gyromite was a fun two-player cooperative game, but there was really no way to get the same enjoyment out of it in single player. But, never fear: R.O.B. is here! R.O.B. worked kind of like an NES Zapper. His eyes would capture light from the TV, then his internal programming would take care of the rest. In Gyromite’s case, R.O.B. was supposed to act as a second player. The problem was that he took forever to work, and was impractical for actually playing the game (The game might have gone on to be a classic if it could have been played single player). He only ever worked with two games (and Stack Up was pretty boring), and quickly faded into obscurity, mostly noteworthy for being a marketing Trojan Horse for the NES after the 1983 game crash. But obscurity has never stopped Smash Bros before.
So, what exactly does R.O.B. bring to the fighting game table? Well, his eyes now shoot light (lasers), rather than collect it, and since his head tilts, he can aim. In contrast to his physical counterpart, his arms move at very high speed. He’s got rockets for flight, and can actually throw those Gyros that he used for Gyromite.
That all sounds cool, but really, R.O.B. isn’t a particularly competitive character. His moveset isn’t completely off the wall like Mr. Game and Watch, or particularly hard to master like Olimar. And, unlike Mario, R.O.B. doesn’t have the benefit of being well known to squeak by. It also doesn’t help that he’s not available out of the gate. He’s more style over substance, and that’s not really a good place to be.
It’s possible that R.O.B. might not make it into the new Smash Bros. He did appear as a playable racer in Mario Kart DS, then never again, so it’s possible Nintendo realizes that there are far more popular characters to spend time and money on. Still, as an obscure addition to Brawl, I’m sure there are worse ideas that I’m just not hipster enough to know.
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