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Going Solo…

The solo side of things isn’t nearly as satisfying. You can partake in the group battles with CPU opponents, but when you select Solo from the main screen, you are offered two less than satisfying game modes. The first — “Classic” — is arranged in similar fashion to conventional fighting games insofar that you face off against a series of computer-controlled opponents, ultimately culminating against the boss character, Master Hand.

The other solo mode is an expanded story mode called The Subspace Emissary. This combines a a platformer-like game with the usual brawls. Although the cutscenes are gorgeous, the story itself is quite weak and the action is terribly repetitive. You’ll get about 10 hours of play out of this mode, but you’re basically doing the same thing over and over again.

Taking the Action Online

When I heard that I would be able to do battle with other Smash Bros. enthusiasts from around the world using online play, I got pretty stoked. Unfortunately, SSBB makes use of that horrible friend code system. Worst still, the regular online play is absolutely crippled, especially when you’re just looking for a casual match with strangers. Despite having so many people online, it can take forever to find a match… assuming you get one at all. I’ve waited several minutes on countless occasions, only to have the system time out on me.

There is no ranking system, no way to determine skill level, and no usernames. You are randomly matched up with your opponents and there’s no way to tell who you’re facing. This is so much worse than even the online gaming system found in Mario Kart DS. It sucks pretty bad, especially when compared with an online community like Xbox Live. In the end, you’re much better off with “real” friends who will play at your house, because the online gaming experience is seriously lacking. And it lags too.

Masterpiece Theatre

The biggest reward that you’ll get for playing through the game will be the raw enjoyment itself. After this, you’ll get a sense of elation from unlocking characters like R.O.B. the Robot, Lucario, and Falco. But wait, there are more rewards too. You can earn the right to kick it old school with some retro games like Donkey Kong, F-Zero, and Star Fox 64 too!

That’s the good news. The bad news is that these are just demos and they limit the amount of time that you can play them. The time ranges from 30 seconds to about three minutes, so you really don’t get to play much of any of these. As you can imagine, these demos have been included to entice you into the (paid) Virtual Console. It worked. I’m so tempted to buy some classics.

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