Conceptually the idea of taking characters from games across many genres and putting them into a single fighting game seems risky at best, and at worst, a commercial disaster.

Far from it though, the Super Smash Brothers series has been a huge success despite the quirky premise. Super Smash Brothers Brawl is the latest in the series and by all accounts it has built on the success of the previous titles.

Released at the beginning of the year in Japan, and only recently released here in New Zealand, this game has already sold a significant amount of copies. It is at its heart a fighting game, but unlike the current fare of ultra realistic combat titles it pits well known characters against each other, or against various boss characters.

The object of the combat is to push your opponent off the platform whilst preventing him from doing the same to you. Rather than the falling health bar of the traditional fighting game, you instead have a bar that denotes how far you have pushed them to the edge of the platform.

There are some 35 unique characters to choose from with some being very familiar. These include Mario, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Peach and Zelda to name a few. Incredibly you can also play Solid Snake from the Metal Gear Solid series. The inclusion of a Konami character is a departure from previous games where only characters from the Nintendo stable were used. Snake is not the only Metal Gear inclusion as one of the game stages also pays homage to one of Metal Gear’s environments.

The fighting itself is a mixture of button mashing, controller tipping and controller shaking to activate the abilities of each of the characters. These have been further enhanced with the inclusion of some special power up moves (smash attacks) and the even bigger super attacks. With each character having four unique moves, melee weapons and missile weapons, there is a lot of variety and challenge in how you approach each fight. This is one of the key attractions, each fight is a different experience.

The game is loaded with options. There is the story mode called “The Space Emissary” that has you battling the hordes of the Subspace Army. There is also Solo mode which has you fighting one on one across forty stages or the group mode where you can take on bosses with a friend. There is also a Wi-Fi option where you can play and challenge others, or if you prefer, simply watch others fight. One of the best options in our opinion is the Tournament mode where you set up a tournament with all your friends, setting your own rules, elimination rounds, etc. It’s a great party mode and one that will cause endless debate: “Could Mario really defeat Solid Snake?”

The visuals are good and the inclusion of some destructible terrain also adds to the challenge. The music is superb, and this is no surprise as we understand some of the biggest names in gaming audio had a hand in putting together the music score. The only real niggle we had was that some load times seemed overly long.

All in all this is a great game packed with heaps of options and game modes. It is high on entertainment value and a blast to play (especially with a crowd).

This is one of the best titles currently available on the Wii and definitely a must-have for your collection.