If Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 was the game that got me through my early college years, Super Smash Bros. Brawl was undoubtedly the game that got me through pretty much all of high school. Let me just start by saying that I don’t think Brawl is the best installment in the series, in fact I honestly believe that the games get better with each successive installment. But Brawl is the one that I have the most fond memories of.

As weird as this may sound, I’ve never personally owned a copy of the game. I rented it when it first came out back in 2008 (and many times after that), but I never saw the need to outright buy it because the majority of my other friends had the game, so I had pretty consistent access to it.

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I’ll never forget just how cool the opening to Brawl was. The epic song and all of the cool visuals were a nice little taste of the game’s Subspace Emissary. In a first for the series, The Subspace Emissary was a story mode that featured almost the entire cast of the game in a war to save their world. This lead to interesting pairings such as Mario and a new version of Pit from Kid Icarus, Pikachu and Samus, and even something as crazy as Captain Olimar and Captain Falcon from Pikmin and F-Zero respectively.

But besides being the easiest way to unlock all of the characters, The Subspace Emissary also features some amazing cg cutscenes. I don’t know if you’ve ever wanted to see Donkey Kong and Star Fox join forces to defeat a Rayquaza, but Brawl has that and many more moments for you to enjoy. The gameplay of Subspace Emissary may be a standard platformer/beat em’ up affair, but the cutscenes alone make the entire campaign worth it.

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Story aside, the obvious draw to this game is the mascot crossover action that the series is best known for. Brawl definitely has flaws, and if I’m playing a Smash Bros. game these days, it’s gonna be Smash 4. But I just have so many precious memories of playing match after match of this game. Between my friend group’s collective Wii consoles, we have well over 1000 hours of total gameplay.

When we weren’t having standard stock matches, we could often be found having 99 man brawls on Final Destination, playing with all random characters, or even playing on some of the janky custom stages that Brawl introduced. Most importantly, we would always jokingly disparage the one friend that always chose Big Blue when it was their turn to pick the stage.

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One thing that makes me really nostalgic for Brawl is the fact that I don’t really play video games with my friends anymore. We still play tons of board and deck-building games, but most of them are into competitive multiplayer games like League of Legends and Overwatch, things that I’m personally just not really into.

As such, Brawl reminds me of the times when we would all convene at one person’s house, order pizza, and just play until we fell asleep or our batteries died (we eventually decided that it would be a good idea to invest in rechargeable batteries). Unless I get into some type of competitive game, I don’t really see myself spending as much shared time on a game with my friends, as I did with Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I utterly adore this game, and some of my most treasured memories are intimately linked with it. And it even has Sonic in it!

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