I have played this In Australia
(Are any of you from Sydney?? I'm Xeno on Smashboards.com, hi) )
It's kind of gay.
E-mail I sent to people at work describing my experience:
Me and the rest of the "Sydney Smash Scene" played downloaded copies of Brawl all day Saturday.
One line review: Much slower and simpler then Melee & other fighting games. Don't buy, play Melee or wait for SFIV.
Ok.. much different from Famitsu magazine's "40/40" review. I'll explain.
Game speed: Much, much slower. Perhaps if I drank a bit I could slow down to the game speed, but the delays between significant inputs were on average, vast.
Complexity: Three techniques from the previous Smash games that allowed players to reverse or change certain types of motion, and speed the recovery on certain attacks, are now gone.
(For those who played, that's wavedashing, dash-dancing and lag-cancelling).
Anything new to replace it? Sort of. The new physics engine allows you to slide (by dashing), then turn around, allowing you to to say, move right and face left in the air (airel facing is significant in the smash series, as forward and back-air attacks are different).
That allows a new form of attack, but it is not a new way to fake out your opponent.
Another new feature: Because of the new inertia based physics system, you cannot control the direction you air-dodge. You can however, attack and jump after you air dodge, so you can effectively use the air-dodge as a "dodge, then counter" manuever in the air. A welcomed technique, in my opinion.
There are several new methods of animation cancelling, however their perceived use is very low so far (as you are fairly vulnerable to them, they might work as occassional counter-manuvers, but done against a stationary opponent would find you getting nailed).
The "Feels weird" component, spoken by the Sydney Smash Scene and many members of smashboards.com who have played the game.
A fair amount of hitboxes have ranges decievingly larger then their animation, and many attacks are QUITE meaty (the hitbox exists for many frames). Several times I acutally walked into hitboxes, assuming that I would walk in as the recovery initiated. Counter-intuitive, but not a bad thing. Just requires the moves to be learned.
Floatiness: Characters generally stay in the air longer then Melee. Feels strange, but not bad (it doesn't, in itself, reduce the complexity of the game).
Is the game fun? I would consider it "half-fun". It's something I would try playing for another day to see if my mind changes, but my initial day of playing did not entice me.
Please note all my games were without items. Items completley randomize Smash matches, and the game switches from a fighting game to a half-action half-fighting game, with a lot of luck involved. Personally it's not my thing.
If you've never been skilled at Melee, Brawl might seem "fine" to you the first time you play, as a lot of the stuff that's missing is regarding mindgames // cancelling momentum and attacks. The beginner level of option selecting (picking which attack to do) is still there, and works fine. Combos are much harder to pull off in Brawl (because the technique used in previous games to escape combos is now incredibly easy to perform), so there is not as much complexity in the option selecting (that i can see. I'm sure with enough skill, players could figure out combo "mindgames" and select the right move to connect into another, etc (fyi there are extremely few automatic "link" combos in the Smash series).
Well that's my review, from a day of playing.. hope it's useful.
I forgot to add a lovely new feature. Whenever you initiate a dash, you sometimes have a random (as far as everyone can tell) chance of tripping. Yes, you fall over and are vulnerable. Decidedly un-tournament level play.