A is for... Assist Trophies
Brawl's mishmash of historic gaming figures stretches far beyond the playable roles. Not content with the already hugely impressive lineup, Nintendo have included various assist trophies that, when used, take the guise of different characters and lend a hand mid-bout. Figures like Mr Resetti (mwa-ha-ha) will be joined by retro heroes Little Mac, and Sin And Punishment's Saki Is-it-a-boy-or-is-it-a-girl1 Amamiya.
B is for... Bowser
Bowser's Final Smash is the most impressive move of the whole lot - transforming the monster into Giga Bowser and sending him on a rampage like he's Gamera's evil uncle just escaped from Jurassic Park. BOWSER SMASH!
C is for... Coin launcher
While dumping coins into a random dispenser is all well and good, we always wanted to do a little more to earn those trophies. Enter: coin launcher. It's a minigame that requires you to shoot the ones you want to collect. Much better.
D is for... Diddy Kong
We asked for it, Nintendo provided it. Finally. FINALLY! A chance to smash his face in once and for all. Note to all game developers: a Diddy Kong pummelling minigame in your product may entitle you to an instant 5% score bonus. Possibly more.
E is for... Excitebike
When the Excitebike racers are unleashed, the rules go out the window, and you must stay aloft unless you want to die. We're all for tactical matches, but it's impossible not to smile when a spanner like this is thrown into the works.
F is for... Fludd
Let's be honest now: while we all have fond memories of Mario wa-hooing his way across Delfino Plaza, the majority of Mario Sunshine simply couldn't hold a candle to the FLUDDless sections. So why are we looking forward to it? Because the vertically-challenged plumber will be a better fighter for it. At last, E Gadd's invention has finally found its place in the Mario universe.
G is for... Gambling
Brawl just keeps on giving. Most games have nothing to offer when your fingers have been reduced to bloody stumps, but Spectator mode allows you to watch Wi-Fi battles and gamble on the outcome. You'll even get some stickers if you lose. We just know that our fingers will crumple at some point, so during recovery we'll make a fortune by betting against Matthew.
H is for... Home-run contest
When you're tired of fighting... No, scratch that. When your eyes can no longer handle the retina-bursting speed of Brawl's primary attraction, there's plenty to fall back on, including this old favourite. You can even pretend you're playing Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games without, you know, actually having to buy it.2
I is for... Items
Smash Bros has always had great items, so we're eager to get our mitts on the latest additions. For example, gobbling a plate of Super Spicy Curry will let you perform mind-bending combos you'd never even dreamed of. The Gooey Bomb's even better: letting you tag an opponent and run away giggling like a schoolgirl while they try their best to pass it on. Every single item adds a layer of depth, and you can choose which ones to activate to create the perfect match.
J is for... Jumping
No, really. The new footstool jump has taken a leaf from Mario's book, and allows everyone to 'boiiing'3 off of their fellow competitors. It's also the best way to kill someone. Think of the humiliation: there's no greater way to KO someone than to leap off a stage's edge, land on top of a recovering character and then jump back to safety as they plummet off-screen. Awesome.
K is for... K Slider
Wild World's best moment, listening to KK Slider belting out blippy music, is also the reason why Smashville will be the place to visit at 8pm on a Saturday. What other fighting game lets you wrestle while a singing dog plays guitar?
L is for... Level Editor
Seriously, it's making us paranoid. Every month we come up with great ideas for Brawl, and every month Nintendo go and put them in the game. Our super-fantastic 'wouldn't-it-be-great-if' list of awesomeness had a level editor somewhere near the top (just under Sonic actually). AND IT'S IN! Once the issue's done we're going to start scanning for bugs.4
M is for... Music
A quick straw poll about gaming's best music should see Nintendo run away with the votes. When we saw the list of musicians involved in Brawl we nearly cried with joy. Not only have we got pieces from every major Nintendo franchise, we've got contributions from Metal Gear's Akihiro Honda, Kingdom Hearts's Yoko Shimomura and Grandia's Noriyuki Iwadare.
The game's brimming with classics, and by using the My Music option you can choose which tracks will be played on any given stage. There are plenty of hidden songs too, and it's always worth risking a life to snaffle the CDs when they appear.
N is for... New Pork City
"We want to beat-'em-up in a city that never sleeps, And find we're king of the hill, top of the heap.
That little air ship, is destined to sway; We'll make a brand new start of it, in old New Pork.
If we avoid the Chimera, we'll take you on anywhere-a; We'll meet you there, New Pork, New Pork."
O is for... Olimar
Best. Playable. Character. Announcement. Ever. Anyone that's ever tried taking on a Wollywog with a handful of reds will know that Pikmin frequently die. We're dying to play as Olimar because he needs to forever replenish his minions to attack - with his plucking down special - and can craft specific attacks based on the colour-combos of the Pikmin. Go go fiery reds!
P is for... Pictochat
The Pictochat level is absolute genius - who wouldn't want to scrap in an area that's always morphing? Beware the flames: they look harmless but they burn... Let's just hope they're better than Team NGamer's efforts. (see page 110)
Q is for... Quitters
Filthy cheaters deserve all the abuse they can get. But while we can't send swears across the net, we won't find our games ruined by people dropping out. If anybody quits, Brawl will leap to the rescue and replace the abandoned character with an AI.
R is for... Rob
R is for revenge. Revenge against ROB: Emptier of wallets and drainer of batteries. You promised us so much, and yet delivered so little. Where were all your games? No matter, your rotational spin and broken neck joint will be no match for our Classic controller...
S is for... Snapshots
Catch Mario humping Peach? Certain camera angles make it look like Snake's snapped Diddy's neck? It's good to share the funniest moments, which is why we reckon the snapshot function is one of the best additions. Pause the game, take the picture and then send it to a friend or save it to an SD card to keep forever.
T is for... Target smash
We've always liked Target Smash, so we're delighted that a replay option's been added for extra bragging rights.
U is for... Ultimate item
Kirby's Air Ride may have worked as well as an inflatable dartboard, but that hasn't stopped Brawl from making its Dragoon the ultimate item. Find all three pieces and you can shoot down your opponents for a one-hit KO.
V is for... Vault
The vault is the one-stop shop for all things collectible. If you're like us, you'll be visiting here after every match, eyeing up your latest swag and trying to snaffle new trophies in the Coin Launcher. Gotta Catch 'Em All? All right, but it'll take months...
W is for...Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is, without question, the single greatest thing that's ever happened to the series. Not only will we be able to play people across the world, we can share video footage and photographs, and watch other matches.
X is for... X
Along with appearances from ROB and FLUDD, the inclusion of music from Game Boy game X represents something brilliant: Ninty's unwillingness to let its past creations die. We're itching to see what other retro treats are in store.
Y is for... Yoshi's Island
Sometimes we just want simplicity from our stages.5 Yoshi's Island has always been present in the series, but never has it looked so beautiful. Rolling seasonal changes and that music... We're welling up just thinking about it.
Z is for... Zero Suit Samus
Who can explain how the Big Bang occurred, or the fate of Atlantis, or even why Samus in her Zero Suit is much, much, much more appealing than in her armour? Such are the mysteries of the world. Who are we to question them?