What matters most to everyone is the actual gameplay, and it's great that Brawl holds up, even in its unfinished state. Looking at its predecessors, they're considered some of the best fighting games ever crafted, and they're relied upon in tournament circles to this day. Even with the Wii Remote, Brawl evokes those warm and fuzzy feelings that anyone who's played SSB will instantly recognize: The floaty yet weighted timing of your character's free-falls, the delay following your attacks (will cancels make a return?), the tense moments when you're about to connect with your Final Smash...
Speaking of the Smash, it's different in Brawl. You may have heard about the Smash Ball, a shimmering, floating orb that bears the SSB logo on its front. If you've played a shmup or old-school platformer with items that float around the screen in unpredictable ways, that's what its movement's like. Everyone wants to run up and smash it open, and at E for All Expo, that usually led to players leaping off the side of the stage, swinging a few punches and kicks, and subsequently plummeting to their helpless defeat.
If you can't resist the temptation of the Smash Ball, and you successfully land with your two feet on the ground after busting it open, you're in for a treat. What if you're Sonic, whose popularity was off-the-charts during the Expo? Anyone who's kept up with the Dojo knows that he turns into Super Sonic, enabling players to fly around the stage and knock their foes around worry-free. (One Expo player happened to soar a bit too high, and wound up tumbling helplessly to their off-screen demise once the Smash Ball wore off, though. Don't be that player.)
Ike has his famous Aether from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, a move that's breathtaking in person, and truly devastating in the right hands. Unlike Sonic's Final Smash, Ike needs to line up all his victims in front of him before firing it off, because he's only going to get one shot. Connect it, and you get to watch him slice and dice your defenseless foes up before rocketing them into the air, only to slam them right back down in a flurry of flames.
Just in case you haven't realized it, busting open that Smash Ball is the only way you'll be able to do any Final Smashes, and it makes the playing field even more competitive. Before, using a Smash was just a matter of timing, but now you've got more to worry about than that: you'll need to earn the ability while simultaneously watching your back.
If you're riled up and ready for it, Super Smash Bros. Brawl should be hitting stores in early February. In some ways, it's going to be more of the same, but there will be more than enough new characters and enhancements to please the franchise's fans. Till you can get your hands on its newest iteration, polish your skills on Melee, get a Wii if you haven't already, and hoard all the GameCube controllers you can! Once Brawl's out, if you truly want to rock, you're going to need them.