Best New Character: Snake
While legions of Smash purists can attack me through the internet all that they want about how Snake doesn't "fit in" with Smash Bros., I will remain adamantly excited about the inclusion of one of gaming's most memorable modern mascots in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Face it: nothing beats a showdown between Nintendo, SEGA, and Konami. Nothing.
Runner Up: Pokemon Trainer
Best New Stage: Frigate Orpheon
Stuck in retro-land, Sakurai was somehow unable to get us a Metroid Prime stage until now. Finally I get to play a stage from one of the best video game franchises of the last console generation. Plus it's a really inventive, dynamic stage.
Runner Up: Shadow Moses Island
Best New Item: Banana Peel
This no-brainer Mario Kart item should have been in the first Smash Bros., so getting to use it at last will be a ton of fun. I'm also glad to see some Mario Kart representation in Brawl.
Runner Up: Smoke Ball
Best Assist Trophy: Gray Fox
I don't care if I sound like a Metal Gear Solid fanboy with all my choices from the MGS universe. Gray Fox is by far the coolest character in the entire MGS saga, and having him in the game (hopefully with some lines about bone and sinew) is really awesome.
Runner Up: Andross
Best Overall Announcement: Sharing
With Halo and other online games hot on their heels, Nintendo decided to ratchet up their online strategy (at least in the DLC realm). Player-created stages, videos, and pictures can all be sent both to friends and anonymously to the WHOLE INTERNET! This is sure to keep my childish mind interested for months and months.
Runner Up(s): Four Control Schemes/CPUs Replace Disconnectors
Biggest Disappointment: Crippled Online
Most of you have already read my extensive rant on the subject of Brawl's online, and if you haven't, then read its enlightening words of wisdom now. However, I will continue to stress how downright stupid the online mode is in Brawl. Fanboys can sugarcoat it however they want, but the truth remains: Brawl's online has been severely crippled in order to protect the minds of a casual demographic. Rankings, the one thing that would have really made the game great for hardcore players, has been cut as an online feature. I'm disappointed in you, Nintendo...disappointed.
Runner Up: Color, not Costume Changes