Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is the first of this year’s two Smash Bros. games. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U comes out today in NA, and next Friday, Nov 28th, in the EU. The 3DS version is probably the 3DS game which has received the most publicity. For good reason, too. The Smash Bros. series is one of Nintendo’s most popular and this is the series’ handheld debut.
This is also the first Smash Bros. to feature Mega Man and Pac-Man. When you have them along with icons like Mario and Sonic all together in one game, you can tell this is going to be a real ‘event’. But, of course, with an event like this, there’s the risk that things will turn out to be all style and no substance… Could that apply here? Let’s go over the aspects of the series that have made it popular.
I think the biggest aspect of Smash Bros. is its cast of all-star characters. I’ve already mentioned Pac-Man and Mega Man (two highly anticipated newcomers) but there’s also Animal Crossing‘s Villager, Wii Fit‘s Wii Fit Trainer and a nice big handful of Fire Emblem characters (which is nice, because I think it’s a series which could use some more recognition). So, I’ll say that I was happy with the character selection, but there are a few downsides. First, neither King K. Rool (from the Donkey Kong series) nor Ridley (from the Metroid series) have been made playable, which is a shame considering the high demand for them amongst fans.
This wouldn’t be much of s problem if it weren’t for my second point; this game adds a nice new feature in adding extra characters as ‘alternate costumes’ for others (Pikmin 3‘s Alph being one for Olimar), but I feel this is underutilised. Certain characters feel like they should have been alternate costumes of others, rather than getting a slot of their own and, had this been done perhaps the more unique fan choices could have been used (although, it’s probably not that simple). A few characters have been dropped since Super Smash Bros. Brawl too and I was especially sad about the absence of Snake. But, I don’t mean to give a wholly negative impression. I’m not unhappy with the selection of characters. Pretty much all of the new characters are very fun to play as (I shan’t mention names just in case anybody out there is still looking to avoid spoilers) and there are lots of returning classics; Luigi, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Mr. Game & Watch and Link all return (along with many others) and are just as good as always.
What I was disappointed with, however (and I’ve mentioned this before) is the lack of stages available. There are thirty-four stages, which sounds like a reasonable amount, but eleven of these are old stages returning from a past game and a lot of the new ones are a little underwhelming. Many series seem under-represented with their stages; there’s only one Kirby level and it’s a novelty monochromatic scrolling level, there’s one Donkey Kong level and it’s the same Jungle Japes stage that appeared in both Brawl and Melee, only one Sonic level and it’s just the same one from Brawl… I could go on.
Even with the series which did get new levels, it feels a bit strange because they’re slightly obscure choices. For example, there are two Zelda levels, but there’s no Hyrule Field, no Hyrule Castle just Spirit Train (a charming level based on The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks) and Gerudo Bridge (a cool area from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) I like them but it’d be like if Mario only had “Wart’s Throne Room” as a stage; nice, but it feels odd when the characters have that as their home stage. And, sadly, some characters don’t have a stage they can call their own, most notably the Wii Fit Trainer, but also a few others. Again, I don’t mind to sound too critical; some stages like Tortimer Island (from Animal Crossing: New Leaf) and Magicant (from EarthBound) are really fantastic, but I feel the game was let down by the level selection.
Following on from that point, some of the new levels give me a bad feeling. They spoil the immersion for me. I’m talking about the two new stages Mute City and Dream Land. Mute City is a level where you stand on platforms (including F-Zero racers) as they speed through a level that is visually the same as the SNES F-Zero. It just feels wrong for Captain Falcon to have a 16-bit stage when he himself does not match that style. It’s the same with Dream Land; it’s just a recreation of areas from Kirby’s Dream Land without changing how they look. This seems very strange since the Kirby series is known for being very bright and colourful and this is not representative of that at all.
What I don’t like about these levels is that it feels like they are far too conscious of just being a “Nintendo mascot fighter” it feels self-referential to a bad degree and it takes me right out of things. I mean, you can actually see that all the characters are on the screen of a giant Game Boy! Perhaps it’s silly of me to worry about things like this in a Smash Bros. game, but it’s not a problem that I had with the other games and it feels like the cheapened things in exchange for a bit of nostalgia.
But let’s move onto a positive thing. Smash Run is a mode of gameplay that will only be featured in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and so is perhaps one of its biggest selling points. You choose your character and then you are put in a random spot on very large stage. You then have five minutes to defeat as many enemies and collect as many power-ups as you can in order to prepare for a short game against three other characters afterward (sometimes a normal battle, sometimes a race, sometimes other things).
This is really nice because the enemies you fight in the giant stage are all things which come from other games; there are certain Pokémon going around, you’ll get to see Kremlings attacking alongside Tikis (from Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong Country Returns, respectively), a huge number of classic Mario enemies, even creatures from EarthBound appear! It’s lovely and I always get excited about what new areas and what new enemies I’ll see. It’s hugely entertaining and, perhaps, my favourite mode of the game. About the only bad thing about it is the fact that occasionally it can seem unfairly hard (when loads of tough enemies appear right away) but not often.
Other modes that return are the Classic and All-Star options which have both been in every game since Super Smash Bros. Melee. Classic, despite its name, has been changed quite significantly; instead of doing one fight after another until you face Master Hand (as before) there is now a map you move across with multiple paths which lead to different battles… The map is kind of nice, but almost completely superficial in that it doesn’t really add anything. I was very pleasantly pleased to find that Master Hand has finally learned some new fightings move too! It’s refreshing to have this boss battle changed after being the same for fifteen years. All-Star mode, meanwhile, is relatively unchanged; you have to defeat all of the starter characters with a single life (and a few healing items) and, eventually, you get a small expansion to it as well.
But, of course, those are all things to by yourself and a big aspect of Smash Bros. appeal it its multiplayer. You can play locally with four other people (assuming they have the game) or you can just play with others online. I have to admit that all I’ve done multiplayer-wise is play some one on one battles with one friend of mine, but they live far away and I’ve been playing online and I’ve experienced no problems with being disconnected and only a little bit of lag, so, it seems to run quite smoothly. I really enjoy playing against another human being as well; I’d go so far as to say that these battles have been the most fun I’ve gotten out of the game. Whenever I stop playing online, it’s not because I want to stop, it’s because I realise it’s late and I should probably go to bed.
Another big aspect to this latest title is its level of customisation; not only can you make a large number of Mii fighters who you can give a huge number of different outfit combinations and different fighting styles, but you can also customise the main characters themselves. All the characters have their own set of unlockable moves, which is pretty exciting. You can give a character a whole new moveset (and stats) and then assign it to one of their alternate outfits (and this time, the alternate outfits are actually noteworthy, rather than boring palette swaps of the past) which is all pretty exciting. The only downside is that this customised characters can’t be used in every mode.
So, I’ll wrap things up here. There’s a lot more I could talk about; use of StreetPass, trophies, Stadium games and so on, but there is quite a lot to this game and it’d take far too long to cover everything. It’s hard to give a conclusive assessment of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. On the one hand, it’s hugely enjoyable and I’ve already gotten a good fifty hours of playtime out of it (and I’m not going to stop any time soon).
On the other hand, it feels like Smash Bros. peaked with Melee and Brawl and at this point it doesn’t feel like there’s much more they can do with the series other than adding new characters. I didn’t like how this game removed the story element that Brawl added and I feel, in some ways, that the series has been taken too far now (as I mentioned about, it feels too self-conscious of its status). I guess it’s a bit like junk food, let’s say pizza; you eat it a lot because it’s delicious, but you know in your heart that there are healthier options out there and you should probably enjoy a nice Fire Emblem salad.
Don’t forget another (but quite different!) fighting game is out today: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax! We still have our Fan Edition in stock, which comes with free tarot cards and a Junes t-shirt exclusive to Rice Digital! Get it here!
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