Prize Fighter – Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS Comes Out Swinging!
I remember the first advertisements for Super Smash Bros on Nintendo 64. There were my favorite Nintendo characters frolicking in a field while happy music played. Shortly after, the music cuts. Mario trips Yoshi and they started beating the crap out of each other. I was 12 years old and had no idea how significant that title would become over the coming years.
The trouble with Super Smash Bros is a developer can essentially make the same game every time and get away with it. Every title in the series has become a walk down memory lane, so there will always be tons of hype and pressure from the fan base’s tremendous expectations. As the first hand held title in the series, it was easy to see why fans may be nervous about the amount of content. This may not worry all fans, as Smash Bros is first and foremost a multiplayer game, but for those of us who have no friends there is plenty to do in Smash Bros.
Upon the first play through, it took me some time to get used to the controls. Less buttons and controllers to deal with seem like they would make things simpler, but as someone who liked using the C buttons to jump I have mistakenly used attacks instead of using X and Y. It isn’t ideal that you are required to use the circle pad instead of the D pad for controlling a fighter, but over a period of time you get used to each function.
In each mode there are items, coins, and stat boosts to unlock. The coins are used for a heavily customizable difficulty curve where you get to bet more coins for better rewards and a harder level of play. The items and stat boosts are used for other modes of gameplay such as my personal favorite Smash Run mode. In this mode you can use the power-ups and new moves you’ve earned to customize your character. The first part of the Smash Run is a random map where you and your friends (or cpu) jump around sections fighting tons of enemies. For each enemy you destroy, you are awarded a temporary stat boost for the final battle. After five minutes of enemy destruction you are brought to a stage where you fight a random battle with the other characters. Sometimes this battle is a straight KO battle, other times you get my personal favorite of a 300% damage KO fest for three minutes.
The typical “story” mode where you fight a few different fighters followed by Master Hand is still here. As you progress through this mode there are different paths to choose with coin rewards and multiple versions of the other characters to battle.
There are a couple mini games to waste your time with as well. I spent the better part of an hour beating the crap out of a sandbag and trying to home run bat it as far as I could. Another game involves punching a bomb and trying to send it into a wall of targets a la angry birds but I got sick of accidentally blowing up poor Kirby.
All the old characters return as expected and hold up well over time despite having similar move sets since their beginnings. The new characters are a blast to play. Pac Man’s smash attack involves his 3D self throwing out pellets and wakawakawaka-ing his enemies off screen. Mega Man gets familiar powers from his game including Rush as his double jump.
The levels have really stepped up the gameplay and made each round even more interactive. Smash Bros has always had an element of level design that made each player hyper aware of their environments, but each stage requires an entirely different style of play. In Meta Knight’s environment the fighters actually play across a classic Game Boy screen through Kirby’s Dream Land which constantly shifts. In the Mario 3D land level the platforms constantly shift and require you to move through the area with a new level of finesse. Another has players on a train that constantly breaks apart and comes back together, forcing the players to move back and forth together while avoiding attacks.
I appreciate that Nintendo’s focus has always been on their local game play but I will say the online multiplayer could be improved. Nintendo has always been far behind when it comes to online play, and a new title like this could be vastly improved with better online support. I tried a few matches with random strangers and the gameplay got laggy to the point where matches could be shifted one way or the other. Local multiplayer is definitely the way to go with this one.
There’s a lot riding on Super Smash Bros at this point. On one hand, you have the Nintendo die hards that will give this game a perfect score regardless of the game. On the other, you have those that will bash this game based solely on the hype train that surrounds first party Nintendo titles. This is the Smash Bros we grew up with, without a doubt, but don’t sell it short as this new entry is actually a very good game. The game looks great and once you get used to the controls feels better than any other title in the series, and will certainly satiate fans until the Wii U release later next month.
Final Verdict 4/5
Available on: 3DS; Publisher: Bandai/Namco; Developer: Nintendo; Players: 1-4; Released: Oct. 3, 2014; Genre: Fighter; MSRP: $39.99