GAME REVIEW: SUPER SMASH BROS. FOR 3DS
“Settle it in Smash!!”
That’s the phrase I’ve been hearing everywhere I go nowadays, from watching TV to walking the streets and hanging out with friends. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS has once again brought out the fighting craze in everyone, and no gathering place is safe anymore now that you can fight anywhere, anytime. It’s been six years since the last installment in the Smash series, so how has the latest release stacked up against its predecessors?
Keeping in mind that the latest Smash Bros. has been split across two different consoles, this is definitely the most ambitious game in the series yet. Despite being the same 4-player free-for-all we know and love, a lot’s changed since Brawl. The newest and most defining feature of the 3DS version is Smash Run, a competitive mode that places each player on their own map and tasks them with maneuvering through a maze of enemies and minigames. By destroying enemies, you’ll pick up various power-ups (such as strength, speed, jump, attack, arms and defense) that increase your stats for a final battle between all four players. By random, the final battle will be either a race, a climbing contest, team battle or free-for-all. The Smash Run maze is filled with enemies that hail from dozens of Nintendo franchises, both well known and obscure, along with guest characters from third-parties. It truly is an explosion of gaming history all wrapped up into one hectic race to get the most stat boosts and wreck your friends in battle. Smash Run is also a great way to collect tons of prizes and rewards, such as trophies, stat boosts and custom movesets for fighters. There’s several hidden treasure chests in the maze, and enemies will also drop loot when defeated. Smash Run is serious fun, and probably the most competitive mode of any Smash game.
One of the biggest complaints of Brawl was how tediously slow the gameplay mechanics had become (tripping also sucked). Melee is considered by some to be too fast-paced and more fit for hardcore gamers. The latest Smash has proven to be a perfect balance between these two thresholds, having an incredibly faster pace than Brawl while still staying away from Melee enough to feel comfortable for both competitive and casual players. It’s a safe bet that we’ll be seeing Smash Bros. re-enter the fighting tournament scene again very soon.
The control scheme for the 3DS version obviously feels very different from playing with a Gamecube controller or Wiimote. Before its release, many people were afraid that rough, competitive play simply wasn’t possible on a 3DS console. I’ll put those fears to rest by saying that among the hundred or so people I’ve played the new Smash with, not a single person hasn’t been able to ease into the controls and enjoy heated battles. It definitely takes a lot of getting used to, but the circle pad can sensitively control character models, and is still quite responsive to flicking and dash attacks. The A, B, X and Y buttons also compromise to allow for a whole moveset of inputs, even without a C-Stick. However, there is still some lag time very occasionally, and pulling off a charge attack can be tricky. These are still small nuisances, and developing a feel for the 3DS doesn’t take much time. The best way to learn how to adapt is simply by picking up the handheld and playing.
A new feature of SSB4 is the ability to create and customize Mii Fighters. The game takes your Mii avatar and transforms it into one of three type classes: Brawler, Gunner and Swordfighter, depending on your choice. By using equipment items you’ve found in Smash Run, you can configure your Mii Fighter’s attack, defense and speed stats. Your fighter’s specials can also be changed with new attacks received by playing Smash Run or completing challenges, providing three different types of moves for each special (up, down, side and neutral). That means 12 different attacks to choose from, allowing for a personalized moveset for your Mii. Aesthetics are also important, so the development team has created a wide array of costumes and headgear for players to customize their Mii Fighters with. Outfits are acquired as a whole piece, so unfortunately you can’t have a pirate hook for a right hand and a robot claw for a left. But the combinations are still pretty damn cool, not to mention well detailed, designed and allowing for some hilarious looks. However, all characters from the roster can also be customized and given new specials and equipment, and can be saved in storage slots for easy access later. For example, if you’re tired of Kirby’s neutral B-attack that swallows and copies enemies, you can change it to ice breath which freezes opponents when pressing B. So far, custom fighters can only be used in Smash Run and online/local battles with friends, which makes sense. Keeping customization away from basic 4-player battles allows for a general gameplay experience where everyone is on the same level, making battles more fair and reliant upon skill.
Speaking of characters, the latest Smash Bros. has the largest roster yet. I won’t disclose specific characters in the roster for readers who are waiting to purchase the game and are trying to avoid internet spoilers (best of luck), but the new roster currently numbers out to a whopping 49 characters, including Mii Fighters. No matter which way you look at it, THAT IS A LOT. Almost as many characters as Marvel vs. Capcom 2, whose roster consisted almost 50% clones. While there’s still some clones in Smash, most of the characters possess their own unique move sets and are not copies. The 3DS version also has a good mixture of new stages with old stages and reimagined ones for all your smashing needs. Several of them are reminiscent of old Game Boy and Advance games, including the blast-from-the-past Kirby’s Dream Land and old-school Mute City stages. There’s a plethora of new items available that are all fun and very creative, allowing you to thwart your opponents in better and funnier ways. The Boss Galaga is a personal favorite of mine, which when thrown at an enemy can capture them and pull them upwards off the stage in hilariously retro fashion. The Daybreak laser and Ore Club are also incredibly powerful and will be justly fought over.
Like previous entries in the franchise, there’s lots of content in Solo Mode to keep players busy as well. As always, there’s both a Classic mode and an All-Star mode to play through at various levels of difficulty, which will reward with gold coins, custom moves, outfits, and specialty character trophies. Nintendo and Namco Bandai have mixed up Classic mode a bit, allowing players to choose between different routes and determine which enemies they will fight along their path. Beloved encounters like multi-man, team, giant and metal battles still remain. All-Star mode now pits you against characters in chronological order of their gaming scene debut, starting with classic characters like Pac-Man and Mario and ending with Shulk and Lucina, characters who’ve just recently appeared. Oh, and you’ll face about 7 enemies each round, which makes bumping up the difficulty level even more risky.
Challenges also return, once again providing the most time-consuming tasks like completing All-Star on Intense difficulty with all fighters for your grueling pleasure. Challenges get progressively harder with each panel unlocked, and there’s about 35 challenges per panel. Golden Hammers are available for those really tricky challenges, but keep in mind that there are only 3 hammers per panel, and your hammers do not carry over into the next unlocked panel. So saving all your Golden Hammers for the hardest challenges down the road isn’t in the cards, unfortunately. Stadium mode is still relatively the same, providing classics like Multi-Man Smash and Home-Run Contest (and as always, Ganondorf is still the Home-Run King). Target Smash has been revamped into a new mode called Target Blast, an Angry Birds-style game of inflicting damage on a bomb and launching it into a fortress of wood, brick, targets and prizes. Your score is determined by the amount of destruction caused, and how many targets you manage to capture in the wake of your bomb. While something fresh to the Smash series, the formula gets old quickly and can sometimes be frustrating when your bomb bounces off the wooden structure and rolls back to you. I can’t help but feel like I want the old Target Smash back, because it was a race against the clock that required me to use my character creatively and precisely instead of just wailing on a bomb that I can’t even detonate by choice- the 10-second timer attached to the bomb determines this.
Lastly, the presentation of this game is simply gorgeous. Building off Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Kirby Air Ride, series creator Masahiro Sakurai has continued in the vein of presenting a menu screen of thickly-outlined shapes and bright colors on a white background. Options are vivid and directly state their purpose in bold lettering. The actual in-game graphics are decent, even on 3DS-standards, and full of details that can be seen during close-ups in camera mode. Character models operate in 60fps while assist trophies and additional characters move in 30fps, which is quite a feat considering the 3DS’ processing capabilities. But I really have to hand it to the series composers, they put an unheard amount of effort into musical scores and reconstructed pieces for nearly every Nintendo IP starring in this game, as well as the three guest characters from SEGA and Namco Bandai. Seriously, I can’t get the new composition for Dream Land’s Green Greens out of my head. The violins, man.
It’s been six years since the last Smash Bros. came out, and I’d say the wait was well worth it. Despite being a game we’ve played time and time again, each iteration still brings loads of new things to the table, and the latest Smash is no different. And hell, this is only half of the whole deal! The Wii U version of SSB4 is still due out in November, and will have plenty of version-exclusive content according to Sakurai. A vast number of problems with previous games have been corrected, and its obvious Nintendo prioritized its gameplay experience above all else. And even still, they made sure every last bit of this game was 100% polished and packed with fanservice. Even after all the hours of challenges and Smash Run games, players will still keep coming back to this game just so they can duke out their friendships in the fray. Also, those hour-long bus commutes to work won’t be so dull anymore.
- Better paced gameplay mechanics
- New Smash Run mode and reimagined solo modes
- Customized characters, improved movesets
- Beautiful score, clean presentation
- Largest roster yet
- Custom outfits aren’t very flexible
- Streetpass could use more game modes
- Target Smash is now Angry Birds
OUR SCORE: 9.8/10
SOREDEWA, MATA ASHITA
-Andrew (Head of A7)
Pictures via NintendoLife, Zelda Universe, Siliconera, Gamnesia, and Explosion.com
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