Super Smash Brothers (For Nintendo 3DS)
By Matt Ballyns
Super Smash Brothers is back and for the first time on a handheld system. This new entry is surrounded with questions since Nintendo will release a Wii U version of the game a month later. So what are the incentives to just get the handheld version when presumably a heftier console version is coming out just around the corner? Let’s find out!
This is the 4th installment in the beloved franchise, which pits many of our favorite Nintendo Icons against other characters outside of Nintendo like Sonic and Mega Man in all out Brawl. Unlike many other fighters where certain controls have to be imputted in order to do special moves, in Smash Brothers you really just have to hit two buttons together to perform various attack moves. It’s really all about timing and positioning. Smash is pretty easy to get started, but tough to master.
You can play with up to 4 players at a time in a four person free for all or, on teams. You can also choose to allow, or disallow items which range from weapons to assist characters. The objective of the game is to build up damage on your opponent which then causes them to be launched further as their damage increases until you can SMASH them off the screen. The 2 main ways to play this game are to set an amount of time for the fight or have a stock fight where each player gets a certain number of lives.
The gameplay is solid and represents the previous console versions very well. I had my doubts about the controls being too cramped, but they actually feel a bit natural even though I would prefer a regular controller. A lot of complaints were given out to the previous Wii Brawl version because it implanted a new feature called tripping which would happen randomly where a character would fall over. I am glad to say that has been taken out. The roster is no slouch either with 49 playable characters many returning and many new ones. Ice climbers is not a returning character which was quite a shock and Snake from the Metal Gear series did not return either, though it was surprising he was in the last one. New characters that were big surprises were Bowser Jr, Palutena, Robin from Fire Emblem, Little Mac, Greninja, Duck Hunt Dog, Villager, Shulk, Pac Man, Mega Man, Wii Fit Training and Mii’s. So yes, a lot of new recruits! Sadly, there are a few clones like Dr. Mario and Lucina but the roster is still very strong. Certain features we have come to expect like a level editor and music customization options were left out, but a few new features were added.
No matter whether you like to play alone or with others, this game has a lot to do. There are so many collectables and challenges to complete and the game even has streetpass functionality (which honestly is one of the worst mini games in the game, but hey it’s there). The different modes are:
Smash: Regular set up where you can battle it out with 3 other people via computers or friends.
Smash Run: New mode where you have a time limit to go around a level and defeat enemies, which will then drop different attributes (power, defense, jump height, speed, etc) the stronger the enemy the more he will give you. After the time limit you will face or team up in a random event (sprint race, jump race, team smash battle, free for all smash, endurance smash, etc.) with 3 other competitors and by what you have collected it will power up your character.
Classic: Travel a long branching pathways to collect gold, costumes, trophies, attack moves, power-ups. The higher the difficulty the more gold you wager on upcoming smash fights. If you lose though it drops in difficulty and you lose a portion of the gold you wagered and collectables you might have earned. Get to the end boss and you are awarded with everything you have collected along with the character you have chosen’s trophy.
All-Star: You take on all the characters in order of the year they first appeared in their respective video game. Between years you have a set of items to restore your health, but if you use them all that’s it and you go into the next stage with whatever health you left the last battle with.
Stadium: This is a mini game compilation of multi-man smash (bunch versions of fighting a lot of Mii’s), Target Blast! (hit two bombs onto targets to get high scores), and Home Run Contest (hit the sand bag until you launch it as far as possible).
Training: Place where you can practice your moves on a sandbag.
Online: Playing Online you have two options: FOR GLORY or FOR FUN. FOR GLORY is the competitive mode where there are no items and it keeps track of your win/lose ratio. Here you also have the option of doing a 4v4 free for all, 1v1, or 2v2. FOR FUN is the same except items are turned on and it does not record your win/lose record. All this can also be done with friends if you have their friend codes. I have had pretty good success on getting smooth online games in though there have been a few laggy games. There have already been 2 updates to improve this and I was expecting to get a Regional option as seen in other Nintendo games like Mario Kart. Unfortunately, that has not been added and I still get laggy games when I am playing against someone in Japan. Hopefully there will be a regional option in the future. The other major issue I have with online play is that you can’t jump into a friends match if he is online like you can in Mario kart 8. To make this issue worse, you can’t even create an open room so you can a friend can team up to play against other random teams online. You can only create a room that can only be joined by friends. This was the same issue with Kid Icarus and is extremely frustrating when trying to join a friend for online team battles in FOR GLORY.
All these modes are pretty fun and self-explanatory except the new mode Smash Run which I was looking forward too, but it is so random that it felt extremely frustrating at first. You never know what the final end battle is going to be so even if you managed to build up a ton of speed and high jumping skills, the final battle could be an endurance round and you have no defense power and you’re screwed. However, once you start making customized characters and equipping abilities like bombs, healing, homing missals, etc. smash run becomes addictively fun because you start to become a superhuman force to be reckoned with. It makes you wish that this mode had online capability because I can see it being a great party mode of the game.
One of my favorite new features is the customization section. Here you can customize your Mii’s to be either a Brawler, Sword Fighter, or Gunner. Then you can have 3 different sets of equipment that changes your stats to add or decrease your speed, attack, or defense of your character. Then also by which type you chose, you will be able to customize up to 3 choices for your special attacks be that B, up B, down B, and side B. This changes your character pretty drastically and able to do with regular characters in the game (i.e. Mario, Marth, Mega Man, etc) as you will unlock their other special attacks playing through the game. While this is really neat and you can hold up to 10 versions of each character with the customization options of your choice, you cannot use them in certain modes including FOR GLORY. Not allowing custom characters in FOR GLORY is understandable since some of the equipment is extremely powerful and can even make you regenerate health over time.
The last Smash Bro’s game introduced a story mode called Subspace Emissary, which was wacky and brought you from mission to mission with no real dialogue or plot for that matter, but helped unlock characters and trophies. In reality it was a very confusing and fun distraction that quickly got old. This mode if you liked it has been left out for better or for worse though I am not holding any grudges.
Going into this game I was expecting it to have pretty bad visuals so the Wii U version would blow me away, but these are actually not bad. That’s not to say they are anything amazing on the 3DS but they are better than expected. The 3D is not very apparent as the only time I even noticed it was when someone would get Smashed off screen they sometimes fly into the screen and get smacked there like a fly, other than that the 3D affect is not really there. Smash Brothers has always been a chaotic type of game and there was a lot of speculation going into this game about how you would be able to tell what is going on on a small screen (even on a 3DS XL). Amazingly, Nintendo has managed to minimize that by having smaller levels and outlining the character models which does make the characters “pop” more and not let you lose sight of where you are. This of course does not totally fix it as in 4 player matches it really becomes apparent and in some of the bigger stages as your characters get very small and keeping track of who’s who can be a challenge in the heat of battle, though that could happen even on a bigger screen with the console versions. There are a 34 stages to choose from, some are returning and there are a few new ones. A couple new stand outs that I like were Paper Mario and Find Mii which I found to be very fun and visually stunning. The Living Room stage however, was always a pain as blocks, shoes, and other things sometimes would just drop from the top screen without warning and totally ruin the level. In all, the stages look great and there is great variety in the portable console themed levels.
This is a fighter game so no story, no character development, no alternate endings. This game has a ton of characters a bunch of new modes (old and new) and online. This is the type of game that you will want to become proficient with a few characters and then really narrow down on a main favorite. Years from now will you still be playing smash on the 3DS? I would say yes, especially while on the go even with the Wii U version out you can better your skills on the go. The online mode FOR Glory or FOR FUN is something that will get you to come back to play with friends I know I am going to be mostly be playing FOR FUN for the craziness and items, but by myself, I would like to really hone my skills competitively and see what I can do with no items in FOR GLORY. With the added bonus of being able to use the 3DS as an extra controller for the Wii U version with 8 player cooperative play coming and not owning 8 controllers this will be a nice option and it you really get use to the 3DS controls or it’s your introduction to Smash then why not?
As this game released early in Japan I had heard some nightmare cases where people were breaking their analog sticks or the actual circle pads though I had heard this before when Kid Icarus Uprising came out because of the frantic use of the analog stick for these games. Though I had no problems with Kid Icarus and have come to have more faith in my Nintendo products in terms of durability than any other console I have owned (I would bet my SNES still would work first try to this very day). However, I did run into this problem. My circle pad has become defective and acts like it’s been pressed in so when I hold a direction it will actually stay in the direction for a small amount of time before creeping back towards the center. I am the type of person who usually presses pretty hard on the buttons. While I have read that this has happened to other people, it does not seem to be the norm though it is definitely a concern. Luckily, looking into the parts online, I found that what I need can be purchased online to fix this for about $5 so it’s not that bad if you already own a set of mini screw drivers.
Super Smash Brothers 3DS has an amazing amount of content all stuck into one small game cartridge. The amount of playtime you will get out of this weather you are a newcomer to the Smash series or a veteran player you will not be disappointed with the handheld version. While the lack of online pairing with friends in FOR GLORY mode for team battle is disappointment, online play is still much better than it was on the Wii version. If you are low on cash and had to choose between this and the upcoming one on the Wii U from what I have seen I would wait as the graphics and the overall more modes announced for the console look great. With DLC already being announced for character Mewtwo coming out next year for both the console and the handheld version this game will keep you playing. Besides who couldn’t use a little Smash on the go.
Overall Score: 8.5