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E3 2014: Super Smash Bros (3DS/Wii U) Hands-On

Nintendo’s big holiday game is without a doubt Super Smash Bros. for both the Wii U and 3DS. Big events have been going on throughout E3 this week from Tuesday’s Invitational, which was a great success and being able to play both versions at select Best Buys. I personally went to a Best Buy for their “Smash-Fest” and wasn’t a fan of the format and execution of the event. Waiting five hours yesterday because the line was already long around lunch time just to play four minutes of Smash does make seem it wasn’t worth it. Only one Wii U setup and four 3DS setups was all that Best Buy had, which was both disappointing and not surprising. With all that said, I made the most of my time with both versions and no shock, it is still Smash Bros. and a lot of fun.

If you have been following all the news for Smash since it’s initial announcement last year, the 3DS and Wii U versions will have the same characters, but different modes and stages. Even in the E3 build which the Best Buys have, the playable roster was a bit different on both versions. I only played one normal match as Mega Man on the 3DS version against the CPU and was able to practice up a bit while the match loads following a similar feature to other fighting games. Since it is the franchise’s first time on the handheld, the main screen is the gameplay while the bottom screen is the HUD with the characters’ percentages. It may look weird at first looking down to check on your and opponents’ percentages, but I’m sure those playing on 3DS will get used to it over time and at least the Wii U version didn't implement the same thing because the hardcore fans wouldn't be pleased with that design decision.
The same weirdness can also be said for the 3DS version’s controls. After being used so much to the analog controls and arcade sticks for similar games, using the 3DS’ circle pad for character movement is awkward at first. I wished the d-pad can be used for movement as well, but that wasn't in the build. Experiencing the chaos of Smash matches on a smaller screen is also a matter of adjusting to it over time. Other than that, it controls just like any other Smash game and still had a blast figuring out Mega Man in the short match I had in a losing effort against the CPU. Mega Man’s normals and specials are straight out from his classic games as Nintendo and Bandai Namco did a great job bringing him back to his glory days unlike some other company. I hope you saw this moment Capcom!

While the 3DS version coming out on October 3rd was nice to play for a bit, the real deal is of course the Wii U version. Pro Controllers were used at Best Buys while the new GameCube controllers were at the E3 show floor. Being a Wii U owner since launch, it was actually my first time using a Pro Controller believe it or not and it actually felt fine. Controls were just as I remembered back in previous games, but I’m sure the purists and tournament level players are gonna roll with the GameCube controllers now that the adapter is coming out alongside the game.
During my Wii U match against three other human players, I used Little Mac and boy he is pretty fun to play as in Super Smash Bros. It is about time the Punch-Out boxer makes a big splash in a Smash game and he’s faster than I thought he would play. Of course, he is quick just as he was in the Punch-Out games, but his movement definitely surprised me. If you haven’t seen him in action before, Mac is more known for dealing huge damage up close and on the ground while his air attacks are not up his alley. His recovery uppercut move (Up+B) is not as good as other characters, but his other specials and normals deal big damage when you’re on a roll taking out opponents. Other than this armor charge punch special (neutral B), Little Mac has a K.O. meter building up by hitting your foes. Once it is full, he can instant kill any character at a mid to high percentage and it is very satisfying hitting opponents it. Despite the two minute time limit on both versions at Best Buy, I won my Wii U match, which was cool considering the long wait.

While I wasn't a fan of the format Best Buy went with their event yesterday and wished I played more, Super Smash Bros. on both Wii U and 3DS are gonna be worth the long wait. I’m not some crazy expert like the tournament level crowd, but those who weren't thrilled how Brawl turned out will indeed be happy how these iterations are shaping so far. It is still crazy that specific crowd is already calling which characters are the best even though it is not the final game.
The 3DS version will take some time for players to adjust with the circle pad and the dual screens, but those will be taking the head start before the Wii U version, there is enough content to keep them busy. I’m already loving the new characters in the new games so far, especially Mega Man and Little Mac. For those that missed out yesterday on trying out the games at selectable Best Buys, Saturday is your last chance. Super Smash Bros. comes out October 3rd for the 3DS and this holiday for the Wii U.  


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