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Super Smash Bros. is such a prestigious fighter because it has fans from many different game universes. Fighters, stages and trophies represent some of the biggest games out there: Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, Metroid and many more; and each one have been tailored with great care and love. So good, even the third-party characters like Sonic, Mega Man and Pac-Man are being treated with arguably better care than their owners. Now with a newer generation of hardware on shelves, series director Masahiro Sakurai and Nintendo decided to make two installments, one naturally for Wii U, and for the first time on handheld with Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. So does the handheld offer a proper experience for the fighter, or should we wait for the game on Wii U?
Not only do you get to play as iconic characters, the most approachable reason Super Smash Bros. is loved by many is due to the fact all characters have the same moveset. So the catch is to not learn complex combos, but to get used to a character that resonates with you the most. Good thing is that Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (and its upcoming Wii U counterpart) broke a series record for the amount of playable characters: 49.
That number gets higher when you incorporate alternate outfits like Robin or Wii Fit Trainer’s Male/Female forms and an unlockable character’s seven other forms. Also for the first time you can play as a Mii and they have not only three different fighting varieties, but also custom movesets. In fact, all characters can have custom movesets that you can fool around with. So you could, for instance, make Link’s arrows can KO a guy in a couple shots, but will get KO’d if he gets touched since they decreased his defense. It adds to the flavor of Smash, but don’t expect to use them in tourneys.
Though the roster is as bigger than ever, their moves could have been implemented better. Back in the original Super Smash Bros. on N64 or it’s GameCube sequel Melee, the roster’s moves were pretty diverse and heavily inspired by their latest games, but in “Smash 4” (and a lesser extent Brawl) the movesets (and some characters) have been getting lazier and lazier implemented. Now many characters have the same counter Marth has had since Melee, as if the devs thought that the Down+B maneuver couldn’t or shouldn’t be spiced up a bit. However, some characters do have some notable gimmicks, like Shulk’s Monado powers or Rosalina’s Luma, and they work fairly well if you can (heavily) practice how they work. My favorite new character is Fire Emblem Awakening’s Robin, whose moves use up that particular sword or tome’s HP until it breaks, a la Fire Emblem. May sound like a detriment, but it is fun and makes you diversify especially since spamming moves now make them weaker faster in Smash 4.
Though bringing classic Smash stuff has become a thing for the series, the 3DS game seems to reuse a bunch of assets from the prior ones. Not counting staple stages Final Destination and Battlefield, eight of the remaining thirty-two stages are brought over from Melee/Brawl. Also unlike Brawl, which had an extensive array of new song arrangements, this one has a ton of recycled songs, both from their original games as well as their Melee/Brawl arrangements. Granted they also reused songs from the source game, but they weren’t nearly the percentage that’s reused here. The music also seems to be very compressed so it could fit onto a 2GB 3DS cart, so don’t expect the quality to match the songs in their original games, even if the original song was from a 3DS game like Fire Emblem Awakening or Pokémon X/Y.
Like other Super Smash Bros. games, this version has other modes besides fighting. Home Run, All-Star, Classic and Multi-Man Melee return and we also get the Angry Birds-inspired Target Blast, the useless StreetPass game StreetSmash and the addicting Trophy Rush. These are addicting since they can unlock custom moves, parts and of course trophies. Though it’ll be the only things you play since the game lacks a campaign, and it wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t mess up some legacy modes like the lame redone All-Star Mode which groups characters together in an easy fight.
One big new mode to the game is Smash Run. Created from the best part of Kirby Air Ride, City Trial, players explore a dungeon collecting power-ups while avoiding obstacles in order to then complete in a random event with said power-ups. These events can range from a standard brawl to a gimmicky one to a race, either horizontally or vertically. The main issue here is that the dungeon is too vast and slow-paced that you don’t feel fulfilled when exploring. Worse off is when you get KO’d you spawn to a random spot which can either be drained already of resources or too far to get back to your stuff. When playing a character who isn’t fast or agile in the air, like Bowser or Peach, you’re already staring off with a vast disadvantage.
The controls take some getting used to, especially if you’ve been playing Super Smash Bros. with GameCube controllers for the last thirteen years. It is not impossible to get used to (you can finagle with the button layout if you’d like), but one thing that has cost me tons of stocks was the Slide Pad. I know Smash was born from analog sticks, but the 3DS’ Slide Pad is just not a great choice and to not have D-Pad support, which every other fighter on the system does, is a real sore. The main issue, like any other fighter, is that the Slide Pad may not recognize a horizontal control to a vertical one, and in Smash it became an issue mainly in air when you’re preforming moves wile aiming your character’s landing. This lack of a D-Pad issue became especially true personally after a brutal fight where I lost the rubber cap to my slide pad.
The biggest drawback is not only the fact that the handheld is your only controller, so if something happens, it requires a whole new system (and fighting game fans know about rebuying accessories), the game’s scale in fights causes a pretty big issue: the camera with such a small screen. Smash can get very zoomed out when in a big four-player brawl, but the screen and its resolution can’t support the action and becomes too small and pixelated when zoomed out. Though one-on-one matches? Awesome.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS performs as many technical marvels as it creates opportunities. Like any quality fighter, the game runs in a smooth 60 frames per second, even with the 3D on; and the game is a decent looker. It’s online and local multiplayer is on par with other games on the system (though no voice support), though there can still be a hiccup here and there. Sadly the game sports some un-Nintendo load times, as did Brawl, and I have experienced some crashing issues even after a day one update.
Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS is a excellent fighter, that’s why I haven’t really mentioned any Nintendo-related stuff since the beginning, because the review is less a celebration of Nintendo like some think the game is, and was discussed as what the game should be: a technical fighter like Street Fighter or Tekken. We’ve learned since the launch of the 3DS that the system can deliver a quality fighter with games like Super Street Fighter 4 3D Edition and Dead or Alive Dimensions. The review does sound negative in tone, but the thing to take aways is that Smash’s meat and potatoes feels no different on 3DS, bringing an excellent fighting experience, but the features just feel trimmed or awkwardly implemented, and the overall experience can’t replicate the wonderment of Smash on a console. I would love to say this would be a game I could play for years on end, but those with Wii U consoles will most likely switch over once it releases and pop this one only when away from the house.