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Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Review

"Is the Wii U version the definitive one to settle it in Smash?"

After having it’s handheld debut on the 3DS last month, Super Smash Bros. is finally out on the Wii U. Ever since the two versions were announced, it was pretty telling that the Wii U version is the main event despite the 3DS version being pretty solid. Now on a HD console that can package way more than the handheld, the amount of content on Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U is absurd, in a good way of course. The Wii U exclusive modes and stages are good enough to be the version to get despite some of them being hit and miss, but obviously playing it with a proper console controller, especially the GameCube controller making a comeback, it is definitely a blast to play alone and up to eight players.



One of the big attractions for this new Smash is the ability to play with up to eight players. Nearly every controller the Wii U has can be used in this game from the Wiimote Plus and it’s various attachments (Nunchuk, Classic Controller Pro), the Gamepad, Wii U Pro Controller, and the GameCube controller for those will play it more seriously. The GameCube controllers do require a new adapter that is rare to find on it’s own due to Nintendo underestimating how much demand was needed for it. Nintendo even released a new GameCube controller with Super Smash Bros. in mind and you were luckily able to get a bundle with the game, controller and adapter at launch, then you’re ready to go whenever you have friends over. The 3DS can be also used as a controller as well as long as you have the 3DS version.

I played mostly with the Gamepad and it feels fine even though holding the L, R, A & + buttons to end a game early requires me to have my fingers positioned unconventionally due to how long the Gamepad is as a controller. Then there’s off-TV play as with most Wii U games and it is great to have something on the background while grinding out matches on the Gamepad’s touch screen. Fortunately you can also change controls as I’m not a fan of throw being on the triggers while shield (blocking) is on the L and R buttons, so I decided to switch them up. What is a pain is that you always have to use your name that you has your changed controls whenever you start a new fight or mode because if you forget, you have to deal with the default controls, which are still good, but it would be nice to have an option to have your control setup be saved without needing to use a name tag.



As far as the actual eight player Smash battles are concerned, they’re exactly what you think. They are pretty chaotic and most of the time you’ll be wandering if you’re at in the action. At the same time, it is still pretty fun because of the chaos. Free for all, team and special smash battles can be played with this many people and definitely worth it if you managed to get eight humans in one room playing. Even eight GameCube controllers can be used requiring two adapters. Eight player Smashes are not playable online and I personally don’t mind that because Smash to many is still four players max and one on one battles with no items in the tournament scene. However, it is still nice that Nintendo implemented this in Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U.

The roster as the same of the 3DS version, but with more of the characters that had to be unlocked on the 3DS are available to play out of the gate on the Wii U version. Those characters are Ness, Jigglypuff, Bowser Jr., and Ganondorf. The other characters that have to be unlocked have to be done in different ways on the Wii U and you pretty much know who they are if you’ve been following the game or played it on 3DS. The staples such as Mario, Link, Samus, Donkey Kong and Pikachu are still here in the new Smash but I’m having more fun with the new characters making their debut in this game. Punch-Out’s Little Mac, Xenoblade’s Shulk, the Wii Fit Trainer, Animal Crossing’s Villager are my personal standouts. Plus it is cool to see Mega Man and Pac-Man join the battle as well, especially Mega Man because certainly Nintendo and Namco did a better job bringing him back to a fighting game compared to the company that created him as of late. Then there’s the various fighting styles you can have your Mii use too, but I don’t think fans are not that excited to play as their Miis compared to the actual cast.

The core gameplay is still Super Smash Bros. at it’s finest whether with items or not. The pacing is a bit better than Brawl, but I’m sure the Melee purists would of wanted it to have Melee’s speed. There’s also little mechanics that Namco snuck into Smash as a “rage” mechanic. Similar to Tekken and at higher percentages, you’ll see your character glow a bit and deal a bit more damage against opponents while at risk of being hit and knocked off stage. The special move variety in some of the new characters is a bit lacking however with many of them having counter-like moves. I just wish some of those moves are something else, but characters like Little Mac, Lucario and Greninja having counter moves still make sense at the same time.



The 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. had an exclusive mode with Smash Run. Instead of Smash Run, the Wii U version has Smash Tour, which is basically Mario Party + Super Smash Bros. Four Miis (you can play alone with three CPUs) roll dice on a Mario Party-esque board to gather up stats and fighters for 15-25 turns. The stats and fighters you have at the end of the turns will be used for one final battle to determine the winner. Miis can bump into each other on the board to start fights that have random stipulations you’ll see in a Special Smash battle with everyone involved, but the winner of the two takes their fighter. Items can be used during roll play and at the start of fights as well. Smash Tour may seem complicated when you play it for the first time, but you’ll get the hang of it as the game progresses. However, I do prefer Smash Run being a homage of sorts to Melee’s Adventure mode than this Wii U exclusive Smash Tour mode.

The absurd moment of modes keep on going for this new Smash. Classic mode is a bit different on the Wii compared to the 3DS, instead of navigating through multiple paths, the Wii U version’s classic mode lets you choose the fights on a chess-like board and then you eventually face a horde of Mii fighters and then a final clash with Master/Crazy Hand or Master Core depending on intensity rating. The higher the intensity rating you start with, the harder the battles are. Giving players more choice in this classic mode is another noteworthy change to Smash. All-Star mode also went a minor change from the 3DS to Wii U with the order of fighters you face are reversed. In other words, you start fighting the newer characters that debuted in their respective games than the likes of Mario, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, etc. These modes can also be played with two players as well and useful to collect trophies faster with the cast.



Event mode is also back from Melee and Brawl with specific challenges for certain characters. Examples range from Mario being the referee to settle the score against a wireframe Little Mac while defending another Mac that is at a high percentage and using Lucario’s aura abilities against invisible opponents. The stadium with multi-man Smash battles, Target Blast, which is now Nintendo’s take on Angry Birds, and Home Run Contest return as well from past games and the 3DS version. There’s also Trophy Rush, another mini-game to gain a bunch of gold and trophies. All of these can be played with two players just like Classic and All-Star. Stage builder is also there again with Gamepad functionality using the stylus, but not something I would spend lots of time on. Super Smash Bros.’ single player/co-op content is no stranger to having replay value that will last weeks and even months as this Wii U iteration is no different.

Also new to the Wii U version are Master Orders and Crazy Orders. These modes require you betting gold, the game’s in-game currency, to gain more equipment and items for custom characters, custom moves (same as the 3DS version) and trophies. Crazy Orders is the more interesting of the two as you can use a pass to bypass spending 5000 gold. You spend ten minutes on various fights gaining unlockable items can be lost if you die or run out of time. You can as long as you can before facing Crazy Hand to potentially cash out your prizes. The more percentage you’re at for this fight starts you with more HP. Just like Smash Tour, it is a decent diversion from the series’ staples, but it feels like a miss personally.



Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is also the premier launch game for Nintendo’s amiibos. Thirteen amiibos are available now with more coming in the next months. In Smash, they can be used to be customizable AI fighters. These fighters are supposedly cater to your habits and tendencies, but that is not exactly the case in my experience with my Pikachu amiibo. Pikachu will do it’s own thing for the most part but still able to hold up well against opposition especially at higher levels. You can level them up to 50 letting them battle against opponents and feed them equipment to improve it’s stats. Some equippable items are special abilities such as regenerating health, more damage at 0%, etc. Custom moves can also be assigned to these amiibos along with existing characters (also transfer over from the 3DS version). It is interesting to mess around with this feature for a bit, but this could’ve been better honestly. Who knows if I’ll keep doing this along with buying more amiibos. Then again, my collective side of my personality would say otherwise.

The online modes in the Wii U version are similar to the 3DS one with the For Fun & For Glory modes. Netcode-wise, it is better than it was in Brawl, but you’ll still run into a laggy match here and there. The majority of the matches though on both modes have been running pretty smooth. There’s also the option for host online tournaments along with participate in the Conquest battles Nintendo comes up with such as the Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire one in honor of the new Pokemon games being released. Smash Wii U’s online aspects are great, but Mario Kart 8 to me still remains as the better Wii U game based on online performance.



The jump to HD has been great to not just some of Nintendo’s big games like Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Mario Kart 8, but also Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U. The new Smash looks beautiful especially the Wii U exclusive stages. The Pyrosphere from Metroid: Other M that also features Ridley, the Wily Castle from Mega Man 2 featuring the infamous Yellow Devil, the Mario Galaxy stage and even a stage from the upcoming Yoshi’s Wolly World are some of my favorites. Stages with homages to Wrecking Crew and Pac-Land (yes Pac-Land) are also nice to see as well. The soundtrack to no surprise is also enormous with hundreds of songs from past and even recent Nintendo games that can be customized in terms of how frequent it plays on the stages in the My Music menu.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is another superb entry for the franchise with the fun roster of new characters to play as, the absurd amount of modes the game offers, great online play and of course to play with eight players. Some of the new modes are not hits such as Smash Tour and Master/Crazy Orders, but the series staples are still fine on HD. Sure, there’s no Subspace Emissary-like story mode, but I’m personally okay with it considering how much of a disappointment it was in Brawl. The new Smash is also a good reason to bring back those GameCube controllers you kept for over a decade assuming you can find the adapter at retailers. The amiibo features are interesting ideas, but they could’ve been better if they actually lived up to their potential. It is too early to say how it will fare in the competitive scene especially with the Melee purists still wanting to play more Melee, but I hope these fans give it a fair shot. For everyone else, Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U is a no brainer to have for any Nintendo fan especially for local gatherings to have eight player battles assuming you have enough controllers for it.

Rating
9.0
Pros
  • Absurd amount of content and modes that will keep players busy for weeks
  • New characters are worthy additions to the roster and fun to play as
  • Online performance is better than Brawl
  • Eight player Smash battles are chaotic in a good way
  • Core gameplay still Smash at it's finest
  • Good reason to bring back GameCube controllers assuming you have the adapter
Cons
  • Changed controls should apply to the whole game than relying to select a name tag for every mode
  • Special move variety some of the new characters is a bit lacking (too many counter moves)
  • Wii U exclusive modes like Smash Tour & Master/Crazy Orders could of been better
  • Amiibo feature doesn't live up to it's full potential

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