Super Smash Bros was every Nintendo fan’s childhood dream. Could Link beat Mario? What if you could actually play as a Pikachu? Who the heck is Captain Falcon? It gave us answers to all of these questions and more. In addition to the abundance of fan service, the original Super Smash Bros pioneered the four player fighting game genre, introducing us to a hectic and energized type of battling. The original is still played in tournaments to this day, even though sequels exist. Each entry in the series keeps the overall gameplay the same, adding more content and modernizing it for each new console. But the modern gaming landscape has changed vastly since the days of the Nintendo 64, and mobile gaming has taken off. That’s why it isn’t so surprising that the newest Super Smash Bros, while coming to the Wii U, is also on the 3DS.
The overall gameplay is, again, unchanged. It’s a 2D fighting game that allows for two to four players battling it out in large arenas. The characters and stages all come from Nintendo games, with a few exceptions discussed below. The goal of the game is not to diminish your opponents’ health, but to knock them off the stage. Attacks come in three types: normal, special, and smash. Normal attacks are your typical punches, kicks, sword swings, etc. Smash attacks are variations on these, used by slamming the control pad in one direction along with the attack button for significant launching power. Finally, Special attacks are each character’s signature moves, such as Link’s spin attack or Mario’s fireballs. There are also many items, some specific to Super Smash Bros and others from existing Nintendo franchises. The most valuable, the Smash Ball, activates each character’s Final Smash finishing move.
But chances are, you already knew all of that. So instead, let’s talk about what’s specific to this title. The first thing to note is the character lineup. The developers added quite a few new characters to this game, not all of which you would expect. Of particular note are the third party characters: Sonic the Hedgehog returns, but Solid Snake took his cardboard box and went home. In his place we have Mega Man (the classic version) and Pac-Man. Other new characters include the Wii Fit Trainer, the Villager from Animal Crossing, Little Mac from Punch Out, and Mii fighters just to name a few.
The variety of characters does a great job illustrating Nintendo’s history, from quirky throwbacks like Dog from Duck Hunt to recent stars like the water-type Pokemon Greninja. For the most part, each character has its own style and unique abilities. Though some attacks are similar among them, they remain unique altogether. However, as has been the case since Melee, there are also “clone” characters. These are essentially re-skins of existing characters. They inflate the roster, but they don’t really add a whole lot to the game. Still, the roster isn’t exactly lacking in characters, so the inclusion of some clones isn’t a major problem.
The next major addition to this entry in the series is customization,which appears in a couple of different ways. The first is the aforementioned Mii Fighters. Since they are based on your own Miis, you can of course customize their appearance, unlocking new outfits and hats for them to wear in the game. They’re also customizable mechanically, meaning you can change their stats (through equipment) and even their special moves. Mii Fighters are split into three types: gunners, brawlers, and sword fighters. Their special moves are entirely customizable, with different options for each type.
The mechanical customization extends to the other characters as well, but (with the exception of Palutena) their special move customizations are more variations than brand new moves, and they need to be unlocked. You also can’t change their outfits beyond the typical alternate costumes, but this time more of them are actual alternate costumes instead of just color changes. There could still probably be more, but it does include some highly awaited ones like Fierce Deity Link.
There are a few things to note about the portable nature of the game. Local multiplayer works like a charm, but the lack of download play means each player needs a copy of the game. Online multiplayer works fine as well, though of course it depends on your Internet connection. The Circle Pad is not ideal for the game, and still gives me occasional issues even now.
So it seems there are two questions to consider. First, is this a good portable Smash Bros. game? The answer for that is a big yes. It manages to pack in all of the content from the console versions with minimal problems, and even manages to make all of the chaos fit on the small screen. The other question is, is this a good Smash Bros. game period? The answer is still yes, but it’s a more reserved yes. Portable systems will never be as good for multiplayer as home systems, and the controls are far from top notch.
Still, the game serves its purpose very well, and it’s the best it can be for what it is. The gameplay is still top of the line, and it’s tons of fun to play. The many modes and characters will keep you playing for hours, and the music is compelling enough to make an iPod out of your 3DS. If the idea of a Smash Bros. game on the 3DS appeals to you at all, this is a good bet. And if you don’t have a Wii U, this is a more than serviceable Smash Bros. alternative.
+ Great roster of characters, items, and stages
- Controls and multiplayer not as good as on home consoles