It’s been a year of hotly anticipated games for me and any other early adopters out there. Titanfall, Infamous, Destiny, Bayonetta, Sunset Overdrive, and more all promised to help define the early part of this console generation and help folks like me justify owning these silly consoles in what looks to be the era of the PC. But no game, not even the new Dragon Age, has me as excited as the new Super Smash Bros.. For my friends and I, this series is just the best for party-time fun, and that new version looks like it might be the best yet.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will be out a week from now, less than two months from the release of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, a game that was delayed from the summer to early October. It is the series’ first mobile entry, the only one (aside from the first) that you can’t play with a GameCube controller, and the first one that was almost entirely a singleplayer experience for me. And if you somehow didn’t know, Smash is a lot more fun with friends.
Sure, there absolutely is online multiplayer, which I commend Nintendo for trying. It’s a smartly designed mode – I especially like that the separated this game’s equivalent of ranked and free play into the hardcore “For Glory” mode and the item and gimicky-friendly “For Fun” mode. But in my experience online play so terribly laggy I can’t even enjoy it. The modern Nintendo is starting to understand how important the Internet is to games, even delivering excellent support in the last Pokemon and Mario Kart titles, but Smash Bros. just does not seem up to snuff.
So you’re left with singleplayer. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS actually has a bunch of modes, but the goofy, fan-servicey Subspace Emissary is gone from this version. Instead there’s this weird rush mode where you and other players run around a wide open dungeon collecting powerups for a mystery challenge battle. I don’t like it. Also, there’s a straightforward six stage arcade mode, various gimmick challenge battles to beat, the homerun contest, and a new version of break the targets that’s pretty much Angry Birds. Nothing super exciting.
But! Those modes are redeemed somewhat by the addition of character customization. One of the new fighters in this game is your Mii character, and you can collect a bunch of fun accessories to dress them in. You can also collect various items that give stat boosts to any character, as well as alternate versions of their special moves, meaning you can customize your Bowser to be faster but weaker or Captain Falcon to have a stronger defense. I actually really don’t like this aspect of the game, but can easily imagine some people falling in love with it.
What I do love is the game’s massive roster, the character select screen completely fills the whole top screen and is rather daunting to look at. Most of your favorite characters are back, although I’m going to miss Snake quite a bit. There are also a bunch of newcomers, many of whom bring fun new play styles: Little Mac can put a serious hurt on, but has no hops, Duck Hunt Duo are master trolls, and the likes of Wii Fit Trainer, Pac Man and The Villager (from Animal Crossing) are surprisingly good and real funny.
And just having that knowledge makes Super Smash Bros. for 3DS feel like an OK purchase. If I think about the game as an extended, portable demo of the Wii U version, I’m actually pretty happy with it. It’s given me a chance to start figuring out exactly which characters I like to play and what to expect out of the bigger, better version. Controls are customizable, the game looks good enough and runs at a smooth 60fps, so it’s not like it’s a compromised experience except for the online. It’s solid. Is it something I would recommend most people buy once the other version’s out? Not unless you’re going to be around other people with 3DSs and copies of the game. These games are meant to be played with friends. That’s why it’s “Super Smash Bros.” not “Super Smash Man.”