Super Smash Bros. 3DS - Review
It's somewhat surprising that it's taken this long for Nintendo to release a Super Smash Bros. game for one of their handheld consoles. Given the success of the series, both among players as well as financially, you'd have thought that porting the series to a portable games machine would have been a no-brainer.
Well, at long last, it's finally happened. It says something about Nintendo's confidence in the 3DS that they saw fit to release it before the Wii U version. From a technical perspective, Smash Bros. is certainly impressive, retaining pretty much everything that the series is known for and simply shrinking it onto a smaller screen.
The rest is, well, classic Nintendo. There's nothing especially new about Super Smash Bros. As with most of Nintendo's franchises it doesn't take huge risks; cherry-picking what has worked best for the series so far and simply mixing it all together.
From a gameplay stand-point this is somewhat more frenetic than the previous instalment in the series. Even as a casual fan of the series, things are noticeably more aggressive this time around, with players encouraged to go on the offensive more, rather than sit back and simply throw out projectiles. Stages will constantly warp and shift as fights continue, whether that's Zekrom blasting apart a Pokémon stadium, or having the entire arena sporadically fill up with lava.
Overall, the faster pace is a smart decision. Sure, it makes fights slightly less skill-based, and can lead to some deaths out of nowhere, but Super Smash Bros. is at its best when four players are revelling in its chaos.
That's not to say that the game is a complete button-masher. The roster of fighters provides a good mix of different fighting types. There's your straight up average guys that do a bit of everything; such as Mario, Luigi and Link. Heavier types, such as Bowser and Charizard. Newcomers, such as Mega Man and Little Mac help keep things fresh as well. Little Mac in particular is an interesting addition. He's fairly beginner-friendly but at the same time has zero projectile attacks, given that he's a boxer, instead relying on staying up in the opponent's face as much as possible.
While Super Smash Bros. undoubtedly remains a casual brawler, rather than a more serious fighting game, Nintendo do a solid job giving each character creative nuances, that change their fighting strategies. Each fighter comes with a fairly broad move-set; with different attacks carried out with the A and B buttons along with a movement gesture, with grapples relegated to the L and R shoulder buttons on the 3DS.
Likewise, there's a broad mix of different game modes to keep players occupied. There's standard fights, that can be tweaked however you want. The closest the game gets to an actual "story" mode is a standard arcade style mode that has you fighting through several rounds before finally taking on the infamous Master Hand. It's a simple but decent enough game mode, backed up with alternative version that has you fighting waves of different Smash Bros. fighters, with one death being an instant game over.
Some hit-and-miss mini games round out the single player options and overall, this is Super Smash Bros. at its weakest. There's different things to do but the whole experience can feel shallow and repetitive when playing alone, despite the actual fighting being somewhat deeper than it might initially appear. Super Smash Bros.' best moments come when you're playing with friends; laughing at each other's mistakes and cheering on miraculous comebacks. Playing alongside the A.I. just doesn't compare.
And this is going to be the key question. Do you have enough friends that also have the game on 3DS? If so, great! The game allows you to easily hook up with other nearby players through Wi-Fi. If not...well, you can play with strangers online, but at that point you might as well be playing the Wii U version.
The other major problem that this version of Super Smash Bros. faces is one of comfort. Whilst it's certainly impressive that Nintendo have condensed the series onto the small screen, it can be something of a pain (literally) to play for longer sessions. This has already been an issue for Kid Icarus: Uprising and its infamous control scheme, and whilst Super Smash Bros. doesn't quite reach that level of discomfort, it does leave its toll on your hands.
Overall, Super Smash Bros. is a solid instalment to the series, if incredibly predictable. It does exactly what you'd expect and nothing more, other than showing that, yes, the series can work on a much smaller console. It certainly banks heavily on its nostalgia-factor and fan service; strip away Link, Mario, Pikachu and the gang and swap them for a bunch of random fighters and the game looks nowhere near as appealing. Still, as a game it sums up Nintendo rather well; it's bright, bold, colourful and best enjoyed with a host of other people.
Perhaps the release of Super Smash Bros. on the 3DS and Wii U is for two different kinds of players. If you value the 3DS' portability, and have plenty of 3DS-owning friends, then this is undoubtedly the version to pick up. If you value online play and a wide-screen TV, not to mention a much lower risk of developing Repetitive Strain Injury, then go for the Wii U version when it's released.
Super Smash Bros. for 3DS was released on October 3rd.
A Wii U version is planned for release in North America on November 21st, and in Europe on December 5th.
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