Real Talk By: Ms. Throwback
If you haven’t stepped into the Smash Bros. scene, now might be the time. Nintendo’s fourth installment has released for the 3DS and the fifth installment releases for the Wii U in just over a month. The two of them have created a firestorm of news in their wake, and in 1999, the year of the original games release, we could never have imagined the amount of frenzied gamers that would swarm to pick up a duel release of this now famous fighting title. Popularity however, doesn’t always mean quality titles. How does the first handheld version of this now epic franchise hold up?
Nintendo has chosen to stick with the classic fighting style that has been with the title for years, and with good reason. It’s a formula that works. Up to four players gather on various stages using all manner of fighting styles, items, smash attacks, and defensive measures to counter the other players and launch them off the stage. A percentage number shows the damage you are dealt, the more damage, the more easily you are launched off the stage. At the end of each round kill strikes and falling off the stage are added up to see which players fared best, which places them in ranked order from first to fourth. It’s pretty straight forward as far as fighting games go and that’s what’s always made it great.
There are several modes to play, including single player campaign but everyone’s heart lies with the online competition. Many people haven’t realized the ease of the online mode for this game, and I think it should be noted. Up until this point Smash Bros. has destroyed the competition when it comes to tournament play. It is one of the most popular titles in this arena and it’s always seemed like the perfect fit for online play in a high-tech world. Many of us who have seen the gaming world evolve however, know that Nintendo isn’t quick on its feet when it comes to putting games online, and the Wii version of competitive online play was, well to say it lightly, disappointing. I was happy to see for the first time in the series, I put the game in, and simply, played online. There was no hold up, no extra steps, and no long press comments from Nintendo on the matter. It just worked, and it worked well.
Being the first Smash Bros. title to arrive on a handheld device, most of the questions surrounding how good it would be were based on whether the controls would work well on such a small-scale. The first thing I noticed was that I was trying to play certain moves with the L and R triggers that weren’t automatically set into the game. Thankfully Nintendo created customization controls allowing me to switch the triggers to the “grab” and “shield” moves, creating a much smoother feel than my first few rounds. Unfortunately it didn’t solve the problem completely because I still have the original 3DS. Smash Bros. is such a precise fighting game that it often requires the player to make on the spot choices which involve quick flicks of the analog stick, or in this case, the sad, flat piece of rubber that is the control stick for the original 3DS. I’ve never had a problem with the circle pad before this title, but honestly, it feels like I’m just going to break it off half the time. I have a feeling this is something that might not be such a problem depending on which version of the handheld you have.
The thing about slamming the control stick on the 3DS is that I immediately have to back it up with a solution statement. I usually wouldn’t even bother going that far, but the pros of Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS are so great that it’s worth people going out of their way to figure out how to mend this problem. Gamers have come to a few solutions for this, which I have yet to try. Several online outlets offer silicon and rubber non-slip grip covers or stickers for the control pad. They are also looking into mods that allow for the classic Gamecube controller to be used.
The visuals for the game are quite impressive. Nintendo went with what’s called stereoscopic 3D visuals. This is basically a way to use the handheld to its highest graphical capabilities by creating perceived depth. There is also the option of a bold cell shaded outline around the characters. I leave this on while playing because it allows me to see the tiny characters more clearly. This is one of those small additions that we may never have noticed if it wasn’t there, but really makes all the difference. It helps differentiate the characters from the chaos on-screen. Until this time I’ve also not upgraded my handheld to the XL version. I never really saw the need to, even though it has truly been a want of mine for some time. With the precise controls, continual on-screen movement, and large-scale stages, the XL 3DS is something that this game could definitely benefit from. If you haven’t picked up a 3DS until the launch of the title, do yourself a favor and get the XL version.
This title boasts an impressive 49 characters, 15 of which are completely new, and all of which are balanced and interesting in their fighting styles. Two of my most favorite new characters are Wii Fit Trainer and Little Mac. As soon as I first used Little Mac I knew he would be one of my new favorites, he’s quick on his ground attacks, and honestly, his animations are a blast to watch. Some of the gaming community has stated that he isn’t balanced, and that his fighting tactics overpower the game. I beg to differ. He is a challenging competitor, his strength is found staying close to the ground, but he isn’t all-powerful. There are plenty of times I’ve lost using him and I find the challenge of others that play him online inviting. Wii Fit Trainer is funny to look at, but once you play her, she is a blast. She’s hilarious to watch, and her stiff movements are completely irritating and off-putting to others, which is even more fun. Wii Fit trainer can be played as a male or female version. Customization of existing characters and Mii’s is also a new and welcome addition. These characters can be traded between the 3DS and the Wii U version, once it releases, eliminating the need to unlock abilities and rebuild characters once the fifth game in the series launches.
A lot of times when the same game is released on a handheld console, and a home console, it spells trouble for the title right out of the gate. It means the company is dumbing down the handheld version for the more souped up home console. This is anything but the case with Super Smash Bros. 3DS. This is the full Smash Bros. experience with the ease of online gaming and the convenience of portability. It takes into consideration that in just over a month you may have two versions of the same title and allows for full crossover of the most important characters and items. It shows the world that in-depth fighting titles are a handheld specialty and it doesn’t hold back with the content and visuals. While the controls can be slightly frustrating due to the 3DS’s inadequate control pad, it’s not a completely broken situation without a workable solution. This is clearly a title that has Nintendo’s heart and best designers poured into it, and it’s a beautiful example of the Smash Bros. name.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS Gets
4.5 Out of Five
+Visuals and sound
+49 characters and endless items
+Well balanced and versatile fighting styles
+Ease of online play
+Customize control schemes and characters
-Original 3DS presents control stick issues