Daan’s Review: Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS

  • Daan Koopman
  • Posted by:
  • September 26, 201426/09/14
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Daan Koopman

A new Super Smash Bros. always signifies an important time for the Nintendo fan. The love for Nintendo’s products shines through here, and that’s thanks to a variety of things. The playable characters, stages, trophies and music are all part of what makes this experience so special, and it comes together wonderfully under the vision of Masahiro Sakurai.

This man, however, went above and beyond this time. He’s been hard at work on not only an upcoming Wii U version, but also the series’ first-ever release on a handheld system. So does the Nintendo 3DS version, at the end of the long development cycle, actually delight the player? The answer to that question is yes – and I’ll tell you exactly why.

The first point of importance with Smash Bros. is balance, and the Nintendo 3DS version delivers in a way that I’m happy with. Super Smash Bros. Melee was where the series’ gameplay balance came close to perfection, and Smash 4 manages to be extremely close in that direction. In comparison to Brawl on the Wii, the Nintendo 3DS game feels faster and sharper. The matches continue to be exciting again and again, and some design quirks have been changed for the better. This, in turn, makes it exciting for both casuals and the really hardcore players out there. Most will be delighted with the feel of the game and will get a ton of mileage out of it. Everyone will be able to jump in, have fun and quickly grasp it after a match or two.

Many, many months ago I questioned how the game would control and I struggled a bit with it when I first tried it. You’ll need to learn some scratch – but with the demo now in people’s hands, that shouldn’t be too big of an issue. Those skills will transfer to the full game pretty easily, which simply leaves learning the character’s movesets.  If you still struggle after a while, you can change up some elements in the options. You’ll be able to change up the button layout and remove the option to jump with the Circle Pad entirely.

Talking about the characters, I love the variety that is on display in this Smash game. One character I quickly came to appreciate is Greninja. He’s a quick ninja frog who uses his athletic moves and water attacks to gain terrain over his opponents. Another one who’s speedy is Zero Suit Samus, who has her stun gun and a whip at the ready for the competition. I liked using her to take a quick lead into the battle – but she’s somewhat too rapid at full capacity. This is what I like about Smash Bros. to begin with. Every character has a noticeable flaw, and turning that into your advantage is of most critical importance. A good example of this is Little Mac, who is powerful on the ground but not very in useful while in mid-air.

Once you’ve chosen your favorite, it’s time to hit the battlefield and there are a variety of options here as well. As this is Nintendo 3DS version, many of the stages that you’ll encounter are based on handheld games. They still manage to pack quite a punch and they reference some rather cool titles. Dream Land, for example, is an arena based on the Game Boy Kirby titles and sees you strolling through black and white environments. Another nifty one was Tortimer Island, where you’re on the beaches of the tropical island from Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Under any other circumstance this wouldn’t matter for the hardcore player, but in the new game, every stage has a Final Destination version. This means you can still see fun sights and sounds, while sticking to your way of playing the game.

Players will be able to use their skills not only solo or locally, but also online with random strangers and friends. In my experiences with the European version, it worked mostly well, except for the occasional lag. A couple of matches in and it can potentially still be fierce, but as I went and spent an entire evening with it, I barely ran into many problems. What I do kind of miss is more options against random players. You are free to change up the experience as you see fit with the people you know, going as far as just straight up playing 1-vs-1 matches with items on. With random, you have to always play with four people in the For Fun mode and that’s a bit of a bummer.

Next to the usual fighting, there’s also an array of options to deeply dive into. I found myself deeply interested in the single player portion of it. While it doesn’t go too deep, I had fun challenging myself in Classic and All-Star modes. After a couple of times playing through it, you’ll be mostly doing it to get trophies of every character and that’s quite a time sink. For quicker fun, I gladly went into the Stadium Games. While Target Blast and the Home-Run Contest are nothing more than diversions, I trained myself endlessly by playing Multi-Man Smash. Some elements of it can be truly brutal and it never stops being novel to punch some Miis of your friends into space. Classic and modes like it could have been bigger in scope admittingly, but they are well enough tailored for on the go. The final thing that I loved to do was toying around with the trophies. There are a ton of them and, again, they mostly reference handheld titles. In the selection, you’ll be able to find some true brilliance. Games like Nintendo Pocket Football Club, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Fire Emblem: Awakening and Super Mario 3D Land pass you by for a true feast of everything Nintendo.

One more mode that is fully tailored is Smash Run. Similar to Kirby Air Ride, you’ll have to collect power-ups and they each have various functions. They can raise your Speed, Jump, Attack, Special, Arms and Defense and collecting is crucial to win the fight in the second half. To collect these powers, you’ll have to fight enemies from various gaming universes and destroy them to get the things you need. Along the way you can step into various portals, which will bring you to special challenges and these can bring you some mighty fine rewards. There are also treasure chests all over and these grant you access to gold, custom moves, trophies and so much more great goodies. After the five minutes of field play expire, you will duke it out under special conditions and the winner of it can be crowned the true victor. I found myself going to this mode and even just playing it against CPU opponents. Naturally, the scope of the experience would have been so much greater if playing against online friends was possible. Sadly, this is not the case.

When I first saw Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. The controls are fine, it looks great and the various options are fun to toy around with. While a few modes could have been bigger in scope, it is endlessly surprising how well balanced it all feels. That makes the characters and playing with them the more stand-out experience and I had a ton of fun with what was on display here. From oddballs like the Wii Fit Trainer to classics like Donkey Kong, players will be soon be able to find their favorites. Those favs can be used fully in the game’s local and online multiplayer functions. There will be some lag on that information highway, but when the game gets on with it, there are some great times to be had with friends. That is where Smash 4 truly shines through.


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