Of all the highly anticipated titles this year, Super Smash Bros. has got to be somewhere near the top of the list. For the uninitiated, it’s a sprawling beat-em-up featuring a host of Nintendo’s greatest and toughest characters (and a few borrowed from …here and there, amongst other places). It’s a fabulous roster of fighting, and the 3DS version is upon us. I put on my fighting words and take the knocks to bring you this *knockout* review.
Honestly, the biggest draw of any of the Smash Bros. games is the character list, because who DOESN’T want to know whether Mario would win a battle against Link? Or Toon Link? Or non-toon Link? Or, for the sake of old rivalries, Sonic the Hedgehog? But let’s go back to the beginning.
Super Smash Bros. is a one to four player local and online brawler game where the object of the game is to launch opponents off the screen (a nice difference from the “drain life bar for be winnar” style of most brawler games). Any player unable to get back to the play field after being dealt a launching blow is deemed knocked out. There are no insane combos to learn, because all the moves use the same button combos, allowing you to jump right in with your favourite character and start swinging fists/swords/guns/magic stars/whathaveyou. The trick, then, is all in the timing, since all the moves take varying amounts of time to charge or take effect. Each character has a life bar (of sorts, represented as a percentage) which determines just how far they will fly and what their odds are of coming back. And boy, is it fun to watch your friends (or enemies) fly off the screen! There’s something inherently satisfying about watching your opponent being launched off into the ether, more so than, say, finishing a battle with a fatality of some variety.
The 3DS version has almost as many solo ways to play as multiplayer, but it’s definitely the multiplayer modes that are the star attraction, so I’m going to discuss that first. Obviously, you’ll need a Nintendo Network ID to play online. One of the first things I noticed about the game is that local multiplayer is hobbled by the lack of download play. Each local player requires their own copy of Super Smash Bros. Not a biggie, really, but this meant I couldn’t test local play. Online multiplayer, however, is fantastic. It caters to both casual players who just want to have fun, and to those hardcore players who want to be the very best, like no one ever was. To catch….no, wait. That’s Pokémon. Sorry, got a bit carried away there. Many of my opponents were from Japan, so I found myself being soundly thrashed every time I played online, but the overwhelming feeling I got was one of immense fun and “once-more-ness”. It’s hard to put down, and I was eventually forced to by my battery running dead. Hosting and joining multiplayer matches couldn’t be much more simple, and once you’ve selected any one of the fighting modes (Party Smash, etc), you’re good to go. Fighting aside, you can also spectate online matches live and make bets on the outcome of the matches to make more gold. If you want to learn, you can also watch replays, and you’ll get a lot of insight into tactical methods of play by spectating some of the higher level matches. Learn from the humiliating defeat of others, I always say.
Another mode that I’m hesitant to call either multiplayer or solo is the Streetpass game, Street Smash. Yep, pass other Super Smash Bros. players, and they’ll drop tokens that you can play against on a board, much in the same way you’d play Carrom. It’s sort of a top-down version of Smash, if you think about it.
The solo modes include regular Smash (versus CPU opponents), Smash Run (where you get 5 minutes to fight through a labyrinth to earn powerups before taking on CPU opponents), Classic mode (where you choose a path to fight along and beat up a boss at the end), All Star mode (take on a series of challenges against specific fighters in specific arenas), and Stadium, which is a set of mini-games. The modes are mostly great fun to play and it’s ridiculous just how easy it is to sink a great many hours into finding trophies, hunting down hidden characters, filling out your trove, or just listening to the music. Smash Run, strangely, is the weakest of the modes. There’s no telling which arena you’ll end up fighting in at the close of the fight minutes, and the action in the labyrinth just isn’t as frenetic as the pace of actual battles against others. The rest of the modes, however, I can safely say I’ve sunk at least a few hours into each.
We have to take a moment to talk about the game’s music, because if you’ve spent a life playing Nintendo games as I have, then every single one of these tunes are going to be completely familiar to you. The remixes of familiar tunes are masterfully done, and frankly, the music is as important a part of gameplay as the rest of it. Listening to the remixes—and in some cases, original tracks—keeps up the nostalgic feeling of the game. I’m just hoping for a soundtrack release of this game!
One of the biggest downsides of the game is one that’s completely expected: the size of things. It’s a big game on a small screen, and when the action gets crazy (especially with four brawlers at once), the camera zooms out a LOT. It gets incredibly difficult to follow where your little fighter is amongst the blitzes, lightning, and energy swirls. You’re better off following your little “P1” (or whichever number you are), but then you struggle to time your attacks and shieldings. It’s a much better experience as a one-on-one match where you can see what your character is up to, and boy, the character models are gorgeous!
Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is definitely one of the best fighting games for the handheld, and it’s not something you’re going to tire of very quickly, either. Everyone who has ever played a Smash Bros. game has been in hot anticipation of this title, and if there’s one thing it does and does well, it’s deliver in the most eye-popping, smashtastic way possible. After all, it’s been hotly anticipated for a very very good reason, and it’s great to see just how robust the Nintendo Network is. I’d love to keep writing about this game, but uhh…I have a fight to get to.
Final Score: 9 Smashing Prawns out of 10
Distributor: Nintendo South Africa (Core)
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Age Rating: 7