Review: Super Smash Bros for 3DS

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At long last, it’s finally here, the latest Smash Bros. Now that I, the Inverseman, have spent some quality time with the game, what do I think of the game itself? Find out!

First off, to get the gist of things, check out my initial impressions earlier last month.In case you’ve never played or heard of Smash Bros ever, which would be a near non-existent number of our readers, Super Smash Brothers is a non-traditional fighting game featuring Nintendo’s most iconic characters. Instead of depleting a life bar, the objective is to “smash” the opponents off the battlefield and be the last man standing.

SSB4 For Glory For Fun

Much like the real game, I’ll be splitting tonight’s review here into two parts. First is “For Glory” and second is “For Fun”. Read the part or parts that are relevant to you!

 

For Glory

SSB4 Four way free for all

The overall feeling I get from Smash 4 is a tightened sense of gameplay compared to Super Smash Bros Brawl. When you pick up the game, you notice characters are not as airborne anymore and the pace of the game has sped up. Most notably though if you’re coming off Brawl is that characters have to actually try to get back to the stage again, whereas the previous game had lots of gliding and tether recoveries, now players have to space out their jumps and use their recovery attacks wisely. That said, don’t expect the second coming of Melee in any form. There is far less execution barrier to this game, putting it similar to Brawl in that regard.

SSB4 Zelda sleeping

As for the characters, many gimmicks have actually been removed, such as transforming characters, which is welcome because most Shiek and Zelda players just stick to one of the two anyway. On the other hand, we still have plenty of clones this time (Marth and Lucina, Pit and Dark Pit) and clone moves. Though outweighing all of theis is the fact that traditionally low-tier characters have also been given their day in the sun (i.e Yoshi) and hopefully the game will continue to be balanced with new patches.

SSB4 New Super Mario Bros stage

The other huge change to overall gameplay was the removal of edgehogging (where a player will dangle on the edge of a platform to prevent the opponent from getting back on the stage, forcing him or her to fall to his or her doom). Now whenever another character tries to take an occupied edge, the previous character will simply “pop” off the edge to make way for the new character. While a fair number of players probably despised this change, I actually welcome it. It creates interesting game-states where the defending player can force the opponent off the edge and then use the moment of confusion to his or her advantage. Attacking players will now have to edge-guard better or even hop off the stage and spike the opponent into the abyss or what is also known as the Meteor Smash. In a way, this mix of options still demands skill, possibly even more than in the past.

SSB4 Megaman's Team Buster

Online netcode could be better and could be worse. When fighting a close by match with good connections, it’s a good time, but the further apart you and your opponent are or the worse one of your connections is, things can get rather hairy. Competitive players also rejoice in that each stage also has an “Omega Form” which is basically the stage remodeled to look like Final Destination. This is a good move and very well appreciated, but is only effective in theory. Not all the Omega Forms are created equal, some benefit some characters more than others (e.g Pac Maze makes Greninja’s Shadow Sneak  undetectable). The second issue is that ask any Smash player and you’ll find that Final Destination isn’t a truly fair stage and should be mixed up with other competitive stages that have platforms, such as Battlefield, to even the odds. Still the consideration was there, but for the next installment (or maybe a patch/DLC! Hint, hint!) Nintendo should do a little more homework about the competitive scene when making stages and modes for the competitive players.

SSB4 Mascot Clash

Whereas Brawl tried to tip the pendulum away from the competitive game, Smash 4 tries to level with it some more, and the efforts are there. While we won’t see Super Smash Bros for 3DS and Wii U: Tournament Edition anytime soon, at least there’s some acknowledgement of a body of players that want to take the game more seriously.

 

For Fun

SSB4 Smash Run treasure hunting

Smash Bros has always had a firm casual following as evidenced from Sakurai’s original plan, much like the Karen-worshipers of Pokemon. They stand by their items and stage hazards, and Smash 4 has plenty for them too. Remember how fun City Trial was in Kirby’s Air Ride? Hunt items in the city collecting power-ups, defeating bosses, and disrupting your opponents all to have the upper hand in some final mystery battle? Good times. Smash Run is basically the same thing. Depending on how you build your character, you could end up with some really nifty setups. Ever wanted to see Ganondorf outrun Sonic or Jigglypuff tank massive hits? Smash Run and the Custom system make that a reality. Too bad you can’t play Smash Run online though.

SSB4 Custom loadout

Speaking of the Custom Options, if you enjoy tweaking and min-maxing features in games, you’ll have a ball with this system. Custom equipment lets you take those absurd character builds and let you play them anywhere, and Custom Moves let you fine-tune the nuances of your character’s Specials just right. The changes aren’t too dramatic on paper (e.g Make Mario’s Fireball a quick weak shot or a slow powerful orb) but the devil is in the details, and those players will be right at home finding their best builds. The interesting note here is that this type of gamer is undoubtedly “hardcore” (whatever that means) but doesn’t fit in with the competitive crowd. In a way, we have a new emergent space of player that doesn’t fall between the “casual-hardcore” false dichotomy. If Sakurai wants to make a Smash Bros that casts its net wide, acknowledging “casual” and “hardcore” styles of play other than random-only-all-items-icicle-mountain and fox-only-no-items-final-destination is a good way of doing that.

SSB4 Master Hand and Crazy Hand

Outside of the customization, Smash Bros for 3DS comes with Classic and All-Star modes. Sadly, story mode is non-existent. Not even cutscenes during Classic mode, which feels like a step back from Brawl. What I really would like though would be an effective Story Mode that also taught you the game’s competitive fundamentals, but even traditional fighting games don’t have that down yet so there’s wishful thinking. Regardless, the game still feels rather full of content at the moment with plenty of things to unlock, but relying on random drops for more equipment or custom moves is nothing short of frustrating for resident competionists. Moreover, when the hype dies down, I’m not so sure how many times I’d bust out the game with lean content and a slot machine that dictates if I get new content or not.

Everything Else

SSB4 waifu games

Currently, it feels like Smash 4 is best used as a 3DS game. A rather competitive-esque game ready on the go. This past month has really let me whet my whistle as my Circle Pad dies mercilessly. Technically speaking, there are awkward moments considering how the 3DS controls aren’t the most responsive and the 3DS screen can turn the characters into ants on larger stages. Just try doing Marth vs Lucina on a big stage, you’ll confuse which blue swordsman is who, but for the most part, the game translated well onto the handheld. However, I feel like the real show is later this month. Though I still will likely play my 3DS version to keep practicing on the go. If you’re still saving for a Wii U, you may as well get the 3DS version now, since there will be DLC for owners of both games, namely Mewtwo. In the end, Super Smash Bros for 3DS is a solid experience. Sakurai and his team are listening, but here’s hoping they make choices in the right direction from here on in. Join me next time when I settle all the world’s conflicts in Smash.

Pros

– Improved gameplay over the previous installment

– Smash Run provides a unique experience outside of the competitive arena

– Customization is nuanced and deep

– Designed for on the go

Cons

– Netcode is mediocre and spotty, even in LAN matches sometimes

– Can’t complete 100% without quite some luck or a lot of time

– Some repetitive moves and clone characters

– Game may feel lacking at times when offline

Rating: 4.5/5

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Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

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