While it’s no secret that the Super Smash Bros. series is wildly popular and is generally regarded as a “system seller,” this late into the 3DS’ lifespan it would be hard to point out that people are buying the 3DS just for Super Smash Bros., but for those that did, Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS is an experience easily comparable to the past three games in the series.
What Is It?
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS hardly needs an introduction—heck, it’s probably the most literal game title in years (and that’ll be followed up a little more than a month from now when Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is on shelves).
This is the fourth entry in the series and marks the series debut on a handheld, and while there is definitely a learning curve when it comes to the game’s controls, it’s still a rock solid handheld release that’ll only continue to gain widespread attention from fans of the series moving forward.
Why Should I Care?
When the series first debuted in 1999, it was a low-budget game planned only for a Japanese release, but it gained a lot of steam and quickly became localized for the western market, allowing players to “duke it out as their favorite Nintendo characters.” The series has come a long way since then, even going as far as featuring long-time rival Sonic as a playable character, as well as Snake from the Metal Gear Solid series. Now it’s no longer just a way to duke it out with your favorite Nintendo characters. It’s become a pure celebration of gaming’s history on a Nintendo platform, and now you can take it with you on the go.
Veterans of the series will find themselves right at home with Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS. While the method of control isn’t a far cry from what it has been in the past, there is a bit of a learning curve to it. Before, advanced moves such as the rolling dodge and grab moves were relegated to both the left and right shoulder buttons. Now grabbing is limited to the L button, while the both the L and R buttons shield characters from damage. But to help make things more approachable, you can also change up the controls in the options.
While the game wasn’t necessarily made for solo players, there’s quite a bit of content to enjoy when playing alone. Classic smash is back along with the more gimmicky modes, such as target smash, where all you do is hit targets and multi-man melee (which is all about getting rid of as many foes as you can within a time limit). Probably the most noteworthy single player mode is Smash Run, which requires players to go through a sidescrolling map, defeating enemies and collecting power-ups to build your stats for a final contest that can be anything from a standard fight to even a competition to see who can defeat the most enemies or even a race—of course, if you’re using a naturally slow character, a footrace could be a drag.
For those that regularly participate in competition, it’s worth nothing that there is no wave dashing, and edge-blocking is no longer a defense tactic either as opposing players can now steal the ledge, making it fair game for anyone off stage. In addition to this, there are now “Omega” versions of all the maps you can fight on, which replaces the various platforms and hazards to make it a neutral stage preferable to experienced and skilled competition-ready players. In other words, it’s the Final Destination stage except with themes from other games.
One of Smash 3DS’ most impressive features is its robust online mode. Match-making is so much easier than it was in previous online Nintendo games. Nintendo’s Friend Code system has always given it a bit of a disadvantage compared to the online ecosystem of other platforms, but luckily the portability of the Nintendo 3DS at least makes it easily to play against local opponents. People can be added to your Friends List simply by searching for them wirelessly when nearby, and when playing online, the game makes the process of joining another game quite simple. This is actually something we anticipate to be better than even the Wii U, but we’ll have to see before making that judgment. Online gameplay itself has been rather responsive, but seeing a generally quick four-player match suddenly get all laggy when it’s one-on-one is really a headscratcher. We’re hopeful that Nintendo will pull out all the stops to make all the matchups quite painless, but at this point in time I didn’t experience any deal breakers, and I use the most basic AT&T high-speed connection.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
The game’s roster features 37 characters right off the bat, including 12 more characters that you can unlock during gameplay. At that, the 12 can also expand as some of the characters have alternate forms and skins depending on the costume. For example, one of the unlockable characters is Baby Bowser, and if you press the costume change button upon picking him, he can be one of the Koopa kids, such as Lenny, Larry, and a bunch of others. At the same time, a few characters were actually split from their “Down B” or Final Smash alternative forms—examples of this are Sheik and Zelda now being playable separately as well as Samus and Zero Suit Samus. Of the expansive 49 characters, 15 of are newcomers, including Shulk of Xenoblade Chronicles as well as much anticipated Mega Man. Yes, there are still a few clones on the roster; Ganondorf is still sort of a slower, souped up version of Captain Falcon, but there’s really a lot to like about this roster, and the possibility of rumored DLC characters continue to give this lineup a lot of potential.
As expected, the amount of characters gives the game some much needed diversity, but at the same time, it also makes it as overwhelming as any other fighting game featuring large rosters. It would take a dedicated and lifeless person to truly master each character. This isn’t a bad thing at all, as the game is still simple enough to be picked up by new players ready to smash the heck out of their challengers.
Of course, there’s a lot of historical stuff to say about a game that features the likes of Mario, Sonic, Mega Man, and Pac-Man, and Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS features more than enough content to pay homage to each and every character represented in the game. Back again are both the collectable trophies, which feature a little tidbit about the series and its origins, and the assist trophies which players can use in combat to get some help from gaming’s past. In addition to that, there’s also an All-Star mode that’s organized so you fight enemies based on the decades they either debuted or were relevant, so playing the game really feels like a trip down memory lane.
While it’s tough to say the game is the best looking on the 3DS, it does look good, and the 3D itself looks better than any 3DS game before it. There’s even an option in the settings to thicken the outer stroke of each character, to make it easier to differentiate actual playable characters compared to whatever is on screen, especially in 3D. At the same time, because the action in Smash is so fast paced, leaving the 3D on could be quite harmful because there’s absolutely no way to comfortably play while still being at a proper angle for the 3DS sweet spot to hit you.
Super Smash Bros. has always sounded fantastic, and it isn’t just the nostalgia trip. A lot of the classic background music from various games in each featured series have been redone with a modern twist to better fit the game’s rather epic atmosphere, and it all really sounds great with a pair of headphones. The music is the biggest reason why the series is often looked at as a tribute to gaming, but the game also has its own unique sound that gamers of all shapes, sizes, and ages can appreciate.
Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS is a fantastic game. Has a whole lot changed? Not really. It’s people with friends with 3DS handhelds and copies of Smash of their own that will really enjoy the game as its multiplayer is as addictive as ever. The single player is still solid and has plenty to unlock, which should be enjoyable for the type of gamer that doesn’t like to leave any stone unturned, but for that type of gamer, they have to understand this: It’s just another Smash Bros. game, except on the 3DS. That’s the real selling point; don’t go in expecting any more or less, and you’ll be more than satisfied.
I wish this game came out when I was in high school. Field trips definitely would’ve been more epic.