Undoubtedly the most anticipated release in the Wii U’s lifespan, Super Smash Bros. is without question Nintendo’s most touted license to date. This generation marks the first time a game launched on both Nintendo’s current console and handheld platforms, and as good as Super Smash Bros. for 3DS was, it doesn’t hold a candle to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.
What Is It?
As stated in our review of the 3DS version, the Super Smash Bros. franchise is one that hardly needs an introduction. Originally a low budget title that finally allowed old and new Nintendo fans to settle their differences as to which Nintendo all-star was the best, the game has now become a tribute to the history of gaming made best in this version with the debut of characters such as Capcom’s Mega Man and Namco’s Pac-Man entering the fray alongside Sonic and Mario.
The Wii U version is the 3DS version’s much bigger and badder cousin. Like Super Mario 3D World and other titles such as The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD before it, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U marks the first time the series runs in full 1080p at 60 frames per second, making the action-packed game the best looking game in the series by far.
Why Should I Care?
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is more than just a pretty picture. The sheer amount of content in this game is incomparable to any Smash game before it. For starters, the game gives players access to 40 characters right off the bat, with a 41st, 42nd, and 43rd once you decide to create the three different kinds of Miis Fighters, and this doesn’t even include the eight unlockable characters as well as additional costume options that actually end up as different characters.
Why so many characters? Aside from the blunt fact that it purely makes the game even more awesome, it also increases and complicates the game’s newfound balance that lead developer Masahiro Sakurai built upon.
It shouldn’t be at all surprising to see veterans of the game immediately dive into the bevy of multiplayer modes available, but none of which will be played as much as the original Vs. mode, which is probably why most of the game’s unlockable content can be unlocked simply by playing a specific number of matches. Competitive diehards would be quick to note that the pace in the game action takes more of the middle ground from Super Smash Bros. Melee (regarded by many as the best Smash because of its skill-based exploits) and Super Smash Bros. Brawl (which is generally liked, but has nowhere near Melee’s popularity because of it’s “slower” pace). If anything, the speed of the Wii U version really makes it more of a successor to Brawl.
As far as the online goes, finding a match is a quick and painless process. While there are no real online leaderboards for the game, skill level is calculated using a player’s “Global Smash Power,” which shows how many players you’ve outscored. I’ve been playing the game online every night since the game’s release, and the only time I really noticed any spotty ping and lag that really affected gameplay was the night of Thanksgiving. I’m not going to say each battle will go lag-free, but I use the most basic of AT&T High-Speed connections, and the fact that I don’t run into that much game-ending lag says a lot.
Competition aside, Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U is the first game on any Nintendo platform to locally support eight players. While 8-player Smash can only be played in specific maps, including one with floors, walls, and ceilings of lava that’ll instantly kill you if touched with more than 100% damage, the limitations don’t take away from the sheer fun of it all. 8-player Smash will forever be hectic, making it the perfect game to play at any gathering. Throw in the fact that the game allows the use of eight different methods of control including but not limited to the Wii U GamePad, the Wii Remote, the Wii Remote with Nunchuk, the Classic Controller, the Classic Controller Pro, the Wii U Pro Controller, the GameCube controller, and even the 3DS (equipped with Super Smash Bros. for 3DS)–and you have a game accessible to pretty much any Wii, Wii U, 3DS owner, or even GameCube owners.
My personal preference, is the Classic Controller Pro, as it’s the closest thing that resembles a standard PlayStation or Xbox controller with ideal symmetry. Of course, the GameCube controller will be provide by most “serious” players, but with GameCube controller adapters currently hard to find, beggars can’t be choosers. However, Hori also has their own line of GameCube controllers that can be connected to the Wii Remote, so that’s an option too.
With so many control schemes offered, it’s easy to say that veterans of the series will feel right at home with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and that also remains the case for many of the game’s modes that the series is known for. Aside from the multiplayer mayhem, Classic Smash once again makes a return and while the 3DS version let players choose various paths to get to the final boss via an overworld map, the Wii U version allows you to choose opponents and introduces a rival to the mix. Like the 3DS version, you can spend in-game coins to play at harder difficulties which will result in a lot more loot, but you have to keep in mind you only have a stock of two lives. Also unique to the Wii U version’s classic mode is Master Fortress, an incredibly hard final boss that transforms into a difficult-to-navigate labyrinth.
To further sweeten these modes, Classic mode and a handful of other modes such as the game’s All-Star Mode offer two-player support, so gone are the days where you have to accomplish certain tasks or unlock a number of different features one-by-one–a tall order especially considering the number of characters the game has.
Also making a return are the Event stages that originated in Super Smash Bros. Melee. The Event mode format from Melee has gone relatively unchanged. They still require the player to perform specific tasks in battle. Some are as easy as killing four different colored Links, while others are more complicated and require you to kill using just Jigglypuff’s Down-B sleep ability. The cool thing about the Wii U version’s event mode is that each event is a square on a grid, and clearing each event will open the grid up more. It’s nothing special, but it’s better than simply choosing from a flooded menu all the time.
As for new modes, replacing the 3DS version’s Smash Run is Smash Tour. In the end, it’s the same idea that requires you to collect power-ups to soup up your character before a big matchup. But instead of a sidescrolling adventure similar to Super Smash Bros. Brawl‘s Subspace Emissary, it’s just a Mario Party-style game board. You take turns rolling dice, picking up power-ups along the way, and if you land on a space inhabited by another player, you go into battle. Because some players will have more power-ups than others, these matches often become one-sided especially if players have significantly more characters to use than others. My first Smash Tour playthrough actually pit me in a free-for-all battle with three characters while my opponents each had more than five. You can be the best Smash player in the world, but with weak stats and a low stock on lives, it can get pretty difficult.
The other big single player mode worth talking about is Special Orders. There are two kinds of special orders to play through–Master Orders and Crazy Orders. Each of which ends up with you fighting either Master Hand or Crazy Hand once you decide to quit. Basically, each mode is a gauntlet of battles that you have the choice to partake in. Keep winning, and you’ll get more loot, but if you lose, you can lose it all. I spent a lot of time swearing up a storm trying to finish 10 Crazy Orders before quitting (as this is the way to unlock one of the hidden characters), but I kept dying at the tenth battle.
As fun as these single player modes can be, there really is no replacing a human opponent. To make players feel less alone, Nintendo launched Amiibo–RFID figurines and toys not unlike those you see in Skylanders or Disney Infinity. Players can activate an Amiibo using the bottom left corner of their GamePad, and they can give their Amiibo certain treats and power-ups to make them more effective in battle. Amiibo can’t be directly controlled, but they easily adapt to the style of their opponents. You can grind an Amiibo up to level 50, and you can go ahead and pit them against other Amiibo too. You don’t particularly gain anything by doing this, but it’s definitely a nice touch. I definitely see myself using my Amiibo to beat others and probably playing for keeps if my life revolved around Smash Bros. The figurines themselves cost about $12.99 per unit. Are they worth it? That’s a tough question to answer, but they definitely add to the Smash experience and still make a good stocking stuffer gift or something.
Maybe it’s nitpicking, but considering the fact that Super Smash Bros. is a franchise that was initially built to cater to Nintendo fans, people can argue that it hasn’t yet scratched the surface with what the franchise can really grow into. As stated before, Super Smash Bros. is really Nintendo’s crown jewel of games because of infinite possibility, but what’s the use of including characters like Sonic, Pac-Man, Mega Man, or even Snake in Brawl if they haven’t really made sense of their inclusions?
The hype train that Nintendo has created using character and stage reveals with epic-looking cutscenes that immediately go viral is a start, but what would really be impressive is if Smash entered Kingdom Hearts territory by really making sense of all the crossovers. The Adventure mode in Melee sort of gave gamers a taste of that possibility, and all hope immediately crashed when Brawl’s Subspace Emissary ended up being a waste of time.
It’s true that the game has great potential to be one of the best party games of all-time, but that’s only to those who have enjoy brawlers such as Smash. A better single player (or even multiplayer) story mode further solidifying each character’s role in the series would go a long way in making Smash a bigger franchise than it already is.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Still, nobody is fooling anybody here. If you have a Wii U, this is the reason why you bought it. This is as heavy a hitter as Nintendo has, and to get straight to the point, Sakurai and his staff at Sora and Namco have simply hit it out of the park with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.
A meticulously balanced roster that includes more than 50 characters spanning 30 years of Nintendo’s contribution to gaming innovation, with demos of the games that made them popular, eight different methods of playing the game, local multiplayer supporting eight players with one system, an unheard of amount of composers that worked on the game’s insane soundtrack, crisp HD visuals running at an impressive 60 frames per second, and a virtually infinite amount of secrets and content to unlock really make this $60 game a heck of a value–and there’s still the Mewtwo DLC coming in March as well as tournament mode options to look forward to in the future that look pretty robust.
Sure, it’s not Project M and it’s not even Melee, but if you have any liking for Nintendo, this is definitely a must-own–especially if you have a Wii U. It can be better, but then again, everything can be better.