Ever since a portable Smash game was revealed in E3 2013, I was very skeptical. Will it be able to run on the hardware? Would it keep me coming back for more? More importantly, will the game have that Nintendo shine and polish? Upon getting my hands on the game, I can now conclude that this Smash game may be the most accessible yet, and still provide a perfect challenge.
Starting off with the presentation, it was a pleasant surprise. The menus were nice and sleek, and weren’t too complicated to make your way around. The same also goes for the graphics, which go inbetween the original, Melee, and Brawl; it really is a vibrant game, which is very impressive for such ‘limited’ hardware. Lighting and shadows look absolutely top notch, as do the many characters! My only gripe is that most of the trophies’ textures look blurred when zooming in on them, which is distracting and frustrating for those who like seeing these throwbacks up close. However, this may be a potiental non-issue to some.
Also on the presentation spectrum, we have the audio, which is very pleasing. The audio quality is sublime, as grunts are very easily heard in-game and aren’t drowned out by the music, which is absolutely out of this world. Most of the songs are fantastic remixes, with only a handful of songs being preserved with their original mixes, which still hold up against the newer stuff. My favourite has to be either the rocking new Mute City composition, or the awe-inspiring The Mysterious Murasame Castle Medley, which has a fantastic Japanese vibe. This soundtrack is amazing, and I’ll definitely get the CD off Club Nintendo when it’s available!
Now that I have covered all of the presentation, how does the gameplay hold up? Very well, to be very honest. Movement feels tight and responsive, which is needed to pull off the right moves. On the contrary, jumping is floaty, which is needed to recover and have enough time to pull off techniques comfortably. Attacks are very satisfying to pull off, whether in the air on on the ground, with Special Attacks also very easy to pull off, which helps with how Smash is meant to be played. The objective is the same as always – rack your enemy’s percentage up and make your opponents fly off-screen by attacking them at a high percentage, using your skill or luck. You can choose Time or Stock in Smash mode, which changes how the game is played entirely. It’s frantic as all heck in Time battles, due to how everybody is flinging themselves at each other to try take out the most people in the time allowed. Stock, however, is quite a different affair, as it usually rewards defensive play, which I personally prefer and can appreciate more. Items can also be thrown in there, which can make fights total chaos, which is at the core of the game while playing with three others. The roster of characters range from mainstays, to crowd-pleasers, to even formerly obscure fighters, which is a fantastic broad scope – the best thing is that somehow, they are all balanced! The stages are fantastic too, but too many are returning ones; however, it’s still a ton of fun to fight on them. If there was only this mode, it wouldn’t grow dull until years later, but seeing as this is Nintendo, who flesh out all their games, there are so many different things to experience.
Take for instance, the returning mode, Classic. Unlike every past time, this one lets you choose your own path, which is somehow a significant shake-up. There’s an Easy, Normal, and Hard path, which you choose from a sort of overworld map. There are many different sorts of fight, from one-on-one, team battles, and even matches where you’re on a team fighting a giant character. I really love this aspect of Classic, as you never know what will happen next, and you can literally pick your battles. From these battles, you get rewards, like Custom Moves (which are quite difficult to obtain without sinking hours and hours into the game), Trophies, and Gold, which helps break possible monotony. Also helping to provide and challenge is the Intensity system, which is basically a difficulty slider. It moves from 0.0 to 9.0, which really lets you fight at your own level. You advance towards Master Hand, or depending on the Intensity, Master Hand and Crazy Hand, which can get pretty difficult sometimes. You could even encounter Master Core, which becomes borderline insane the higher up you go. It’s a fun twist on the Classic of old, and in my eyes, it isn’t as snooze-inducing as the ones that used to be present in Smash.
In previous games, All-Star was unlocked by nabbing all the characters, but now, it’s playable right out the gate. It’s practically the same thing as previous games, which means it’s still as fun as ever when taking on every single fighter, but Very Easy has been axed and Very Hard has been merged into Hard. That’s practically the only difference. Speaking of practically no difference, that’s the Stadium mode here in a nutshell. Multi-Man Smash is the same as ever (a great time-waster), and Home-Run Contest is still the bee’s knees, with hitting Sandbag many metres still being awesome. Target Blast is a new addition, but it’s essentially forgettable. Some things never change, right?
No, the big new addition is Smash Run, which has been a mixed bag for many. However, the opinion I shall provide right now probably doesn’t fit the big picture. I really liked it, and I’ll explain why.
The goal of Smash Run is to boost all your stats in five minutes for a final one minute fight or race. Sound familiar? It should, as it’s the spiritual successor to Kirby Air Ride‘s City Trial, which immediately won my heart over. It brings many enemies for you to fight against; Goombas, Deku Scrubs, Mettaurs – all here. The map used is quite expansive, and events happen every minute or so, which varies the process of getting stat boosts. You could use your custom characters and equip them with Powers, which you get from treasure chests alongside Custom Moves, helping the replay value. But to say it was all great would be giving it too much credit, in my eyes. I have four complaints. Firstly, only one minute for the matches at the end make it feel like you should’ve gotten a greater reward. Secondly, you’ll end up wishing there were more enemies – they could’ve easily brought some of the Subspace Army in! Thirdly, it’s easy to memorise the map after a few games. There could have been two maps, or different pieces of the map significantly altered after every playthrough. Finally, why isn’t online supported for this mode? You can’t interact much with your opponents anyway, so it would’ve been a perfect fit for it!
Oh yeah, online! It’s basically Smash mode, but playable with people all over the globe, but does it perform well? The short answer is yes and no. Playing with friends mostly was lag-free, and I played one-on-one with no items, to a 4 player free-for-all with a ton of items, and it fared well. However, it didn’t go so well on the general online. It chugged a lot, and I only got a bunch of decent matches out of a ton of matches – on For Fun, at least. With For Glory, I got fantastic results, so I guess it depends on the intensity. Hopefully, the Wii U version can improve this aspect.
Overall, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS is a technological accomplishment considering the hardware it’s on. I really loved my experiences with this game, and although it was meant to be only a teaser for the Wii U version, I’d say it has one advantage over it – the portability. And that’s why I’ll play it for many more months, and maybe eventually complete it. It’ll be a great, challenging ride until I do so.