Super Smash Bros. for Wii U | Review

After the sensational 3DS version of Super Smash Bros., I was just waiting for the Wii U version to release onto store shelves so that I could begin to play it and form an opinion on it. However, much like with the 3DS version, I had to wait for about a month for it to enter my hands, but from the instant it did, I played it nonstop for about three days straight. Did it deliver on the promise of being a bigger and better game? Well, to kick off the new year, let’s look at one of 2014’s biggest highlights. Believe me, there is only one word to describe it. That word is ‘wow’.

The scale of this game really is an impressive feat. Take, for example, the graphics – filled with minor details that regular players would not think much of! Every single component has been ridiculously realised, with every background detail fully rendered, such as the meteorite in Onett and the planets from Mario Galaxy. Every single polygon has been utilised in such a way that they all stand out from each other, rather than mesh together. This was a bit of a problem with the 3DS version, but it wasn’t brought up due to the specifications of the handheld. Now that many famous characters, locales, and set pieces have been brought to a lovingly constructed HD display, it will be quite a difficult transition to return to previous instalments, especially since trophies look better than ever. Once again, I’m left impressed.

With the audio, the Wii U game’s quality is a clear cut above the rest of the series, without a doubt. Just listening to a single song should prove that statement to be true. Even with volume cranked up all the way, the days of muffled sound effects and blaring music are over. Speaking of the musical selection, you have a selection ranging from beautifully orchestrated pieces, jazzy oddball stuff, eerie silence, and the converse opposite to the former example, which is straight-up rock. And this diverse selection all fits! Yes, even the ones that used to have no purpose.. Sound effects are all in crisp quality, so I have no qualms here yet again.

Mechanics have been carried over from title to title, which means that strategies you’ve developed on the go can be transferred to a home console. It feels quite strange, though – even though the mechanics and controls had been carried over, the experience has become vastly different from the transition. It just feels more at home when you’re looking at a television, using your controller of choice. You could be looking at a dinky screen on your controller. You could be relaxing while playing with a traditional controller. Heck, you could even be actively harming your palms as you play. It does not matter, as the forgiving, fair and fun rules that make the game work identically on each.

The amount of things you can enroll yourself into in this game is completely staggering. Smash, 8-Player Smash, Special Smash, Classic, All-Star, Stadium, Events, Challenges, Trophy Rush, Smash Tour, Master Orders, Crazy Orders… for our sake, let’s break this all down one by one. It would just be a waste of my time and yours to go over them one-by-one. However, to save you some time, let’s quickly gloss over the obvious modes that have mostly maintained their content in the Nintendo 3DS version. Stadium is still mostly a fantastic time waster but a tiny bit more fleshed out, All-Star is still fighting all the characters but now you’re doing it chronologically backwards, Trophy Rush still can be a lifesaver for obtaining some trophies and a bit of custom equipment, and Challenges still range from manageable to downright ridiculous. Now, let’s move on to the time-consuming modes.

Smash is the centre of attention, as always. This is where many up their game – or, if you’re a casual player, just have at it. Time and Stock have returned from the previous iteration, with Coin returning from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which is where players are pummelled for their hard earned cash. Each type of match is frantic in its own way, but what really turns the insanity up to eleven are the numerous items. As the Wii U has better processing power than the 3DS, more situations can be extremely amplifed by, say, having a Poké Ball active with an Assist Trophy at the same time, with gameplay remaining unhindered. Smash’s always a good time, but with all this extra processing power, I feel it could be one-upped. I dunno, maybe double the amount of players? Luckily, Nintendo worked in a new variation of regular Smash, referred to in-game as 8-Player Smash – and it’s my best experience of how frantic the game can be, yet the game makes no compromises in graphical or sound quality, which is impressive, considering all the chaos that is likely to be occurring on your television screen. The chaos makes the experience really enjoyable as you never know what will happen next. You could be in a giant cluster of mayhem, like in the Bridge of Eldin, or separated in little pockets – for example, if one group of five is duking it out on the flat top and another three are bouncing off the ceiling and floor in Temple. It’s an excellent addition, and it now lets more people than ever battle for absolute glory and utter humiliation. What if you want your games to be more frantic, though?

Well, Special Smash is an amazing experience of experimentation that rewards creativity. It could be a completely off-the-cuff miracle that you came up with, or a resounding failure. That’s the great thing, though! You can mash together matches of ridiculous proportions, and then further mix in items to make it even more horrible to play. You’d have real patience to play all of the combinations!

Classic has had a bit of a facelift for this game, too. Instead of the linear approach, or the multiple paths approach, you now have more choices in what you can do. Remember how in my review of the Nintendo 3DS version, I said you were able to pick your battles? Well, you’re eligible to more choice this time around, choosing whether you would like a small group to attack or a huge faction of fighters. This could result in any number of scenarios of battle, which is crazy, once you start thinking about it. The variation is actively piling on itself! Speaking of variation, though, here are fifty-five Solo Events, and twenty-five Multiplayer Events, all of different scales and types. It’s pretty cool to fight through these preset melees, but there’s a bit of a problem with them. The difficulty curve is absolutely ridiculous. It has a wild swing from way too easy to way too difficult. Some of the things that it demands you to do are utterly frustrating. It feels like they’re still using the exact same foundations as Super Smash Bros. Melee, a game that came out in Japan in the tail-end of 2001. If you strip the mode of all its shine and polish, it still has the same really, really demanding expectations of you. I’m trying to push myself to my limits, but it’s just so ridiculously impossible to do some of these on Hard. Do you get anything for doing them all on hard? Absolutely nothing.

My new favourite modes are the Orders. In Master Orders, you pay coins to purchase a ticket which allows you to partake in a match with different conditions. It could that your enemies have flowers on their heads, or the launch power’s upped to 1.5x. For every ticket you do, you get a reward, like a custom part or a CD, and Master Hand gives you a thumbs up. It can be backed out of at any time. It’s a neat addition, but it doesn’t really do much for the game. Crazy Orders, on the other hand, is unadulterated madness. After paying 5000 gold, or using a Crazy Orders Pass, your character of choice is set into a consecutive series of battles that are utterly crazy. You have ten minutes to not only stave alive, but rack up a ton of rewards through many turns. The higher your percentage goes, the more hit points you will have in a battle against Crazy Hand at the end of the run, but here’s another variable – the longer you take before facing off against Crazy Hand, the more factors help him and attempt to turn the tables on you. It’s a brilliant mode, and one that proudly stands out.

…I nearly forgot Smash Tour, didn’t I? Because it’s forgettable, and it’s really hard to explain what it is. It’s sort of like the later iterations of Mario Party, but all the minigames are Smash battles. I specify ‘later iterations’, because like those games, they are just mind-numbing to the highest degree whilst on the board. The mode is quite boring, so I’ll only go out of my way to play it if I get rewarded for it. It doesn’t even deserve to be online. It’s so rubbish, it’s quite a bore to type about, so I’ll just leave my complaints there.

The online’s quality has been massively improved, of course. Considering it’s running on a home console, that’s to be expected, so gone are the days where you would go beserk from awful game optimisation or internet connection. Every subset of the online runs the same, which was an utter relief for every player who had access to wi-fi. It only took seven years, but we can finally play Smash like we were playing locally from halfway across the world.

I have adored the time I have spent with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. The amazing attention to detail within the aesthetics, the absolutely sublime soundtrack, the feel of the gameplay – it’s all right, to me. It may have a few hiccups here or there, yes, but at the end of the day, these setbacks aren’t gamebreakers – not in the slightest. I urge you to pick this game up, even if you’ve had no prior experience with the series or haven’t got Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS yet. In fact, get both of them! I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it.

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