Considering its overall wide acceptance across the industry and its integration in several e-sport/fighting game competitions, it almost seems like the Super Smash Bros. series can do no wrong, so Super Smash Bros. 3DS must be good, right? Think again.
From the birth of the franchise on the Nintendo 64 to the smashing fan favorite Melee on Nintendo Gamecube, the series has surely sparked plenty of classic moments in our homes over the years and still triumphs as one of the best fighting games of all time. Unfortunately, Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS doesn’t seem to be creating that same effect.
Let’s not ruffle some feathers, just yet. Mash-up crossovers that include the likes of Mario, Luigi and Peach duking it out with Sonic the Hedgehog, Earthbound’s Ness and a bunch of other Pokemon is primarily the DNA of Super Smash Bros and Super Smash Bros. 3DS is no different in that department. It’s the first in its franchise to make an appearance on Nintendo’s two-screen handheld console, marking a milestone for the company. Still, the title has a lot to live up to when you consider the series’ epic past. Some of that DNA comes through with flying colors. Other parts, not so much.
The ingredients necessary to make a Super Smash Bros. remain intact in this version. 4-player matchups are still present, new trophy challenges beckon to be completed, in-battle items and assist trophies still maintain that level of surprise and of course, unlockable characters wait to be unveiled.
The roster is as solid as ever. Super Smash Bros. 3DS includes a lot of the old fighters that veteran fans can recall, but there are definitely some game-changing new breeds. Animal Crossing’s Villager serves as Smash’s troll character, able to pocket his opponent’s projectile moves and shoot it back at them. Pac-Man acts as another rival mascot to Nintendo’s and Sega’s brand children. Mega-Man, Capcom’s beloved blue-armored hero, looks and feels just like he does in plenty of his old NES platform titles.
Xenoblade’s Shulk and Kid Icarus’ Palutena are great when it comes to Nintendo holding their own in fan service, but Little Mac happens to be my personal pride and joy out of the entire roster. Hailing from Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, the kid with the iconic green boxing gloves and shorts is starting to rub off on me. His swift movements around the stage and powerful punches are true to the character, but he’s an underdog compared to other Smash fighters—just like he is in Punch Out. His knockout punch is devastating, and rightly earns the attribute of a tide turner.
Tweaks were noticable to some of the returning combatants in comparison to their Super Smash Bros. Brawl counterparts. A change in Smash attacks or even a frame switch in movement might interest some hardcore level fighters who look to take their favorite characters to national and worldwide tournaments. For others who simply want giant punch the snot out of all who stands in the way of Donkey Kong, well–there’s that too. Super Smash Bros. 3DS doesn’t slack on any of the 51 characters in the game.
When it comes to the game modes themselves, there’s enough to keep you busy and entertained.
“Smash” mode is a blast and an excellent leeway for players who just want to jump in and go crazy. Players can either play by themselves against a computer (which can be adjusted by choosing opponents, the number of characters and a level for those opponents—seriously, I’ve had the most fun doing just this during my playthrough) or if a nearby friend has a 3DS and a game, they can link up and go into a series of fights together.
Classic and All-Star mode make a return to Super Smash Bros. 3DS. If you remember Classic mode Brawl, then you also remember choosing between a few set of lines after each fight. Trophies and gold can be earned and each battle will be vary in challenge depending on the difficulty level picked before starting.
Of course, higher challenge level begets big amounts of gold and rewards. Defeating the final boss—Master Hand—merits you more awesome prizes and a trophy of the character you played with. All-Star mode, which pits players against a gauntlet of fighters in chronological order, remains in tradition and follows the agenda of the rewards system.
It’s also worth noting that players will also have a chance to earn some sweet equipment and perks that will enhance their created Mii’s or their favorite characters during Smash Run mode, a Metroid-esque trial run where up to four fighters can compete. Each start out with low stats in health, running, attack, defense and so forth. Random enemies spawn all around the playing board and defeating them righteously grants power-ups, gold and even some trophies to the fighter. When the clock strikes zero, each fighter will then compete in a 4-way match where the winner—likely the one who has gathered enough power-ups to max out his stats as much as possible, but anything is possible—will be granted some extra bonuses in addition to the perks already gathered.
Smash Run seems to be very similar to the Subspace Emissary mode in Brawl, only without an actual story mode or a real need to play through the mode with essentially every character on the roster. For what it’s worth, it allows for deep and intuitive character tweaking, suiting one’s play style, but the fact that you can’t take these customized combatants to the online ring makes completing this mode less than exciting.
Out of the two most paramount flaws in Super Smash Bros 3DS, the lack of D-pad integration is the worst. If you saw my last preview of Super Smash Bros. 3DS, I noted this problem being one of reasons why I was initially nervous for the game. The demo wouldn’t let players have access to the options menu. I immediately wanted that options menu for the simple fact that the 3DS disc pad half-asses the directional input or tight character movement across the board and that I so desperately wanted to change my directional preferences to the 3DS D-Pad.
Unfortunately, Nintendo didn’t grant those wishes. The game only reserves the D-pad buttons for taunts and nothing else. Mapping other buttons to basic character moves is possible, but it seems that the company considers taunting and ridiculing your opponent more important than actual necessities for high-ranked fighting game players, which most often than not includes an excellent responding d-pad. No D-Pad, no bueno.
Playing on the circle pad can feel a little wonky depending on which characters you use. During my playthrough, I had a better time
Online modes in Super Smash Bros. 3DS is struggling pretty badly. In both For Glory and For Fun settings—stages and assist items are varied between the two, so think of For Glory as a Ranked Match in Super Street Fighter IV except without a leaderboard—nearly all matches that included 4 players on the field lagged tremendously. One-on-one matches, which can only be played under For Glory settings, were about 40% good connection and 60% raw lagfest.
I also did a quick research concerning local play and found that there are some people who are experiencing delayed connection and input issues while playing matches with a nearby 3DS user and even when both players are in the same room or right next to each other. The lag is real. A lot of this is still ongoing, and I’d imagine that Nintendo’s intended release of the New Nintendo 3DS console in November will be used to alleviate some of these major problems. Still, this isn’t something to look over. The online feature cripples the replayability for Super Smash Bros. 3DS
I should also note that at the writing of this review, Nintendo released an update to the game that would allow for players to send their data information from their 3DS console to the company. In return, the online mode for Super Smash Bros. 3DS would work around the rough edges based on your location. I’ve played 4-player and the one-on-one matches and despite the company’s efforts, the results were disappointingly the same.
Super Smash Bros. 3DS is a good game for what it is, but it hardly brings anything new or exciting to the table, and I believe that the franchise how now caught on to the tired, overdone Mario Party and Mario Sports gimmick. Nintendo just goes through the motions of releasing these titles back to back, to the point where they feel less inclined to adjust anything at all. They didn’t even bother to change the design of the menu and they’ve added little to the stage selection. Half of the time, it feels like you’re playing a hand-me down version of Brawl.
This isn’t a good look for the first Smash Bros. game on a handheld console and it unfortunately doesn’t help create real incentive or desire for Super Smash Bros. Wii U down the line. If Nintendo wants to build hype behind their flagship fighting game, they need to do a lot better than what we have now.
With delays in it’s online multiplayer and lack of smoothness even the local 3DS matchups, Super Smash Bros. 3DS might as well be a one-player game. You can certainly take up the challenge in collecting every trophy, conquering the highest difficulty level in classic mode, unlocking characters and so forth. Just don’t put your faith in having a stellar online experience, because half of the time you’ll be staring at the action moving at a snail’s pace.