Like Mario Kart, it seems that with every release of a Nintendo home console since the N64, there’s a Super Smash Bros game following it. With that in mind, it seems a little odd to be sat down reviewing a Smash Bros title that’s on a handheld console. It’s the first time a Smash Bros game has graced one of Nintendo’s handheld systems with its presence, even if it is a tie-in with its soon to be released bigger brother on Wii U.
For those who’ve played a Smash game before, don’t worry, the craziness of the previous games hasn’t been lost on the shift to handheld. If anything, it’s a step up from Brawl, but not quite on the insane level of Melee, which is good thing. The pacing actually feels quite nice, neither rushed nor sluggish, and boost how fun the game is for both the average player and the more serious ones.
Speaking of serious players, Sakurai has taken into account tournament players who liked the stage Final Destination, which is an entirely flat stage with no random stage effects. To ensure those players could see all the stages on offer, there’s a option for each stage called “Omega stage” which provides flat versions of all the games stages. It’s a step in the right direction for the series as it allows a lot of players to see all the stages the game has to offer while also keeping the interest of fairness in mind.
The character roster has been extended too, and now has more than 40 characters at your disposal. There’s a decent amount of diversity between the characters fighting types, although there are a lot of sword wielding characters. There’s a few new play styles too, which shake up the standard procedure of battling quite nicely. It’s a nice step forward compared to other entries in the series, where it felt as if there were too many characters that had similar fighting styles.
The distractions from regular smashes are back too, with some new features. One of the best new additions is the Target Blast mode. It works like a combination of Home Run Contest and Angry Birds, where you basically have to rack up damage on a bomb before the timer runs out, and then smash it towards blocks. The more blocks you destroy, the better your score. It’s surprisingly quite fun and rather addictive, although the mode will only really last as long as your desire to beat your own score. On the flip side, Smash Run, the highly talked about feature before launch, isn’t that great. The idea of Smash Run is that you go around beating enemies on a map and you pick up power ups for your fighter. This lasts around five minutes and then you get pitted in a random challenge, which could be a straight up brawl or some form of race from left to right or pretty much anything. The problem is that it’s not really fun to play and that the random challenge at the end seems a bit unfair if you haven’t boosted the right stat enough. It feels less about skill and more about luck, which takes the fun away from actually participating in that mode.
This leads into the second problem that the game has and that’s the customization options that the game seems desperate for you to use. As nice and refreshing it is to have the option to beef up your characters, it just seems rather pointless as those who haven’t got the more power upgrades will get left behind and will choose not to play with customizations on, rendering the feature pretty pointless. Again, it’s a feature where it feels as if there’s more luck involved than any real skill.
One of the more important features in Smash Bros is the ability to play with other people. For a Nintendo title, it’s actually quite nice to be able to say that the online is pretty tight, with minimal waiting time in matchmaking. Online depends on both you and your opponents internet strength, but we rarely ran into problems while playing online. The real problem starts when you play local multiplayer. It’s incredibly laggy, even at close range. Anything more than a meter and a half away and the game becomes borderline unplayable. We found that connecting to the internet and playing together that way, so that we could actually play matches where lag wasn’t an issue. It’s a real shame that game falls down here, as it’s arguably it’s most important feature.
When the game works, the controls are mostly quite tight and responsive, although the option to use the d-pad instead of the circle pad would have been appreciated, as the game does get a little confused between the difference of a vertical input and a horizontal input from time to time. All the other controls are customizable, which is great because the default grab position was a little difficult to get used to for my personal play style.
Away from playing the game, there’s been a lot of love devoted into the soundtrack and the trophies that the game rewards you with. The original music is fairly decent, although previous outings have had better original scores than this provides, however the remixes have had a lot of care and attention and is easily one of the highlights of the game, even with the huge waves of nostalgia. The trophies too have had a lot of attention put in them and are surprisingly well detailed. Their descriptions are well written too and are often quite funny as well.
The real problem I have with this game though, is the fact that everything is simply too small to see on my original 3DS. The 3DS XL isn’t too much better and things are a little eye-straining. Both characters and items look like they need a magnifying glass to actually see, which makes it hard to keep track of what’s actually going on. On the XL, the situation is a little better but not by much. The problems really start to show when you’re on the bigger stages and the camera zooms out, which just make the game unplayable. It’s a rather large reminder that Smash Bros just really aren’t designed for handheld sysinstallmentsally wanted to like Super Smash Bros for 3DS, being a fan of the previous instalments. Sadly it falls flat where it really ought not to though. The local multiplayer is unplayable, the customizations feel like they’ve not been thought through enough, Smash Run is way too boring and the ability to actually see what you’re doing is way too bad for anyone who cherishes their eyesight. To make it worse, the Wii U version is set to be a lot more polished and a lot more accessible than it’s handheld counterpart, which just makes this feel like a pointless cash-in. It’s a shame, because this game is fun to play, but just has too many flaws to recommend over the Wii U version.