When I’m considering an article for this site, I do have to wonder how much what I can talk about can seem obvious. I mean, anyone who knows that Nintendo made consoles after the SNES knows what Super Smash Bros. is, or at least should. I’m sure I’m not alone in having a lot of fond memories of crazy free-for-alls with friends vigorously pushing their Nintendo character of choice to the max. Putting it on a mobile platform just seems like it would make it way more awesome. There are obvious challenges to porting a console title to something much smaller and much less powerful like Sony’s Playstation Vita or Nintendo’s 3DS, but Nintendo’s already proven they can do this reliably and without problems. So when I bought it, I expected it to be an awesome port of one of my favorite games of all time, and it is.
But then I considered the fact that my local GameStop employee said each store only got around half a dozen copies at launch, of which they ran out within the first week they had them. And there’s the fact that my local Best Buy did actually have a lot of pre-order copies, but a dozen of them were sitting at the Customer Service counter, still unclaimed by their orderers. And I wonder how much people might have forgotten about this game in the wake of other big games being launched like Alien: Isolation, Evil Within, Borderlands: The Pre-sequel, and the swath of games that are about to come out next month.
The reality is that I think this game is an essential part of any gamer’s collection and I would say that Super Smash Bros. actually fits better on the 3DS than it does on console. For one thing, you don’t have to pull out and dust off your forgotten Wii in order to play with friends again. Even better, you don’t have to buy a $250 console (Wii U) that you’ll never buy another game for because even EA doesn’t want to make games for it. Instead, you can pull out something you probably already have, or even if you don’t, you can get for pretty damn cheap these days, and relive the greatness of this incredible game.
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The Inevitable Description
For those of you who don’t know what the heck I’m talking about and maybe I just insulted you by claiming it’s blasphemy that you don’t know what Super Smash Bros. is, well sorry. But I guess I should explain what this game is, even if it seems like a ridiculous endevour to me.
So, at its base, this is a fighting game. You and your opponent (CPU or human) choose your fighter and go at it. But unlike most fighting games, you don’t bash each other’s faces in until your arbitrary health meter goes to 0. Instead, your health bar is more of a percentage that starts at 0 and goes up every time you get hit. The higher the percentage, the more easily someone can “Smash” you. This means that when your character get up to about 100% (although it can be less too depending on the attack and the character), another character can land a heavy strike on you and your character will go flying off screen. Of course, if your character happens to fall off the side of a cliff, a la Mario deaths, and you can’t double jump your way back up to the level, then your character will explode in a vertical beam of light and be respawned at the center of the map.
Oddly enough, it’s a fighting game that’s centered around the “ring-out” mechanic that pretty much every fighting game fan, including myself, seems to hate. But it works for some reason, and I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because ring-out is the only option. Maybe it’s because a ring-out isn’t really that easy to achieve with these crazy double jumping and spinning and generally ninja-level acrobatics characters.
Oh, and also unlike most fighting games, this game features cute and cuddly Nintendo characters. Except that they’re fighting with all their crazy weird magical powers and genre oddities. There’s something special about fighting off Sheik, Megaman, and Charizard with a Villager from Animal Crossing. Or using Princess Peach to umbrella attack Wario, Bowser, and Link because why not. Or even using Little Mac from Super Punch-out to beat the daylights out of King DeDeDe, Captain Falcon, and Donkey Kong. You can even play as the Wii Fit Trainer and Yoga pose at people to death.
But this is the charm that sells to game to me and its many fans. It’s a fighting game that’s so silly that it’s not possible to take it seriously. And then just imagine that the game play is also really fun. The controls are simple, there are no crazy Up Up Left Left Down Right B A B A combos you have to memorize. Just two attack buttons that combine with directional buttons or simply holding it down longer along with jump and double jump. They do change things up with random drops that add weapons with special powers, rocket launchers, turrets, things to throw, Mario-esque fire flowers, really hot chili, food, etc. These random drops are sometimes the most fun part of a battle. Just imagine picking up a pokeball and throwing it at someone’s face to open it. Or smacking Bowser with a baseball bat and seeing him smash up against the inside of the screen. Or seeing someone get abducted by a Space Invader and being carried off screen.
Now just imagine that with all that craziness going on, you’ve also got four characters on the screen simultaneously fighting each other for dominance and all fighting for these drops when they come down. It’s chaotic, it’s silly, but it’s also fun.
Mobile Couch Co-op
The best thing you can do in Super Smash Bros. is play against other people. As I said above, I remember this game so well because of chaotic matches with friends. But the problem is that mobile platforms are solo platforms by definition. Sure, there are games that you can play online on the 3DS, the Vita, and even your cell phone. But there’s something special about being able to play against your friends in the same room.
And this is exactly what they brought to their version of the game for the 3DS. The 3DS has always been a very social platform to play on, but this game steps it up a notch by allowing you to play with your friends over a local WiFi connection. This does mean that your friends have to have their own 3DS, their own copy of Smash Bros., and they all have to be under the same WiFi connection, but the result is that you can play nearly every game mode with a friend. All you need to do is select the “Group” option instead of the “Solo” option when selecting your game, choose who’s going to host, and have the others join you.
Of course, Nintendo did not forget about hermits who only interact with people online. There are only a couple of online modes, all of them including just the standard 4 player 2vs2 or free-for-all Smash games, but the fact is that even if you have no friends, you can still enjoy the player vs. player competition online. If you wish, you can also play in the Conquest mode, which allows you to join up with a team (red, blue or green) and play ranked matches against the other teams to increase your team’s notoriety.
For newbie players and advanced players alike, I suggest checking out the “Spectate” mode. Here, you can watch other online matches in progress, and even participate in a little gambling with in-game gold to predict the outcome of these matches. Newbies and pros alike can always get tips from watching other games, and it’s nice to see this feature thrown in.
Holy Crap There’s a Lot to Do in This Game
But in the above, I only really talk about one game mode. Smash battles. Okay, sure, it’s the main part of the game and the main drive within the game. But there are six (6) other game modes not including online spectating and the online-only Conquest match-making.
And here’s where I’d like to note a slight complaint I have against this game. The menu system is really convoluted. On the main screen, you’ll see the big red SMASH button, Online, Challenge (this is where you find out how to unlock certain trophies), Smash Run, and then Games & More. Games & More? What’s all the other stuff?
The reality is that the icons they use on this interface are way too big to be able to fit everything into one screen, so they included this “Games & More” section as a way to shove some more stuff in. But even if you enter this new menu, you’ll be confronted with options for Solo, Group, Custom, Vault, and Options. No, they didn’t put the options menu on the front page, you have to know that it’s in the “Games & More” section. Furthermore, this “Vault” is where all your trophies and replays and records and whatever live. Why isn’t this in the Challenges menu? Heck if I know. But if you go into the Vault and then enter Trophies, you’ll find yet another game mode called “Trophy Rush.”
So then if you enter Solo, from this menu, you’ll see big icons for “Classic,” “All-Star,” “Training,” and “Stadium.” Most of this is self-explanatory (thanks to the explanation on the bottom screen anyway, but if you go into “Stadium,” you’ll be confronted with three more game modes: “Multi-Man Smash, Target Blast!, and Home-Run Contest. Jeez, that’s a lot of game modes hidden in a lot of places. Things get even worse if you take into account that Multi-Man Smash will actually open up 6 additional game modes as well.
So that’s all to say that while the interface can be a bit stupid and convoluted at times, there’s still a metric sphincter-ton of ways to play this game.
A new game mode specific to the Nintendo 3DS. This mode puts your character through a Castlevania-like 2D dungeon where you fight monsters and collect power-ups to beef up your character for a final battle. At the same time, your opponents are also going through the dungeon and getting powered up. At the end of 5 minutes, you teleport to a standard Smash Bros. map and face off against your beefed up opponents.
However, this is one of the most often criticized game modes in this new version, precisely because it’s really friggin hard. The monsters in the dungeons are relentless and will swarm you at a moment’s notice. If you die, you will reset in a new dungeon, but you’ll lose about 15 seconds of your precious 5 minutes of beefing time. To add to the complexity, you’ve also got to keep an eye on your character’s weight, because the heavier they are, the more power-ups they can carry. If you gather too many speed bonuses, you’ll get lighter and lose your capacity. If you lose your speed, you’ll get heavier and be able to do more damage. It’s a lot of things to keep in mind while running through one of the hardest dungeons of your life, especially when your opponents are beefing themselves up along with you.
While I’ll agree that this mode is rather difficult, I also really like it because it’s so different from the typical Smash Bros. routine. With a little practice, I’ll bet I can even things out a bit, but this might actually be a mode that’s more fun to play with other people.
This is supposed to be an analogue for the story-mode of previous versions, but it’s not. There’s literally no story being told (which is for the better, honestly). You just take your character from challenge to challenge, choosing either a red, green or blue path with each one, and then move on to the Master Hand, the final boss (if you have no idea what that is, don’t worry about it).
Each path will be delineated by a different color, a different symbol representing the specific Nintendo game the characters will be drawn from, and sometimes you’ll get higher gold rewards by walking certain paths over others. Besides that, I haven’t noticed a significant difference in difficulty between the paths. However, before start your journey, you will be asked to pay gold to set your difficulty. The higher the difficulty, the more gold you have to pay, but the greater the rewards will be.
All-Star is literally a trip down memory lane from Nintendo. The idea is to take a single character, or a friend with another 3DS over local WiFi, through every game represented in Smash Bros. chronologically. In doing so, you fight the entire roster from a game or multiple games within the same time period with a limited array of power-ups and with no extra lives. Thankfully, the opponents are generally very weak and just require a few hits to finish off, but the hard part comes with facing them all. Keep in mind, though, that you cannot fully complete this mode until you have unlocked every character in the game.
First of all, I want to mention that there are 6 different game modes for this one, but I’m not going to detail all of them, because they are different formulas of the same thing. This game mode is fairly similar to All-Star in that you are fighting waves of multiple characters with just one of your own characters (or two if you have a friend over local WiFi with another 3DS), but instead of fighting classic Nintendo characters, you are fighting a completely new character type for Super Smash Bros. Basically, they are randomly generated Miis that are either labeled as Brawlers (hand-to-hand fighting), Swordfighters, or Gunners. They’re weak, generally taking only one heavy attack to finish off, but you’ll also be facing off against 10, 100, or an endless amount of them.
Target Blast & Homerun Contest
These are mini games that are simply tests of skill. All you need to do is try to get your character to deal as much damage to a bomb (priming it?) or a sandbag (the bag is a masochist…seriously) in a short amount of time and then hit it with a well-timed launch attack to get it as far as possible. And in the case of the bomb, blow up as much stuff as possible. Sounds simple, but these are actually pretty challenging tasks that take a lot of coordination to pull off. This isn’t really my bag, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who will love this sort of thing.
I’m a sucker for fighting games that let you build your own characters. When I’m playing a fighting game, I’m rarely invested in the character I’m playing with because fighting games generally don’t have enough lore or character development to really be able to get invested in a character. If someone ever made a Star Wars fighting game, maybe I could invest myself in the characters. But until then, the only way I’ll ever get so invested in a character as to play him or her over and over again while building a story in my head of the victories (yeah, I’m a dork, deal with it), is to be able to build my own character.
And guess what? You can absolutely do that in Smash Bros. Sort of. The customization is fairly limited, but you can pick a Mii, either from a pre-generated list or from a Mii that you’ve created and attach one of the three Mii-based fighting styles I listed above (Brawler, Swordfighter, Gunner). From there, you get four different special attacks with three different choices for each one, and you can attach equipment that will give you bonuses to your Attack, Protection, and Speed. As you play the game, you’ll unlock additional equipment pieces which will give you greater bonuses and even add aesthetic effects. For instance, I have a Brawler right now that wields a light sword because his equipment says so.
Of course, you can also unlock outfits and headgear which will further customize the look of your character. Unlock further stuff by playing Classic mode in greater difficulties.
Oddly enough, this customization also extends to the game’s regular characters. While at first, there’s very little customization to do except for add equipment bonuses, you will eventually unlock new and upgraded specials. You don’t get as much appearance customization as with the Miis, but it’s awesome that you can create additional builds of standard characters for you bidding.
Keep in mind though that this customization does not transfer online. When playing online, you will be playing with only authorized Nintendo characters with no bonuses added. But, this also means the playing field is leveled, so I’m okay with that. It seems that these upgrades and customizations do work with all the local game modes, solo and over local WiFi, so at least you’re not doing all this customization just to not be able to use it.
A Rediculous List of Playable Characters
If you want lots of characters, you’ll get them here. In addition to the numerous customizable characters you can create, you’ve also got a whopping 51 available playable characters from various Nintendo franchises. If you’re curious which characters, I’ve included them below.
|Fighter||Franchise||How to Unlock|
|Bowser Jr.||Mario||Play 100 Smash Matches|
|Dark Pit||Kid Icarus||Play 50 Smash Matches|
|Diddy Kong||Donkey Kong|
|Donkey Kong||Donkey Kong|
|Dr. Mario||Mario||Play 60 Smash Matches|
|Duck Hunt||Duck Hunt||Play 110 Smash Matches|
|Falco||Star Fox||Play 20 Smash Matches|
|Ganondorf||The Legend of Zelda||Play 80 Smash Matches|
|Jigglypuff||Pokemon||Play 120 Smash Matches|
|Link||The Legend of Zelda|
|Lucina||Fire Emblem||Play 40 Smash Matches|
|Mega Man||Mega Man|
|Mr. Game & Watch||Game & Watch||Play 90 Smash Matches|
|Ness||Earthbound||Play 10 Smash Matches|
|R.O.B.||Gyromite/Stack-Up||Play 70 Smash Matches|
|Rosalina & Luma||Mario|
|Sheik||The Legend of Zelda|
|Sonic||Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Toon Link||The Legend of Zelda|
|Wario||Wario||Play 30 Smash Matches|
|Wii Fit Trainer||Wii Fit|
|Young Link||The Legend of Zelda|
|Zelda||The Legend of Zelda|
|Zero Suit Samus||Metroid|
Yes, I realize there are other ways of unlocking the characters that aren’t starters. Most of these ways are rather innane though. Like to unlock Bowser Jr., you have to finish Classic mode with a 6.0 intensity (out of 10) without dying once. Would I rather do that or play a bunch of Smash matches…hmm let’s see… Basically, the other ways don’t matter because all you need to do is play 1 on 1 matches that are timed to some super low number 120 times and you’ll unlock all characters. That’s the best way to do it, bar-none. So don’t worry about the other methods.
So What’s Your Excuse?
Like trophies and rankings unlockable maps and all that, but if you’re not convinced by now, then there’s no hope for you. This game has always been amazing and this new iteration of the genre just pumps it up a notch.
Now some people might be worried about the small screen size of the 3DS and even the 3DS XL. To be truthful, I can see this as being a valid concern. When the four players are spread out over the map, the game zooms out so much that the characters start to look pretty damn small. But in reality, I’ve never had a problem with controlling my character on screen. In fact, I’ve actually had more problems keeping in touch with my character’s superposition on big TV screens that you sit 15 feet away from than the tiny screen that’s 5 inches from my face.
So in any case, why are you still reading this? You should be getting this game, right now. Need a place to get it? How about you go to my Amazon Affiliates link and pick it up there:
Don’t have a 3DS? Well get one. Like I said, they’re not too expensive these days, and if you like games, you should probably have one anyway. There’s a ton of great quality games on Nintendo’s handheld, and you should be playing them. If you need to buy a 3DS, go buy one at my Amazon Affiliates link and help keep me writing about stuff I like:
Stop reading now. Srsly. Go buy it.