Review: Super Smash Bros (Nintendo 3DS)
The first part of a dual system launch has finally landed.
Smash Bros for the 3DS is now available in stores and the eShop, and nothing shows how hungry gamers were for this title than the 2.8 million sales it has secured in its first month of availability.
I'm not an avid Smash Bros gamer. I played the N64 version a few times and, due to my lack of N64 owning friends, didn't really get much time with it. Single player was fairly boring and any friends that did try the game out didn't have any attachment to the characters, thought the gameplay was shallow, and Goldeneye was swiftly turned on instead.
Since then I've dabbled in one or two rounds of Super Smash Bros Melee on the GameCube, and I even got my hands on the second part of this dual launch at E3: Super Smash Bros for Wii U.
Because of this, my review isn't going to go into how this version compares to previous iterations, what new systems have been incorporated, and whether or not fan favourites have been "nerfed". Instead, I'm going to take a look at how the game has transitioned to a portable platform, the pros and cons of Super Smash Bros (SSB) on the 3DS, and whether or not its worth your while.
With one less trigger and analog stick, compared to the GameCube controller (known to be THE controller for playing Smash Bros), fans were worried that the controls wouldn't transition to the 3DS successfully.
A lot of other fighting games on the 3DS utilise the touch-screen as a replacement and something like that would break the quick-fire nature of a game like SSB.
When the demo hit, that sentiment was echoed with many gamers hoping for control customisation in the final release.
One of the main types of moves, used to give high levels of damage or for dealing finishing moves to opponents, are the Smash Attacks. With a quick flick of the c-stick you could unleash 4 different Smash Attacks with ease. In the 3DS version, that quick flick is associated with the analog stick (the one you use for all your motion) and a press of the A button.
For the most part, this works, but the fears are somewhat warranted as picking up power-ups also uses the A button. What should be a simple dash and grab can become a back and forth of Smash Attacks as your opponent falls from above to grab said item. If the AI can take advantage of these shortcomings, you know your Smash Bros addicted friend will too.
That is, if (s)he hasn't destroyed their 3DS with their excitement.
While Mario Party on the N64 was known for destroying analog sticks, and the palm of your hand, it looks like Smash Bros may be the cause of broken 3DSs.
With the Smash Attacks being moved onto the 3DS's circle pad, gamers that really get into it are finding that the portable device may not be up to the task. It is becoming unfortunately common among hardcore fans to the point where some sites are giving detailed instructions on how you can buy and replace the circle pad yourself.
While I haven't noticed any lasting damage on my device, you only have to Google "Smash Bros Circle Pad" to see that a lot of people are hurting right now. With the New 3DS moving the Smash Attacks onto its new analog nub, only time will see if the new hardware can handle it. But it's not just the controls that the current hardware seems to be struggling with.
Something stood out to me when closing SSB for the 3DS or simply returning back to the home screen. Games that were loaded onto my SD card took a lot longer than normal to show up, and when closing the software my 3DS did a forced restart.
This, along with the fact that SSB takes much longer to start-up than any other 3DS game I own, made me think that there was something wrong with the current version, or maybe that recent firmware upgrade messed something up.
Upon further examination it seemed that I wasn't alone and that there's a rather interesting reason behind it. With SSB being a much bigger and more resource intensive game than any other before it, it seems as though the current 3DS model needs to do some resource juggling just to get the game working.
This is why Miiverse doesn't currently work while in the game, and it explains why none of these issues appear in the New 3DS thanks to its larger RAM size.
But enough about the technical pros and cons, you haven't come here to read about why Nintendo want you to pick up the New 3DS when it launches on November 21st, you're here because you're a Smash Bros fan and you want to know that you'll be able to successfully play against strangers around the world whenever you like, as well as take on your friends in those lazy Sunday get-togethers outside JB Hifi on Willis St.
Nintendo have done everything possible to ensure that no matter how you want to play SSB you'll be able to do it, and that includes moving all of those options to online games. They even utilise weekly Conquests to try and persuade you to try different characters.
Conquests are an online only feature where Nintendo pit a selection of characters against each other and the winner is determined by which character wins the most fights that week. It's not a separate mode, it grabs all the information from the many online battles happening at any one time.
Nintendo have even given gamers the option to spectate, which is a lot more addictive than it sounds. Instead of just watching, you're given the chance to bet up to 100 of your gold coins (collected after every fight) on a player. You're given their probability of winning and their odds.
It's effectively like stepping into a miniature TAB and knowing that there's always a fight ready to go. As soon as one ends another begins. Each and every fight I've spectated has played flawlessly with absolutely no lag, it's just unfortunate I can't say that about playing online.
The online service has been so bad that I simply gave up after one battle had a recurring 5 second lag. They weren't all that bad, but when you can't be guaranteed a great experience there's very little reason to return.
I assume this is in part due to the fact that there are few New Zealanders playing right now, but also that I seemed to be teamed up against Japanese players time and time again.
Like previous Smash Bros games before it, it looks like the best way to play will be with friends. Oh, and there's no download play here, so you will all need a copy of the game.
When Smash Bros works (which is effectively everything outside of playing online) it's great. No, it's amazing.
Sure, there will be moments where, due to the size of the screens, you may lose sight of your character but those moments are brief and don't occur often. The game controls almost perfectly, the audio is spot on, the 3D effects add a lot to the presentation, and the fan service is unlike any other game out there.
Not only is each and every character perfectly recreated, but they bring their universes with them.
The F-Zero inspired battleground is sitting on and above a live race based on the SNES classic (complete with SNES graphics). The Warioware battlefield gets interrupted with mini-games you can win/lose. Tortimer Island (from Animal Crossing: New Leaf) has an alternate music track featuring Kapp'n's endearing musical talent.
When I sit back and think about Smash Bros I think about how amazed a gamer from the mid 90s would find it.
You have Pac-Man, Sonic, Mario, and Donkey Kong all in the same game. They're FIGHTING each other along with a massive roster of game characters from beloved franchises. Other games like Galaga and Pong show up to make life harder.
The Super Smash Bros franchise captures Nintendo's videogame history beautifully and its arrival on the 3DS means that you can now enjoy it wherever you go.
Super Smash Bros for 3DS
Developer: Namco Bandai, Project Sora
Platforms: Wii U, 3DS