Developer: Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Games
Release Date: October 3rd
*Note* Because of the 3DS system requirements of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, screenshots were taken off-screen and not in the normal fashion through Miiverse. As such, most of the screenshots are lower quality, but these still well-represent the points stated in this review.
Well, it’s finally here. One of the biggest 3DS releases of this year that people have been clamoring for. Super Smash Bros. on a handheld seems like a good idea on paper, I mean who wouldn’t want to play some Smash on the go? Does the portable part of the next series entry hold up? For the most part, yes. However, it has glaring issues that should be noted.
Super Smash Bros. for 3DS doesn’t have a story like some of the previous entries, so I’ll go over the game basics for those who haven’t played before. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS pits up to four players to fight and try to knock each other off of a stage with various attacks and specials. As players take damage, their ability to get launched by attacks increases. The two main score systems are Time (Get as many K.O.s as you can within the time limit) and Stock (players have a set number of lives, last man standing wins).
I would describe the combat design of Smash for 3DS as superior to Brawl and on par with Melee. Fighting is technical and the sheer size of the roster creates various match-ups. Movesets of this many characters takes practice, which can be done in matches or in a separate Training Mode.
Really though, this game would probably be better than Melee if it weren’t for the controls. The fault mainly lies in the Circle Pad not conveying analog movement as well as a joystick would. This is necessary to differentiate between Strong Attacks and Smash Attacks. As a side point, I also miss having both L and R for Shield/Dodge like in Melee, but that’s a personal preference.
Visually, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS definitely has the Smash Bros. Brawl feel. The menu and UI design go so far as to mirror it and some of Sakurai’s other games like Kirby Air Ride and Kid Icarus: Uprising. The layout is tad obtuse at first. If you’ve played Smash games before, it’s a bit weird to see the single-player modes put behind the Games & More section. Some design decision like the character select screen also looked watered down and plain.
It’s surprising to see this game on par with other Smash games considering that it is on a handheld system. Nevertheless, this comes with both the good and bad of a lower-power machine. Art direction looks simple and low-demand, but still looks great. On top of that, each character gets 8 alternate color schemes. These can include alternate skins like Alph for Olimar or male and female versions of Wii-Fit Trainer, Robin, and Villager.
As those who have their own 3DS can attest to, the smaller screen of a handheld doesn’t compare to the large display of a television. This, especially on the original 3DS, is hard to get used to at first. Even after you adjust, it can still be hard to track your character in the thick of battle.
I really do enjoy the music that plays in Smash games, and Super Smash Bros. for 3DS has my favorite music yet. Original scores, remixed tracks, and music from various franchise are pulled together into one package for some excellent music. Granted, the amount of music is much lower than in Brawl and Smash for 3DS borrows quite a few of its tracks. Sound design is also great, aside from some of the voice acting seeming a bit off.
As alluded to before, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS does away with the Subspace Emissary story design of Brawl. The game does still have returning modes to take its place, like Classic and All-Star.
Classic is pretty similar to previous titles with a few notable tweaks. The mode difficulty is now a precise slider akin to Kid Icarus: Uprising. Each series between stages now has three branching paths you can choose from, with green being the easiest and red being the hardest. This is a good mode to get a feel of the strengths and weaknesses of each character and is useful for finding your favorites.
All-Star changes up what I remember playing from Melee in particular. This mode pits your character against the roster of Smash for 3DS. The order that the roster appears is chronological, being based on the release year of the characters’ debut titles. You maintain damage after each wave, but you get the chance to heal some by items found in between stages. All-Star is generally harder, so be sure to bring your best.
Both of these modes provide various collectables like Trophies, Equipment, and Gold. Trophies are the main collectable, while Gold can be used to buy Trophies, increase the difficulty of Classic Mode, and wagering on spectated online matches. As for Equipment, I’ll get into more detail on that a bit later.
The biggest new mode added to Super Smash Bros. for 3DS has to be Smash Run, and it’s a pretty great mode at that. If you’ve ever played Kirby Air Ride’s City Trial, you’ll be right at home here.
In this mode, you have 5 minutes to traverse the labyrinth, defeating enemies, and collecting power-ups. Power-ups come in 6 categories; Speed, Jump, Attack, Special, Arms, and Defense. At the end, a random challenge will occur, like a Smash match with unique rules or climbing as high as you can in a vertical stage.
I’m still having fun with this mode, but I can see Smash Run getting old for some, mainly because the labyrinth never changes. I imagine it’s even more fun when playing with your friends, but you can only do this locally.
There are plenty of other smaller single-player modes available in Smash for 3DS, but they just feel like distractions with no real meat to them. In Melee, you had modes like Break the Targets and Home-Run Contest to help teach you the ins and outs of your character. Now, these modes just take up space.
I knew of the added customization options included in the both the 3DS and the upcoming Wii U version, but actually getting a chance to get some hand-on makes me really appreciate it. Customization comes in two flavors, Equipment and Specials.
Equipment changes your base Attack, Defense, and Speed stats. Most Equipment will raise one stat and lower another, so to compensate, you can equip them on characters skilled in that stat or add another one to counter it. Specials allow you to change the way that Special Attacks work. Their main characteristics stay the same, but factors like range, strengths, and weaknesses vary.
This is also where the Mii Fighters come into play. They have the most variety when it come to customization options since entire movesets can be altered and not just the factors. Overall, having customization is pretty fun, but only having access in single-player and With Friends means that you may find its usefulness limited.
With that, this is probably a good segway into my biggest problem with Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. Sadly, the online features are incredibly disappointing, since it just doesn’t hold up. The way that the game seems to handle latency is by slowing down, which results in choppy gameplay. It can get bad enough that the game can freeze entirely. Sometimes it can fix itself, but don’t be surprised if you are forced to back out of the match.
My connection isn’t fantastic at 12 Mbps, but it works just fine for online play on other consoles. The first few days were especially bad, but it’s improved a little bit. Still, the only successful games I’ve played were in 1v1 For Glory, and even these still had input lag.
Your gameplay options are also very limited when playing With Anyone, which is likely to account for the increased anti-cheat systems put in place. If you want to play Stock or for longer than 2 minutes, you’re out of luck. As of now, the only mode that allows that is 1v1 For Glory’s 2 Stock with a 5-Minute Limit. This is probably the only mode I can recommend for the time being.
I hope that this gets resolved in the coming weeks, but for now, it tarnishes the good qualities of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. In the meantime, your best bet to get the most out of the multiplayer is local, but at that point, I don’t see why you wouldn’t be better off picking up the Wii U version instead.
Super Smash Bros. for 3DS does what you would expect, which is allow you to play Smash on the go. Really though, that’s all it does. The gameplay is functional and still fun, but control and visual issues will likely hamper your experience. Most of the new characters are awesome additions, even with the presence of clones like Dark Pit and characters that remain largely unchanged from Brawl. New modes are great and all, but they lose their appeal when you are forced to remove others that were better. Frankly, with the Wii U version coming next month, I don’t see much of a reason to pick this up. If you’re hyped for Smash and can’t wait, you’ll get a great deal of fun from this. Otherwise, it’s hard to recommend.
|Mac Wentz|| Mac is a senior editor for iTechTriad who focuses almost entirely on all things gaming. With experience on the PC, Xbox, and PlayStation, he has a soft spot for all things Nintendo.