Developer: Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Games
Platform: Wii U
Release Date: November 21st
Super Smash Bros. for 3DS was a bold direction for the Smash Bros. series. Not only was it the first handheld Smash Bros. game, but it was the first to be released alongside a console version. For what it ended up being, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS was a good game. Hampering hardware aside, it was still a ton of fun to play and I’ll still play it on the go. What about Super Smash Bros. for Wii U? Is it worth it for those who held out for the past 2 months? Absolutely. Should you regret your 3DS version purchase? I guess it depends on how you look at it.
There’s no beating around the bush, it is inarguably true that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the better version in both quality and quantity. However, it is not the purpose of my review to slam Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, and that will not be reflected in the review score. Even though this situation is rather unique, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will be reviewed on its own terms and will only mention similarities and differences between versions, both good and bad.
Just as a refresher, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a 2D fighting game where up 4 players duke it out with various Nintendo characters on stages. The goal is to use a combination of Attacks, Special Attacks, and Smash Attacks to knock each other off of the stage. Its format is virtually identical to Smash 3DS, meaning that it personally sits between Melee and Brawl in terms of feel.
Unlike the 3DS version, Smash Wii U has a huge variety of controller and control options. After testing almost every type of controller, I found that the Gamecube and Wii U Gamepad/Pro Controllers offered the best play style. Still, if you prefer Wiimote + Nunchuck from Brawl, that option’s readily available.
Each control scheme can have a customized button layout (including C Stick/R Stick controls) and even the option to disable tapping Up to jump. Unfortunately, these are tied to usernames and these don’t stay active when you switch modes, so be sure to toggle your username before you start so that you don’t get stuck with a default setup.
Menu and UI design for Smash Wii U pretty much mirrors its 3DS counterpart, for better and for worse. The screen space afforded by a TV display makes for character and stage select screens that look so much nicer. Single-player and co-op content is still stuck behind the the Games & More section, but that makes sense for visual consistency.
The more powerful hardware of the Wii U also allows a variety of collectibles, which is one of the driving motivations of this game. Completing Smash Wii U feels like more of an accomplishment. Not only are there more things to collect, but elements like trophy cases really add to this feeling.
Graphically, Smash Wii U looks beautiful at 1080p and silky smooth at 60 FPS. The variety in characters as well as stages adds to this. The only point of contention I have is that edges don’t look too great with a lack of good anti-aliasing, but that’s hard to notice without pausing the game.
Sound design is similar to Smash 3DS, with all of the same sound effects and voice acting. A nice addition I really like is the Palutena’s Guidance easter egg. When you quickly press Pit’s down taunt while fighting on Palutena’s Temple, a conversation about one of the other fighters will begin, and they are rather cute and a nice touch.
Still, nothing in Smash Wii U’s sound design beats the fantastic music! If I could, I would rewrite my Top Ten Original Soundtracks and replace Smash 3DS. The default playlist contains over 300 songs, pulling from mainline games to obscure titles like Baten Kaitos Origins and the Japan-only X. Smash Wii U also has a My Music feature that lets you adjust the frequency of certain tracks for certain stages. That is pretty awesome, but I wish that there was a way to completely disable music you don’t like instead of setting it down to Rarely.
Smash Wii U’s presentation is all fine and dandy, but what would Smash be without the characters and stages? These two versions have the largest roster in the series history. With my experience of transitioning from Smash 3DS to Smash Wii U, I can see an awesome range of usability in the characters, from simpler (Mario, Kirby, Donkey Kong) to intermediate (Ike, Robin, Zero Suit Samus) to more complex (Little Mac, Greninja, Shulk).
The only factor that I don’t like about the roster is that too many characters have counters. Just off hand, I’d guess that almost one third of the Roster has a counter move, and that seems a bit excessive. Quite a few more have reflects as well. Still, the game feels somewhat balanced for the roster size.
Smash Wii U also has quite a few stages as well, with almost 40 unlocked by default. Personally, I wish that there were less flying-around-an-area stages, but there are plenty of other stage types to make for good variety. The only stage I outright dislike is The Great Cave Offensive, but I’ll touch more on that a bit later.
If you ever get tired of these stages, you could always make your own with the Stage Builder. The main foundation of stage creation is pretty robust. allowing for either set point-to-point straight lines or free-form drawing with the Wii U Gamepad. You do get a selection of stage hazards to use, but it’s toned down quite a bit from Brawl. It would be nice if some more would come in the future, but that remains to be seen.
Smash Wii U shares a few modes with Smash 3DS. All-Star, Classic, and a variety of minigames are also playable co-operatively, which is appreciated.
All-Star Mode is identical to Smash 3DS, but with the order of encountered characters reversed. Special Final Smash trophies are unlocked for each character you play as as opposed to alternative trophies in previous games, and these look much cooler.
The ability to customize characters and Mii Fighters returns in identical fashion. Connecting your 3DS also allows you to transfer your previously made ones into the Wii U version. You can also use your connected 3DS as a controller, and it feels surprisingly lagless, but it’s still an inferior option given the plethora of control schemes.
As mentioned earlier, the 3DS minigames return largely unchanged, and that kind of sucks. The only major change with these minigames is that the second round of Target Smash uses a bigger bomb. I really would have loved to have seen some modes like Break the Targets return proper.
One of the more dramatically changed modes returning in Smash Wii U is Classic Mode. It’s similar to Smash 3DS in that it uses a difficulty slider, but the way that you progress is much different. You select from clusters of fighters for each round. After 5 rounds, you square off against the Mii Fighters and then Final Destination.
As a final boss, you have Master Hand, Crazy Hand, and the various Swarm entities from Smash 3DS. However, there is also a final form that can be played at Lvl 8 of higher called Master Fortress. I wish that I could say more about it, but I haven’t been able to reach this point without failing. This is easily the most difficult Classic Mode in the series’ history, and I love it!
Don’t worry, Smash Wii U also has quite a few new modes as well. As you may have noticed with the Classic Mode board, this game marks the first Smash where up to 8 players can play simultaneously. It’s just as chaotic as you would expect it to be, but the game still holds up well considering what appears on screen, with no drop in quality or performance.
Your stage selection is limited to large ones to give the fighters breathing room. This is also the point of contention I have with The Great Cave Offensive. I dislike it mainly because it’s TOO big, and therefore makes your characters too small. On smaller TVs, your fighters’ size can even mirror their 3DS version size, and it makes it easy to lose track of your position.
Another big addition to Smash Wii U is Smash Tour. This mode is the Wii U’s version of Smash Run, and it is the game mode I prefer. It’s a bit hard to explain, but I’ll try to keep it simple. Smash Tour is a board game in which 4 players try to collect fighters and powerups. If two players encounter each other, a random Smash battle ensues. The goal is to collect as many fighters and powerups as you can for the final Smash. Admittedly, it takes a bit to get used to, but you’ll get the hang of it after a couple of rounds.
The real charm in Smash Tour is that it feels like Mario Party on steroids. The saltiness of the board game style is only amplified by the randomness of useable items and battles. You could argue that it’s isn’t really that great, but I still think that Smash Tour is an excellent party game within a party game. If you go in with those expectations, you’ll probably get a kick out of it.
The release of Smash Wii U was also the release of the first Amiibo wave, and Smash Wii U has the most sophisticated integration so far. By placing your Amiibo on the Gamepad’s NFC sensor, you get an Amiibo buddy to train. You can give it a color preset, a name, and even feed it items to increase its skills. Surprisingly, the Amiibo do learn from your play style.
I do have some complaints. The Amiibo get to Lvl 50 too fast. You can set up Time matches with Lvl 9 Computers and get the same quality of training, but you’ll max out your Amiibo in less than 3 hours. Another little niggle is that you can’t change your color preset unless you delete your user data. I still think that the Amiibos are cool as quality figures, but their game application is novel at best. Future Amiibo figures will likely stay in the box for me.
Out of all of the features I was anticipating for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, I was most worried about how the online functionality would work considering my poor impression of the 3DS version. It’s safe to say that those concerns have pretty much been laid to rest, as Smash Wii U’s online stability blows the 3DS version out of the water. Even on a 12Mbps Wi-Fi connection, Smash Wii U holds up pretty well. Free for All can stutter sometimes, but Team and 1v1 handles great.
The only thing I don’t really like about Smash Wii U’s online is the holdover of With Anyone match types. All matches are 2-Minutes Time except for 1v1 For Glory, which is 2 Stock, 5-Minute Limit. I get that it’s to prevent exploits, but it would be nice to have the option to play with a bigger selection of rules.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is arguably the best Smash Bros. in the franchise. Its presentation is a bit toned down from the sprawling epic that was Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but the sheer amount of quality content makes up for it. Pretty much every fighter and stage is fun to play with and most of the new mode additions and tweaks are equally fun. Some of the holdovers from the 3DS version and the novelty of the Amiibo figures are the only weak points i can think of, but the rest of the game is an excellent, complete package. If you own a Wii U or are looking to get one this holiday season, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a no-brainer addition to your library.