It has been six years since Super Smash Bros. Brawl came to the Nintendo Wii and towards the end of 2014 we are getting two brand new Smash games – one for the Wii U and the franchise’s first handheld outing on the 3DS. A handheld version has long been a popular request of fans but how does it hold up to its console brothers?
For those who has never played a Smash Bros game, the premise is simple: a 2-4 person brawler combining Nintendo and third-party characters doing battle across a number of stages from the characters respective franchises. It is widely regarded as being one of the best local multiplayer games- with characters that are easily recognisable and gameplay that is easily accessible but with the ability to master; perhaps why it is a popular e-sport. The question is, does this translate well to a hand-held?
The resounding answer is yes. Super Smash Bros for the 3DS is one of the best versions of the game thus far. It will be familiar to anyone who has played the Wii version, as it shares a lot of the same characters and stages but it has been tweaked for handheld play. The controls are still standard Smash Bros with a heavy attack button, a light attack and a jump button. The attacks change depending on the direction you steer the thumb stick. It is tried and tested and still works great here. The character roster is the largest for a Smash game, sporting fifty-one characters; with the likes of Mario, Link, Pikachu and all the usual fighters but with seventeen new ones including Pac-man, Mega man, Wii fit trainer and the Animal Crossing Villager amongst many more and the ability to use your Mii as a fighter. For the most part these fighters are all welcome and the Villager is very unique, but as a Metal Gear Solid fan I’m very disappointed Solid Snake has been omitted from the roster. There was definitely a chance to at least put Naked Snake/Big Boss in the game due to Metal Gear Solid 3 being ported to the 3DS but this is just a personal gripe and it could be DLC in the future. Overall the fighter roster is large and diverse and there will be a fighter to cater to every Nintendo fan.
Nintendo have nailed the look and feel of this game and it is one of the best looking and sounding 3DS games. The graphics capture the feel of each of the represented franchises, they are very sharp and it runs at a constant sixty frames per second. The different stages are themed on games such as Warioware, Super Mario, Punch-out and The Legend of Zelda as well as 3DS exclusive and inspired stages such as Animal Crossing New Leaf, Nintendogs, Super Mario 3D Land as well as others, all boasting soundtracks from the games that inspired them. While this helps provide a reason to buy both the versions of this year’s Smash Bros, the 3DS is lacking in content. It has a 3DS exclusive mode called Smash Run where players battle a variety of Nintendo enemies to receive perks then fight a standard four player battle to finish the mode off. While fun, it cannot hold a candle to the Brawl’s campaign mode and it is largely forgettable. While there are challenges and mini-games, the meat of the game is found in the single player and multiplayer matches.
The Multiplayer is a huge improvement over Brawl’s, but that isn’t saying much. Matches are easy to find and run a stable rate, but the online matches are dominated by the less skilful, strong characters such as Bowser, and anyone hoping to play competively will be disappointed. Attacks are often delayed or missed. While fun, anyone hoping to play Smash competitively should wait for the Wii U version.
Overall Super Smash Bros for the 3DS is faithful to the series and improves on it. This portable version caters perfectly to the smaller amount of content provided by the 3DS version, encouraging shorter play sessions. Any Nintendo fan will appreciate the reverence in which the game has created the look and feel of the characters and stages, while the gameplay remains as fluid and addictive as ever. This is one of the 3DS’s best offerings and it will make the wait for Super Smash Bros on the Wii U that much easier.