Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Super Smash Bros. 3DS

Post-Launch Review
Super Smash Bros (3DS)
Developer: Sora Ltd. / Bandai Namco Games
Released: September - October 2014
Played: 98h38min as of this writing, 99% complete


Super Smash Bros. is an accessible, fast-paced fighting game where you can play as 49 characters from Nintendo's biggest franchises. Rack up your opponents' damage and knock them off the stage!

At Launch

Reviews have been positive, averaging scores of 85%. Reviewers praised the huge roster, the multiplayer, and the refinement of game mechanics. The main criticisms are the lack of single player modes and a few technical issues, such as the small screen size making it difficult to see characters when zoomed out, or latency problems when playing online.

Post Launch

A few patches have been released to fix bugs and update character balance, as well as to enable the online Conquest mode.
Mewtwo has been announced as a free DLC character for players who purchase both the 3DS and Wii U versions of the game. He'll be available as paid DLC for players who own one version of the game.

I'm a long-time Smash Bros. fan. My three brothers and I played the N64 game at friends' houses whenever we could. In 2001 we all saved up together to buy a GameCube and Super Smash Bros. Melee, and we put in hundreds of hours over the years. We didn't play as much of Brawl since we'd started moving out to university, but we still made sure to get together and play from time to time. But now there's a new one, so obviously I had to buy it the minute it came out, regardless of my usual patient gaming habits.

The point of all that is to tell you that I've played quite a lot of Smash Bros. over the years and I love the series. Since I have so much experience with the series there will be some comparisons to previous games, I may be overly technical, and I may not think to explain some elements of the game during this review, but I'll try my best. So here we go!

New Smash Bros. is awesome.

I almost want to just leave it at that and go back to playing Smash Bros., but that would make this an awfully irresponsible review. So I'll start with the handful of negatives.

The game initially felt a teensy bit light on content compared to previous Smashes, mostly because there are no challenge missions and less customization for multiplayer matches. But the more I played the more I realized my complaint was unfounded. Everything else is still present - classic mode, all star mode, challenge panels, multi-man smash, home run contest, target smash, trophy collections and a trophy mini-game. And there are two new modes: streetsmash and smash run.

Streetsmash is okay I guess. It's basically a quick round of bumper cars where you earn coins. I've definitely seen better streetpass features.

Smash run, on the other hand, is really cool. It's a local multiplayer (or AI) mode where you get five minutes to run around a gigantic stage, building up your stats and collecting rewards by defeating enemies, completing challenges, and opening treasure chests. Once your five minutes are up, you play a randomly-chosen match using the stat bonuses you collected. This can be a standard smash battle, a modified smash battle, a race or climb, or a KO challenge. The short duration of the final match is a little disappointing, but smash run is quite a bit of fun and has a lot of variety. I haven't managed to play with actual people yet since it's local only and I'm just good enough at Smash that my friends don't usually play with me (though nowhere near competitive level).

You also get to customize your characters now, using alternate special moves and custom parts that you collect through gameplay. This opens up a ton more variation - each character has two alternate options for each special, plus there's all that equipment. You can do quite a lot of tinkering and adapt characters to your fighting style. Very cool. Unfortunately it can be pretty frustrating to collect equipment, since it's mostly rewarded at random. There are a few tricks to improve your odds, but collecting parts is time consuming.

The game manages to run at 60 frames per second on the 3DS, which is pretty impressive, and it makes the game feel so much smoother and more responsive than any 3DS game I've played. Being used to the Gamecube controller threw me off briefly, but the controls adapt quite well to the 3DS as long as you don't smash the circle pad too hard (which is something I've never understood, I've always been gentle with my controllers without my gameplay taking a hit). 

But what Smash Bros. has always done best is fun and accessibility in the roster and combat mechanics, and those are absolutely in top form. The newcomers are mostly amazing, and do a lot of new things with the combat system. Shulk (from Xenoblade) can shuffle his stats on the fly, Little Mac has a charge-up meter that changes his B special, Palutena has a crazy up smash and a lot of neat specials, Pac-Man and Duck Hunt drop persistent objects onto the stage, and Mega Man and the Mii Gunner have very long-range smash attacks. There are a couple of clone characters, which always disappoints a little bit, though apparently they were intended as alternate costumes and were only converted to full characters at the last minute to expand the roster just a little more. Which, okay, I guess.

I forced myself to play as every character a bunch of times, mainly for the challenges, some of which will tell you to do X with every character. I knew I'd like Greninja no matter how he played, but I was actually quite surprised to find that I enjoy some newcomers that I didn't expect to, like Rosalina & Luma or Palutena - they have much more interesting move sets than I thought, and have some neat tricks up their sleeves. Shulk also impressed me for being a distinct variation on the swordsman theme. I was also surprised to find how fun the Miis are. Gunner and Brawler seem more viable than Swordsman, but all three have some cool options, and it's always fun to add goofy Miis via QR code (like Leonidas, Hellboy, a clone trooper, or Billy Mays) and fight with them in Smash Bros.

Online is a bit of a disappointment, though. There are frequent latency problems, generally causing the match to pause for a few seconds. This happens more often and more severely with 4-player matches, so you'll usually be okay if playing 1v1. Personally I don't play online much, I'd rather play locally with friends or work on the challenges.

I'm feeling like this review is a little more scattered and descriptive than I intended, so I'll wrap things up by saying that Smash Bros. is pure fun. I normally don't like fighting games, but Smash Bros.' accessibility and recognizable characters make it very easy to get into and fun to play. This entry in the series feels like the most refined yet, and now that we're actually getting post-launch balance patches, I think we're going to see an incredibly fine-tuned game. I love Smash Bros. and so should you.

Recommendation: play it.

No comments:

Post a Comment