Since 1999, Super Smash Bros. has been one of Nintendo’s hottest properties. The love letter to fans in the form of a fighting game has had some of the best gameplay and atmosphere of any game out there and after its triumphant introduction to hand-helds with Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, the game is franchise on consoles with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Developed alongside the 3DS version, the first ever high definition Smash Bros. game shares a lot with its handheld component, but has more content than you can shake a stick at, and is without a doubt some of the best gaming that the Wii U has to offer.
This is a Smash Bros. game so the basics remain largely unchanged from the original 1999 game. You play as one of Nintendo’s brightly-coloured, hugely popular franchise mascots and pit them against one another in epic combat. Smash Bros. has always managed to differentiate itself from other fighting games in some very real, very notable ways. Firstly, instead of relying on impressive combos or sweeping controller inputs to deal damage to your opponents, Smash Bros. has a simplistic “specials” system. There are two attack buttons, and which directional input you press while tapping them will change what moves you make. There are normal attacks, and specials that draw on the power of the character. So for example, Pikachu has a lot of light attacks where he headbutts his opponent or hits them with his tail, but can sling electric attacks like its nobody’s business. The second major difference between Smash and other fighting games is that outside of a few special modes, it doesn’t use a traditional HP system. Instead, the aim of the game is to knock them off the edge of the map so that they plummet to their death and the more damage you rack up on them, the futher away they will fly, making it harder for them to get back to the safety of the map.
So now we have gotten the basics down, lets talk about Smash Bros. for Wii U specifically. With a staggering roster of 49 characters, this is the biggest Smash Bros game to date. The characters span from the usual mascots like Mario, Link, Samus and Pikachu all the way to some obscure inclusions like Little Mac (from the Punch Out franchise), Shulk (from Xenoblade) and the Wii Fit Trainer. Each character has their own strengths, weaknesses and play styles, and the diversity of the roster leads itself to a near-endless amount of playability, as you can pick a different character every time you play and have a completely different experience.
Smash Bros for 3DS had a couple of game modes to keep players interested, but the level of content is absolutely dwarfed by its bigger brother. While the game’s main focus is the traditional “Smash” battles, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has an absolute smorgasboard of single and multiplayer game modes to ensure that you will never have a reason to put down that controller.
The biggest addition that the 3DS version of Smash brought to the franchise was the Smash Run. Unfortunately that is not present here on the Wii U, but in its place we have a new game mode known as Smash Tour. Smash Tour operates a lot like Mario Party and has players traversing around a game board and collecting as many fighters as they can. At the end of the game, each of the participating players faces off against one another in a winner-takes-all match, and each of your collected fighters represents one life. I really liked the new Smash Tour mode and the fact that every time I played it was a completely different experience. It is a game mode that lets players of varying skill level to be able to stand on the same stage together.
When you need a break from the fighting, the game features the return of Trophy Rush, Home-Run Contest, and Target Smash as ways to take a breather while still getting your smash on. These are nothing more than mini-games but they do enough to break up the pace of the action while still keeping you iengaged in what’s going on. Many of these help you unlock other characters, trophies, special abilities and other unlockables so there is a purpose to them rather than “just because.”
This particular version of Smash brings a lot to the table, including one thing that no other entry in the franchise has done before: eight player simultaneous brawling. Typically limited to a maximum of four players, the new eight-player smash mode is a huge jump and can lead to some absolutely insane battles. having eight players on screen at one time is chaotic, frantic and almost impossible to keep track of but an absolute blast none the less. This mode is exclusive to couch-multiplayer, showing that Nintendo still cares about the people all sitting around together at home, as opposed to just those playing online.
Speaking of online however, in this day and age online multiplayer is an absolute necessity (the merits of which are a discussion for another time) and unlike Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii and Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, the online component of this game is near perfect. While the last two Smash games struggled with lagging and disconnection issue, my online experience with Smash Bros. for Wii U has been nothing short of glamorous. I have suffered close to no lag or dropping out and my matches have felt buttery smooth, especially if I was against someone from the same country.
Visuals & Audio
I am consistently impressed with what Nintendo is able to accomplish with their Wii U hardware and Smash Bros. is no different. This is the series’ first foray into the high definition scene, and it has been pulled off perfectly. Character models are all highly detailed and look as distinct as they play, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. It is no short feat to have 49 different playable characters, each having their own unique look, feel, and movement animations but the developers have done almost magical work in bringing all of these beloved characters to life.
The characters aren’t the only beautiful things in the game. Each serving as homages to Nintendo’s past, present and future, each of the game’s stages look fantastic. Whereas Super Smash Bros. for 3DS’ stages focused on popular Nintendo handheld games like Zelda: Spirit Tracks or Super Mario 3D Land, the Wii U version’s stages take heavy inspiration from the console-specific games that Nintendo has offered. Stages based on Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario Galaxy and even the upcoming Yoshi’s Wooly World are just some of the many stages you will be playing on. Not only are the stages visually distinct from one another and manage to keep the art style and thematic feel of their respective franchise, but they play uniquely to one another and require players to adapt to the nuances of each.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a fighting game, so as expected it runs at a buttery smooth 60fps, and an impressive 1080p resolution. The frame rate ensures that you are never throwing the controller away in frustration or screaming that “I pressed that button seconds ago!” while the resolution makes the game absolutely sparky with beauty. I will admit that there were a few times where the frame-rate dropped down for me, but there were REALLY infrequent, probably only happening two or three times during my entire play time and only for less than a second each.
For as great as Smash Bros. looks, it sounds just as good. The characters all sound great and many of them keep their VOs from their respective games. Character voices are one thing, but the real “wow” factor comes from the game’s soundtrack. Just… Wow, I’ve never seen such an amazing compilation of hit game tracks in one place. Be it Cynthia’s theme from Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum/Black/White/Black 2/White 2 (wow she is in a lot of games), or Saria’s Song from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, each piece has been brought into the modern age in and in many cases remastered or remixed to perfection. Each stage has a selection of tracks that players can pick between so that you have control over what music appears when you play.
This has been a stellar year for Nintendo, and Super Smash Bros. capped it off perfectly. Just about everything in this game is amazing: It has a massive, unrivaled roster, jam packed with game modes to play, looks and sounds beautiful and has a great online component. You will find yourself playing Smash for hours and hours on end, and still not be bored. The game is approachable to anybody yet the nuances of the game lead itself well to competitive playing. While it isn’t as competitive as Melee, it fits neatly in between it and the hyper-casual Brawl, allowing for tonnes of fun without ever getting over the top.
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