Nintendo has a lot riding on the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS. The Wii U needs a massive hit to excite fans into pulling consoles off the shelves, and traditionally, the series has always been one that Nintendo has been able to rely on.
However, in these finicky days of new competition on every front, from rival consoles to the booming mobile market, depending on a single game to get the word out there would not be in any company's best interest. With so many options, which makes one title the best?
Nintendo is going to have to market this game with every resource it has if it is going to signal the turnaround for the flailing Wii U. It needs everyone to get involved in the fun in celebrating "Nintendo," which at their heart is what these Super Smash Bros. games have always been about.
Rather than pander and sell itself short to a massive audience, Nintendo sticks to its legacy on this game and realizes that the best way to sell and market it is to show the fans what they want. If you can't excite the fans, who can you excite?
Yesterday's Nintendo Direct did just that. It spoke directly to the people who wanted the game the most, spelled out everything they wanted to hear, and now positive praise from these excited people is no doubt finding its way to those who might not have heard about it otherwise.
Nintendo killed it with this Direct.
I'll start this whole thing by shooting straight from the hip, Ron. I adored Smash on the 64, and I played a lot of Melee on the GameCube.
I didn't like Brawl on the Wii. Not a fan. I didn't like the sidescrolling stuff, hated a lot of the stages and didn't enjoy the entire experience as much as some fans did. I know it's the least favorite for most fans, but I definitely fall into that same category.
The Wii's entry in the series took a lot of the wind out of Smash's sails for me. That's why I'm excited to say that yesterday's Nintendo Direct presentation, which you can watch in full directly above, completely blew me away.
I'm pumped about Smash Bros. again, Ron. How about you?
For what I lack in experience in the original Super Smash Bros. and Brawl on the Wii, I more than make up with the amount of time and energy I sunk into Melee.
I spent a lot of late college nights going at it with bots and humans alike, and I put some friendships on hiatus because of that game, and I agree with the large fanbase who still holds it as the standard by which these games should be judged.
Ever since the reveal last year, I knew I had to play this new game. Maybe it was the inclusion of Mega Man. Maybe it was controlling these characters in HD for the first time, but I bought my Wii U shortly afterwards mostly because of this game.
Since then, I've even become excited to play it on the Nintendo 3DS as well, and especially after yesterday's Nintendo Direct, I think this game is going to be something really special.
I will also offer straight away that I'm not a competitive player with Smash. I love the games, I play them with friends and on my own, but I've never been one to hop into tournaments.
With that said, Nintendo really impressed me with their inclusion of some tweaks specifically made for the tournament scene. While I'm sure the new stuff won't please that playerbase entirely, it's really good news as far as I'm concerned.
Especially the news of every single stage having a Final Destination mode. That bit was great. I know some tournament players are so sick and tired of seeing the same environment and hearing the same tunes as they play the same stage again and again and again. This new Smash will produce flat layouts of all the stages, giving tournaments a change in scenery and sound.
That's gotta be super refreshing for those fans.
Yeah, competition is not really for me either, so I'm really glad that Nintendo has decided to separate these with the "For Fun" and "For Glory" modes. Some people don't play to have their stats broadcasted all over the world, and they just want to enjoy themselves. That sounds wonderful.
Personally, I only enjoy playing against people I can brag to face-to-face after I win. Online doesn't mean much to me, but the anonymity of playing "For Fun" just means I can pretend like I'm playing against a really skilled AI.
The Final Destination levels are a neat idea, but I'm not so sure how sold I am on the bosses being added to some levels, like the Mega Man's Yellow Devil added to Wily's Castle. It adds a new level of interaction to the stage, which I am all for, but exploding one for an instant kill seems like a cheap win for me, kind of like the Smash Balls.
After a single round of the first and only time I played Brawl, I told the host that he had to turn off Final Smash attacks because they were cheap and opened an easy way for non-skilled players to get a cheap KO. This new boss idea sounds a little similar.
I'd like to give them a run through before saying they should be done away with, but I hope they can be toggled.
Oh, see, I like the new boss idea. I think it could be a really fun way to break-up the standard modes of combat that we've all moved through so many times.
I think where Sakurai deserves credit, though, is his constant decision to make all of this stuff tweakable. Don't like the bosses? Exclude them. Hate specific items? Drop them entirely. The Final Destination versions of each stage fall into that same realm of customization.
I think what excited me most about this Direct was Sakurai and Nintendo's clear demonstration that players are coming first with this game. It's not designed by committee to meet consumer expectations. It's designed by a group that's trying to formulate a genuine understanding of a hardcore player base.
Besides the addition of new modes, I think most people were just excited to see which new characters were going to be introduced. I was expecting three at the most, but we ended up getting five.
Sheik and Zero Suit Samus were both shoe-ins, and I'm kind of glad that they included them as original characters rather than alternative modes for Zelda and Samus respectively. It gives them more of a chance to stand on their own and become mainstays, especially Sheik whose been mostly just seen as a "special move" rather than a character ever since Melee.
Zero Suit Samus' make-over also addressed a lot of issues with the cutesy criticisms many made about the first character model from Brawl. She definitely looks more like I would envision Samus without her suit now than she did before. Too much of a Bayonetta influence though with the heels?
Yoshi was also very late in coming to the party, but once that final montage of each character started at the end of the show, I knew Nintendo was going to close out on at least one more announcement. That Pokémon reveal was something else.
What do you think about the choices?
Honestly, I loved it all… almost. I especially dug Yoshi's introduction and Sakurai's decision to make him more upright. I think having an even stronger Yoshi will lead to some cool battles, especially since he's always been one of my favorite characters.
I'm not sure I like Zero Suit Samus' design too much, but I'm glad that she's a part of the game. Making her faster and stronger was a good choice, but it calls into question one bit that I was a little worried about.
Are core fans upset that there will no longer be moveset changes mid-match? Like, Samus turning into Zero Suit Samus halfway through a battle was a unique thing. That's gone now. Does that bum players out?
I'm sure it will definitely make a few longtime fans upset. Sheik and Zelda play totally differently from each other, and constantly being able to change up a moveset and throwing an opponent off balance was half the fun of the character. It was what made them both special.
I can see ups and downs to having that switch, but I really like a lot of Zelda's newer moves and don't think she should have to rely so much of her appeal on the fact that she can become someone else.
We've seen Charizard in a previous game before too, but he was also just a backup character back then. Now he is a full blown member of the roster, and the Pokémon Trainer, Wartortle, and Bulbasaur have been sacrificed for the sake of him being front and center.
It seems like Sakurai really wants to focus on just one character and one moveset per fight, and the changing up angle is a thing of the past. I can respect that idea.
Charizard is an awesome choice because he is easily the most recognizable and popular starting Pokémon in the history of the series, but Greninja? I don't think anyone saw that one coming at all. He doesn't quite seem iconic enough yet, and I barely recognized him in the reveal since I didn't choose him in Pokémon Y.
He's got the moveset to naturally fit into the game, but was he a good choice?
I think he was a great choice. Pokémon X and Y has already sold more than 12 million copies worldwide, and those owners are certainly likely to pick Greninja in a fight once or twice based on their familiarity with that game.
That said, I think Charizard was fantastic. His reveal was one of the best in the whole presentation, though I remain a little hesitant about his moveset.
But, come on, will Sakurai create a bad moveset for one of the most iconic Pokémon ever created aside from Pikachu? No way. Charizard will be boss.
I also sort of agree with you that Sakurai's decision to drop mid-battle evolutions being respectable. I think Brawl's biggest problem was that it felt like such a clear departure from what fans wanted. This new Smash almost seems like a correction.
I have to wonder: if the Wii U had the same level of success as the Wii, would Nintendo be aiming for the core fan with this release like they are now? I doubt it. I think the game might have more of a broad appeal forced onto it, and stuff like For Fun and For Glory would have been left out.
I don't know, maybe I'm crazy.
Thinking like that kind of makes you glad the Wii U isn't doing so well.
Yeah, Sheik and Zelda were cool in Melee, but that's because they were the only one to have the trick. Once a handful of others started doing it too, it quickly lost its uniqueness. Other characters have picked up some new ideas though as well.
Lucario does have a Mega Evolution mode that makes him stronger. Little Mac also has his power meter which can allow an instant KO if built enough. It seems like each character has a unique twist on the formula beyond just the traditional movesets we've seen in other games.
Do core fans want this added depth do you think?
Yes. Certainly. Especially with the fact that wholesale moveset changes are going away. Something had to fill that gap of change during battle.
Consider Little Mac, right? He's a character that's incredibly strong on the ground, super weak in the air and packs a unique meter that offers a transformation. That character, to me, sounds like one that core fans will love learning and mastering.
That mastery of design is what makes Smash, as a series, so special. Knowing that these characters, not including the several that haven't been announced yet, have that level of mastery and uniqueness within is exciting.
Speaking of which, who's missing?
The most high profile characters missing are Captain Falcon and Ness. Both have been in every game since the original, and they are the only threepeaters not yet confirmed for a fourth appearance. Seeing as Nintendo is pushing F-Zero aside for Mario Kart 8, and it already paid its decadely dues to EarthBound fans with the Virtual Console release, I'm nervous about them.
Wario is another popular character who hasn't been announced yet, but as I said in an earlier article, Waluigi being an assist trophy kind of solidifies Wario a spot in the game.
Beyond those three? Ganondorf is the last I'd want to see. You?
You forgot Jigglypuff, man! How dare you…
Captain Falcon is the big gap for me, man. I just like him and his "Falcon PAWWWWNCH!" It's iconic, you know? And I understand that Nintendo hasn't been downplaying F-Zero recently, but we have to believe that Sakurai probably loves Captain Falcon as much or more than we do at this point.
Ganondorf, though? Yeah, I agree, he's sort of a weak character. Well, not "weak" as in the opposite of strong. Just "weak" as in one that I could easily see being pushed aside for someone more fun.
One last thing that I wanted to touch on was the separation between the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U variants. So, real fast, the games will supposedly feature the same rosters. That's cool. However, they will have unique stages and offer unique release dates.
The Nintendo 3DS version releases this summer, while the Wii U version releases "Winter 2014."
What do you make of that?
Gets a few extra players to buy both if they weren't previously planning on it. More content with two games, I suppose.
Both games are going to be great, and the separated launch window just means that those who buy the Nintendo 3DS can enjoy it for a bit before the new one comes out at a holiday release.
Regardless of whether you pick up one or both, Mega Man Voltnut from the Mega Man Legends series is making an appearance as a support character in Mega Man's Final Smash attack!
I thought we'd never get him off the Moon, but here he is in Super Smash Bros. Just goes to show that Nintendo really knows what its fans want, and it knows we never got that Nintendo 3DS exclusive Mega Man Legends 3.
It's so sad that Nintendo is being nicer to Mega Man than Capcom has been for, like, the last five years.
After watching this Nintendo Direct presentation, I walked away a lot more satisfied than I thought I'd be. Like I said above, this Direct sort of reinvigorated my fading hype for the Super Smash Bros. franchise, something that I didn't really think was possible at this stage in my gaming life.
Nintendo's been in a super awkward position these last few years. From the GameCube to the Wii and then the Wii U, their footing has been all over the place with marketing, messages and release cycles. I think they absolutely nailed this presentation, though, and it was exactly what Smash fans could have hoped for.
Perfect? I don't know. It was great, though.
I think so too. I was already hyped for this game, and I feel even more hyped after that presentation. Between now and the summer release date of the Nintendo 3DS version, I'm just going to be grinding my teeth until Ness, Captain Falcon, Jigglypuff and Wario get their announcements.
The suspense for these characters is thrilling enough, let alone actually playing the game.
As we said, the Nintendo 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. will launch this summer. The Wii U version is slated for Winter 2014. The exact dates, of course, have not been hammered out just yet.
What did you think of yesterday's Direct presentation? Did Nintendo knock it out of the park? Or, are you hoping for even more from Sakurai and Smash before you board the hype train?
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