When Nintendo announced the two separate release dates for the 3DS and Wii U versions of Super Smash Bros., gamers reacted in a slightly negative tone. When the company announced that the Nintendo 3DS edition would release several months ahead of the Wii U one, that negativity gained a little heat.
I understand why, of course. Gamers wanted to be able to sink their teeth into the game of their choice without having to worry about which platform to play it on and when. Nintendo, in my opinion, did it for the sake of sales.
The company has said that it needed extra time to debug the Wii U version of the game, but I'd wager that they wanted the console version coming out closer to Christmas in order to move machines and games during the biggest holiday rush of the year.
Is it a coincidence that this game comes out a week before Black Friday? I don't think so.
Regardless, the wait is just about over for the console edition of Super Smash Bros., and we've been playing it for the better part of two weeks now. I don't think anyone will be surprised that we recommend the game, but I'm personally excited about how much more it offers and how much more I enjoy it.
This Game Looks Fantastic in 1080p at 60fps
Sure, I'm stating the obvious here. This game really does look wonderful.
Coming from the Nintendo 3DS, my immediate picture of Smash was small, pixelated and rough. Not that the 3DS version of the game looks bad. It doesn't. It looks just fine, and it's serviceable for a handheld fighting game.
Generally speaking, though, Super Smash Bros. hasn't had the chance to shine in HD. This fan beloved fighter played on the Nintendo 64, GameCube and Wii before the 3DS, and all of those machines were sub-HD in display capability.
The Wii U, though?
Super Smash Bros. checks in at 60fps in 1080p. It looks downright glorious, regardless of which mode you play with however many players you use.
I recorded two separate gameplay videos and tossed them up on YouTube in their high resolution and framerate. They look great, though I offer that a little was lost in the encoding, compression and upload.
It's such a small, obvious thing in today's gaming landscape. Games should play in HD, and they should run at high framerates. We're in an advanced console generation, and plenty of games are shipping below what a lot of consumers would consider new generation standards.
Yet, here's Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U (the least powerful new console), running in full HD at top framerates. Sure, Smash isn't as complex as, say, Assassin's Creed; but, it meets the new standards perfectly.
The Wii U and its Unique Modes
Smash Run is gone. That mode was exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS. While the characters remain identical between both games, the modes themselves vary tremendously. The Wii U, if you're a sucker for extra and unique game types, is the hands-down winner between the two platforms.
First, there's your standard Smash. You can play that with four players, set their difficulties, add in amiibo (more on that later) and tweak rules, items and stage frequency to your liking.
Within Smash are two new modes, though. 8-Player Smash is a first for the franchise. You can actually set up eight controller inputs and play. I only got up to six, but it's pretty frantic and nutso. There's also Special Smash. This is your party game standard, friends. You can tweak gravity, speed, damage and all sorts of things. I like putting everything in slow-mo on low-grav and setting everyone's damage to 300%. Mmm, slow and satisfying smash victories…
That's just the normal stuff. It keeps going. The Stadium Games include Target Blast!, Multi-Man Smash and Home-Run Contest. Home-Run Contest? There's a co-op mode where two players beat up on the bag before one grabs the bat and launches it. My friends and I did this for two hours straight one night. It was amazing, and we wound up with this. Yes, you can save replays of all fights and modes, though we uploaded it using external software.
I'm sure you can imagine the yelling that went down there. "Plant the tree! AGAIN! CUT IT DOWN! GET THE BAT! Push it forward… HIT IT! WOOOOOOOOO." That's probably pretty accurate.
Then we have the completely new mode, Smash Tour. This one's like a board game where players will move about, collecting fighters and power upgrades. They'll battle a few times, win more rewards and upgrades and use specials to beat down other players.
There's also the Classic mode that pits players in round after round against computer-controlled fighters. Much like the Classic mode on the 3DS, you'll set the intensity to increase the reward and difficulty, and you'll choose bouts based on rewards themselves. However, the map style is gone in lieu of an open board where you'll slide your character towards opponents.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, too. There's All-Star Mode (shared with the 3DS) where you'll battle fighters from each age of gaming. There's Events Mode that tasks you with specific objectives in order to win, like, say, using Ness to Pitfall both fighters at once. There's Special Orders where you'll go either the Crazy or Master route in order to take on tough challenges and earn big (or small) rewards.
There's almost too much to do here. The crazy part is that each mode feels fleshed out and well made, so you'll sink hours and hours into the stupidest and littlest stuff within this game. I feel like I've already put way too much time into Home-Run Contest, for instance, but I already want back in.
My amiibo and Me
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U also marks my first extensive exposure to the amiibo. Nintendo sent along a single Mario figure for our review, and I managed to play with him pretty much every time I enjoyed the standard Smash mode.
The amiibo are simple in Smash. You'll import them through a special menu, give them a nickname, choose their costume variant (I went Stars & Stripes for "MariBro") and save by touching them to the Wii U GamePad for a quick stint.
From there, you'll be able to use them as a friend or foe in standard Smash. The amiibo gain levels quickly, and I had MariBro up to level 50 (the cap) in roughly six hours of play. Now, that wasn't constant fighting, that was menu navigation, selection and tweaking.
Once the amiibo are at level 50, they're tough. I tossed MariBro into battle against myself and two other friends. At 50, he destroyed us all in free-for-all. We were able to beat him in an us against him format, but he still managed to take a few of us down in the process.
You can also tweak your amiibo by adding items earned through play. You can make your amiibo a defensive stalwart, or you can give them all out speed and attack in order to take down foes quickly. It's actually a pretty cool way to build a dynamic duo between you and your virtual buddy.
I won't say that the amiibo really make this Smash experience like no other, but they add a cool twist to the play that keeps things fresh. I can totally see buying more amiibo in order to develop really great partnerships. Why not pick up Zelda as I main with Link? How about the Villager as I pick the same character in a different outfit? It's fun. It's silly, but it's fun.
The only catch is that you'll need to get used to saving your amiibo progress to your amiibo before you power down your machine. I'm personally in the habit of turning my console off in the middle of the character selection screen when I'm done with Smash. Don't do that. Back out one level and you'll be prompted to save your amiibo. Just place it on the GamePad for a couple seconds and you're good to go.
Minor annoyance, sure. Once I broke that habit, I was perfectly fine with it. It makes sense; of course, amiibo progress is saved on the amiibo itself. I can bring MariBro over to my buddy Dave's house next week and we can absolutely destroy him together.
You'll Want the GameCube Controllers
Before you ask, the answer is yes. The Wavebird controller works just fine and dandy with the GameCube adapter. Those are my controllers in the picture above, and that's my Wavebird from way back in college. I really need to do something about that stray pen mark, right?
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U boasts a ton of control methods. You can roll GamePad, Wii Remote, Nunchuck and Remote, Classic controller plugged into Wii Remote, Wii U Pro Controller, you get it. This game also features a fancy adapter that's being sold separately.
We received one adapter and two extra GameCube controllers with a special Smash logo. I already have a ton of other controllers on hand, so I was able to fill in the slots. Look, the GameCube controller is the best way to play this game. The C-Stick is incredibly handy for smashing, and the layout and feel of the controller is pitch-perfect. It's my way to play, and if you're going to play this game extensively, you should pick the adapter up.
For the record, and I know this is really vague, the shielding starts when you squeeze the triggers, not at the click point. That's random because someone somewhere asked me this same question. It might have been on YouTube, Twitter or in an article, I'm not sure. That's the answer though, for what it's worth.
What About Online Play?
Well, put plainly, it doesn't exist yet. It hasn't been patched in place, and all reviewers will be scoring or recommending Super Smash Bros. without touching the online if they aim to hit the pre-launch embargo today.
We're handling it like this: we'll give the game our thoughts now, but we'll update this single section of the review once the online play is live. Personally, the online side of Smash is more of a perk than a feature for me. I like this game as a local thing, not an online thing.
However, if going Online is your bread and butter in Super Smash Bros., you'll want to wait for the patch and possibly even post-launch to make your purchasing decision. I'll have no problem recommending this game even if the online play is laggy, but that's only because my preferences don't really include online stuff.
You should wait if this matters to you. Stop heading to the store (virtual or physical) and wait. We will have an update… one or several, if we need to. Other sites are likely doing the same. Stay tuned.
Update: We've been online with the game for a long session overnight and a few sessions now that it's being purchased by the masses. So far, matches have been very, very stable.
I'd recommend picking up an ethernet adapter for your Wii U if you want to go online regularly. There's a lot of signal interference in my house, and I've found that the Wii U doesn't handle it well when on Wi-Fi. Smash matches had some input lag while wireless.
Wired is good, though. There's definitely a difference between wired and local play, but it's a small one. The game seems to be handling the day one rush just fine, and I imagine it will only get better from here.
We'll update this review again, but understand that things are stable for now at launch. I haven't been able to say that much this fall. We'll keep playing this weekend and offer some actual mode insight on Monday.
Collection and Customization Lead to Crazy Longevity
If the massive pile of modes in this game wasn't enough, there's collection and customization to keep you coming back.
The two are linked. You'll constantly collect trophies, costumes, items and specials for your Vault or personal characters. You'll then use all the stuff (not trophies, of course) to tweak your Mii Fighters, amiibo or main characters. That means that, when truly customized, no two Marios will play the same.
Even further, there's a stage creation tool in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. It's not all that crazy, but you can draw stages, add moving platforms and determine textures and backgrounds for your own custom battlefields. That's a first for this series, and it works really well here thanks to the GamePad's screen and stylus.
If you like collection, completion and customization, then I'd argue Super Smash Bros. is one of the best options you have on the Wii U. It meets those needs completely, and I adore this game as a longstanding favorite for it.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has instantly become my go-to game for couch multiplayer, and it's an absolute must buy for Wii U owners.
I really, really liked Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 3DS. I thought it was as good as it could be on a handheld, regardless of the controls, limitations and other portable restrictions.
Not to argue with Nintendo here, but I genuinely believe Smash belongs on the TV. This game, whether casually in a house or competitively on stage, was built for huge screen play with friends and enemies alike. In HD at 60fps, it's glorious.
Super Smash Bros. stands tall as another instant classic on the Wii U, and its customization, potential inputs, mountain of modes and fantastic presentation all do wonders at making this a surefire win for Nintendo.
Coupled with the games that are already out on the platform, the Wii U is now a console to own. There's no argument against that anymore. Super Smash Bros. joins Pikmin 3, Bayonetta 2, Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Super Mario 3D World as the absolute best games of this new generation, and they all belong to Nintendo.
You're running out of excuses.
Disclaimer: We received a physical copy of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U from Nintendo for review. The package also included a GameCube controller adapter and two new controllers. We also received a single Amiibo, Mario, for testing.
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