Erik Fatrosso ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
There once was a time when games and movies were given good names. A world before “Rise” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” and before “Rise of the Tomb Raider” was a sequel. A time when Smash Bros. games were called by simple words. Brawl and Melee roll off the tongue. Saying the full name of the most recent installment in the franchise, “Super Smash Bros. For 3DS’ is a commitment, but nit picking about the name aside, it’s a fantastic game that completely lives up to the high standards set by its predecessors.
The standard format of Smash Bros. is the same that it’s always been. Choose your character from the impressive 48 character roster and throw down in a bit of perfectly controlled chaos. The roster features a variety of fan favorites, ranging from veterans like Mario, Link, and Samus, to newcomers such as Robin, from Fire Emblem Awakening, the trainer from Wii Fit, or the Villager from Animal Crossing. It’s not just limited to Nintendo though. As in Brawl, there are a few characters from third-party games. This time around, that means Pac-Man, Mega Man, and even the dog from Duck Hunt. It’s a ridiculously varied roster and for the most part the fighters all feel different.
They’re not all unique though. Several clone characters are present, namely Dr. Mario, Dark Pit, and Lucina. They all have slightly different models and animations than the character they’re based on, but after Brawl did such a good job removing clones, it’s a shame to see a few return. Presumably they exist as separate entities due to hardware constraints of the 3DS (the same reason that the Ice Climbers are missing and Zelda and Shiek are not two separate characters), but that’s hardly an excuse. Luckily the rest of the varied roster, including a customizable Mii fighter, more than makes up for these few repeats.
The gameplay is just as fun as it’s always been. Hit your opponents with a variety of normal attacks, character-specific special attacks, and items to raise their damage percentage. The higher it is, the farther they’ll fly when you hit them. If they fly too far in any direction, they lose. It’s a tried and true formula that’s been working for 15 years now. The game moves at a faster pace than Brawl, but slower than Melee, and it finds a speed that seems to work perfectly. Couple that with the fine-tuning in character balance that was clearly lacking in the past and you’re left with what may be the best game in the series. Well, almost.
As it stands the game itself feels a little barebones. Classic and All-Star mode return, but the lack of any kind of Adventure mode, a feature that’s been around since Melee, is a real puzzler. Target Smash has been removed in favor of an angry birds style Target Blast that quickly loses its luster. Smash Run, the 3DS exclusive game mode, doesn’t quite mesh together and while it could be fun for a few rounds, that too gets old rather quickly. Of course, every mode revolves around fighting other characters, and in that the standard Smash mode is perfect, but more options would’ve been nice, especially when they were present in past entries. Online mode has been revamped and now features both casual and ranked modes. While it does work, it’s still not perfect. Playing games that essentially run in slow motion isn’t uncommon, and it can get awfully frustrating when you lose a game due to a lag spike rather than an actual mistake.
The new items, Pokémon, and assist trophies are all neat additions, and while you’ll turn them off in more competitive play, they do a great job of making the game feel fresh. The new stages are also well designed for the most part. One of the standouts is a remake of the old Mute City stage, but now created using the 16-bit visuals and music from the original F-Zero game. On the other hand though, there are stages like Magicant, which feature an AI controlled bird sprite that jumps around dropkicking people off the stage. That seems like a fine gimmick at first, but after getting punted to a defeat a few times, playing the stage became an exercise in frustration. Many of the stages and items here are exclusive to this version and are more focused on handheld games. The Wii U version (due for release later this year) will feature different items and stages more in line with console games. Visually, it looks great. Unlike the full HD beauty of the Wii U version, the 3DS features more cartoony looking graphics. They get the job done, and optional black outlines around characters help them stand out. The smaller screen could get pretty cluttered in the midst of multiplayer matches, but the 3DS XL’s larger screen largely alleviates this problem.
As always there are challenges to complete, trophies to collect, and characters to unlock. The gameplay is as fun and precise as it’s ever been, but the lack of previously available modes hamper the game’s overall quality. You’ll still be playing this game for years to come (or at least until the Wii U version comes out), but more gameplay options would’ve been welcome. Still, it’s tough to find a game that can provide as much fun when playing with friends, or as much satisfaction as you improve your skills and start increasing the difficulty. If you own a 3DS, there’s no reason to not buy this game. More so, if you have any nostalgia for literally any Nintendo franchise, there’s no reason to not buy this game. It could’ve been called “Super Smash Bros. Nostalgia Ride” (that might’ve actually been a better title). Main point, go buy it. For whatever flaws there are, it’s still Smash Bros. and you’ll still love it.
Final Score: 8/10