|Genre||Publisher||Release date||Release O.S||Available on|
|Fighter||Nintendo||28/11/2014||Wii U||Nintendo Store|
The Super Smash Bros series has easily occupied more of my free time than any other out there in the gaming world. Thanks to each game’s amazing mix of chaos, unique fighting system and of course its attention to detail in many of the company’s franchises it has easily become the experience all Nintendo fans buy a new system for. With each fresh release the series has introduced new fighters, new franchises, new stages, new modes and a whole lot more but is that really enough for this now fourth entry?
Super Smash Bros is an unusual fighter doing away with the standard health bars and instead using a percentage counter. The more damage you take the higher your percentage raises and the further you fly when knocked with a stronger hit. Unlike other beat ‘em ups where the goal is simply to deplete an opponent’s health to zero, here players are awarded with KOs by literally knocking them off of the screen. It’s a very different kind of fighter where spatial awareness and use of the environment is key – one false move could very well be your last. While many argue that the game is far too chaotic and over reliant on luck, it’s really anything but with a system that allows for impressive combos and a reliance on lightning quick reflexes. Stick a newcomer into a match with veteran and the outcome will always be the same. This is no Mario Kart or Mario Party, practice is crucial.
While the game’s menu feels a little cluttered, random and even confusing at first, as the hours pass you’ll soon learn your way around checking off each mode and option available. As is always the case with the series, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into whether you’re playing alone or with friends - from trophies to battles to training to music, Smash Bros for Wii U has just about everything you could ask for from a fighter plus a whole lot more.
Of course with any fighting game the excitement comes from playing through its roster and Smash Bros is a series that is no different. Fortunately, this Super Smash Bros may offer the best selection of combatants yet. Veterans like Mario, Pikachu, Donkey Kong and Link all return with some even receiving a couple of tweaks to their fighting repertoire. Unsurprisingly it’s the newcomers that have drawn most attention from fans and it’s not hard to see why with each offering very unique and more importantly fun fighting styles. Little Mac relies on the strength of his punches while Shulk (of Xenoblade Chronicles fame) uses his Monado to improve certain attributes and Rosalina meanwhile has Luma at her side for double the attacking power. While it is slightly disappointing to see old favourites like Ice Climbers and Lucas missing in action, the forty-nine (fifty two if you count the three Mii variations) offers a broad selection.
Every stage is plucked right from the universes these beloved characters originate. From the lush green safaris of Pikmin 3 to the spherical wonders of the Super Mario Galaxy series, every stage feels unique and features something eye catching to help define it. The Punch Out! stage for example sees fighters battling it out in a boxing ring with a constantly falling light set threatening above. The New Super Mario Bros stage meanwhile physically changes location thanks to a mischievous Kamek as he flies overhead waving his magic wand. A few returning stages round off the rather expansive list too. Overall the quality on offer here is excellent and while it would have been nice to see a few more wildcard appearances (Duck Hunt and Wii Fit locations make for oddly enjoyable battlegrounds) it’s hard to complain when you have well over forty stages to tackle.
So what are the modes themselves like? Classic mode makes an expected return, this time letting you choose your opponents and stages from a random assortment one after the other. In typical Smash Bros fashion, your adventure reaches its end with a battle against a horde of spawning enemies and then of course Master Hand and Crazy Hand themselves. It’s short, simple and best of all can be played co-operatively with a friend. All-Stars mode (also playable with two people) is also back and again has had its fat trimmed leaving just a small series of matches against the entire roster six or so at a time. Overall both modes have seen major improvements over Brawl’s bloated and overly long attempts, keeping things short and sweet.
Stadium mode is back once more this time, offering three types of event. The first, Target Blast sees you pummelling a bomb before launching it at one of three target filled mazes (Angry Birds style) and accumulating the most points possible. It’s okay but no replacement for the far superior Target modes from previous games. Home-Run Contest meanwhile delivers the same addictive idea of inflicting as much damage as possible on a sandbag before launching it as far as possible with a baseball bat. Finally Multi-Man Smash pits you against a swarm of randomly generated Mii characters in timed situations. It’s nice to see these modes make a return and the added bonus of being able to play with four players helps keep them feeling fresh.
Smash Tour, a mode exclusive to the Wii U version allows players to face each other in a Mario Party style board game with the aim to gather fighters and power-ups scattered randomly around the map. Random events, trophy abilities and occasional battles keep things interesting over this fifteen to twenty five turn affair. All this culminates in a final battle where all collected stat boosts are tallied and fighters used in order to score the most KOs over your opponents. Smash Tour is certainly chaotic and does take some getting used to but overall marks a huge improvement over the disappointing Smash Run in the 3DS version.
Just when you thought Smash Bros couldn’t get any more hectic, the series goes and introduces eight player battles. While the stage selection is cut down significantly, there’s still plenty of fun to be had from battling it out with seven friends. Bigger stages usually result in smaller battles taking place across the map, the competition then cut down player by player while smaller stages offer their own brand of unbelievable chaos – a hurricane of bodies flying at each other from every angle. The action can at times be confusing with KOs often met with a look of “What just happened?” but it’s never frustrating. You’ll constantly find yourself laughing at the events that have unfolded. Even more impressive is the game’s constantly fluid frame rate that rarely dips.
While Smash Tour and eight player battles are certainly great fun in a party environment, it’s the bread and butter Smash mode that truly absorbs your time. Playing with three friends in a stock or timed match simply cannot be beaten – hours upon hours lost tussling for Smash Balls, snatching hammers and smacking your opponents face first against the television screen. This is Smash Bros at its absolute finest and if you’re not a fan of the newer modes then you can always count on this mode to deliver the fun.
Of course if your friends aren’t easy to gather locally then online is also an option. Strangers have the choice to either play “for fun” with weapons and gimmicky stages turned on or “for glory” with no weapons and no gimmicks. Sadly this is restricted to mere two minute matches with no way of altering the options whatsoever. Fortunately friendly matches have a lot more to play with, essentially offering the same experience as if you were playing locally. Spectating is also available with the opportunity to bet on the outcome. Overall my experience with the online portion of the game have been far from perfect with the occasional laggy match here and there, but it’s certainly an improvement over Brawl’s attempt.
Unsurprisingly the soundtrack also reaches ridiculous levels of nostalgia pulling tunes from franchises ranging from the usual suspects (Super Mario and Metroid) all the way to the more obscure (Wii Fit, Nintendogs and Style Boutique). Every stage offers a good selection of tracks, all of which can be tailored to appear more frequently, less or not at all. The attention to detail here is quite astounding.
Fans will be pleased to know that trophies also make a welcome return – this time totalling at over seven hundred in all. With trophies for just about everything Nintendo-related you could think of (including a few third party surprises too) you’ll love accumulating them over your playtime with the game.
Sakurai’s latest is another triumph. While it’s easy to get lost in the game’s laundry list of options or it’s seemingly never ending selection of music or even just its loving attention to detail for every single franchise both first and third party, you almost forget that underneath all this lies the heart of a fantastically fun and deep fighting game. While we’ve already seen great games like Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 8 and Bayonetta 2 prove the Wii U’s worth in 2014, Super Smash Bros has cemented it finishing off the year in a truly spectacular style.
- The fighting mechanics are better than ever
- New fighters are a perfect fit
- The attention to detail is incredible
- So much to see and do
- Occasional laggy online matches
- No Ice Climbers or Lucas!
- Waiting six years for the next Smash Bros!