The first portable Super Smash Bros. game is finally here and, for the most part, it delivers the goods. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS pits some of the biggest names in gaming against each other in epic matches. Its glorious roster features iconic mascots – such as Mario, Pikachu, Kirby, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mega Man and Pac-Man – as well as characters from lesser known franchises that seem to fit right in.
Most veterans have been fine-tuned – some more so than others; for example, Zero Suit Samus, Charizard and Sheik are now standalone characters – and rightfully so, even if separating them was required as a result of hardware limitations. Fortunately, some of my favorite fighters – like my precious Peach – have essentially returned to their former Super Smash Bros. Melee glory.
Even training and messing around with the 40 plus characters is a ton of fun. There are still a few clones, however. I’m still trying to figure out why Dr. Mario returned instead of more unique fighters like Mewtwo, Roy or even the inept Pichu from Melee. The doc and a few others, such as Dark Pit, would have been better suited as alternative suits for their original counterparts.
The game’s stage selection is almost as diverse as its roster of playable fighters; and the option to choose most stages in their Final Destination form is a refreshing addition, particularly when players want to always duke it out on a flat terrain with no surprises or obstacles in the way. It also boasts an amazing soundtrack, one that showcases Nintendo’s expertise in creating some of the most memorable tunes in gaming history. Users can even listen through the game’s beautifully-arranged tracks while the 3DS is in sleep mode.
The 3DS-exclusive Smash Run gives up to four players five minutes to fight solo through a vast labyrinth while taking down enemies and gaining power-ups, which can be used in a final battle. While this mode is an interesting take on the established Smash Bros. formula, I prefer a full-fledged adventure mode of some sort that allows me to develop and power-up my character along the way.
The single-player mode Classic sees a return and has been tweaked in hopes of delivering a different experience each time you play it. It now contains intertwined paths, giving you some freedom to choose between fighters you want to face off. The infamous Master Hand also makes a comeback as well as its doppelganger, the Crazy Hand, which is equipped with new demented powers that pose a greater threat to those playing at a higher intensity level. The game also features a refined All-Star mode, in which your damage doesn’t reset as you battle classic characters in chronological order based on the year they made their original debut. Akin to Classic, the intensity you select will determine the challenge.
Players can also customize their fighters’ special moves – a first in the Super Smash Bros. series. As progress is made, they’ll be able to adjust stats like strength, defense, agility and speed. Mii characters can even be crafted to use in battle. There are quite a few options that can be used to modify characters, and those who plan on dedicating time in customization will be happy to know that their altered fighters can be transferred to the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, which – by the way- can be controlled using a 3DS.
Being on 3DS has a couple drawbacks, too. Battles with three to four players are more difficult to follow than one-on-one matches, because the handheld’s tiny display constantly zooms in and out as it tries to keep up with everything that’s happening simultaneously, including accommodating on-screen fighters and presenting what’s included in Assist Trophies and Poke Balls or Master Balls.
The game is the second entry in the series to include online multiplayer modes. Although it is a significant improvement over its predecessor’s online component, battles played via the Internet aren’t as fluid as engaging in local multiplayer matches. I’ve encountered frequent lagging problems when playing with owners of the Japanese version of the game. This may be an issue related to proximity, but it isn’t ideal when you’re partaking in battles that can diminish your rank.
Super Smash Bros for 3DS is a huge game. It might be the largest on 3DS in terms of the content it offers, with its multiple modes, astonishing roster, hidden challenges, unlockable collectibles and addictive-as-ever gameplay. It plays, sounds and looks great, and it is definitely up there with Melee and should be added to every 3DS owner’s collection.