Preview | Smash Bros. on the go
I have to admit, as big of a fan of the series I am, the idea of a portable Super Smash Bros. had me skeptical. The series is well known for having a ton of content, tight controls, and tons of detail that may be hard to fit on the small screens of today’s handhelds. Well let me put that skepticism to rest. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS is a worthy entry to the series name. During E3, I had some pretty extensive time with both the Wii U and 3DS versions of the upcoming 2014 fighter, which are both pretty different, but for right now, I’m going to talk about the first portable game in the franchise.
The 3DS may not be as powerful as the PlayStation Vita, but it’s no slouch when it comes to impressive titles, and Super Smash Bros. looks to be a great addition to the games to pick up for the dual screened platform. My first hands-on demo for the 3DS version was a look at the new mode, exclusive to the 3DS version, Smash Run. The premise of this mode is that the player would spend five minutes in a giant side-scrolling map, similar to Kirby Super Star’s “Great Cave Offensive”, collecting power-ups and fighting enemies from the various franchises of the playable characters. During this time, up to three other players or computer opponents will be doing the same thing, as their status is tracked live during the gameplay on the bottom screen, alerting you to when they are KO’d, or when they collect treasure chests. After the five minutes is up, all players are taken to a random map, sometimes with a special condition or challenge, similar to “Special Melee/Brawl”, or a race to the finish style game. If anyone has played Kirby Air Ride, this concept is very much like that of City Trial.
I decided to keep the year of Luigi going and picked the green-clad plumber, who was exclusive to the 3DS demo at E3. In the beginning of the mode, I felt as though my character was stripped down. I didn’t move very fast, I didn’t feel very strong, and it seemed like I was very vulnerable against the powerful enemies from games like Pokemon, Kirby, and more. As I defeated enemies, I found power-ups that raised my attack power, my speed, defense, and other stats as I persevered through the battlefield. I found various treasure chests, had the opportunity to use several items from the series, and even a few mystery items that I’m sure will be revealed in the future. As the timer finished, I was then taken to a random stage for a one minute standard fight, which turned out to be on the Nintendogs stage. I feel it should be worth mentioning that the themed stages in the 3DS version are completely different than the ones in the Wii U version of the game.
The power-ups I had collected had made what was once a vulnerable, cowardly brother, into a force to be reckoned with. I hit hard, I moved quickly, jumped higher, and managed to win the match with ease. Of course, this was against CPU players, so I wasn’t expecting to lose. I feel like if this was against human players with experience playing the game, the match would not be so one-sided. Regardless, I enjoyed my time with this game mode, and it felt like a worthy addition to the series. It was full of references from several Nintendo franchises and it played great, and had a very fun super-powered match in the end. I doubt this will enter the competitive scene, but I’m sure it will be a fun mode for people to kill six minutes when they have it, and who knows, maybe those mystery items will make it worth their time.
Now besides Smash Run, I managed to play a normal match as well, utilizing another 3DS demo exclusive character, Toon Link. If my Smash Run impressions weren’t a good indicator, then let me just reiterate how fluid everything is on the 3DS version. The circle pad works very well for movement, and the throw and shield buttons work well on the L and R buttons respectively. My only concern was with the smaller face buttons being used for the fight. The A and B are still the primary attack buttons, but obviously, they are much smaller than what we are used to. It took a bit to get used to, but it was a minor complaint and the game still played great. The characters were detailed, the animation and movement was smooth, and the environment I played on (Arena Ferox of Fire Emblem fame) managed to look beautiful in both 2D and 3D. Speaking of the 3D, the game didn’t miss a beat when I turned on the 3D, maintaining a smooth frame rate and keeping up with the action. For those that are on the fence on getting the 3DS version of Super Smash Bros, let me just say that after my hands-on with the game, the game still maintains the energy and action that the series is known for, and will definitely be a highlight for the 3DS library. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS will be available October 3rd, 2014 for the Nintendo 3DS, boasting all playable characters from the Wii U version, as well as online modes and exclusive features. Its portable Smash Bros., what more could you wish for?