Preview | Still Smashing
I easily spent the most time playing Super Smash Bros. for Wii U on the E3 show floor. There were a lot of great announcements at the show, and I’m definitely looking forward to many of them, but something about Super Smash Bros. keeps calling me to anticipate it above everything else. Gracing high definition screens officially for the first time, it’s great to see these iconic characters in all their glory. Details like Donkey Kong’s fur, Mario’s fireballs, and even the chain link armor under Link’s tunic are all crafted so beautifully, given tender love and care. With the visual upgrade, we’re able to get smooth animations and charming expressions from the cast, most noticeable when a character slams against the screen in an instance of pain. Smash Bros. feels right at home in HD, especially thanks to the Gamecube controller option, which Nintendo had all their demos equipped with.
Now I’ve played a lot of Smash Bros, and I’ve had a good amount of time to play as all the characters in the series, so when getting my hands-on time, I focused on trying the new characters. During E3, Nintendo was nice enough to put six of the new fighters into the demo, giving attendees the chance to try out Little Mac, Wii Fit Trainer, Villager, Greninja, Rosalina & Luma, as well as everyone’s favorite “Super Fighting Robot”, Mega Man. I got to try all but the Villager, and let me tell you, they are all great additions to the roster. All of them bring something to the table, with varied movesets that set them apart, and they were all a blast to play as.
Probably my favorite new addition would be Little Mac, who has great speed and maneuverability on the ground, but at the cost of an air game. His recovery is terrible, so you’ll want to avoid getting knocked off as much as possible. Of course, given some fancy footwork, a fantastic counter attack, and a devastating K.O. Punch, it won’t be easy to take down the infamous underdog of Punch Out fame. One of the reasons why I really enjoyed playing as Little Mac was because of just how satisfying it felt to land his punches. It’s like playing as a character that has nothing but Falcon Punches as his attacks, and man, does it feel great. Of course, that doesn’t mean he will be my character of choice.
Like previous entries in the series, many players tend to find a favorite, sometimes based on their fighting style, or sometimes because of being a favorite character of a beloved franchise. I became rather fond of Lucario in the previous entry in the series, and after trying Greninja, I really liked his speed and style. The game moves at a pace that sits right between Melee and Brawl, giving many characters a certain weight that makes the game feel more grounded this time around. Greninja moved fast, but he also had a springy feeling to him, one of his attacks being a downward kick that makes him jump up off of characters as you strike them. His special attacks are all very flashy and give him a varied moveset that will probably make him popular among competitive players.
Playing as Rosalina & Luma, I was for the most part focused on Rosalina. Similar to the Ice Climbers, these two play as a team, and allows for interesting setups involving strategic placement of Luma. Unfortunately, with my one round playing as the tag team duo, I didn’t quite get a chance to get a feel for this. I managed to get the smash ball with them and unleashed a giant star that shot star bits in all directions, though the range was short and I only managed to get one KO from it. Regardless, I did get a chance to see how hard Luma hits and it managed to take me into a sudden death game, in which I unfortunately lost, gaining a second place spot. Speaking of sudden death, this is a moment when both characters are put at 300%, a point where any attack can send you flying off the screen with ease. In a nice addition to the detail, the team at Sora Ltd. added a steam effect that emits from the characters when at high percentages. It definitely adds to the tension of the fight and makes for a nice little visual touch.
When the game was officially unveiled, jaws were dropped when Mega Man was announced as part of the roster, and he was considered to be one of the stronger cast members, with moves varying across several robot masters from his franchise. I have to admit, I was a bit let down, as Mega Man, while not exactly a bad character to play as, he didn’t really feel as powerful as we were led to believe. I played as him in the Punch Out boxing ring against three other players, and after trying out some of his attacks, I quickly found his Top Spin attack to be one of his most effective. The light fixture in this arena was destructible, so I took advantage of this using Mega Man’s down smash attack, Flame Blast. After about three hits, the lights burned out and the light fixture dropped on my opponents to their surprise. It was an effective strategy and it shows that many characters have a certain strength in the right situations. I feel like I’ll probably grow to love playing as Mega Man given more chances, but for now, I am left to wait for the game’s release.
Probably my biggest surprise during my hands-on experience, was the hidden power in the Wii Fit Trainer. Similar in tone to Mr. Game and Watch, or even R.O.B. from Brawl, Wii Fit Trainer, in either male or female versions, was surprisingly powerful. Her attacks are strong, her recovery great, and her movement on the battlefield incredibly exceptional. I might go as far as to say that she may be one of the best characters in the game, but hey, it’s still a work in progress, and it’s very possible that this could change. Regardless, I’ll continue to stay proud of my win with her in the first playable build of the game at E3.
Now, like I said, I tried five of the new fighters joining the roster, but I also got a bit of time playing as some of the veterans. Fox was my mainstay in Melee, and though he has fallen from grace in Brawl, he’s still a blast to play as and continues to deliver quick attacks and fiery spirit in the new game. Another character returning to the battle was Zero Suit Samus, now completely separated from her armored counterpart, boasting new movement options and speedy attacks. She’s definitely no longer the weak and vulnerable bounty hunter that she was in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and now she can easily hold her own. Given great range and a much better recovery, I can see her being a choice character for one on one matches.
As much as I would’ve loved to play as everyone in the demo, this was all I had a chance to get from the show, but it certainly left me hungry for more. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is beautiful, fast paced, and already packed full of content that covers a bevy of Nintendo’s vast and unrivaled history in the gaming industry. Even in my time with the game, I saw tons of new items like Bullet Bill’s and Ore Clubs, as well as new Pokemon and Assist Trophies. One of the more interesting Pokemon moments was when two pokeballs were on the field, and one of which unleashed a Gogoat, one of the new 6th generation Pokemon. Almost immediately after, the second pokeball was thrown and unleashed a Snivy, a 5th generation Pokemon. Snivy was actually RIDING the Gogoat, unleashing a grassy blade attack as the Gogoat ran across the field. It’s things like this that shows practically infinite possibilities and situations that this series is known for, and I can’t wait to see what else can be done come this holiday season. Mark this one on your calendars, buy a Wii U, and get ready to experience what will likely be one of the most fantastic fighting games out there.