Super Smash Bros. is a series that collects iconic characters from Nintendo’s flagship series and brings them together to beat the stuffing out of each other. This latest entry is the franchise’s first foray to handheld gaming.
There is none, which is a shame, because the Subspace Emissary plotline from Super Smash Bros. Brawl was a hefty and highly entertaining chunk of content. The decision not to include a story mode is, I feel, only to the game’s detriment.
The gameplay is identical to previous installments of the series. Players chose from a sizeable roster of characters, each with an extensive set of moves, which they use to deal damage to other characters.
Combat revolves not around a depleting health bar, but on an increasing damage percentage that increases the likelihood of your character being sent flying off the screen (or into it).
The combat is solid, as it’s always been, with a few tweaks, such as the new inability to cling to ledges indefinitely, that will force veteran players to switch up their tactics. There have been reports of people’s 3DS hardware coming apart due to the frenetic pace of Smash Bros. combat, but I have yet to experience anything of this kind.
In addition to ‘Classic’ tournament mode, there’s some minigames like the familiar Home-Run Contest, the new Target Blast, which involves aiming a bomb at floating targets, and Smash Run, where characters have to run around a maze, attacking familiar enemies from classic Nintendo games in order to gain power-ups that will then be used in a final challenge which may take the form of a battle or some sort of race.
The character roster in Smash Bros. 3DS is the largest it’s ever been, but to me it still feels quite lacklustre.
The roster has been bolstered by splitting Zelda/Sheik and Samus/Zero Suit Samus into two separate characters, which might make the game more balanced, but takes up space that could’ve been used for newer characters.
Most of the new characters are interesting and fun to play, or if not that, then at least different, but some are blatant rehashes of pre-existing characters.
The tendency of this series to essentially double-up on some characters is something that has bugged me persistently. Lucina and Dark Pit are the most egregious examples, with Lucina essentially being a gender-swap of Marth and Dark Pit being a palette-swap of Pit. These characters could have just as easily been alternate costumes for their original counterparts, and nothing of value would have been lost.
The most significant addition to the gameplay of this series is the ability to slightly customise the character’s stats and movesets, and to create new fighters based on the Nintendo Mii system. However, customised characters only apply in Smash Run mode, and since I find Miis incredibly ugly, I don’t use them.
Despite the larger character roster, the game does not feel like it has a great deal of content. Within a matter of hours, I’d already unlocked every stage and every playable character. There’s a lot of new abilities, equipment and trophies still to collect, but since I only use a few characters consistently, and trophies just sit there waiting to be looked at, I don’t feel compelled to keep playing much at all.
The combining of characters and stages from a multitude of extremely different games naturally leads to Super Smash Bros. having an extremely eclectic style.
I like the Super Smash Bros. series, but this feels like the weakest entry so far. The large roster is undercut by the lack of content in other areas, and the ability to customise the fighters doesn’t really make up for it.
If this is indicative of what to expect from the WiiU version, then I’m not sorry that I have yet to purchase a WiiU.