Review: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS

After enjoying three games on home consoles, Super Smash Bros. is now making its way to handhelds, with Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. The game will have the same characters as the upcoming Wii U version, but will have unique stages and exclusive modes. So, the biggest question is “how well does the game translate to the smaller screen?”.

The simple answer is “extremely well”. Smash on the 3DS is extremely fluid and it makes no compromises to the core gameplay. At first, you may have a bit of trouble taking in all the action on some of the larger stages like Gaur Plains, but once you get a feel for the movement of the characters, it becomes much easier to track four players when the camera is zoomed out, even on the regular 3DS screen.

Super Smash Bros. has managed to squeeze in a surprising amount of detail for the 3DS, with highly detailed characters and stages, a lot of which you would never even notice without pausing the game and zooming in – which also allows you to take screenshots. Some stages feature dynamic lighting which changes as the level progresses, and the background for Final Destination is especially beautiful. Smash Bros uses as much of the 3DS’ power as possible, as can be clearly seen when accessing the 3DS menu while the game is running. It’s noticeably sluggish and the browser and Miiverse are unavailable, all are sacrifices very much worth it for the smooth gameplay and lovely graphics in the game itself.

As for the controls, the Circle Pad takes a bit of getting used to, but after a bit of practice it starts to feel very precise and lets you pull off tap and smash attacks with no problem. Apart from the D-pad, which is used for taunts, the rest of the controls are customisable with two jump buttons, attack, special, grab and shield. You can also turn off tap jump if you prefer. The upcoming New 3DS will allow you to make smash attacks via the C-Pad, but for now you’ll have to rely on the Circle Pad and a quick press of the attack button.

Customisation also extends to the characters this time. Each character in the game has two alternate versions of their special attacks that need to be unlocked in order to be used (except in the case of Palutena and Miis, all their specials are available from the start). Unfortunately, unlocking them all can be a bit of a pain as they are dished out randomly throughout a few modes, although playing as a character increases the chance of getting their special moves. Another part of customisation is equipment, which are an array of collectible items that you can use to adjust a character’s attack, defence and speed statistics. You can try and find a combination that slightly increases all three, or go all out and slam everything into one, like a version of Sonic I made with +103 speed. Some of this equipment also has extra abilities, such as adding auto-heal or letting you charge smash attacks more. The more powerful items will affect the weight of the character, adding a bit of balance. For each character, you can create ten different versions, each with their own name so you can easily distinguish them.

Miis are another new addition to Smash Bros, with further customisation. There are three types to choose from (brawler, sword fighter and gunner), each with their own selection of special moves. On top of the Mii designs you can also kit them out with hats and costumes, most of which will need to be unlocked.

The mode you’ll likely spend the most time in is Smash, which works the same way on your own, locally with other 3DS players and online with friends. Here you can alter the rules, choosing between the two kinds of matches: time and stock. These go up to 99 minutes and 99 lives or you can go crazy and have an infinite match. Other options include customisations, handicap, launch rate, items and how stages are chosen. More rules can be unlocked which can let you alter a few more things, and once you unlock all stages you can turn off the ones you don’t want to appear when you select “random”.

These options are almost entirely the same when playing online with friends. The only limitation is that the stages are chosen at random from each player’s choices – locally you can set it to “random” and “in order”. Apart from that, all options are available online – even 99 stock and infinite time. as well as the option of choosing computer opponents if there are less than four of you.The only thing lacking is voice chat, which isn’t even available in lobbies like Mario Kart 8. Despite this, the “With Friends” online mode is extremely solid.

Due to a limited amount of opponents at the moment, as well as my own skill, it’s a bit tricky to discuss balance of the game. Based on what I played, I never felt like a character was particularly weak, just that some characters were difficult to use, such as Olimar and Little Mac. In the right hands, however, I think that even those could be strong characters. Players in Japan, where the game has already been out for a few weeks, appear to be very enthusiastic towards the use of Smash 3DS in tournaments, which is definitely a good sign. A couple of glitches have been found which will affect balance, but Nintendo seem to be patching these quickly, so they won’t be an issue for long.

Playing Online with anyone is split into two types: For Fun and For Glory. In For Fun, items [customisations?] are allowed and there are 4-player and team options available. For Glory disables the items and makes all stages “Omega Mode” versions, which are flat stages like Final Destination. Even though I was mainly playing with gamers in Japan, there was only a few cases of noticeable lag, but otherwise everything was smooth and stinging combos is very much a possibility online (I was on the receiving end of a fair few during 1v1 For Glory matches). One thing that feels a bit off is team matches, as you can’t team up with a friend for it. On top of playing, you can also spectate matches and place bets on who will win.

Another major mode is Smash Run, which is the main 3DS exclusive mode. This is played in two main stages. The first puts you on a large level, similar to the Underground Maze level from Melee’s Adventure Mode. Here, you have to defeat enemies and challenges in order to grab upgrades to boost your character’s stats, with the goal of boosting your character as much in 5 minutes. You will be given hints about the next stage so you can work out which stats you’ll need. The second part is chosen from a variety modes including smash, multi-man smash, climb and race along with some variants such as flower smash. In these, your character will have all the upgrades they got from the previous round. Due to the nature of some of them, in some matches you’ll never actually hit another player, it’s all high scores.

There are two major single-player modes. In Classic Mode, you’ll fight through seven stages encountering 1-on-1, 4-way and team matches with the occasional “giant” character and multi-man smash challenges, with the final stage being a boss fight. Along the way you can choose which path to go down, which are marked with franchise logos so you can guess who you’ll face. It borrows it’s difficulty setting from Kid Icarus: Uprising: the default difficulty is 2.0, and you can pay coins to lower or increase the difficulty up to 9.0. The higher the difficulty, the more rewards you’ll get. I found that the stages leading up to the final boss to not be particularly taxing, as the AI can make mistakes even on higher settings (one time, on intensity 7.0, a giant Donkey Kong lasted three seconds as it jumped off the edge right at the start). The main difficulty lies in the final boss, which is very taxing on higher settings.

Next is All-Star Mode, which pits you against all the characters in the game, which you have to defeat in one life. You can play an “incomplete” version of it when you start the game, but the full version is only unlocked once you unlock all the characters. Both Classic Mode will need to be beaten as every character if you want to unlock all trophies, so there is definitely a lot to go through.

The final portion of singleplayer is the Stadium, which contains three mini games, Multi-Man Smash pits you against a hoard of Miis, Home-Run Contest which require you to hit a sandbag as far as possible and Target Blast which mixes Home-Run Contest with Target Smash. Each of these minigames also come with a “reverse leaderboard” which tells you how many Smash players you have done better than. A couple more minigames are dotted around, too. There is a Trophy Rush mode where you destroy falling boxes to unlock trophoes and a streetpass minigame which doesn’t use the Smash gameplay, instead you control a ball and have to knock other players off a platform.

In the Vault you’ll find all the trophies you’ve collected along with saves screenshots and replays. You can save replays from local and online Smashes as well as the Stadium modes. As you can save replays from online matches, this also allows you to take screenshots of your favourite online moments.

As Smash Bros. is also coming to Wii U, the second big question would be “is the 3DS version worth it if I’m planning on getting the Wii U version?”. If you aren’t planning on playing Smash outside of your house, then you won’t have any major reason to return to the 3DS game once you’ve got it on the Wii U, unless you’re a completionist and need to get every last trophy, costume and custom special. Even with the Wii U version coming out, that doesn’t stop Super Smash Bros. for 3DS from being a brilliant game packed with features.

Final Verdict

While Super Smash Bros. for 3DS does feel like a lightweight version of what’s to come on Wii U, it’s still a packed game with detailed graphics which get more out of the 3DS than any other game. The core gameplay is spot-on and the online is very well made.

Gameplay: 5
Playability: 5
Visuals: 5
Audio: 5
Lifespan: 5

Pros
Core gameplay is great.
Fantastic soundtrack.
Great online mode.
Lots to unlock

Cons
No voice chat.
Random chance of unlocking special attacks.
No single-cart multiplayer

Final Score: 9/10

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