Ghost here, thanks for joining!
I'm going to stop apologizing for the length of these reviews. You should know by now that I'm very long winded and put a conclusion paragraph or two at the end for the TL;DR crowd
I'd like to tell you a quick story. Way back when I was just a little bitty boy, living in a box under the stairs in the corner of the basement of the house half a block down the street from Jerry's Bait Shop....wait....wait no that's Albuquerque by Weird Al! Sorry.
It was Christmas of 2000. I have just gotten a Nintendo 64 with my allowance. I was only... you know... four years late but hey, I got it none the less. It was a special combination box that had the N64, Pokemon Stadium, and a special Cool Porygon pokemon trading card. I no longer have the box but I do have all three of those pieces and let me tell you it was SWEET
Having spent the last four years playing with simple handhelds only, it felt great to finally get my hands on a home console. I played it constantly. Christmas came around and Dad realized that I would probably want more than a couple games for my new console and asked me which one or ones I'd like as a present that year. I had seen that Pokemon Snap had come out but I didn't think my dad would have known enough to get it for me by name so I instructed him that the one I wanted had a little yellow rat on the cover. That was easy right? So later that week, he asked me to come out to car to double check that he had bought the right thing before my grandmother wrapped it up for Christmas. "I got one with a yellow rat on the cover like you said." He told me as he opened up the trunk and handed me the box.
Well....he wasn't wrong
Obviously this was not what I was expecting, however after reading the back and knowing that I liked Mario and Pikachu I decided to tell him to keep it. I'm so glad I did. The Super Smash Bros series is not only one of the best fighting franchises available because of the focus on fun rather than random blood and gore, but it's honestly been a driving force that changed parts of my life. I gained several friends who I still have to this day because of this series and if nothing else I will be eternally grateful for that.
That being said we're not here to talk about all that... we're here to talk about this latest installment of the Smash Bros franchise
"Super Smash Bros is a fighting style game in which you take various characters from Nintendo's most famous franchises or games and pit them against each other. There isn't a health meter like games such as Mortal Kombat or Soul Calibur. Instead you have a damage meter and the object is to fling your opponent out of bounds or off the screen entirely. Although there is an amount of skill involved, the focus of this series is more on fun and nostalgia."
So is game worthy of the hype and praise that the rest of the series has gotten, or is this yet another handheld game for the trash bin?
We'll do this in Categories as there is a LOT of content in this game.
CharactersWe're going to start with the characters included in this game because without characters there would be no game modes or no game whatsoever. And I'm going to bring this up now so I can get it out of my system.
This.... that is all. Screw you guys. Seriously.
That probably won't be the only time I mention Mewtwo but I'll try to contain my constant annoyance for the purpose of this review. ANYWAY....now that we've taken care of THAT. Smash Bros for 3DS holds a varied and fairly amazing roster with 49 total characters (51 if you count each variety of Mii as a separate character). I'm slightly impressed that they were able to include this many on the small 3DS...even if there are clones padding out the total...and even if they cheated for Metroid and Legend of Zelda by separating existing dual characters, but I digress.
Excuse the potato quality - There is no screenshot functionality on this portion so I used my phone
1. Some characters are essentially the same as Brawl, the previous installment. There may be a couple changes here and there to balance them out some but if you remember how they handle from Brawl then you should have minimal trouble here...let's see that gets rid of....
There that gives us a good 15 to talk about. Please note that your experience may differ slightly. Everyone has their own play style and characters that more easily fit them. For example I think Shulk is awful but I have a friend who obliterates me off the screen with him. So keep that in mind that this is just what I've been impressed with or found lacking.
The Most Impressive Characters
Zero Suit Samus - Jokes about her clothing or why her rocket boots needed to be high heels aside...Zero Suit Samus' role in Brawl was to be an inferior version of Samus who stalled till she got the Smash Ball again. She was only chosen by hardcore gamers (the kind who picked Olimar without pikmin to shove it in your face how good they are) or the Rule 34 crowd. This time however she is a force to be reckoned with. Her range, power, and jumping ability have been increased dramatically. She's still just as fast and can delay characters as easily as before but now that delay can be followed up by easy KO's from her side smash or Up Special.
Little Mac - Little Mac is my Brawl's Wolf. I didn't really care one way or another that he was included. I didn't figure he would be worth picking up in the first place. However once I started playing as him my opinion changed almost immediately. Little Mac is tiny and his air game is practically non-existent. He only has any sort of lasting power on the ground. However his extreme power overcomes this with ease. His regular smash attacks can easily KO faster than most other characters if not all of them. He has a move that leaves him unable to be knocked around for the duration of the move and once he gets enough damage or hits he can instantly KO any opponent. His biggest downfall is his lack of anything in the air. Once you get knocked far enough away from the platform or high enough you might as well just die. His Side special can also cause you to fly off the end of the platform with no way to recover. He's not for everyone but he's great for me!
Bowser Jr. - This is a character I wanted to be in Brawl. He may be later than I wanted but it was well worth the wait. Smash Bros tends to praise Mario for being "THE" balanced character. Someone who anyone can pick up and run with; the default for everything. Honestly I believe that's cover for making a character have some fairly useless moves and not be as great as they can be. Bowser Jr. is the one character who I would say has everything you could possibly need and every move is good. He has speed, multi-hitting attacks, powerful attacks, projectiles... the list goes on and on. He truly has everything that a balanced GOOD character should have. But that's not the only thing that makes him stand out. While most other characters have their alternate appearances as different genders or color swaps, Bowser Jr's Alt Costumes are the 7 other Koopa Kids! Each with their own name and voice actor! How awesome is that?!
Noteworthy Characters (For Good or Bad)
Palutena - There are two things this character is notable for. Lesser-so for her apparent pole dancing taunt (seriously was that necessary?) and more-so for her Custom Moves. Similar to Ganondorf, the custom moves you can select are a big portion of what makes Palutena an interesting character. Many custom moves across most of the characters are just slight variations of existing ones such as Mario's fireball going faster or being larger. Palutena however has a completely different moveset depending on what you select for each special attack. It's so incredibly varied that if you are playing with custom characters on then you will have absolutely no idea what kind of Palutena you are up against.
Robin - Robin's complicated but not as complicated as I originally thought. It's great to see someone from Fire Emblem who's not a strict sword fighter and it's also nice to see that we can play as both Male and Female Robin. However something to keep in mind is that Robin's magic will run out eventually. If you repeatedly use his special attacks then he will drop his book leaving him pretty much without special attacks for awhile. The same happens with his sword. Eventually the lightning magic on it is gone and is replaced by a regular blade. Not to worry, the magic replenishes after a time but I'd use more smash attacks than special attacks so that you aren't left needing to recover back on stage but with no magic.
Duck Hunt -First of all I'm just going to come right out and say it.... Duck Hunt is the name of the GAME NOT THE DOG! If anything this character should be called Duck Hunt DOG. Second of all, there seems to be only one kind of player who regularly chooses Duck Hunt.... trolls. Not the "oh he he" kind who annoy you then run away. No I'm talking about Troll Lords whose whole existence hinges on the pain and misery of others. Their goal is to use Duck Hunt not to win as they most certainly will lose most matches they enter; instead their goal is to make your experience as painful as humanly possibly. Because Duck Hunt's moveset is the kind of bizarre and borderline erratic that makes Mr. Game and Watch's quirky moveset seem like that of a well mannered gentleman. Gunshots that go off in every direction (and not in the same direction), projectiles that can sit on the stage for a while before exploding or being shot, NES men shooting you from random locations, and recovery that makes Brawl's Pit envious. He's very confusing and difficult to master but makes for one heck of an annoying opponent. Of course what else should I expect from a character who's most famously known for doing THIS
Megaman -Megaman almost made it on to my crap list despite, like Palutena, having custom specials that are completely different moves. However, it seemed like most of the time I was getting angry with the game it was over Megaman, Wifi, or Smash Run (i'll get to those two later). Why was I getting so angry with this character? When I would choose him as my character I performed decently well and was relatively competent. There was nothing outstandingly bad about him so I started to really pay attention when I got annoyed. It wasn't when other people were playing as him either it was only when Megaman was being controlled by the computer AI that I was getting pissed. Then I finally noticed why. Whoever programmed Megaman's AI can kick himself in the head. Megaman is a ranged fighter and his standard A shoots out three small bullets from his arm cannon and can be done while he is in motion. Unlike Fox's blaster, Megaman's bullets do some knock back damage which normally wouldn't be a problem unless you are charging up a smash attack. It never fails... if you're on teams or if it's a free for all that an AI opponent Megaman will become the bane of your existence. When Megaman notices you charging up a smash attack against any character on the screen at all he will haul butt over to you and start shooting bullets to make it fail. Literally I've witnessed him standing on the opposite end of a stage on Level 1 difficulty just enjoying the view minding his own business but the second I start charging a smash attack against another opponent... "MY PEOPLE NEED ME!!" He rushes over, shoots me three times quickly, then scurries off. Seriously?! Screw that!
The Crap-List Characters
Pit -The charm about Pit was his ability to spam people to death and glide away from them. Yes he was annoying but that was identity; it was his M.O. They decided to take this away from him. Pit's Up special is no longer the Wings of Icarus but rather some sort of blastoff in a single direction. He can no longer glide causing his wings to be even more useless. His side B is no longer the spammy buzzsaw of death but is instead a slower and more powerful slamming move with some item from Kid Icarus Uprising that i'm too lazy to look up what it is. Now I know what you may be thinking. "Hey if they replaced something that was only there to spam and rack up damage with something that can actually KO wouldn't that be an improvement?" You would think so...but unfortunately Pit is punished for this new very formidable move by having his smash attacks become weaker. However, the one thing that angered me the most was his Up smash attack. I am physically standing right next to an opponent and can see his blades go through the head/shoulders of the opponent but yet it doesn't hit them cause I'm not in the exact spot I should be. No... just no.
Ness -Saying Ness is a difficult character is like saying the internet is full of morons. Everyone knows this. Ness has always been an oddball and a difficult character in comparison to the rest. Every new game I keep forgetting just how difficult he can be but this time around they actually have made him worse. Ness has never been a fast character but they turned his fast smashes and tilt attacks into slow smashes and tilt attacks. They still have the same power as before and may even have some extra range but good luck getting them started soon enough to be able to execute without being grabbed/attacked by an enemy. I spent a whole match trying to aerial down a no less than 30 times and hit nobody every time. Basically Ness has turned into another troll character because the only one I've seen on wifi doing any good with him was a spam master. All he did was spam PK Fire and PK Thunder to shoot himself from one side of the stage to the other racking up kills while everyone else actually battled.
Olimar - Olimar is meant to be difficult by nature; he's meant for more "advanced" players to use him. However, that's no excuse for making him worse. Olimar always carried around five pikmin so that he would never be left "with his pants down" in a situation. For example: his down smash would send a pikmin flying in front and behind him at the same time. If he had five then he could do this two times fully and the third would be a single pikmin only but that was usually never a problem as the first set had gotten up and returned to him so he could continue with his smashing action. This time around his Pikmin count has been shortened to three only giving him less to work with and forcing him to be more open to attacks. His Up special is something I'm on the fence with. In Brawl his Up special caused the pikmin to form a sort of whip that he could grab a ledge and recover but could also attack people far away for a good bit of damage. Everyone complained that he needed better recovery because you had to be almost spot on with Brawl's version but removing it all together and replacing it with two winged Pikmin lifting him with no attacking power doesn't seem like the way to go either. There has to be a middle ground to make a more rounded character. True story - I attempted to beat All Star mode on easy with him 10 times and lost.... ON EASY.
Metaknight -I will admit that Metaknight was overpowered in Brawl to the point that he was legitimately banned from competitive play. I knew they were going to weaken him but this is just too much. His power has been reduced and the range of both his tornado and his smash attacks is utterly ludicrous. I was standing beside of another character almost touching them and used the tornado but it didn't hit the character at all. It's like attaching a knife to some dude's stomach and telling them that they must stab someone with the knife without moving their feet or losing their balance. And speaking of impossibly bizarre visuals, I spent a good thirty minutes or more of playing at Metaknight in Training mode trying to figure out why his Down special was only a teleporter and didn't actually attack anymore. Turns out it still does but you have to keep the button held in for a monstrously long time or else it just teleports you. Bizarre. There's nerfing and then there's just destroying a character and Metaknight was destroyed.
Random Side Note - I've been playing this game since it first came out and I still don't know what Wii Fit Trainer's Down Special does. I get this buzzing error sound and a defeated look on the trainer's face most of the time but then sometimes I don't as if the move is a success for unknown reasons but nothing actually happens.
The single best inclusion in Smash Bros to date
I'm not leading in to a joke here. I'm serious. Including Miis as fighters is probably the single best decision of the entire game if not the entire franchise. Why? It's because these characters were taken just as seriously as a standard Nintendo character. This game has set a priority on customization and you can't get any more customized than this. You can choose any Mii character that you or anyone else has created. You can give them one of three fighting styles: Fighter, Sword Fighter, Gunner. Each fighting style has three completely different attacks for each of the four specials, and you can customize even further with outfits and headgear.
These character are also very strong and can be a major threat depending on the play style and the moves chosen by the individual playing it. You just might get your butt handed to you by one of these guys. Which can honestly be a bit embarassing/annoying/hilarious when the screen says this game's winner is Prof. Oak! What happens with these guys is completely up to you. You can be as completely serious as you want to be.
Or alternately you could be as utterly ridiculous as possible.
Stages & ItemsNormally I wouldn't say anything about the Stages and Items as they are usually balanced and make little significance but this time I do have a few things to say....
Every Smash Bros game has that one stage or two that someone dislikes; that much in inevitable. However Smash Bros for 3DS holds the distinction of being the only entry in the franchise in which I have a real problem with the stages selected.
To begin with, I want to point out something excellent. Each stage has a Final Destination form meaning there are no gimmicks just a different look to Final Destination. It's pretty great and an excellent edition just to shake things up a bit. Although at the same time it's kind of pointless but I DID get tired of looking at the same Final Destination stage so this is pleasing. Also the Tamodachi Life stage is fairly humorous as it picks random Miis from your 3DS and places them in the apartment building to often times comedic effect. Lastly the Kirby stage is absolutely brilliant! Use it and use it often.
Now on to the bad...I love the inclusion of past stages. It's always fun to go back to old smashing grounds to fight a new battle. In Melee and Brawl these were considered "extra" stages and not part of the regular offering. There was a sense of "There were some really beloved stages from the last game, let's toss in the favorite ones for people to enjoy." What made this better was the simple fact that new versions from those franchises was created as well. This time around, 1/4th of the stages present are old stages or slightly tweaked versions of the old stages such as Pictochat. That may not be so bad but they at least gave us new stages for the franchises they brought old ones back from right? NOPE!! The following franchises are ONLY represented by old stages: Donkey Kong, Samus, Yoshi, Star Fox, Game and Watch, WarioWare, Pikmin, and Sonic. Disgraceful!
Second of all is the fact that several of these stages are just plain cheap and encourage you to play the Final Destination version of them ONLY. The following are a few of my personal annoyances. I won't list a whole lot cause some of my complaints are just nitpicks
- Jungle Japes - The river's speed has increased to the point that if you happen to barely touch it you might as well not even try to jump back up. You're going to die
- Mute City - When standing on a car it can suddenly just leave the stage with you on it. Sure it does give you a warning but nowhere near enough time on occassion.
- Arena Ferox - Watch out for anything hanging from a chain. If the stage starts to shift form you'll be killed by them suddenly rushing upwards at the speed of light
- Tortimer Island - There is WATER all around the island yet you can't swim in it??? You can swim and be carried away in the Jungle Japes stage so why drop the ball here??
- Find Mii and Wily Castle - Bosses appear on these stages and do far more damage to you than you can do to them. Defeating them doesn't give you anywhere near enough of a reward
But those aren't the worst. There are 4 items that are the worst.
- The Ore Club is a large stone club with an eyeball that does a large amount of damage when smashed but also creates a tornado to carry them off screen.
- The Gust Bellows which blows wind in the direction the user is facing. It doesn't matter how heavy your character is, it will be tossed off the edge of the screen. Want to use a special move or jump to get back on screen? Tough luck! It has enough wind to keep you pushed away and ensure you die. Your only hope is a stray bomb or another fighter taking your opponent's turned back as an opportunity
- Beetle - This thing latches on to you and lifts you into the sky. It's pretty much an instant KO if you have more than 30 Damage on you.
- Cucco - You know those chickens from Zelda who kill you by mauling you in hoards if you attack one of them? Well these pains in the butt do that exactly. If you get smacked by a Cucco then you'll get a good 30 some of them slamming down on you for the next...what feels like an eternity. To make them even more annoying if you toss one and it misses someone then YOU get attacked by them.
For many people, Online mode will be the one you end up playing the most. I personally know very few people who I see on a regular basis who own this game or a 3DS at all so Online is a necessity. This time Online is split up between With Friends, which allows you to have customized characters and customize everything as if you were in the room with your opponents, and With Anyone where only default characters are allowed. Additionally, With Anyone has a "For Fun" and "For Glory" mode depending on how you want to play your game. There are plenty of options to choose from to dictate the type of game you'd like to play at that moment and that honestly makes it a great feature that has improved upon Brawl.
Only one thing remains... how steady is the online? Well let's try to join a game For Fun!
Hmmmm. Well any game's wifi can hit a snag occasionally. Let's try again
....ooooook annoying but let's try this one more time
SERIOUSLY?! Is this going to happen THIS OFTEN??!! Let's try ONCE MORE!
The Wifi tends to be 50/50. You'll either have perfect connection with absolutely no problems from start to finish, or you'll have a Wifi Error multiple times followed by extreme lag in the actual battle. And the community's reaction is very similar. Some people praise the online because it hasn't errored out or lagged any while others are experiencing what I just did above most times they try to get online. It's still better than Brawl's Wifi so I can't complain that much. Even if it was as bad as Brawl's what can you expect from a free service?
Classic Mode has gone through a semi-massive overhaul. The first immediate change we see is how you set the difficulty level. You now have to wager gold coins against the computer in order to raise or lower the difficulty. The next major change is that you can choose the easy blue, moderate green, or challenging red path. The Red Path will give you greater rewards. Yet another major change is the wheel of rewards at the beginning of each battle which may grant you with multiple trophies, power-ups, special moves, or it may give you a big load of absolutely nothing. Classic Mode appears to be more difficult than previous versions of the game so don't take it lightly especially when facing the brand new boss at the end of a high difficulty run.
I've saved this next one for last on purpose. We've already met the single greatest inclusion in Smash Bros to date with the Miis... now it's time to meet the single worst inclusion in Smash bros to date...
What IS Smash Run? You choose your character and have them run around a maze defeating generic enemies from the various franchises represented in Smash Bros including Polar Bears from the Ice Climbers who had to be removed from the roster cause the 3DS couldn't handle them. Defeating these enemies will drop various stat boosters. The more difficult the enemy the more stat boost you will get. This will continue for five minutes and once that is done you will be pitted against three other opponents (local players or CPU only) in a challenge that utilizes your boosted stats.
That sounds like a load of fun right? I thought that sounded like a lot of fun...WRONG. The enemies that appear in this game mode are FAR too strong; even the weak ones take multiple hits to defeat. There are certain enemies that force you to hit them with special attacks or with the flying bodies of other enemies. There are even stronger enemies that not only take a good two solid minutes of your five to defeat but also strike you through your sheild thus making your sheild completely useless. Invincible enemies?? You bet your sweet booty there are completely invincible enemies that not only don't tell you they are invincible but show up entirely too often or the game even randomly teleports you to an area where an invincible enemy is for no foreseeable reason at all. Want to know how overpowered these enemies are? I was killed by a single attack from a plasma wisp... you know those floating fire things from Kirby? I was KO'd off the screen by a plasma wisp when I was still at 0% damage and the attack only did 12% damage to me. KO'D BY THAT!! That is ridiculous.
But that's not the worst of it all. Hard games can be fun and challenging and I understand why hard games exist. But this abomination is more than hard... it's RANDOM. That's right, every so often the game will change the rules of the world and blow wind hindering or helping you, it will randomly protect you or randomly cause an army of bullet bills to appear around you causing the aforementioned ragdoll action.
Here's the cherry on top. The challenge at the end of the five minutes is COMPLETELY RANDOM AS WELL. Oh yes brothers and sisters... You can run around and getting all the stat boosters you want but there's no way of knowing which stats you will need to use in the final challenge. You may have gotten a lot of attack but WHOOPS you're competing in a race that needs speed. You may have gotten a lot of speed but UH OH you're in a climbing competition now that needs jump. OH so you grabbed a lot of jumping power? Let's put you in a standard smash battle against those guys who grabbed all that attack and defense. There's no way of planning the kind of enemies you need to track down. There's no way of knowing what bonuses you need to make sure you grab for the challenge ahead cause it's 100% random. That, my friends, is a load of crap.
Let me explain it this way. Imagine putting a 4 year old in a labyrinth. Now fill that labyrinth with rabid animals, angry gorillas and lions, professional body builders, and the entire United States Marine Corp... all of which want to kill the 4 year old. After several minutes of the 4 year old gathering supplies from the enemies he has outsmarted to make himself stronger. He ended up with several weapons to make his attacking power on-par with his enemies. Now that the time is over he is teleported to a new area and told that the only way to survive this ordeal... is running a 5K race while juggling pumpkin pies. He looks over and his opponents are The Flash, a man with an armored car, and a man with a jet pack while the 4 year old is running on foot.
It's like a game of Killer Bunnies. Killer Bunnies is a card game where you have to have rabbits that attack people, you have to ensure you have enough food and water to take care of the rabbits you have, you have to buy golden carrots, you have to make sure there are enough backup rabbits in your hand, you have to employ strategy most heinous against your enemies and potentially play for up to three hours but the winner of the game is not based on the skill of playing the game. Skill only allows you to reach the final portion of the game. The winner is based off of who has the correct golden carrot card that matches one which was randomly selected and placed in an envelope at the beginning of the game. So you could have been mastering the game but lose to the dweeb who barely scraped by in the end game cause he was lucky enough to get the correct golden carrot.
That's pretty much what Smash Run is. I would avoid it unless you are incredibly bored, beyond amazing at the game, or get pleasure from painful experiences. It's too bad that this mode is the "easiest" way to get the most custom moves unlocked for your characters.
ConclusionYou know how people say "there's nothing like a home cooked meal from mom/grandma cause she makes it with love"? All gag-inducing Hallmark card garbage aside there is a ringing of truth to it. If someone is passionate about something, the product or end result they create will show this passion and love. Even if it's nowhere near the greatest thing you've ever had, you appreciate it more and enjoy it sometimes even more because there's just that soul to the food/product/whatever that is impossible to fake.
That's what I feel about Super Smash Bros for 3DS. Yes there are flaws. Yes they made a couple of massive misfires *coughMewtwo&SmashRuncough* but I can forgive it because I can tell a lot of love, passion, and joy went into the development and creation of this game. Trying to accurately represent so many franchises and so much of Nintendo History is a daunting task and could easily have been half-done but you can feel the passion put into this game. You can almost see how they painstakingly made sure everything was put in there a certain way as to not ruin people's favorite characters. I can visualize Sakurai being legitimately disappointed at having to remove the Ice Climbers because of the 3DS limitation. It's something that other games which have tried to cash in on the Smash Bros success just don't have. There's a reason PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale was not that great. There's a reason that TMNT Mutant Smash Up is only "ok." It's because the Smash Bros team has put so much of themselves and their passion into the game that it almost eliminates the bad.
If you've never played any games of this series then you are missing out on something magical. These games are special almost to the point of being precious. It's a must buy! They are a ton of fun. Even with the misfires they have put into the game and even how bitterly angry I got with Smash Run I never stopped playing. It's a joy that you don't often get with gaming and maybe you too can find other people who enjoy these games and make some life-long friends.
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