Since the release of the first title in 1999, Super Smash Bros. has become a staple in Nintendo’s vast array of iconic franchises. Fans have eagerly anticipated the next iteration of the 4-player brawler, which pits characters from Nintendo’s beloved history (i.e. Mario from Mario Bros., Link from the Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, etc.), against each other in an arena based fighting game like no other: the resulting formula is a recipe for chaotic, fast paced combat. Now five games in (the latter Wii-U version having just been released on November 21st, 2014), Super Smash Bros. is now accessible to gamers on the go via Nintendo’s 3DS branch of portable gaming devices. Veterans of the series have speculated that the 3DS version would not be able to fulfill the incredibly high standards that creator Masahiro Sakurai has established in previous titles; however, the resulting product not only offers an experience worthy of the Smash Bros. name, but rather it redefines how players may think of portable games.
Super Smash Bros. for 3DS offers the full package that fans are to expect from Sakurai. Running at a whopping 60 FPS (frames-per-second), the characters and environments feel and move both smoothly and elegantly during standard 4-person play. Character models and overall detail are spot on: I was surprised how glorious the game looked. Characters have been outlined this time around in order to allow players better visual awareness of what is going on during matches: these outlines become particularly useful when the in-game camera pans both in and out to adjust to player movement and perspective throughout the game. While the outlines offer an aid to the foreseen issue of camera pan and zoom, some may find that the character models appear too small, especially on the original 3DS screen (personally, I found the screen of the 3DS XL to compensate fairly well for the constant shifts in camera perspective). Scaling down to three players instead of four improves the quality of the camera; however, it seems as though the best four player, now 8 player, Smash Bros. experience is now on the Wii-U.
Smash 3DS kept me playing for literally hours at a time: I was surprised by the amount of content bundled into what might otherwise be another portable title (and this is coming from a veteran Smash player). The roster, now the largest yet in a Smash Bros. game, spans a whopping 48 characters each from Nintendo’s history in addition to guest characters (the fan-boy dream of seeing Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Pacman, & Mega Man duke it out is now a reality). Whether you’re a veteran fighter looking to play your main once again, or a casual trying to play one of the newer, more obscure characters (wait…is that the Wii fit trainer!?), Smash 3DS has something to offer for everyone. In this player’s experience, I recommend that you start out slow and get to know your character first: winning is all about a perfectly timed smash attack, the last second dodge, and knowing when to use Link’s “spin attack” versus something that takes time like Robin’s “Arc Thunder” technique. There’s also plenty of unlocks and customizations that players can capitalize on [i.e. trophies, 3D models of Nintendo characters, make a return and are complete with detailed description(s)].
The 8 different modes included in Smash 3DS offer a variety of different ways to approach the standard formula (i.e. home run contest, Smash Run, etc.). The new Smash run mode, for example, allows players to individually explore a side-scrolling world in which they face enemies from various Nintendo franchises in order to collect abilities for an eventual brawl between three other fighters (the formula itself is adopted from a previous Sakurai title, Kirby Air Ride). The five minute time limit is more than enough for players to collect a sufficient amount of power-ups for the subsequent fight; however, I found myself at times wishing that I had another fighter to directly compete with whilst traversing the world, and at other moments wishing the time would just drop to zero. The limits of the 3DS thus become blatantly obvious when playing Smash Run. Perhaps it may have been a better idea to include Smash Run in the Wii-U version instead of the 3DS version (take note Sakurai!).
Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS ultimately lives up to the incredibly ridiculous expectations that fans have and the high standards that Masahiro Sakurai sets for him and his team. The game is impressive, massively entertaining, and arguably the best value for the buck on Nintendo’s 3DS handheld system (personally, I’ve been at it for over 60 hours already!). Each match runs smoothly and succinctly: players are able to beat each other up the way the game was meant to be played. The camera functionality however unfortunately serves as a reminder that the series is at its best on a home console; however, it’s still a magnificent title that earns its place as a fun and addictive Smash Bros. game.
Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS earns a solid 4.5 out of 5.
Kanye Vest is a DJ for KSSU, the only student run radio station CSU- Sacramento