How long would you stand in line to play five minutes of the upcoming Super Smash Bros.?
This past weekend, some Super Smash fans were willing to wait several hours before they could bask in Nintendo brawling goodness. With select Best Buys throughout the U.S., fans had the opportunity to be the first among their peers to play the fourth entry to the wildly popular Super Smash Bros. franchise on the Wii U and 3DS at Smash Fest.
I was lucky enough to live near a Best Buy hosting a Smash Fest event where I was allowed to play both the Wii U and 3DS iterations of the upcoming fighter title.
First up was the 3DS Smash Bros., the version I was least looking forward to, and one other people seemed skeptical about at that. Before we dive into the details pool, I want you to grab a shovel and bury any skepticism you have. From the one round of Smash Run – a mode exclusive to the 3DS Smash Bros. – I played, I can tell you the game feels nearly identical to its console brethren.
Smash Run is a mode where players must trek through a large dungeon with a variety of environments where players battle enemies from multiple Nintendo franchises for power-ups to use against their opponents – NPC or human players – in a round following shortly after. The einemies players face range from Giant Goombas to Ghastly from Pokemon to familiar faces from Metroid and many, many more. Upon their defeat, enemies drop upgrades you must grab for the round ahead. These include speed, defense and strength upgrades to give more impact to your hits.
In my one, er, run through Smash Run playing as the Wii Fit Trainer – I chose her because she’s by far the most random choice for a new fighter – I enjoyed my time playing through the mode exclusive to the 3DS. It reminded me much of the Adventure mode featured in GameCube’s Super Smash Bros. Melee, except here the enemies were all under one roof, some of them being quite the contenders as well.
The dungeon was quite expansive. There wasn’t one particular area I came across multiple times because there was plenty of ground and secret areas with both healing and combative items to trek through.
Once the five-minute time period was up, my PC opponents and I were taken to Gerudo Valley, a stage inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, where we squared off in a brief match using the power-ups we were able to gather. The computers I fought were on a somewhat disappointing low level, but it’s understandable given that it’s the first Smash Bros. to appear on a portable platform.
Playing on a 3DS XL, both Smash Run and the match itself felt natural with its control set up. My only problem is how the L button is grab instead of shield, but this is simply a force of habit. It’s the button I’ve always used to shield, dodge roll and grabbed people with by also pressing the A button since Melee. I would bet my Nintendo Club coins that the game will also include custom control support as well, so either way, it was hardly a problem.
I was also amazed at how well it ran. Though it’s an obvious difference visually between it and the Wii U version, the game still ran at a silky smooth 60 frames throughout the match. It’s awesome to see a fighter such as this run as well as it did with much activity occurring on screen.
On the other hand, I’m a bit iffy on how a normal-sized 3DS and 2DS will handle this frantic fighting game. While I was able to follow my character’s position, I’m not certain how it will be on a screen smaller than a 3DS XL. There’s also the issue of people with larger hands. With the game requiring constant and quick actions, I can see how the game might induce some major hand cramps.
I must also add how the Wii Fit Trainer was quite fun to use with my one playthrough. She was swift, yet had seemingly powerful smash moves. I’m looking more forward to discovering how this character works once the game launches.
Roughly two hours later when the time for my match came up, which I did not stay the whole time for, I was finally able to get my hands on Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U. Using a pro controller, I was up against three other human players. There were a total of 20 playable characters, including newcomers Rosalina, Villager, Greninja, Little Mac, Wii Fit Trainer and Mega Man.
With two two-minute matches, I decided to show myself the ropes with Little Mac first and conclude with Fox, my best character since the Nintendo 64 days. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring out my full fighting abilities since I was not only rusty from having not played in a while, but I could tell my friends frequented their smashing skills during the weekends. The scraps of ability I had, however, were enough for me to say everyone has plenty of reason to be excited.
In a quick sum, it’s exactly what you would expect from a Smash Bros. game. The pacing has changed in this game though. As I read earlier this week, the overall speed of the game strikes a balance between Melee’s quick combat and Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s slower combat. I feel with this pace, it will appeal to those Melee fanatics clamoring for a faster paced entry. It’s not quite as slow as Brawl, but I believe it’s not slow enough to make Melee fans grumble with disappointment. Besides, it’s a new Smash Bros. That’s enough reason to be excited right there!
Using the pro controller felt as natural as I had been anticipating. For those who used the C-stick on the GameCube controller to perform smash attacks, don’t worry: The right stick on the pro controller will allow players to perform smashes. Though I am getting the GameCube controller bundle when Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U launches this winter, I won’t argue against my friends at all if I have to use the pro controller.
What made me even further excited about this game is how beautiful it looked. It was not only full HD, but it was running at 60 frames the entire time. The Wii U’s games may not boast the same graphical quality of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but it’s difficult for anyone to say the system can’t produce stunning visuals, and Smash Bros. further proves this.
In short, Super Smash Bros. is what you want from a Smash Bros. game, and it’s great to see these elements coming to the 3DS as well so I can fight with Nintendo’s mascots anywhere. Trust me gamers: You have much to look forward to when Super Smash Bros. releases for the 3DS on Oct. 3, 2014 and winter 2014 for the Wii U if this brief preview is even remotely a reflection of the final product.
Robbie Key is the Nintendo editor for Analog Addiction, entertainment editor and copy editor for the Pine Log at Stephen F. Austin State University, news editor for Worlds Factory and blogger for IGN. Follow his completely relevant Twitter updates, watch his awesometacular YouTube videos, and view his LinkedIn profile.