Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Super Smash Brothers for Nintendo 3DS
At first, I was inclined to be a little grumpy about this new Smash Brothers. Of the 34 levels, fully 11 are from previous installments -- two are holdovers from Melee! -- there's only two songs per stage, there's no huge Adventure mode like there was in Brawl, and doesn't it just burn my toast that the Ice Climbers had to be cut due to "technical limitations". Technical limitations?! C'mon, even the Gamecube could run a game with eight Ice Climbers! You can't multitask to go on the web and look up how to unlock things or to post screengrabs on Miiverse -- c'mon, that was going to be half the fun of this game! There isn't even an opening cutscene or anything! And don't get me STARTED on the controls.
But you know what? It's Smash Brothers. In my pocket. That's worth something.
Considering that a new Super Smash Brothers game is a once-in-a-generation proposition, it's kind of phenomenal that they would even make the attempt to create two versions simultaneously and to try and deliver the same experience on two vastly different pieces of hardware. I mean, would Nintendo happily disable the online community experience they're trying to get people involved in if this game wasn't pushing hard at the very limits of what the machine was capable of doing? Despite advances in portable technology, we're still not going to get a full console experience. You've got to be willing to cut it a little slack.
And as far as digital toy boxes go? This is a pretty great one.
Overall, the game reminds me of Melee. It's a big game, but it's no bigger than it has to be. The selection of characters represents a wider range of Nintendo classics than ever before, and many series have better representation, particularly Fire Emblem. The stages feel... good. There's certainly a sense that the 3DS favors smaller stages, but that's no bad thing. Keeping the combatants closer together, coupled with interesting platform placement and environmental hazards, makes for some really enjoyable matches.
Classic and All-Star mode return for your single-player pleasure. Classic might be a shorter run than in the past, but that's fine for a portable. You still get the fun of a tiered fighting game and a battle with Master Hand.
But the best part -- the one that I keep tinkering around with -- is character creation.
I mean, obviously there's the Mii fighters. It's a feature I've wanted since Brawl, and it's more than I ever could have hoped for. I've added Dave Strider, Peter Griffin, Captain N, Professor Layton, and a D&D character I've played since high school into the mix. And although the feature set is limited, you can really make a diverse set of characters to play with. And as soon as I unlock the Waluigi hat, well, you know what I'm doing.
But then you can also edit the Nintendo characters.
See, in the past games (and, indeed, in this game), they've beefed up the roster a bit with "clones". You know; the Fox/Falco, Captain Falcon/Ganondorf, Mario/Dr. Mario/Luigi things. Characters with very similar movesets, but maybe they have slightly different stats and maybe their special moves work slightly differently.
This time around, it seems like the developers have favored alternate skins rather than taking up space in the roster with multiple very similar characters. So you can turn Olimar into Alph, the Wii Fit Trainer into her male counterpart, Bowser Junior into all seven(!) of the Koopalings, and so on.
And if you really like, you can make your own custom clone characters out of these different skins.
It's brilliant. You open up character editor, select Bowser Junior, change him to the Roy skin, give him a couple customizations, and bam. You've got a Roy who hits harder and moves slower, with a bigger cannonball special attack. You can give each Animal Crossing Villager their own unique feel. Make Dark Link different. Make Dark Samus different. Anything you want.
At its heart, Smash Brothers is a sandbox filled with Nintendo toys, and the 3DS game captures that spirit and puts it in your favorite plastic rectangle. For that, I'm willing to overlook an awful lot.