Game Review[First Impressions] – Super Smash Bros. (3DS)

If you had told me approximately ten years ago that I’d be getting hyped as hell for the newest Super Smash Bros games coming out, needless to say I’d have a bunch of questions to ask…chief among them being, “Super Smash Bros.? That looks so stupid!”

Yes, when I first heard of Super Smash Bros on the Nintendo 64, I thought it was the stupidest thing Nintendo could’ve come out with. This was in an era when the N64 wasn’t doing too hot against the OG PlayStation, and had their games on those big, clunky cartridges when CDs were becoming the new thing. But then I played it. And my opinion was changed over the course of a single session. I was hooked; though the N64 graphics don’t hold up as well as the later iterations, the gameplay was still crazy intense and I had some of the most ludicrous matches back in the day, especially when it came down to Captain Falcon vs. my main, Kirby.

And now after success on the GameCube and the Wii, the Smash Bros series is coming out with not one but two new games, one on the WiiU, and one for the 3DS, the latter of which I will be taking about here. Nintendo had a special promotion wherein they gave away free download codes for the demo to certain individuals, but after a few weeks or so, the demo was made free for everyone on the 3DS store.

What was surprising at first, mostly because I’ve never downloaded a game demo on the 3DS, is that you get a limited number of chances to access the game—thirty in all. Well is you ever wanted to circumvent that restriction, you’ll be happy to know that as long as you don’t turn off the system and/or exit out of the game, then that number won’t go down. Fat lot of good it’ll do you though, as the options available are limited. It is a demo, after all.

The only mode available play mode is Smash mode, a.k.a. the standard free-for-all mode. There is a Vault section, but through all the subsections, the only selectable option is Tips, which you can also see one of before each battle. And even in Smash mode, you can’t change any of the options aside from the number and/or difficulty of the AI opponents; it’s a two-minute battle, highest score wins. The roster is filly revealed, bit only give off the characters are playable: Mario, Link Pikachu, MegaMan, and the Villager from Animal Crossing. There’s also only one stage available, and it’s the Battlefield stage. The game also offers an Omega Mode for that stage, which caters to the Serious Business™ player in that it turns it into Final Destination with no items. Goodie.

I spent as much time as possible playing with each character to get as good a feel for them as I could. The three veterans generally play the same as before, though I noticed Pikachu’s electric attacks pack more oomph to them, and Link’s running Smash A attack is now a short hop into a slash, which is no doubt going to throw off someone’s timing if they’re not used to it.

The two newcomers were both very much hyped coming in, though the Villager was meet with derision given the sugary sweet nature of the Animal Crossing games (exceptions notwithstanding) and fear due to how creepy his/her appearance and moves could be interpreted. Most of his/her attacks are at least partially based on things s/he can do in-game…though the Smash-A baffles me; s/he just kind of holds up a bowling ball and…lets it drop? And somehow this deals a shit-ton of damage? I thought it was supposed to be like Charizard’s Rock Smash move, but him/her head slamming a bowing ball would be dumb. At least Charizard with his similar Rock Smash shows him headbutting the rock and shattering it to deal damage. The Villager’s B move is interesting, as s/he pockets a nearby item (no matter how big) or projectile (no matter how strong). It has the potential for all sorts of insane shenanigans, especially if you store something huge and/or highly explosive. Smash B is Lloyd the Gyroid used as a missile, which s/he can also rode on for more damage, or use as a recovery move. For the Up B, s/he find the helmet and balloons from Balloon Fight, but to make it risky, the balloons can be attacked and popped. The Down B takes a bit of setup, but can be one of his/her strongest moves. The first used plans a sapling. The second use, provided s/he is close to said sapling, makes it grow to full size, launching opponents straight up. And the third turns it into an axe swing, which lasts as long as the tree stands, and can deal lots of damage. S/he also has the most hilarious Final Smash of the five: s/he summons Tom Nook and his two nephews to ambush an opponent and build them a house…which then explodes upon completion. I’m sure there’s a joke to be made about how sudden debt can take you surprise and blow up your plans, but I just think it’s funny. Also, you may have noticed I’ve been referring to the Village with either-or gender pronouns. That’s because of the four (ultimately aesthetic) skins available for the Villager, two of them are female (the full version obviously has more).

I was looking forward to playing as several of the newcomers, so seeing MegaMan as playable in the demo made me very happy (I would’ve loved to have played as Little Mac, but you gotta take what you get). Of course, as I had already familiarized myself with the notion of MegaMan playable in a fighting game through the first two Marvel vs. Capcom games, my vision of how he works play in Smash was a little…skewed. I imagined MegaMan would fight like he did in the crossover games for his A moves, with his Mega Buster (chargeable) as his B, his Smash B would be using one of his special weapons…which you can cycle through with his Down B (personal picks: Thunder Beam, Tornado Hold, Water Wave, Crash Bomb, Rebound Striker, Yamato Spear, Fire Storm, and Freeze Cracker, in that order), and his Up B would be the Mega Uppercut; and his Final Smash turns all his normal attacks into Metal Blade throws. A man can dream, can’t he? In Smash, MegaMan’s entire strategy revolves around using his special weapons as almost all of his attacks. I will give them credit for using them in rather creative ways, though, and a fan of the MegaMan games can easily identify all of them (up Smash is the Spark Shock; down Smash is the Flame Blast; air Up A is the Air Shooter; air Down A is the Hard Knuckle; air A is the Flame Sword; air Back A is the z Slash Claw; Dash A is the Top Spin). What bothered me the most about MegaMan is that his normal A attacks have him shooting his Mega Buster. The bullets from which are laughably weak and have little stopping power. Probably to compensate, he fires charged shots for his Forward Smash, which, at their strongest, shoot out an energy blast bigger than MegaMan. His Smash B is the Crash Bomb, which is serviceable, but the bombs can be transferred to others before exploding. The Leaf Shield is his Down B and can work for both offense and defense, while his Up B is the Rush Coil, which beloved similarly to Sonic’s Spring. But the biggest disappointment with MegaMan is his B move, the Metal Blade. It is his weakest weapon by a considerable margin. Sure it can be thrown in any direction, but it does little damage, and can be picked up and thrown back by others. Is as though the game is trying to tell me, “EVERYTHING YOU REMEMBER ABOUT MegaMan 2 IS A LIE”. Also: shame on them for not using the Stage Clear jingle from 2 as his victory theme.

For what it’s worth, even with three AI opponents, the game generally doesn’t use the same character more than once. Furthermore, and I thought this was very helpful, the game remembers what skin you pick for whatever character your using, which is good if you prefer a different color for your player, and especially when some characters will inevitably have more skins to choose from than others. One more thing that bothered me was that reports were coming in of people breaking the circle pad on their 3DSes from playing to hard. People, it’s not like a controller; the system is a lot more costly to replace than a controller if it breaks. And you have obviously owned your system for a while; you should know how delicate it can be at times, right? For those of you who don’t have the sense to take care of your handheld, I have the perfect way to prevent broken circle pads from playing the game: don’t hit the buttons and move the circle pad around like a fucking spaz. There! Problem solved! If you want to use the comments to compliment my genius, then go right ahead.

The Smash Bros demo has obviously whetted our collective appetites, so now all that’s left is to wait for the release date (and preorder in the meantime). I’ll no doubt do a full review once the game droid and get my own copy, so in the meantime, I ask that you wait at least 48 hours to start botching about it. Is that to much to ask? Spoiler alert: it’s not.

Ari Rockefeller

When he is not training Pokémon and being the very best, the Master of the Written Word churns out convention, video game, anime and movie reviews like clockwork. No one is more productive and dangerous with a pen and paper (or, in this case, a keyboard).

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