Super Smash Bros for Wii U Review: Success!

1 of 3

Developers: Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Wii U

Release Date: November 21st

For Nintendo, there has been no series more consistently desired for couch co-op and versus video game play than with the Super Smash Bros series. While other series have had less-than-stellar entries at one point or another during their timelines, each entry within the Smash collection has been well regarded at release in one way or another. Super Smash Bros for Wii U is just the latest in a line of excellent combat games, one that is chock-full with game modes for both the solo player or with friends. It aims to improve upon the flaws of its past, while adopting more features and game modes of its own. Nintendo 3DS; take a seat. Now it’s the Wii U’s time to shine!

The Roster

Immediately answering one of the biggest criticisms about Super Smash Bros Brawl is the roster size for the Wii U version. Not only does it contain 51 separate characters (including separate Mii fighters) at launch, but 39 of them (yes, with those Mii fighters included) are available to play right after loading up the game for the first time. Plus, instead of having to complete a wide collection of different tasks to unlock new fighters, players can compete in several versus matches to open up the roster. 10 matches of any length will introduce a new challenger, delicately balancing your time needed to unlock with a viable reward that doesn’t feel like a dog and pony show.

Performance is absolutely key to maintaining both a fair and enjoyable competitive experience, and Super Smash Bros for the Wii U has achieved excellence in this regard.

Due to the nature of having such a large roster, one does come into the sense that some of these characters bleed into one another. I could personally go without a Dark Pit or a Lucina on the roster, as they feel more like bloat than as useful additions (not to imply that their inclusion is a “waste of a slot”). This ideology is lessened when you introduce character customization, as each character can add three pieces of equipment (found and earned in several single/multiplayer game modes) to balance out speed, attack and defense. All items are designed to increase one stat base, while decreasing another, meaning you’ll need to allocate power boosts to fit your intended play style. You can also uncover secret special moves that change your unique directional attacks.

This customization comes to the forefront most when building up an Amiibo. I was fortunate enough to be sent a Mario figure as part of my review package, and an important detail in its growth is the equipment you feed it. If fed defensive-minded items at the expense of power, it will play differently as opposed to an Amiibo fed power-heavy items with low defense. At low levels, my Mario Amiibo seemed to get knocked around, but after a couple of hours worth of versus play he eventually became a master of dodging and taking the brunt of hits, while doing fewer percentage points in most hits.

For balance reasons, however, Amiibos are meant only to be as team match partners or as enemy combatants. After seeing Amiibo Mario in action, leveling up to a maximum 50 in the span of roughly 4 hours, it would be ludicrous to actually assume control. They are clearly more advanced than their level 9 CPU counterpart, usually outlasting the competition by adapting to their abilities on the fly. The Amiibo fighter is a wonderfully brilliant addition to Super Smash Bros on the Wii U. If only its functionality had a wider-spread and more intuitive use other than “AI Rival” or “AI Buddy!”

New Modes

Super Smash Bros is meant to be played with friends, and in its multiplayer modes is where the Wii U game really thrives. If you thought 4-player matches were crazy enough, try up to 8 players at once! The newest versus mode feature (renamed “Smash”) lets you face off, against or with, up to 7 other combatants, resulting in absolute competitive mayhem. It makes the most sense to play these matches in 4 vs. 4 teams, however even on gigantic maps like the Great Cave Offensive, the action is chaotic.

As such, it leaves me more impressed with the fact that I have yet to notice a substantial dip in framerate during play in the new 8-player mode. Full HD and 60FPS is a rare feat for consoles these days, yet somehow the Wii U manages to keep humming along almost perfectly in this and all other multiplayer modes. Performance is absolutely key to maintaining both a fair and enjoyable competitive experience, and Super Smash Bros for the Wii U has achieved excellence in this regard.

Another new key multiplayer mode (that can be played solo, as well) is Smash Tour. This intriguing new mode combines the randomness of Special Smash and its odd combat restrictions/bonuses with the variety, item usage and party sensibilities of the Mario Party series. Players spin an in-game wheel to determine character movement and spend 15-25 turns moving their Mii’s around a game board, picking up new fighters and stat boosts to power up those fighters. Any skirmishes with other players results in a free-for-all match , with the winner acquiring a fighter from each losing player. Using items provides a variety of effects, often including theft or nerfing other opponents in combat.

No matter how you wish to unlock more content, there is a great amount of liberty in how you can spend your free time…

After all rounds are up, a Stock battle between each player begins. Each fighter you have on your team counts as a stock, with new fighters filing in until you run out or are victorious. With the lack of a proper adventure mode, Smash Tour is a great replacement. Beautifully blending random chance with skill that is required to play multiple characters on the fly, it is the perfect mode to enjoy when you need to take a break from settling things in the regular Smash Mode. Some may decry it for its wildcard nature, not guaranteeing skill over its use of items against others, however if you see the mode for what it is you can enjoy its party-like nature. There’s more than enough “fair” modes of versus gameplay, so to throw all caution to the wind in a way that replicates minigames in Smash is refreshing.

Finally, Special Orders are mini-match modes that see you bet coins for stashes of rewards. In Master Orders, you can see three sets of challenges at a time at three difficulty levels, each with different stat bonuses or detriments. They are brutally hard to accomplish at Intense (5/5) difficulty, but the ongoing theme of paying out more cash to overcome a difficult battle for a greater reward shines in once again.

Crazy Orders is like Master Orders, except that you have one stock, take on as many matches as you can (with selection similar to Classic Mode in its offerings) and the difficulty scales with how many turns you survive. Giant Battles against one huge enemy go from you having two teammates in the beginning to taking them on by yourself. After you think you can’t survive another match, you take on Crazy Hand and 1/2 random CPU opponents (depending on how long you lasted). The amount of health you and Crazy Hand have also depends on your turn level and health percentage when entering the match.

What I like about these new modes to Super Smash Bros for Wii U is their integration with building up your Smash profile and collection of customization attributes. Seemingly each and every gameplay mode offers you hidden music tracks, trophies and character-specific item boosts or abilities to discover. No matter how you wish to unlock more content, there is a great amount of liberty in how you can spend your free time, and each one of them is cleverly designed in its unique approach to competitive Smash Bros play.

Next: Super Smash Bros' New Take On Familiar Game Modes