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Super Smash Bros for Wii U Review: Success!

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Returning To Smash Basics

Classic Mode, All Star Mode, Target Blast and Home Run Derby (which can also be played competitively) transfers over from the 3DS version to the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. Outside of Target Blast, which is a new variant of “Break The Targets” where you launch a bomb to clear stage targets, each of these modes continue to hold as solid staples of the Super Smash Bros franchise.

Classic Mode, which can be played alone or with a friend, changes things up by not linearly following a set path. Instead, you can set your Intensity Level between 1 and 9, investing more gold and risking stronger enemies with possible greater money, equipment and trophy awards. Once chosen, you’re placed as a trophy on a board against a set rival, with several different challenges available to choose from. You can opt to enter an 8-player match, face off against three others or take on 4 other enemies with the help of a teammate.

In my opinion, Super Smash Bros Wii U delicately strikes a balance between [competitiveness and casual] as best as it can.

After about 8 separate matches, each where you hold 2 replenishing stocks and finish off with a horde of Mii Fighters, you face off against a variety of end-game bosses. Master Hand is a guaranteed challenge, yet at higher difficulties you can face off against Crazy Hand, Master Core and a Master Fortress. The ingenuity of Classic Mode’s design is both in the freedom to choose your own path and its inherent risk/reward traits. I found myself being able to cruise through most versus combat, however it is as the increasingly-difficult final stage where I encounter the most trouble. Game director Masahiro Sakurai really drives home the sense of impending doom with the comical difficulty slider, dipping into what may be the bowels of Smash Hell in order to overcome the game’s hardest challenges.

All Star Mode on Wii U, as opposed to the 3DS version, sees you take on enemy characters in reverse chronological order from when they were first introduced in a video game. What’s different about this mode now is that it is incomplete at launch, requiring you to unlock all characters in order to get the “true” All Star Mode. It makes sense from a creative and gameplay design point, as there is no continuing in this imagination of the gameplay mode. If you lose your stock just once, you have to start over from the beginning.

Event Mode follows similarly to Classic Mode, as it deviates from a set list to a sprawling map of events. With separate solo and co-op modes, completing challenges unlocks new events. Each can be completed on Easy, Normal or Hard difficulties, with bonus rewards if you conquer them on a certain difficulty and/or under a time limit. What holds true is their difficulty curve, as some high-end challenges will truly have you stressed out to complete them. Destroying two invisible 0%, 2-Stock opponents as a 200%, 2-Stock Greninja will keep you on your toes and on the verge of throwing the controller down in frustration, which turns into pure ecstasy when finally completed.

Thoughts On Gameplay Overall

The questions surrounding Super Smash Bros’ gameplay on the Wii U is out of concern for how it plays competitively and just for fun with friends. While I am not an absolute expert when it comes to the FGC’s stance, in my opinion, Super Smash Bros Wii U delicately strikes a balance between the two as best as it can.

The fighting mechanics are easy to pick up, yet require practice and patience to perfect. As it should be.

Spending dozens of hours playing versus mode with the gigantic roster, I noticed that most characters fit inside of certain boxes moreso than before. You have heavy or light variants between brawlers, sword fighters, speedsters and ranged fighters. If you tend to categorize things within boxes, you can definitely feel homogenization as player types start to mold together. It helps a great deal for players to build a basis for what their tastes are like, and to find a favorite fighter within the sub-group, however it can speak to a diminished scope of fighter variety. The amount of characters that counter with a down special attests most to that notion. The pure amount of characters available, however, negates a lot of the negativity surrounding fighter types to the point that you won’t likely get a 4-player match with the same “type” of character.

On the topic of roster balance, it seems like things are a lot more fair across the board when it comes to character choice. Each character’s base strengths and weaknesses seem fair in a multiplayer setting. Maining Link, despite his historically-bad recovery, seems to play a lot more fair due to his ability to take a knocking, as well as his ability to deal out tons of damage in basic combinations. Likewise, playing a chip character like Sonic is a viable option that makes use of his speed to great effect. Variety is the spice of life, and playing a fast, high-recovery character doesn’t have to be the case for competitive play as much.

When it comes to the Super Smash Bros for Wii U’s Stage Builder, I am at my most conflicted. On one hand, the ability to add as many graphic images as you’d like to include and make it a playable stage is always hilarious. On the other hand, its functionalities cannot reach the possibilities of one’s imagination, and falls short of matching a Sakurai-built stage. I did manage to create what I thought to be an intriguing map, made of two small land masses and a variety of rotating platforms that played well, so the possibility of creating something fun is still there.

For the rest of the stages, there are a great variety to mess around with. At first, I was disappointed in how many play around with the whole “roving between locations” motif. However, after using the Omega Mode (especially after playing online – more on that later), I could see how it’s a “have your cake and eat it, too” compromise. Easily the best customization feature relies in stage music, with several tracks belonging to each stage controlled by sliders. If you only want to listen to Big Blue on F-Zero levels, so be it. It’s amazing to see just how brilliant songs from decades past are fit into this title.

It all adds up to realizing that Super Smash Bros for Wii U wants to do everything it can to please all audiences with its gameplay. It is an amalgamation of unbridled Nintendo nostalgia paired with intuitive character design with balance in mind. It will never play as fast as Melee did, however it does its best to run as fast as it can without alienating the core, more casual fan collective. Nintendo is covering all the bases, and in doing so seems to have miraculously found a strong reasoning between the two parties. The fighting mechanics are easy to pick up, yet require practice and patience to perfect. As it should be.

Next: Playing Online, With The Gamecube Controller & Our Final Score