Review: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Oh, Nintendo. What have you done to me? I never expected you to do something like this again—people said you were through doing this. This is unbelievable.

How will I ever get anything done? I can’t put this game down!

It’s been six years since the last generation’s iteration of the Super Smash Bros. series, and the hype for this new game has been buzzing for just as long. The latest installment boasts the largest character roster of the franchise with a whopping 51 playable characters. As you go through the menu, you’ll find that it has nearly as many modes. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has a lot to offer to every kind of player. So let’s get started!

Wii U Smash

Do these look like the faces of mercy?

Parental Guide

If you have never heard of this series before, Super Smash Bros. is indeed a fighting game; though, it involves light-hearted, cartoon violence. The violence is extremely tame and shouldn’t be a concern for the average kid.

The Game & Wario stage, called Gamer, features characters fighting inside a room of a house. As you play, you’re interrupted by a woman (who represents a mother) that occasionally tries to catch the players fighting. If she spots a character in her line of sight, her eyes glow red, and she gains horns and fangs to attack the players. It sounds a lot scarier than it seems. The only reason I mention it is that it vilifies the mom for scolding the player.

Game & Wario

Mom, just 5 more minutes, please?

In the past, we’ve warned you about the suggestive content in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, in reference to Zero Suit Samus’ skintight suit (see our review here). In Super Smash Bros. she’s designed wearing a two-piece costume. It’s a bit more revealing, as it shows her midriff, and she wears a bikini top and short shorts. This is actually a throwback to previous Metroid games, but since the content is suggestive, we thought we should mention it.

Also to note, a new, male character, Shulk, has a swimsuit skin. It could easily be confused for underwear, since he’s only wearing small shorts.

Modes

One of the biggest features of the game are the seemingly endless list of modes to play.

Smash

First let’s take a look at the Smash modes. Judging by the design of the menu and the size of its button, Nintendo clearly encourages Smash mode the most. Here you’ll find your regular 4-player battles, the 8-Player Smash mode, and Special Smash.

There’s nothing new about the 4-player smash battles themselves. You still have the choices of stock, time, or coin battles. Choose your stage, and beat your friends.

8player

I can’t tell if we’re all winning or losing…

8-Player Smash is new and exciting territory for Smash Bros. No longer are you restrained to just 4-players; now you can battle up to eight people in a frenetic arena, with the same options as the 4-player smashes. This mode is a lot of fun. In order to accommodate the increase in players, you are limited to the larger stages. Luckily, there are a good amount of stages to choose from, so you’ve still got some variety. It’ll take some getting used to, even for the veteran players, since combat in this mode is an uncontrolled frenzy on some of the smaller stages. It’s very easy to lose yourself in the chaos of smashes and the explosions of your friends as they pass the blast line.

There are a few stages that can only be described as monstrous in size. Though plenty of space to fight, the camera zooms out pretty far if the characters fight in different portions of the map. One thing to consider while playing on these giant stages: battles can take a lot of time if you’re using stock. One match I played with eight people took about 15-20 minutes on one of the biggest maps. Some of my friends who were new to Smash Bros. really enjoyed this mode. The chaos evened the playing field, though they did sometimes die after losing their place on the screen.

Special Smash is mainly unchanged from Brawl except for the addition of three new item settings.

Items beetle

Ah, the Beetle, the bane of my existence.

In each of these modes, you can toggle which items you’d like to play with. As you look through the list, you’ll notice a lot of items will be familiar from previous Smash games. Some of the new items are mega cheap, and will no doubt quickly be turned off much to the frustration of your friends: items like the Beetle, Boss Galaga, and Gust Bellows. The first two, if you’re not too careful, can be an auto-KO. The Gust Bellows is a camper’s best friend, as you can easily push people off ledges or into the blast line. I’m a player that enjoys playing with items, but it’s no fun when these items take no skill or timing to kill an opponent.

Online

Smash Bros. really improved the online experience with this game. When you connect, you’ll have a few different options. You can play With Friends on your Mii-verse, or play With Anyone against strangers online. In either mode, if you choose to play a Team Battle, you can play with one couch co-op friend.

The biggest improvement is the division of the online modes: For Fun and For Glory. For Fun, which is mostly non-competitive, gives you access to all the stages and items. For Glory (Final Destination with no items) is ranked and is highly competitive. I really appreciated this change as I enjoy the more laid-back nature of For Fun. This is a great improvement from Brawl, where you could only play in Final Destination.

For Fun For Glory

Who wouldn’t want to hang out with Kirby and Pikachu?

My online games played very smoothly and were decently challenging. On one With Anyone battle I did experience a considerable lag for the first minute of a game, but it cleared up and I didn’t have any other issues.

If you’re playing with friends, you can use a mic to talk with them during the character selection and results screen. (No mics during battle.) I played with a Tennessee friend, and it was very smooth with no lag. The only issue was the mic. First, there was a big sound delay, and we talked over each other a lot. Second, we had volume issues, my friend said it sounded like I was screaming into the mic. Despite playing with some settings, we were never able to get it fixed.

You can also spectate matches online or participate in Conquest mode, which takes a look at the global stats of online games to determine winners of different matches.

Smash Tour

smashtour

When your eyes need a break from all the chaos, try Smash Tour!

This new mode was surprisingly fun. You and three friends (or AI) go around a game board map to collect stat boosts, fighters, and items. Every time you intersect with another player you battle. At the end of the pre-decided number of turns, all players battle each other with the stats or items collected until only one player is left standing.

Despite this mode being a little rules-heavy, it’s actually a pretty enjoyable, albeit slower-paced, mode.

Games & More

menu

Look, I’m just trying to find Classic Mode. Can you see him?

On the main menu, Games & More is one of the less noticeable buttons since it’s off-center and a lighter color. This was surprising to me since this is where Classic, All-StarEvent modes, and many others are hidden. These were some of the front-running modes in past Smash games, so I thought it was odd that they tucked these away. When starting up the game for the first time, I immediately looked for Classic mode. It took me a minute to find it, as I didn’t expect it to be considered Games & More.

Menu placement aside, this is where you can play several different modes. Classic mode allows you to fight a handful of battles as you collect gold and other items. You finish with a fight against the Master Hand. As the difficulty level increases, you may have to fight both the Master Hand and Crazy Hand followed by the Master Core’s many forms. Different than past games, you actually get to choose which battle you want to fight next. Usually, several options are presented to you. You can also now play this mode in co-op by selecting it under the Group menu.

master-and-crazy-orders

Crazy Orders used Frustration. It was super effective!

Special Orders is a challenging, new mode where you choose between completing Master Orders or Crazy Orders. You complete battles or events to gain collectibles. The only catch with Crazy Orders is that you must pay 5,000 gold or a ticket to attempt to complete a series of orders. If you fail any of the orders you lose most of your items collected. This mode is a great mix of challenge and frustration, but it’s still fun.

Events, All-Star Mode, and the Stadium games like Home-Run Contest and Multi-Man Smash mainly go unchanged. Target Smash got the biggest upgrade. You choose between a handful of levels to try to break the targets. Instead of running through a course like in the past, this mode plays like a Smash/Angry Birds hybrid. Rack up the percentage on a bomb and before the time runs out, clear the target arrangement by smashing the bomb into a course of blocks.

The Classic, Events, All-Star and Stadium modes are all available to play with a friend. One thing of note, the solo and group events are different so make sure you have a friend if you want to complete them all.

One of my biggest complaints is that Super Smash Bros. lacks adventure mode, like the Subspace Emissary in Brawl. Despite its occasionally difficult controls, I enjoyed seeing all of our favorite characters interact with each other in a fun story. It was a great way to play with specific characters that I’d never played with regularly. The cutscenes were also super fun and very memorable for me. The absence of a similar adventure mode in Super Smash Bros. is disappointing.

In the Custom menu, you have the option of creating and customizing your Mii fighter. You can also customize the movesets of the other playable characters with moves you collect in other modes. I had a lot of fun playing with the Mii fighter configurations and customizing the characters. In fact, I still haven’t unlocked all the customization pieces for the Miis. One of the best experiences I’ve had thus far is beating my friends as my favorite mii, “Obaa-chan.”

Obaa-chan wins

This is Obaa-chan. She is a brawler, and she is the best.

Customizing other character movesets is an interesting experience. It’s a fun way to make the characters fit your play style. Unfortunately, this feature won’t follow you into any public competitions. A few tournaments have already stated that Mii fighters will be limited to their default configuration, and no character customizations will be allowed. So don’t get too comfortable with that custom moveset if you’re looking to compete.

Stage Builder is a returning feature with an added bonus—you can now use the gamepad to draw platforms, as opposed to placing objects into a grid box like in games past. This was one of the features I was most excited about. It’s also one of the features I’m most disappointed with. Using the gamepad is great if you’re looking to make freeform, curvy maps. However, if you want a bit more order, like me, creating even, straight lines or nice, rounded edges is much more difficult. Your options for themes and decorations are rather bare bones. This mode lacks that bit of Nintendo polish that I’m accustomed to. Despite this, stage builder has a lot of potential for the creative players, and it’ll be great to see other people’s creations once the share-stages feature is available in a future update.

Vault

As you collect the many trophies from different modes or challenges, you can view them in the Vault. Here you can also buy more trophies, watch character announcement videos, take pictures of trophies, read general tips, and more.

In an age where social media sharing is a daily occurrence and YouTube Let’s Plays are increasingly popular, Super Smash Bros. inability to share or export replays is super disappointing. Sony and Microsoft have hopped on the social media bandwagon by allowing users to natively stream to twitch, post gameplay videos to YouTube, or post screenshots to Facebook or Twitter. Being able to share that awesome Sudden Death battle or your ultimate Home-Run Contest strategy with the internet is necessary for this franchise. Nintendo needs to consider it for their marketing as a whole.

A new mode under Vault is Trophy Rush which you and a friend can undertake. Spend gold for time to smash boxes in order to collect trophies and other collectibles. This mode is quite fun, but I’m afraid that not many people will experience it because it’s tucked away.

Gameplay

I’ve been anticipating Smash Bros. for Wii U for a long time. Expectations were high, and it’s easy to be disappointed. I can happily say that this has been one of the most fun games I’ve ever played. During a few matches playing as Villager and Duck Hunt I found myself laughing over the sheer ridiculousness of what was happening on the screen.

There’s a small learning curve in familiarizing yourself with the tweaks to the fighting gameplay. For example, I find it very difficult to turn around and walk to a nearby item. Every time my character runs right past it.

WiiU_GameCubeControllerAdapter_Super_Smash_Bros

Who knew that the Gamecube would have such a legacy?

One benefit of this generation of Smash is the controller style variance. There are seven different controller set ups! If you can’t find one you like then you must be a house cat. In that case I ask you, how are you even reading this right now?

One disappointment is, if you’re using the gamepad, the only time you can use the touch screen is in Stage Builder or Picture Editor. The inability to click on the menu buttons seems like a bad UX design. If it were only me, I would probably let it go; but on a few occasions, my friends who were familiar with the gamepad’s touch screen thought it was broken.

Certain players will find that even though this game touts a robust character selection screen, some of their favorite characters are missing. For example, Ice Climbers (around since Melee) were removed. The one surprising character is Mewtwo, who will be DLC in 2015. It’ll initially be available to those who register both the 3DS and Wii U games. However, it was recently announced that Mewtwo will, in fact, be for sale for those without both games. At this point, there aren’t any more plans to release more DLC.

Conclusion

Overall, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the game Nintendo has needed. Its exciting and fun gameplay makes it one of the best experiences that the Wii U has to offer. If you own a Wii U, you need to purchase this game. The dozens of modes offer a ton of replay value. Surely at least one mode will appeal to you. Plus, with the addition of 8-Player Smash, you won’t have to have a friend sit out! I find that there are still some areas that could use a bit of work, but this game will certainly be one of the best games of this console generation.

Have you picked up Smash? What are your biggest likes/dislikes? Hate the Beetle too? Let me know in the comments below!

The Bottom Line

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U might just be the system seller Nintendo needs. Its fun yet frenetic gameplay will attract both casual and competitive players alike. This is a must-buy for the Wii U!

 

9.8

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jetpackpaul

Fueled by his love for pizza, JP wishes he was enrolled at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. Until then, he hopes his senpai will notice him through his comics-related youtube channel at http://youtube.com/jetpackpaul

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