Jon Hall dives in, divides, and conquers.
When I played Smash on the 3DS, I knew I was in for something even more special once it released on the WiiU. Like its predecessors, the real delight of Smash Bros. is sitting back on a couch with your friends and beating the absolute crap out of each other – and with 49 fighters to choose from (50 with MewTwo coming as paid DLC for players that haven’t bought and registered both versions by March 31st) that brawl can potentially go for a long time.
Linking up the two versions of the game lets you use the 3DS as a controller (which I would not recommend) and exchange custom fighters – nothing more. I was hoping that it would let players skip the arduous task of unlocking characters, but unfortunately that was not the case.
Fans first saw the WiiU version in-play during the Smash Bros. Invitational at E3 earlier in 2014, resulting in the single funniest moment I have ever watched in fighting game history.
If you didn’t catch the reference, you clearly never spent early 90’s Saturday mornings like I did.
There are a couple major differences between the 3DS and WiiU versions – the handheld release gets ‘Smash Run’, a fun and quick 10 minute adventure/brawler that lets you amass powerups for several minutes before finishing with a 4-player match. The WiiU gets ‘Smash Tour’, a half-assed Mario Party-esque style board game that sees players running around on a board, picking up different characters as ‘lives’ for a multiplayer match at the end and is quite honestly a waste of time. If I wanted a board game, I’d have chosen to play Mario Party.
But wait, there’s more!
The title’s console release also gets special ‘Event’ matches, as well as ‘8-player Smash’ – meaning that yes if you own enough controllers (or were lucky enough to snag a Gamecube to WiiU Adapter and have some old controllers laying around) you and seven other friends can all duke it out together on one screen in a completely psychotic melee where you have little to no idea where the hell you are on the map until you see your little player tag pop up.
If you’re short on hardware (… and also friends) you can always substitute in AI players – which is what I’ve done numerous times.
Your friendly neighbourhood Link Editor Ria and I picked our favourites (Kirby and Zero Suit Samus, a.k.a. Ghost Peach and Fighting Girl) and sunk a nearly disturbing amount of time into 8-player, before trying out 2-player Classic. It was a ton of fun teaming up (and punching a fair bit above our skill level) to see how Classic held up against the single player experience. While it’s a shame that more than two players can’t team up, it does make sense considering that there can only be 8 players on the screen at once (plus Assist Trophies and summoned Pokemon). All-Star and co-op specific Event Match stages are available as well.
Overall I have to say the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Playing as Xenoblade’s protagonist ‘Shulk’ is a fair bit easier on the console release, due to the larger screen real-estate allowing the creators to show what ‘mode’ his sword is in (A far less confusing sentence if you’ve played the game he’s from). If the Gamepad isn’t being used in multiplayer, it can be set aside and doubles as a stylish display for damage meters for people who prefer to watch instead of play.
Ria feels the same as I do, and raises a good point about new players.
“It’s a lot easier to play than the 3DS version, and the fact that you can actually have an 8-player game makes it a lot more interesting even though I only played against the CPU. It’s a bit easier than past games, but I still don’t like that the tutorials are hidden – you have to wait at the splash screen before a tutorial video will even play. There’s an entire generation of people that haven’t played these games! Other than that, it’s a riot.”
One feature I haven’t had a chance to try out just yet is the ‘Amiibo’ functionality. Nintendo’s new NFC-enabled action figures can be loaded in with a tap on the Gamepad and ‘levelled up’ to be harder and harder AI opponents – So much to the point that earlier this year a Level 50 Fox figurine nearly won an entire tournament in Richmond.
If you have a WiiU, you’d be well served in buying this game despite the ultimate disappointment that is ‘Smash Tour’. They could have done away with it and simply included ‘8-Player Smash’ and I’d have been more than happy, because 8-player is where the game truly shines: It’s frenzied chaos set to maximum fun.
Now if you’ll excuse me, Zero Suit Samus and I have a date with All-Star Mode. (9/10, $65 for WiiU)