[Editor’s Note: Despite this review being for the 3DS version, we’re allowing it on the main page for visibility. We’ll have a review of Super Smash Bros. Wii U as well.]
Finally after years of hype and anticipation Super Smash Bros. has arrived. The 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. offers a ton of single player content, an improved online mode, and plenty of multi-player options with non-stop fighting action to keep you coming back for more.
Super Smash Bros. offers plenty to do for the single player experience. All of this content comes at a cost though. It felt like that Nintendo approached the single player portion with a quantity over quality. The single player modes are as follows: Classic, All-Star, and Stadium. Classic mode runs the player through multiple paths all the way to the final battle with the mischievous Master Hand and Crazy Hand. All-Star mode takes the player through the years of Nintendo from the 1980s all the way to 2013. The player battles all of their favorite characters from Mario all the way to Shulk from Xenoblade Chronicles.
Stadium has plenty of things for the solo player to do. Multi-Man Smash will have the player fight in mostly 5 vs. 1 contests of varying difficulty. The new Target Blast has the player give a bomb a high percentage of damage to increase its blast radius and launch it into an area of targets. The traditional Home-Run Contest returns this time around were the player beats up a sandbag then hits it with the home-run bat trying to get the farthest distance. There is plenty to do but all of these modes come up short and I felt little desire to come back and replay them.
Another big letdown for me is that there is no Sub Space Emissary. Yes I know we were informed that it wasn’t going to be in the game. However, I would’ve liked some kind of replacement for it. Now, we don’t even get an awesome eye catching intro cinematic. Nintendo wasted a lot of potential here and could’ve crafted a story mode with all of these characters with an epic backdrop.
Smash Bros. shines the most in its multi-player. Gathering a bunch of friends and smashing each other never felt so good. The big exclusive for the 3DS version is the Smash Run mode. In this mode players can set a timer and then run through a dungeon of multiple enemies collecting power-ups. After the timer runs out all players battle each other with the items and stats they have gathered. Here’s the big problem with that. Often times I felt I didn’t earn enough of the drops and when the battle came around my opponents wiped the floor with me.
I felt absolutely terrified to hit the Nintendo Network button for online play. Brawl’s multi-player was a train wreck and not even playable. I’m glad to report that the online mode here is playable and kept me coming back for more. The online mode is split up into two parts; for fun and for glory. For fun is for more casual play with items and to play without stat tracking.
For glory is where the hardcore come out to play. Overall 1 vs. 1 worked well but when you run into someone with a bad connection matches are filled with input delay and move in slow motion. There is no way to set how your match making works or see the quality of the connection between you and the player you are facing. You select the mode you want and it just throws you in against a bunch of random people. Every other online mode is virtually unplayable.
Four player is a giant lag fest and 2 vs. 2 is out of the question. I wanted to be able to invite a friend and queue for 2 vs. 2 matches but that’s not an option. These are serious oversights by Nintendo and I can’t stand to see things like this anymore. Nintendo needs to get their act together for the online portion of their games. These issues could all be fixed with a simple patch.
Presentation / Controls
My big worry with the 3DS version of the game was going to be if it even looked and felt like the previous Smash Bros. games. Obviously the game is not going to look as good as the WiiU counterpart but this game pushes the 3DS to its limits. A strong bright color palette is at the forefront and fluid animations keep the game stylish. In most situations the game ran at a silky smooth 60 fps. Although this is Smash Bros. in handheld form not everything held up.
While playing with four players and the use of items the game started to dip in the frame rate department tremendously. This was extremely noticeable and impacted gameplay at certain times but it didn’t happen too often. Also, when fighting on some of the bigger stages it is really tough to keep track of the action. Even in 1 vs. 1 modes it was tough to keep track of my character’s placement.
The 3DS is no substitute for that GameCube controller we all love. It will take some getting used to the input of the analog stick on the 3DS. Still after putting a lot of time into the game the controls are not always as precise as I would like them to be. Tilt moves are extremely difficult to perform with the analog stick. You have to move the analog stick ever so slightly to get the desired attack you want. After a few hours of play my hands started to get sore and cramp up. I recommend a 3rd party 3DS grip for extend play times as this solved my cramping issue.
Overall Smash Bros. for 3DS is an excellent addition to the series. It offers boat-loads of single player content that can hold your attention for hours. The game includes great multiplayer options bringing your friends together. Fighting your rivals in an online mode that is actually playable unlike Brawl. Somehow Nintendo managed to squeeze every drop of power out of the 3DS and deliver a close to console experience as possible; although it still feels like an appetizer to the Wii U version.
+ Console quality Smash Bros. on the go
+ Improved online mode
+ Tons of content for the solo player
– Slowdown when things get a little too hectic
– Single player modes feel half-baked
– No story mode