Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Review
What makes Super Smash Bros. so popular? Is it the excitement of playing with a room full of friends (or perhaps the satisfaction of launching them into oblivion)? Is it the limitless fan service or the return of long unseen (but not forgotten) characters? What makes us chomp at the bit for every morsel of news, every hint of content right up until the next game’s release? Though our answers may vary, you and I likely share one thing in common: we love Nintendo. Luckily for us, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is Nintendo’s way of saying “We love you, too.”
One thing to note right off the bat: this game has something for everybody. Whether you play by yourself or with friends, casually or competitively, Smash Bros. Wii U is the most well rounded entry in the series thus far and features plenty of both new and familiar game modes. Of the returning modes, Classic has undergone the most changes. Once you’ve selected a character, you’re dropped in the middle of a board game-like arena surrounded by other characters. Rather than fight your way through a series of randomized battles, however, you can choose the type of match you’d like to play based on how the other characters are grouped on the board (i.e. 1 vs. 3, 2 vs. 2, etc.) The added flexibility helps reduce some of the monotony that’s plagued this mode in prior games. Other returning modes include All-Star, Home Run Derby, Stage Builder, Target Blast (Target Smash x Angry Birds), and Multi-Man Smash (10-man, endless, cruel, etc.).
Smash Bros. Wii U also includes several modes not found in its 3DS counterpart: Special Orders, Smash Tour, and Event matches. Special Orders is broken into two sub-modes: Master Orders and Crazy Orders. In Master Orders, you choose between one of three different challenges of varying difficulty: the greater the difficulty (and coins wagered), the greater the reward, such as trophies, custom moves, or more coins. In Crazy Orders, you attempt to complete as many challenges as possible within a 10-minute time limit before an ultimate showdown with Crazy Hand. The more challenges you complete along the way, the greater your reward; lose, however, and you forfeit any prizes you’ve won so far. Not only do both modes serve as great ways to unlock moves and trophies, but they also add excitement and tension to otherwise standard matches.
All of the exercise, none of the diet.
Smash Tour is essentially a combination of Smash Bros. and Mario Party. Although that sounds great on paper, it’s mostly a disjointed, unnecessary mess in its execution. Players simultaneously move around a game board collecting power-ups and characters to use in battle. When two players land on the same space or a “battle space” they fight using the power-ups and characters they’ve gathered so far. Players can steal other players’ characters by winning these matches. At the end of the game, players compete in a final stock battle with their remaining characters… except the player with the most KOs, rather than the last player standing, wins. Unfortunately, Smash Tour not only lacks the structure and pacing of a typical board game, but also manages to make Smash matches confusing and unenjoyable. Ironically, I’ve never been on a tour with less guidance.
Event matches are my favorite single player component of Smash Wii U. These matches require you to play as specific characters and accomplish a wide array of tasks. For example, in “It’s Past Your Bedtime!,” you play as Jigglypuff and must put Ness, Toon Link, and Baby Bowser to sleep… at the same time. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, the event takes place on Gamer, the WarioWare stage where the mom opens the bedroom door and attacks anyone in her line of sight. After playing for hours, I’m only about halfway through the event match tree because I keep replaying matches just to satisfy the reward objectives and net some cool new equipment.
True to form, however, Smash Bros. for Wii U’s greatest strength is its multiplayer. The expansive roster, diverse stages, and bevy of items and assist trophies ensure that no two matches are ever quite the same. During my multiplayer sessions, the only time I’ve willingly put down the controller was to give my heart a brief respite after an intense sudden death finale. Incredibly, the series continues to nail that sweet spot between competitive fighting and casual party game, which is perhaps best exemplified in its two online modes: “For Fun” and “For Glory.” “For Fun” is Smash Bros. in all its chaotic brilliance – a frenzied 2-minute battle between up to four players on any course (except Final Destination) using any and all items. “For Glory” is essentially tournament mode – an epic 1 vs. 1 showdown on Final Destination, no items allowed. Serious players can even use a GameCube controller via a USB controller adapter.
Double the players, double the number of neighbors asking you to keep it down.
Fortunately, my online Smash experience has been significantly better on Wii U than on 3DS. Though lag does occasionally rear its ugly head, most of my matches have been smooth and enjoyable. Additionally, Smash Bros. for Wii U introduces 8-player matches, which are only playable locally on maps large enough to accommodate the extra combatants. Like 4-player Smash on the 3DS, however, 8-player Smash on Wii U always feels a little too congested for competitive play. Rather, it functions better as a chaotic party mode. Even though it’s easy to lose track of your character on a full-sized television, the unpredictably lends itself to a different type of fun.
Smash Wii U is also notable for being the first game to support amiibo integration. Essentially, your amiibo serves as your personal sparring partner. Train with it, and you (and it) will become stronger. Though collecting these Nintendo figurines can be addicting (and frustrating), their integration into Smash Bros. feels fairly shoehorned. However, because amiibo are not required for any part of Smash, their disappointing application is inconsequential in the big picture.
Mario channeling his inner Andy Dufresne.
The first time I saw Smash Bros. for Wii U running on an HDTV, my jaw dropped. As with most of Nintendo’s previous Wii U offerings, the addition of high definition graphics aids Smash Wii U’s visual presentation tremendously. Yet, simply calling it “Smash in HD” does the game a disservice. Colors pop off of every character and stage and with every explosion and collision. As a result, the game is nearly as enjoyable to watch as it is to play. Furthermore, the game’s eclectic selection of music deserves equal acclaim. The seemingly endless compilation of classic Nintendo songs and remixes means you can listen for days and never hear a bad track.
If I haven’t convinced you already, let me be clear: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is incredible. Every facet of the game feels polished and balanced. Whether you’re a hardcore enthusiast or a casual fan, a tournament veteran or a living room champ, you’ll almost certainly find something to love about the game. Gather ‘round folks: the definitive version of Smash has arrived.
Please note that the final score is not an average