Super Smash Bros. Review – Do You Even Smash Bro?

EDITORS NOTE: Online multiplayer not included in the review as servers not yet available. Review based on the single player campaign and local multiplayer.

It’s been a long time coming, but finally, after nearly seven years, the long awaited installment of the Super Smash Bros. series will be released on the Nintendo Wii U console on November 21st. I regretfully have never really played previous versions of the game, nor did I really understand why they were so popular (and was really confused by the 300% thing!). However, I live with a SSB fanatic, my daughter Hannah, who has religiously followed every update, watched every Nintendo Direct, played hours upon hours of Melee and Brawl, and has faced off against the Master Hand hundreds of times. We have an opportunity to write this review from two different perspectives, from someone completely new to the series and from a long time Super Smash Bros enthusiast.  This will provide a wide scope for all to read.

Jen: Personally I was extremely impressed at the incredible roster of 40 characters available right from the beginning. Many fan favourites are included in the mix spanning many games and generations. From Samus Aran of Metroid fame to King Dedede from the Kirby franchise, I thought that the choice of characters made an interesting mix of heavy-duty brawlers and agile lightweights. Everything seemed quite balanced, with the exception of Meta Knight who in my opinion seemed extremely over powered.

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of character customization too. You can create and personalize your own Mii character to take into battle against Mario or Mega Man, complete with customized attack and special moves, or you can choose a fighter from the existing roster, changing their equipment and special attacks that are unlocked from playing various game modes. These customizations, along with the numerous costume/colour changes for each character, adds a really nice personal touch, giving you the opportunity to really make a character your own.

Hannah: Having played many of the games, I really like the new additions to the series, especially Robin from Fire Emblem and the Animal Crossing Villager. I am glad they kept some of my favourite characters, such as Toon Link and his speedy fighting style, and I love that Zelda and Sheik are now separate characters. So many great fighters, and I can’t wait to play as MewTwo in the upcoming DLC. Nintendo has made some slight tweaks and changes to certain characters to try to make things more balanced, but some of the fighters still feel slightly overpowered, especially some of the newer additions to the roster, like Little Mac.

Jen: The amount of content in Super Smash Bros astounds me! There is so much to play through in this game, adding a nice sense of replay value. Smash mode returns along with the highly anticipated 8-player Smash, or as we like to call it in our home, “button mash like crazy because I have no idea where my character is” mode. As you can imagine things can get a bit hectic on screen, but my goodness, the chaos of 8 players battling it out is absolutely fantastic! This mode can only be played in 14 of the 40+ levels, most of them quite large, making sure things aren’t too crowded while giving lots of room for fighters to kick and punch their way to victory

Hannah:  I have to agree here, the 8-player smash captures the true essence of chaos that Super Smash Bros. is known for, and it is no doubt my favourite game mode. I was very happy to see that Classic mode returns too and that you can earn gold and prizes for playing. The intensity scale is a really cool feature as the more gold you wager the higher the intensity; and of course, the higher the intensity, the better the prize. Rather than a set path, like on the 3DS, you can move the trophies to battle who you please…and be prepared as you’ll yet again face off against the Master Hand and the Crazy Hand, which is still very tough! There’s also a mode that somewhat resembles Mario Party called Smash Tour. Here you move your Mii along a game board in order to unlock such things as new customizations or new fighting moves, but I personally was not really a big fan. Also, something that surprised and disappointed me all at the same time is that there is no Story Mode. I enjoyed playing through this in Super Smash Brawl and I was quite sad to see that it was not included this time around.  I don’t understand why they omitted it for this new Wii U version.

Jen:  I really enjoyed playing through the Events modes, paying tribute to classic games and creating interesting scenarios and creative backstories. Master Orders was a particular favourite of mine to play in Solo mode, simply because I’m rather addicted to unlocking new items. I also spent a great deal of time playing through All-Star mode, which I highly recommend to someone who has never played the game before do as it familiarizes you with each fighters play style, facing off against characters from newer games and making your way back to the older fighters, opposite of what it was on the 3DS. And thankfully there are a variety of difficulty levels in every mode, so it never really feels extremely overwhelming for someone like myself or incredibly easy for a veteran like Hannah.

Hannah: There are tons of collectibles to unlock, and gathering trophies is still one of my favourite parts of a Super Smash Bros. game, this one included. There’s nothing more satisfying than finally adding that special trophy you’ve been waiting obtain and add to your collection in the vault. Collecting these, along with equipment and special attacks for your fighters in different modes, never really gets boring and is very addictive, and you’ll often find yourself saying, “Just one more round, just one more!”

Jen: The controls feel very responsive, and being a newcomer to the series I was rather pleased to find that they are surprisingly easy to master, with the help of a great training mode. There are no complicated button combinations to fumble with, rather each player is equipped with a standard attack and three special moves, the latter can be switched in the midst of battle by changing directions with the left analog stick or D-pad.

Hannah: We tried a variety of controller options, including the Wii U gamepad and an old Classic Controller Pro. We found little to no input lag no matter what we used. Connecting a 3DS to the Wii U is a neat feature, but I thought it’s only really useful when you want to copy your customized characters over to Wii U version or if you need extra controller and have ran out of other options. Playing on the Wii U gamepad is definitely the preferred way to play the game, that is, until the GameCube adaptor is released.

Jen: Super Smash Bros looks absolutely fantastic. The high-resolution graphics look spectacular both on the TV and the Wii U Gamepad. The character models are sharp and nicely detailed. As for the stages, they are fantastic and very well designed, taking inspiration from some of my favourite Nintendo titles. I love how some of the stages transition the action across multiple levels, very similar to Injustice and Mortal Kombat. The Castle Siege stage from Fire Emblem in particular stands out, as I found myself fighting on three different areas within this stage. There’s lots of attention to detail with lots of action happening in the background, and it’s awesome to look at. I do admit though that sometimes all the background action could distract from the action in the foreground.

Hannah: All of the stages and characters look pretty amazing, I just wish there were more new stages, although I still really like the old ones. While they’re nice to play on, and have been re-mastered, it somewhat feels like that I’ve been there, done that. I like all the action that’s happening in the background in some of the stages, and the level transition that can occur in some of them, but I still prefer playing on the Final Destination version of a stage with little distraction. The Stage Builder is much better than Brawl because you can draw them free hand with the Wii U stylus and there are a lot more design options. My custom stages look pretty ridiculous, like a little kid drew them, but it’s nice option to be able to play my own created stages in the game.

The music is always one of the highlights of a Super Smash Bros games, and the Wii U version is no exception. All of the button sounds are the same, and the little voice acting that is in the game is pretty awesome. I love the remixed music that they’ve included, with themes from some of my favourite Nintendo games. I’ve noticed they added music from some fairly recent titles too, like the Lorule Main Theme from Link Between Worlds which I personally found to be a very awesome and welcome addition. Music, along with replays, screenshots, character movies, and of course all those wonderful trophies you’ve collected yet again, can all be found in the Vault.

Jen: Adding an Amiibo figurine to the game was absolutely flawless. With a gentle tap of the figure on the Gamepad, we quickly added our Pikachu to the game. I was a bit surprised that your Amiibo is not actually playable, like a Skylander or Disney Infinity character is, instead it acts like a friendly player, supporting your efforts to kick butt. You can also send it off on it’s own, sitting back and watching it as it takes on CPU characters or other Amiibo characters. I thought that this feature was well implemented and I look forward to adding new Amiibo’s to my roster.

Hannah: Your Amiibo can also be customized, much like the other characters.  You have a number of different costumes to choose from, and much like the Mii fighters you can customize it’s special attacks. The more your figure fights the better its attacks become, and it will learn from stronger fighters, which I think is a really cool feature. I felt so bad for my Pikachu when I first added him to the game. He lost miserably and he looked so pathetic, but he quickly leveled up, and will soon hit his maximum level cap of 50. I just wish I could use him as a playable character, but I really do like sitting back and watching as he fights! The figures themselves look a lot like the trophies from the game, but are not as detailed as I had hoped. Still, I really love my Pikachu, and can’t wait to add other Amiibo’s to my collection.

I really like Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U. While there are a few things missing from previous games, like Story Mode and certain characters, it’s a great addition to the series. Fans will be happy to know that it doesn’t stray far from the standard Super Smash Bros. formula, and the tweaks and changes to game play make it truly awesome. I love the character roster, the newly added stages, and the fantastic soundtrack, making this installment my new favourite.

Jen:  I feel that I’ve only scratched the surface of the game. With so much content, numerous game modes, beautiful graphics and the seemingly endless collectibles to find, this is a game that can be played for not just months, but years to come. There is truly something to offer for all audiences, the colourful and bright characters and environments are visually appealing, and the competitive gameplay and incredible roster of characters will surely please not only the fighting game fan and the Nintendo fanatic, but newcomers as well. Given the fun that we had with this game, I have no doubts that Super Smash Bro will be a system seller, and I consider it a must buy for any Wii U owner.

***This game was reviewed on the Wii U with a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher***

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