Developer: Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco
Producer: Shinya Saito, Masaya Kobayashi
Release Date: November 21, 2014
Platforms: Wii U, 3DS
Reviewed On: Wii U
Welcome back, Nation! This is the long ago promised review for Super Smash Bros for the Wii U! Now, I’m also going to discuss some of the updates and concerns that are surrounding this game in this review as they do impact the play and the final score, so bear with me. I won’t be talking in-depth about characters too much, as I’ve covered many of those thoughts in the 3DS version of this review. That said, I will discuss them some with respect to the patches and more time to reflect on the rebalanced characters now that I have had more time with the game.
So, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is why get this game for the Wii U when you can get it on the 3DS? Well, if you care about your games looking pretty and shiny, then this game is a major step up. Nintendo has always pulled out all the stops when it comes to their graphics for Super Smash Bros. games, and this title is no different. If I said that the 3DS version looks like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, then these visuals blow it out of the water. Everything looks so smooth and clear, and this is coming from a person who normally doesn’t care much for graphics. Many characters have tiny details that are stunningly clear in ways I was not expecting — from stitchwork on clothes to the scales on Bowser, you can really see that Nintendo and Namco have spent a lot of time polishing their models and stages to look as good as they can with the Wii U’s technology. Even the trophies are well rendered and look fantastic as you peruse your unlocked materials. It is probably the prettiest game I have yet to play on the Wii U.
The Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. also separates itself from the 3DS with a ton of exclusive content and modes. There are over twice the amount of trophies and music in the Wii U version — for example, if you are a hardcore completionist you will find plenty of things to unlock and discover as you play through. Each version of the game also sports its own unique stages. For example, Pyrosphere is exclusive to the Wii U and features Ridley from Metroid as a “boss” of sorts for the stage, assisting fighters who deal enough damage to it and even counting as a KO for the player who defeats him in the final score, while the 3DS has a stage based on “Find Mii” which features the Ultimate Ghost fulfilling similar function. While the Wii U features a larger variety of stages than the 3DS version, both of the games have some excellent exclusive stages. Of course, if your aren’t the kind of Smash Bros. player who likes platforms and hazards, you can still play on the omega version of stages to make any stage into Final Destination (or a single, flat platform without hazards or additional levels) — Omega stages are what ranked matches are played on when you are online.
If you are the kind of person who likes to throw big parties, then you might enjoy trying out 8-Player Smash with your friends. For the first time in the series up to eight players can smash at once using a combination of Wii Classic, Gamecube, and Wii U Tablet controllers and even the 3DS with a copy of Smash Bros (which connects via local wireless). These matches are played on Wii U exclusive stages that are the largest in the series so far, and with such large levels the matches are pretty chaotic. It can be very easy to lose yourself in the madness and take massive damage or even lose a life, which can be frustrating. Still, 8-Player Smash is a fun mode and something different, and it is nice that you can have so many people playing at once without having to rotate controllers in and out between players.
The new Solo Mode contains all sorts of new content to work with. Event Mode makes its triumphant return, where players fight against random opponents with various objectives. While many events are “defeat these guys with a specific character with specific rules”, some of them are more creative with different goals, and some of them are pretty challenging as well. I still prefer the 3DS’s arcade Classic mode, but the Wii U incorporates the 8-Player Smash rules into the rounds which is pretty cool. The new Classic mode also introduces a new form for Master Core, the final boss of the mode, and it is a unique fight in that it is more like a tiny Smash Run stage from the 3DS where you destroy nodes while defending against shadowy enemies.
The new modes Master Orders and Crazy Orders are challenging and fun, plus they can quickly unlock a lot of content for good players. These modes let you choose a character and then let you choose between several different fight tickets for your next round, with each ticket offering different rules and prizes. Crazy Orders can be frustrating due to the increasing difficulty as you rack up damage and how much gold is costs to initiate the mode, but otherwise these are fun additions to the franchise that I expect to stick around for the next game. I have to admit that these modes do not offer much in the way of new rules or new ways to fight, but the challenges they produce still make them a fun experience.
Stage Editor mode is a returning feature from Brawl, but it is so much better than the previous incarnation. The stage editor in Super Smash Bros. Brawl was fairly limited because of the building block system it used, but in the Wii U Smash Bros. you get to “draw” your own stages, making for more interesting designs to be created. You use the Wii U Tablet’s touchscreen to create shapes, which the games then renders into 3D models for your characters to fight on. You also get some environmental tools such as lava, which deals moderate damage and outright KO’s players over 100% damage, and blast barrels that add a little more chaos into a stage. I can honestly say that of all the new content, this is what I was most excited to try out, and it did not disappoint me. It is quite fun to be able to design your own levels, and they offer enough skins and backgrounds (plus your choice of any music you have unlocked) that you can keep creating fresh experiences for you and your friends.
Speaking of parties, the mode that replaces Smash Run in the Wii U (called Smash Tour) is not my favorite way to Super Smash Bros., and here is why: I think part of the fun of fighting games is being in control of who you play as. That isn’t to say that my friends and I don’t choose random characters sometimes, but I don’t like being forced into such situations, and that is the only way to play this mode. You are not given any choice in character selection and you “pick up” fighters like extra lives as you move around a board Mario Party style. You also pick up trophies, which you can use to your advantage, and power ups that make your characters stronger. The occasional fights are defined by random rule sets as well, which, coupled with the inability to control the fighter you play as, can be very frustrating, especially when an opponent has a huge advantage in stat boosts or lives. All in all, I feel like this was a step down from the 3DS version’s Smash Run mode, which was fun because the map in Smash Run fulfills a similar stat-boosting, item-grabbing scenario with mini-game that fits much better in the franchise and is also just more fun in general, at least in my opinion. I think that part of the reason that Smash Tour game fails so hard is that Mario Party is almost defined by its impartial chaos, while this game can really snowball into a one-sided victory as one player collects all the lives and power-ups with some lucky rolls. However, this is not the only exclusive mode to the Wii U and thankfully the others are much better.
Unfortunately, there is a major glitch within the game that has not yet been resolved by Nintendo, and this is an issue regarding online play. Some players have complained that Super Smash Bros. has caused their Wii U to brick, which is a monstrous issue and one that needs to be taken care of quickly. Now, many players claim the issue is tied to playing online, especially in “For Glory” mode, but so far no one is exactly sure what is causing the problem or how to fix afflicted consoles. Thankfully this issue seems to only affect a very small amount of people, but if you are one of those Wii U owners who got a bricked system after a few rounds of online that is little consolation.
Trophy Rush and All-Star Mode return as well, but these haven’t changed at all from the 3DS version with the exception that All-Star Mode now has you fighting the entire roster of characters in reverse chronological order, as opposed to the 3DS version where you face opponents in the order they first appeared in the game. Challenges also return from the 3DS version, but I find it odd how specific many of the challenges are. Many of the challenges require a specific character to get a specific score in a given mode, so if you aren’t familiar with all the characters you might have some trouble completing some of them, which in turn may prevent you from unlocking rare equipment or customization choices without using some of your limited Golden Hammers.
That just about covers the new content in the game, but there have been some changes to the characters between reviews. Some patches have rebalanced several characters, such as Little Mac and Meta Knight, and in many cases this makes for better characters because the fixes are all fairly positive for most of the roster. Some characters, such as Greninja (who has become my favorite new character) and Sheik, got nerfed because they were too good, but I can barely notice to changes for them. I think it is a good thing that Nintendo wants to take the time to tweak their rosters and make the multiplayer aspect as good as it can be, especially since it is a popular eSports game, and we all know how that arena is taking off right now.
It is worth mentioning that players who buy the Wii U don’t have to spend much time unlocking characters, as the vast majority of them are already unlocked at the start of the game compared to the 3DS version. For players who enjoy unlocking that kind of content this may come as a disappointment, but those who bought both and just want to dive right in from where they left off don’t have to grind a ton matches or anything to get all the characters again, which can be a welcome relief. By the same token, one can import custom characters from a linked 3DS version of the game, so your perfectly crafted customs can still be used to bash your friends’ skulls in after you transfer the data. However, while your transferred customs will work just as you want them too, you can’t transfer your unlocked moves and equipment, so you have to unlock those all over again before you can start making new characters, which is just a little disappointing.
Online play functions much as it does in the 3DS version of the game, with 8-Player smash being unavailable and only able to be played as local wireless. Still, that should provide all the online you really need, and I am sure that 8-Player Smash would not function well anyway when lag is taken into account.
There is some announced DLC for Super Smash Bros, including a Miiverse based stage and Mewtwo as a playable character, which is excellent news. In fact, in my 3DS review I lamented that Mewtwo didn’t make the original cut and hoped he would appear in this way, and so I am very pleased by this announcement. While there hasn’t been any more content announced for the time being, I don’t think it is out of the question that we will see some other DLC stages or characters in the future.
My final verdict on Super Smash Bros. is that it is fantastic. It is a fun game, just as it is on the 3DS and it lives up to my expectations that have been set by the rest of the franchise. Despite that, there are some issues that really need to be resolved, like the bricking issue caused by online, and while I am not as happy as I would like to be with some of the new modes (I’m looking at you Smash Tour), overall it is a very fun experience and I have had a blast playing this title with my friends both online and off. I can rate this a very solid 9, and I will be willing to fix this score to a 9.5 if Nintendo fixes the bug that is crashing systems. Some readers might notice I didn’t give this a perfect 10 like I did for the 3DS, and I really want to, but my experiences with Smash Tour really drags the score down even though the other new content is excellent. I really just wish that they kept Smash Run as opposed to the new Smash Tour game. Also, I rated Super Smash Bros. (3DS) a 10 because, for what that system can handle, I could not have asked for more in a Smash Bros. game, and I think a 9 (or 9.5, get those fixes Nintendo!) is still an accurate and great score.
No doubt, this is probably one of best games on the Wii U right now, and if Super Smash Bros. Brawl was any indication, it will likely retain that position for a very, very long time, especially with continued support from Nintendo in the form of patches and possible DLC. This is one of those games that can really sell a system, especially for those who were previously on the fence. Go out and get it, Nation! Seriously, don’t miss out on this just because of a few flaws.
Thanks again for reading, Nation! Check back everyday for the latest news on your favorite games and check us out on Twitter @APGNation for the latest word as we continue to cover stories. Don’t forget to check out our Gift Guides for ideas for the gamers in your life, as well. Smash on, Nation!