Review: Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (Nintendo 3DS)

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS: Official GBAtemp Review

Nintendo 3DS 4,151 views 2 likes 31 comments
Reviewed by Brandon Boui, posted Oct 4, 2014
Oct 4, 2014
  • Release Date (NA): October 3, 2014
  • Release Date (JP): September 13, 2014
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Sora LTD, Namco Bandai
  • Genres: Action
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone 10 and up
  • PEGI Rating: Seven years and older
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Super Smash Bros. 3DS is the next game in the popular Smash! franchise from Nintendo, appearing for the first time in a portable form on the Nintendo 3DS. The title brings back many of the most popular characters from Nintendo-related franchises, in an epic battle royale.
Brandon Boui

Review of Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS (NA)

To say the least, this is definitely one of the most hotly anticipated titles for the Nintendo 3DS for the 2014 holiday season, and at this review's publication over 2.8 million copies had been sold, which is quite the achievement for Nintendo, who has seen lagging sales on its 3DS and Wii U platforms. I'm definitely happy for them. For the first time ever, the popular console battle royale title makes its way to the portable screen and brings the most popular characters from its most famous franchises to the handheld screens. Characters include the iconic Mario, Link, Zelda, Pikachu, Samus, and many more, yet bringing along new friends such as the Villager from Animal Crossing, Greninja from Pokémon X and Y, and Lucina and Robin from Fire Emblem Awakening. This large cast brings plenty of variety and enjoyment for almost anyone. The main question here though, is whether or not the game met expectations and whether or not it was able to perform well on the Nintendo 3DS screens. The review copy of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS was provided as a digital copy, coming in at around ~9300 blocks of space on a memory card, courtesy of Nintendo of America. 

So, booting up the game aside, what is there to do in this game? To sum it up, there's quite a bit for the average player to take in. There are many different things that players can do in this game, which includes the following:

  • Smash! Mode, divided into:
    • Solo mode and Group Mode. Classic Smash experience, battle royale.
  • Online play, divided into:
    • Playing With Friends and With Anyone
    • Conquest Mode - Aim to be the best!
    • Spectator mode - watch matches, gamble on who you think might win. It's actually quite fun to do. Some people do the darndest things in this mode.
  • Challenge Mode - Participate in minigames or challenges to earn prizes. 
  • Smash Run - collect loot in a huge labyrinth map, and then use those loot to fight against players. This mode is not an online play mode, sadly. 
  • Games and More, divided into:
    • Solo and Group Mode
      • Solo consists of Classic Mode, All Star, Training and Stadium Modes
        • Classic Mode is the game's take on a story mode, which lets you choose a character, choosing the difficulty and path that you want to play out. It has a traditional arcade mode feel to it, proceeding from stage to stage. The All Star mode is a mode that allows you to take on fighters in predetermined conditions. Training will allow you to try out new fighters and learn their moves, while Stadium mode is a ton of fun minigames, including the classic Home Run Derby mode. 
    • Develop a Custom Fighter - create a fighter the way you want them to play, modifying movesets and stats using equipment!
    • The Vault - look at your trophies here.

So as you can see, there is a good amount of things that you can do, so start playing and get ready to start collecting! 

This Smash! title definitely stayed true to the Smash! experience, with some tweaks and changes to make the game experience a bit more fluid and usable on the 3DS. It felt almost like Brawl, but bite sized on the Nintendo 3DS. The big game changer for me, and for many others who I spoke to about the title, was that it's playable on the go now. And I have to say that I'm definitely impressed with Nintendo here, as I thought the game was going to be awful since we're so used to the big screen for everything now. It was definitely a risky move, bringing a big brawler to a smaller screen, but the endeavor has paid off well.

 

First of all, let's talk about the visuals. The visuals are very different. I'm not a pro when it comes to art terms, but it's very vibrant though, with stages like Final Destination looking absolutely amazing. The environments were top notch, with a lot of clarity. The 3DS effect is actually quite magnificent here. It's one of the few games where the 3D effect works well. The characters themselves, on the other hand, interacted quite well with the environment. The models looked fantastic and behaved fluidly in battle. I was pretty impressed with the visuals, as they looked very similar to the console counterparts in terms of clarity. In single player gameplay, there was no lag even with the 3D enabled, with the game still feeling buttery smooth. Not a lot of 3DS games could pull that off! 

Now, it wouldn't be a game of Smash! without the music. The music always stood out to me, as a lot of the classic tunes have been remixed and orchestrated. And they sound incredible. I love a lot of the music that Nintendo comes up with in their games, but these definitely were very well done. I'm especially soft for the track from The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. Some of the tunes were given a metal remix type, and others given more mellow mixes. Overall though, it's Nintendo music nostalgia at its finest. And I don't think anyone is going to complain about that. 

I think it's definitely time to spend some time on the game modes and mechanics that were brought forth with this title. One of the newer mechanics Nintendo brought forth was customization of characters. Aside from changing the costume of the characters, the customization is more in-depth as the fighters could be changed according to your own playstyle, assuming you unlocked the moves in solo play. Let's assume you have the skills unlocked. You can use those skills to replace those that are on the default move set, essentially making this hero yours. The character could also be further modified with equipment found in solo play, which modifies some of the core stats of the character, including Strength, Defense, and Speed. Thankfully these changes do not work online, as the customizations are absolutely balance breaking and Nintendo would have to have been insane to allow it be online. Think 100% damage from Link's arrows crazy. The enabling of custom fighters IS optional, so there is that for a saving grace. 

Next, Nintendo brought in a new mode I'd like to called the Missed Opportunity. In the game though, it's called Smash Run. I call it a Missed Opportunity because it feels like it would be a great online feature to add, but it's not. Generally speaking, Smash Run places you in a labyrinthine map of sorts that allows you to collect status boosters over a set time period. The boosts could be collected in the environment, or from killing enemies present on the map. And you will see a lot of familiar faces. I've seen monsters from Metroid, and even Kamek from the Mario series. It's these little things that I think make the game more fun. After collecting boosts over the time period, you are thrown into battle and will play it out against other AI. I really do not understand why Nintendo made this single player mode only. It had such huge potential that not putting it online was just completely baffling. 

A lot of the other game modes in addition to those mentioned above were similar to those presented in the earlier titles. Group Smash, Classic Smash, a lot of the old rules followed, though thankfully they got rid of prat falling (also called "tripping" for those curious...). Classic mode, which lets you choose your own path, was easily one of the more time consuming elements of this game, which allowed you to choose a fighter, and with some difficulty adjustments, participate in an arcade style fight progression. Multiple paths were provided, forcing you to choose one, with a big boss at the end. 

Having nowhere to really expand on here, it's time to talk about performance for those of you who are all about specs. The gameplay in single player mode is buttery smooth. It's fluid, it's fast, it brings a lot of 3DS games to shame. The game loads pretty quickly between menus and battles, and it feels zippy when playing the single player mode. The online mode, however, is quite a different story. I will say that your mileage will vary. It's very hit or miss. I played a couple dozen online matches for fun, and my tallies were very split down the middle - some matches were extremely smooth, and others were laggy enough to be unplayable. A lot of other players could replicate my results. It didn't feel consistent, and people are speculating that this has to do with the location that people are playing from. It isn't a concrete answer, but what is concrete is that the results are varying. I've seen all ends of the spectrum, with people citing intolerable lag, and others claiming a smooth experience. 

With all good discussion points there must be some criticism that comes in here. The controls kind of irk me. I'm not a huge fan of the slide pad on the 3DS. I play with a 3DS XL, and using that to navigate feels cumbersome. It doesn't feel as precise. I have a lot more accuracy on the directional pad, but sadly those were taken up for taunts. In fact, at this point the slide pad is starting to feel a bit loose on my 3DS XL, given that I put a bit of spirit into my gameplay. Given the game's flexibility with allowing character customization, I was shocked that the control modifcation did not allow us to change over to the directional pad for movement. There is also an extra button that the game forces you to use, which is two jump commands. I only need one, and having to keep the extra command on there felt odd and out of place. I'm also hoping that when the New Nintendo 3DS comes out in America, there's more control customizability. 

Another note that I had is the rather large ensemble of playable characters. Don't get me wrong, having a big cast is a great thing, but a good chunk of the playable characters are essentially clones with a different appearance. Take Captain Falcon and Ganondorf, or the two Pitts. Don't even get me started with Fox and friends. Even though these were present in the previous installments, it just doesn't feel quite so varying after all. The newer characters are welcome additions, and some are just ridiculously overpowered. I'm looking at you Little Mac. 

Something else I noticed was during battles - there's a lot going on that tiny screen. Even playing on a 3DS XL, the screen feels a bit tight for all the action. Characters on larger maps are zoomed out, and for those with poor eyesight, finding your character might be a bit difficult, especially if the color schemes are similar! I faced that problem a few times on my end. Now, can you make for thicker outlines and outline your character with a red rectangle to easily locate it? Sure, but that feels unrefined to me. I should be able to immediately find my character at any given moment. Which has led to some rather humorous deaths as I thought I would be following my character, but instead I was following someone else's character - only to notice sadly that my character was plunging to his death in a pit below. 

Do not get me wrong, this game is what the Nintendo 3DS needs to make it through a rather lousy 3DS lineup for 2014. It's definitely a title that has its merits. It's a nice gem that could still use some polishing. It has strong points which revolve around strong visuals, a relatively large cast to choose from, great music, and lots of different things to collect that could leave players going at the game for many hours on end. But I think that Nintendo really has to step it up in terms of its online infrastructure though, and allow for more freedom in its online. Being able to communicate with players feels like a necessity. Smash Run needed to be online, and controls needed to have more variability and freedom. Overall, despite the many different modes presented in the game, the title still felt somehow empty or lacking to me personally. It met all my expectations that I expected in a game for the Smash! series, but at the same time, the limitations that Nintendo put forth on its online has gutted it somewhat. It's a good fighter and game overall, but it doesn't feel great just yet. And for a lot of hardcore fans, the game needs to be absolutely great and perfect. I feel like I could get more out of Brawl or Melee with the larger screen. Maybe I'm not super used to the portability aspect of this game, but it's something that I feel is worth noting. The screen size is vastly different. Going from an ~50 inch television to a small screen like the 3DS is polarizing. It's really close to being an excellent game, but it's not quite there yet, especially the online. I'm hoping that the Wii U version has a bit more polish and more solidarity online.

And of course, many thanks to Nintendo of America for providing GBAtemp.net with a review copy of the title. We're looking forward to many more collaborations in the future. 

Verdict
Pros
+ Strong visuals
+ Wonderful music library
+ Lots of characters to choose from
+ Allows players to make a fighter to their own specifications
Cons
- Smash Run wasn't an online mode
- Controls needed more versatility
- Screen is a bit small for the scale.
- Online is extremely varied in its performance results.
8 Presentation
Nintendo definitely gives you a lot to choose from and do here. It's well-presented, with great visuals and wonderful music that gets you going. The presentation on how the game delivers is definitely one of the strong points of this title.
7 Gameplay
Gameplay felt a bit shallow after a bit, online is varied in terms of performance. The game feels like classic Smash! with some new and welcome changes. Lots of things to collect (trophies), and lots of different ways to play the best of Nintendo characters. Smash Run needed to be online though, and the online performance needed to be more consistent instead of a gamble to see whether the match is playable or not.
7 Lasting Appeal
I find that this title could have been a lot better, and it doesn't really do anything too differently than what was on Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
7.7
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
This game is what the Nintendo 3DS needs to make it through a rather lousy 3DS lineup for 2014. It's definitely a title that has its merits. It's a nice gem that could still use some polishing. It has strong points which revolve around strong visuals, a relatively large cast to choose from, great music, and lots of different things to collect that could leave players going at the game for many hours on end. But I think that Nintendo really has to step it up in terms of its online infrastructure though, and allow for more freedom in its online. Being able to communicate with players feels like a necessity. Smash Run needed to be online, and controls needed to have more variability and freedom. Overall, despite the many different modes presented in the game, the title still felt somehow empty or lacking to me personally. It met all my expectations that I expected in a game for the Smash! series, but at the same time, the limitations that Nintendo put forth on its online has gutted it somewhat. It's a good fighter and game overall, but it doesn't feel great just yet. And for a lot of hardcore fans, the game needs to be absolutely great and perfect. It's really close to being there, but it's not quite there yet.
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