Review: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U – Settle it In Smash, Now in High Definition

on November 21, 2014 3:57 PM

The Super Smash Brothers franchise has come a long way, ever since it first debuted on the N64 back in 1999. The game united classic characters from various Nintendo franchises and put them in the battlefield to prove who was the strongest contender.

Throughout its 15 year history, every new installment introduced new characters as well as new modes that amplified the experience.  This time around the original game director, Masahiro Sakurai, combined forces with Bandai Namco to create what is possibly the best installment in the series.

The Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. features the same cast included in the 3DS version of the game, including newcomers such as Lucina and Robin from Fire Emblem: Awakening, Greninja from Pokemon X & Y, Shulk from Xenoblade Chronicles and even the oldschool characters such as Little Mac from Punch Out!, Duck Hunt Dog from Duck Hunt, as well the original cast from the previous installments.

Just as in previous installments of the series, gameplay consists of pitting up several characters into the battlefield and defeating your opponents using your character’s attacks and abilities strategically in order to raise their damage percentage meter and knock them clear off the stage. Alternately, players can choose to use the Stamina option instead, which gives the characters a health percentage rate instead and making it similar to a traditional fighter.

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Super Smash Bros. for Wii U retains all of these elements that makes the series such an intense fighting game, including the wide variety of characters with unique play styles and abilities and of course, the gameplay mechanics. However, that doesn’t mean the game can’t be enjoyed by casual players, as it offers new new modes that can make it a great social party game. And we can’t forget that we can now play with up to eight players, enhancing the fun.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Super Smash Bros. game if it didn’t include some action-packed modes carried from earlier titles, but with some alterations.  While the Wii U version doesn’t have “Smash Run,” which is exclusive to the 3DS version, it does have “Smash Tour” which shares the similar concept of grabbing items to level up your character, but steps it up to another level by making it possibly the best mode of the game, especially if played with friends.

Smash Tour is almost as if you were playing a Mario Party game, as it takes up to four players into a board game. Prior to starting the game, it gives you the option to choose among three sizes — small, medium and large — as well as how many turns players can take before going into the final battle.

Each player will be assigned two random characters before the game starts, unlike Smash Run in which you chose what character you wanted to use. In Smash Tour, in addition to collecting equipment items, you must also collect characters along the way, which you will use during the final battle. The more characters you have, the greater the chance of being victorious.

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It’s not the final battle what makes this mode special, however, but instead the events that happen during the board game session. Players must travel around the board and hit checkpoints along the way and getting to all of them will net a bonus for every player. Players can also encounter each other and start a fight between them, ranging from a brawl to a home-run competition. The overall winner will steal the other players’ characters with during each that take place during the board game session.

You can also obtain and use special items such as Poison Mushroom during the board game, as well as other items and weapons that can use during battles. With learning about and strategically using these various mechanics throughout the run, it can be both a frustrating and one of the most entertaining experiences the game provides, even when playing against the AI. Just like Mario Party, expect to end your friendships while playing this mode.

In addition to Smash Tour, a new mode called Special Orders has been added as well. In Special Orders, both Master Hand and Crazy Hand have some challenges for the player to complete. In Master Orders, the player must purchase a ticket and challenge stages which you will receive rewards for, depending on the difficult of the challenge you chose.

However, in Crazy Orders, it can only be played with a pass (which can be acquired playing other modes) or by spending 5000 gold coins.

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A time limit of 10 minutes will be given and the player must survive a set of challenges the player must complete, and the difficulty rises per challenge. Per completion of the challenge, just like Master Orders, the player will be given a reward but once the player had enough, they can choose to battle Crazy Hand.

Once you defeat Master Hand, the player will claim all the rewards. However, because the player retains most of damage percentage from the previous battle, the risk of losing is higher. So if the player loses during these battles or to Master Hand, they will lose all their rewards

While Master Orders can be fun and an easy way to stack up some rewards, the real fun can be found through playing Crazy Orders because it’s the game’s way of providing players with an intense survival mode with a Smashing flavor. It’s rewarding when you are on the brink of losing knowing you could lose all your hard earned rewards but proceed with the next challenge and then complete it successfully anyway. Of course, there will be times when you can get overconfident and then lose all your rewards, but that’s all part of the fun.

Other modes like Classic, All-Star, Events and Stadium make a return with a few alterations. Unlike the previous installments of Super Smash Bros., you can now play All-Star without the need to unlock all characters. Additionally, there’s Target Blast, a new mini-game introduced in this title.

This mini-game is a mix of Home-Run Contest and Target Smash, where you need to give a bomb enough damage and launch it at the right time. Once the bomb’s countdown hits zero when it launches, the blast will destroy targets and trigger a chain reaction by shattering walls and bomb blocks, contributing to your a high score. Personally, I enjoyed the original Target Smash more, but this mode can be fun as well.

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The Vault makes a return as well, which features your in-game screenshots, trophies, movies, records and the soundtrack of the game. Additionally, you may play though Trophy Rush, which is a fun way to gather up more trophies as well as custom items for your character. Additionally, the shop returns as well and it’s more sparkling than ever. I really dig the toy store approach that they used for this title.

Thanks to the Wii U Gamepad, Stage Builder (a feature first introduced in Super Smash Bros. Brawl) is back and better than ever.  Before creating your stage, you have to choose the size of the stage, background look, and the background song from the great selection of music.

Using the touch-pad screen and stylus, you can draw and customize the shape of the terrain to your specifications. Additionally, you may also use stage hazards and features such as springs, cannons, moving platforms and even the new Danger Zone hazard.

Just like terrain, you need to use the stylus to denote the location of the hazard to your liking. While I never been one to use Stage Builder much in Brawl, it works well enough and I can see that those who enjoy making their own stages will appreciate the mode even more.

Just like the 3DS version, the online mode in this game will feature modes “For Fun” and “For Glory.”  For Fun allows players to use items, every stage but Final Destination will be available  and the battles won’t be recorded. As for For Glory, every stage will be available in their Omega (or their Final Destination) form and all wins and losses will be recorded in this. Additionally, you may play with friends or spectate other people’s battle.

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Like every game, its online mode must be stable to get the best experience out of it, and for the most part, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U does a good job. While playing through various bouts through all modes, I barely encountered any lag and as a matter of fact, it’s actually a little bit less than the 3DS version of the game, at least for me. While it’s not perfect, the online connectivity was definitely improved.

One of the biggest announcements during the 50-Fact Extravaganza livestream was “8-Player Smash,” which was well received by the fanbase. Sadly, I won’t ever have 7 other friends to try the mode with, especially since it won’t be available online for obvious reasons, but I was still able to play it with the AI, and let me tell you, I still had a blast.

I tried to play it in different variations including four teams of two players, four against four and even seven against one, of course, all the AI against me.  Even if you can’t gather seven other friends, the game still allows you to play up to five, six or seven players. Honestly, this new mode is one of the best things that has ever happened to the series.

Being the only installment that is available on both current Nintendo consoles and handhelds, Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS have some connectivity features that the player can take advantage of. For starters, the feature allows you to bring your custom fighter from the 3DS version to the Wii U version by connecting them from the main menu.

You can also use the 3DS it as a controller as well, if your playstyle is better suited for that.  If you live in North America and happen to be one of the few owners of a Japanese Nintendo 3DS and the Japanese version of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS then you’re in for a treat as the North American version of the game will recognize it and I assume compatibility will work vice versa as well.

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A featured anticipated by many was Amiibo functionality, announced in E3 2014. Nintendo has recently enabled it through the latest Wii U update and a few games, including both Super Smash Bros for Wii U and Mario Kart 8, already take advantage of the feature.

In this game, the Amiibo figurines act as AI which you can personalize (both in actions and stats) by feeding them equipment and items you acquired through the game. Of course, you can train your Amiibo’s AI specifically by playing against it or making it fight against other AI opponents, which results in leveling it up. While players may only level their Amiibo up to level 50, they can continue to customize the AI and power up their Attack, Speed or Defense stats by feeding them equipment.

When Amiibo first got announced, I was reluctant about it, and had little interest in the toys. However, as the months passed and more information was shown on its functionality, it sparked my attention and was willing to give it a try.

Finally after getting my hands on the Mario Amiibo, I realized how great the feature was in way of the amount of customization. Not to mention I’d imagine it to be fun to compete with your friends on who can make the best Amiibo. The fact that they will have functionality with other Nintendo titles and that they make great collectible makes Amiibo a worthwhile investment.

Not only can you customize your Amiibo with equipment and special items, but the game lets you customize your own Mii characters, as well as the playable characters of the game. With items you collected, just like Amiibos, you may alter your characters stats and movesets. Players can give characters a stronger variation of their current movesets as well.

Just as with the Amiibos, stats can be modified and I enjoyed the fact that while an increase in one stat will enhance an attribute, at the same time, it will lower another one.

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Thankfully, Wii U has backwards compatibility with all Wii controllers, along with being able to use the Gamepad, Wii U Pro Controller, the GameCube controller thanks to the new adapter and the Nintendo 3DS if you have the 3DS version. Personally, using the GameCube controller is preferable for me as I been using it for years,  but coming from the 3DS version, that control scheme would be quite familiar to many.

Bandai Namco Games being involved in this project was absolutely a great call, being that the company has a great amount of experience dealing with fighting games, and their knowledge definitely contributed to the game.  Also, as you may already be aware, the Wii U version will feature the balance fixes from the 1.0.4 update of the game, so if you played the 3DS version recently, you already know what to expect.

While some fans, including myself, don’t agree with most of the changes, is it definitely a great sign that the game is constantly getting updated.

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As expected, with every installment of the game, the series looks more beautiful than ever, with outstanding visuals extending from the game’s stages to the character models. One of my personal favorites is the Mario Galaxy stage from Super Mario Galaxy, which was already a beautiful game to begin with.

Not to mention that finally seeing the game in shiny 1080p resolution as well as 60 frames per second really added to the experience. Sadly, some of the long loading times you’ll encounter through menu navigations as well as when quitting a game session can be a bit annoying, but thankfully not too disturbing.

A grand selection of music scores from various Nintendo titles as well as third-party Nintendo games are naturally present here. Listening to classics such as “Princess Peach’s Castle”, the “Super Mario World Medley” or even from recent titles such as the “Rainbow Road” from Mario Kart: Double Dash makes me feel nostalgic as I reminisced all the good times playing all of these great titles. The Super Smash Bros. series for me will always have the best collection of soundtracks hands down.

I really had a blast playing through Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.  Seeing the worlds of my favorite Nintendo franchises once again was more than satisfying. From its single player modes such as Classic Mode, All-Star Mode and of course Smash Tour as well as the online modes with friends and other fans worldwide, the sheer amount of content will keep me playing well after launch.

While I had a great time playing through the 3DS version, I must say the Wii U version, as expected, blows the former out of the water. From amazing visuals, to excellent and smooth gameplay, to a variety of old and new modes, to the Amiibo figures to a bigger selection of music scores across many Nintendo franchises, the Wii U version provides fans with the best version of the game, hands down.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is, without a shadow of a doubt, my favorite title of the holiday season.

 /  Staff Writer
Christian has been a gamer since his early childhood. His first video game system was the NeoGeo, which has made him a big fan of the King of Fighters and the Metal Slug series. Additionally, Christian enjoys cooking, listening to music, watching anime and has an interest in graphic design.