Super Smash Bros. has always been a series that has held a certain warm, cherished place in my heart. I can remember vividly renting the original for my Nintendo 64 constantly at my local Blockbuster, keeping the same copy checked out for over a month. It was glorious fun, a magical mash-up of my favorite characters in one big brawl. I was a pretty happy nine-year-old.
I spent even more time with Melee, the second game I got for my GameCube after Super Mario Sunshine. It introduced me to Roy and Marth and the Fire Emblem universe that I came to quite enjoy after being exposed to it in Melee. I’d play with my friends for countless hours after school and during sleepovers. I still have my copy hidden away in my basement in a bin with my old consoles till this day.
What is unfortunate is that somewhere along the line I got out of touch. In high school the allure of Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, Assassin’s Creed and countless other AAA games pulled my attention away from the vibrant worlds of Nintendo. I never bought a Wii, I never got to experience Brawl and I haven’t seriously played a Super Smash Bros. game for nearly a decade.
However, when Nintendo announced that they were moving the series to handheld with Super Smash Bros. 3DS, I just knew I had to play it. Being able to carry around that childhood nostalgia in my pocket and be able to bust it out and play with the same people I grew up smashing off of stages like Corneria was too much to overlook. Which is why I was incredibly happy to get some limited hands-on time with it at a private Nintendo press event held during the weekend of PAX Prime.
Hunkering myself down with a 3DS XL at one of the Super Smash Bros. 3DS stations, I delved right in to check out the basics. I launched up the basic battle mode with CPU players for standard free-for-all matches. To ease my way into the game, I picked an old classic character that I adored all the way back in the 90s: Captain Falcon.
As the game loaded up on old favorite map in Planet Zebes from Metroid, the good ole Cap’ handled just like I remembered him, speeding his way across the stage with sweeping kicks. The NPCs of Mario and Marth were juggling around poor Yoshi at the left side of the stage when he floated on down toward me on the far right. Charging up my special attack, I ripped a thunderous punch into his face that sent him flying off the stage to the warming words of “FALCON PUNCH!”
It felt like I’d just been playing this the other day, even though it had been years. Any worry I had of the series controls transferring to the 3DS’s controls melted away as I was left grinning ear-to-ear. The game just felt right and I couldn’t get over it.
After being awestruck after a few basic rounds of the game, I moved on to try out the most recently announced character: Shulk. While I am not very familiar with the the Xenoblade series, I did feel a bit at home with Shulk. With slow but powerful swipes, his kit of skills reminded me a bit of Roy, probably my all-time favorite Super Smash Bros. character. Finding some moderate success with him, I felt he was an excellent addition to the roster and someone who might open the gate for young kids to a new series of games they’ve never heard of before.
Time nearly running out on the event, I only had time to investigate so much more into a game that was tightly jam packed with content. I decide to take a spin with the new Smash Run game mode that is exclusive to the 3DS version of the game.
Essentially, you can play the mode alone or with up to four people as you spawn into a set map with randomly generated content. Once inside the map you’d have five minutes to clear out as many enemies as possible. These foes come from any of Nintendo’s franchises, as I saw Goombas from Mario, flying Chandelures from Pokemon and even random events would occur where you’d have to defeat things like massive Bulborbs.
You’d need to defeat all these enemies to collect stat pick-ups for six different categories: speed, jump, attack, special, arms and defense. Collecting these stats would increase your power in the respective category for use in a one minute random challenge that occurs at the end of your five minute Smash Run. These challenges could vary from a simple free-for-all game where attack power would be beneficial to a vertical race to the top of a stage that require ample jumping skill. It was a unique blend of Super Smash Bros. different gameplay aspects that felt completely new and original, something I can’t wait to try more of when I buy my own copy next month.
In my parting moments dabbling with the menus in the game, my last little tid-bit I found incredibly interesting was that this might be the first game since Monster Hunter 3 to have the 3DS interact with the Wii U. You can, in fact, use your 3DS as a controller on the Wii U to play in a room full of your friends. It’s a feature I love as a 3DS owner and one that makes the prospect of picking up a Wii U all the more enticing.
The game certainly was a hit with my fellow press members, as I had to wait it out till nearly the very end to get about 20 minutes of hands-on time with Super Smash Bros. 3DS, but it was well worth it. It brought a smile to my face unlike almost any other game I played during my whole weekend at PAX, playing the latest and coolest upcoming games for the next year. As a fan of the franchise that got out of touch with it for so many years, I wholeheartedly recommend you look into it if you have not already. My hands-on time relieved any skepticism I had, as it truly feels like instant nostalgia you can carry around with you in your pocket wherever you go.