Hands-On Preview: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Amiibo Figurines - Toys Aren't Just for Children
Recently I visited the Nintendo offices in NYC to try out several of their upcoming holiday titles, including the highly anticipated Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. I was also able to get a closer look at some of the Amiibo figurines and even snap some pictures.
When I first arrived, the representatives immediately had me dive me into eight-player Smash, which is actually its own mode. I played most of the matches using the Gamecube controller, specifically the awesome special edition Super Smash Bros. one:
After selecting our characters (while the open slots were delegated to CPUs), the process of choosing a stage brought us to a menu filled with quite a few greyed-out stages; this is due to some arenas’ size not being able to accommodate the sheer amount of players. Certain stages, such as Battlefield, have an alternative design custom made for eight players.
Naturally once the battle began, chaos reigned and my eyes could barely keep track of the action — this was with a minimal amount of items and the Smash Ball enabled to boot. I couldn’t imagine the consequences of having all items turned on at normal frequencies at once.
The best strategy I found is simply to track your character as it moves along the stage, because there’s very little that can be done to battle against every single character competitively. Honestly, this mode is built more as a fun battle-royal type match-up than for anything remotely resembling tournament play.
We then delved into a deeper play session involving the Amiibos and how they factor into Smash for Wii U. Amiibos are used to store data from the character that the figure corresponds to. In order to use an Amiibo, you must scan it using the NFC function built in the Gamepad (you have to hold down the figure for a few seconds to stabilize it during the process):
Once that’s done, you take the little fella out and either train it yourself in one-on-one matches or pit it against you and other live humans/CPU players. The Amiibo levels up during battle and the AI begins to pick up battle traits based on the kind of moves you use on it. For instance, the representatives showed me a Pikachu Amiibo they specifically trained to be a speedster type, which was accomplished by both the aforementioned move training and through stat increases.
You increased your Amiibo’s stats by feeding it equipment awarded after battle to either Attack, Defense or Speed; focusing on one stat, however, will cause another stat to fall. Coming back to the Pikachu figure I mentioned before, though its speed was abnormally high, its attack stat was in the negatives due to this principle. Overall, each Amiibo maxes out at level 50 but still continues to learn moves even after.
To test out the figurines in battle, I scanned the Mario Amiibo and then played against it and two representatives in a four-player battle. At first Mario’s AI was weak and used little strategy, but as he leveled up during the match the AI improved along with him. After each battle, you must rescan the Amiibo to save any data gathered during the match. Amiibo data can even be saved on different systems, so players can feel free to strengthen the figure anywhere they like.
Later in the session I was able to try out the Wii U exclusive mode, Smash Tour. You choose from any Mii character saved on the system, with the CPU filling any open slots. The Miis (paired with a couple other fighters) are dumped on a single gameboard and each turn you must stop a roulette wheel on a number; this number signifies how many steps that character can take during a single round. At this point you can also use an item that you previously collected in the current round. The goal of the game is to touch every single colored checkpoint, giving all players massive stat boosts, while collecting stat enhancers, items and other fighters along the way.
When two Miis meet in the same square, they start up a battle between them and every other character. These can range from a classic brawl that has each player fighting with the characters they collected to a Home-Run Contest competition.
For instance, let’s say that Mii 1 and Mii 2 encountered each other and Mii 1 wins the match. Mii 1 would then knock Mii 2 onto a random square on the board, leaving the other players unaffected since they didn’t start the battle. However, all players will give up one character to the winning Mii as payment for losing. There are a certain amount of rounds that each game lasts for (which can be customized before the game starts) and once the game ends, all players battle it out in one final brawl with all the characters, power ups and items they’ve acquired.
I had an absolute blast with this mode, as it was the perfect way to wind down and relax after the tenser rounds of Smash I played earlier. It definitely feels like a Mario Party inspired feature, which is excellent since Smash Bros. is such a social title in the first place. Smash Tour is all-around a great exclusive mode for Wii U.
Lastly, I was briefing able to check out the Stage Builder mode, which originally appeared in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. This time around, you use the Gamepad and stylus to build your creations, making the process far less tedious. You can switch between several different textures for the platforms, then draw them in whatever shape you like (the shape must be closed for it to appear). You can also choose whether fighter can grip the edges or not as well. Several kinds of hazards can be placed throughout the stage, including the new Danger Zone hazard. Later on, after the game releases, there are plans to introduce an online component letting you share your creations with the Smash community. I absolutely loved Smash Builder in Brawl and from what I played here, there seems to be even more to love.
Once I concluded my play session with Super Smash Bros. I immediately asked to take pictures of the Amiibo figurines themselves. While a few were missing (Link, Peach and Marth) the rest were available for me to pick up and hold. The detailing on each figure is pretty high quality, considering the fact that they will be mass produced and are only $13. They also have a nice, heavy weight to them, indicating that they aren’t made of cheap plastic. Below is a gallery of screenshots I took of each Amiibo, so check them out and enjoy (don’t mind the constant photobombing, these Amiibo are a posse after all):