Release Date: November 28th 2014
As I mentioned in a post a few days ago, I intend for this to be my last game review, as I intend to retire from writing game reviews for the foreseeable future. I may as well end on a high note, with a good game in my midst. Two and a half years ago I wrote a review of the 3DS version of the latest Super Smash Bros. game, but I never really got the reason why they split the game in two, and I always wanted to play the console version, because I knew that would be the better version, and here it is.
Just like in the 3DS version, the game ditches story mode from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which is obviously an improvement considering how bad and ancillary it was, though I wish they could have brought back Melee’s adventure mode, along with the mini-games that came with it. There’s nothing resembling a story mode here, but I suppose that’s better for a fighting game than a poorly written, ill-concieved story. Plus in this game you don’t get that repetitive Smash Run either. Instead, you get Smash Tour, a Mario-Party type mode in which up to four players form a team of fighters that they pick up on the board, or it could be one player against three computers, and collect as many power-ups as you can while fighting the occasional battle. You can change the size of the board, and how many turns you spend on the board and decide whether custom characters are allowed.
The character roster is impressive. There are 47 playable characters (49 if you count all three customisable Mii Fighters, and 58 if you count the DLC characters and characters who are playable as alternate costumes for other characters). You also have the freedom to give a character an alternate moveset and unique equipment. It’s fairly arbitrary, but there is something to be said about the amount of freedom you have to customise existing characters. The Mii Fighters are a welcome addition to the roster, and offers another layer of customisation to the game, although the Miis themselves don’t look very good, and compared to some other characters, their fighting styles seem inferior. It also annoys me that I have to pay to unlock certain characters. I love the idea of bringing Roy and Mewtwo back to the roster, but the presence of a paywall ruins it for me. Also, if you want to buy them all in a single pack (complete with the stages), it takes up a good chunk of the Wii U’s memory, which is generally not as spacious compared to a PS3.
Of course one of the main reasons that the Wii U version is superior to the 3DS version is the graphics. The game sports 1080p HD graphics, and some beautiful stages. Certainly it’s a significant upgrade from the 3DS edition, but with broadly the same style, so that the two versions mingle seamlessly with each other (bearing in mind that you can connect the 3DS version to the Wii U). The game reuses plenty of stages and occasionally music from past games, but that’s fine because they’re recycling content that was good anyway, and the new content is great as well, including the new music.
The gameplay is excellent. Fighting in the Super Smash Bros. style of combat never gets old, not just because of the game’s excellent control scheme, but also because of the innovations that each new instalment brings to the table. In the Wii U edition, you have the ability to have up to 8 fighters on the same stage, but only for larger stages, and not during online play. Another thing you might notice is that the Wii U version allows you to play with the widest range of controllers I’ve ever seen. You can play with the standard Wii U Game Pad, the Wii U Pro Controller, a special “Smash Controller”, the Wii Remote (and the Nunchuck as well), the Wii Classic Controller (and the Pro version), and through a special adaptor, you can play with the GameCube controller. You can even play using your 3DS if you wanted to.
The game added two noteworthy new modes – Event Mode and Special Orders. Event Mode is kind of an episodic mode of gameplay in which one or two players can participate in themed challenges, moving along a path of progression by completing challenges, with some challenges unlocking a hidden route if you unlock a hidden character. Various events come with additional rewards if you complete them in a certain way, and it can be very challenging to claim that reward. Special Orders is a mode in which you clear challenges in order to gain rewards. This is divided into two modes. In Master Orders, you must complete one of three challenges (i.e. battles with special rules) in order to gain a reward. In Crazy Orders, you can attempt a series of orders rather than just one, and you can keep going for more rewards until you either lose (and therefore lose all your rewards), or claim victory by defeating Crazy Hand in battle.
Classic Mode is a part of the series that I feel has been improved here. Instead of it being a linear stride against an array of randomly assembled characters, as it was in the past, you can choose from a selection of icons across a board, each icon with a different opponent, or group of opponents, and the reward is decided at random. The difficulty is set at the beginning using the same system found in Kid Icarus Uprising, which is great because if you play Classic Mode at the standard difficulty setting, it can be too easy. But, to increase or lower the difficulty, you need gold, which you can earn in other modes.
It’s all very fun, but now for some of my criticisms. I find it baffling that they made Sheik and Zero Suit Samus playable as characters separate from their alter egos (Zelda and Samus respectively). It makes absolutely no sense, and it seems quite wasteful. After all, why would I want to play as Zero Suit Samus when I can just play as Samus? I suppose Zero Suit Samus and Sheik are faster and more nimble than their counterparts. Speaking of pointless characters, I’m disappointed that Nintendo has decided not to retire the cloned characters. Toon Link is still playable, Lucina is practically a clone of Marth, and they apparently brought back Dr. Mario, a literal clone of Mario. Why bother when Dr. Mario could just be a costume now?
My other criticism is with the game’s stage builder. I was enthusiastic when I found out that they were taking another stab at having a stage builder, implying that they’ve actually improved it. Well it’s been partially improved, but I’m disappointed with how limited it still is. You can draw the ground now, but I find that even if you’re trying to make a large stage, there’s only a small border in the stage builder you’re allowed to work with (in other words, the amount of the stage you can show on camera), which to me sounds like a con. Another problem is that the tourney feature from previous games has been relegated to the online mode. Other than those problems, this is still a fine game, and if you don’t have a Wii U already, I think it should be the first game you pick up when you do get a Wii U.
- Score: 87%
- Grade: A