Update: This review has been updated with a score after time spent with the online features.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is finally here and the excitement couldn’t be higher. I am fully aware that pretty much anything I say in this review will be moot. I could say the game is the greatest or worst Smash Bros. ever and people would still find fault and purchase the game. I’m aware of these facts and will not bore you with simple details. I know how Smash fans think. I stopped following, as much as I could, Smash Bros. Wii U updates about three months ago, including the last Nintendo Direct. I am going to make this simple by coming right out and telling you what you want to hear. Super Smash Bros. Wii U is pretty much what everyone expects from a Wii U version of Super Smash Bros.…go buy it.
Let’s first talk about some parameters and some specifics about this review.
- The Online version was not made available for this review.
- I can’t talk about specific parts of the game: unlockables, certain levels, etc.
- We don’t have the GameCube adapter and only got an amiibo yesterday.
Let’s get the important details out of the way first. How does the game play? Smash Bros. Wii U plays faster and smoother than Brawl. In fact, the fighters movements seem more responsive and fluid than ever before. Big fighters, like Bowser and Donkey Kong, feel powerful and demanding in their movements. Faster and smaller players, like Sonic and Zero Suit Samus, feel quick and concise. Mr. Sakurai has accomplished what he set out to do in making each character feel like their own. For the first time players are doing more than pressing the same variations of buttons for each fighter. Furthermore, the addition of players like Little Mac, Daisy, and Palutena offer a different and refreshing way to play Smash.
Speaking of controls, there are a ton of controller options for Smash Bros. Wii U: GamePad, Wii-mote, Wii U Pro Controller, and GameCube controller with adapter, and the Nintendo 3DS. There haven’t been any major changes between the Wii-mote controls from Brawl to this version. If you enjoyed playing with the Wii-mote in Brawl then you should feel the same now. The Wii U Pro Controller and GamePad play similar to each other, with the right thumb stick acting like the GameCube’s C-stick for Smash Attacks.
The last big addition to control schemes is the use of the 3DS. Super Smash Bros. Wii U allows players to sync a 3DS, only if you have the 3DS version of Super Smash Bros., with the Wii U. This allows for transferring of player stats from the 3DS version to the Wii U, and the other way around. Additionally, the 3DS can be used as a controller but I’m not sure why someone would want to do that.
Stage design in Smash Wii U is pretty fantastic. No, I said that wrong…stage design in Smash Wii U is amazing, which I’m sure everyone expects from Nintendo at this point. Nintendo has always tried to find balance between stages that are just backdrops and stages that are interactive. Smash Wii U has found this balance. Even within stages, like the Boxing stage, players can use the stage’s ropes to launch themselves up into the air. This interactivity leads to one of my favorite new stages: the Game & Wario stage.
The Game & Wario Stage is one of those three-tiered type of levels but offers the interesting twist of hiding from the mother. For anyone who played Game & Wario on the Wii U, this is the game where the player had to hide while the mother lurked around to make sure he wasn’t playing video games. This same concept is the basis for this stage. Fighting players will need to be aware of the mother lurking around the background. When she jumps into the room, the evil mother’s death stare will send lasers attacking whoever is not hiding behind something.
Nintendo has finally decided to step-up the Smash(ness) with the addition of 8-player Smash. Originally when I wrote this section I was very down on the execution of the 8-person Smash, and I mostly blame that on the not so randomness of the random level select. One could also say my impatience. 8-Player Smash basically only offers two different types of stages. The first set features larger levels that provide more room for fighters to move around. These levels are different levels or larger versions of original levels. With these larger levels, fighters will find themselves mostly breaking off in smaller Brawls, which really defeats the purpose of 8-player Smash. The second set of stages, which turned my opinion around, are all the normal size stages. These “normal” stages provide the experience I was looking for, and I’m sure you are wanting, a crazy all out Brawl that will appease all the senses by overwhelming them and making you laugh with glee at all the craziness.
I mostly play Smash Bros. for the Smashing but Nintendo has always added something a little extra to the games. Smash Wii U offers the typical home run contest, 100-player Smash and classic battle modes. Just like the 3DS version with Smash Run, Nintendo has added a new game to Smash Wii U with Smash Tour. Smash Tour is nice in theory but the Mario Party game board really slowed down the action. In its defense, it could be better with a few local players.
In the game, players control a Mii around a board, three different sizes in all. At the beginning, each player starts with two fighters. At the roll of the virtual dice, players move around the board collecting power-ups, items and additional fighters. If two players crash into each other, a random battle with all the players is triggered, with the loser of the battle forfeiting their Smash Character to the winner. At the end of the final turn one final battle occurs to see who is the ultimate warrior.
One of my favorite non Smash features is Stage Builder. Brawl had a stage builder but the addition of the GamePad takes building an ultimate fighting arena to another level. After selecting the size of the level and the music, players use the GamePad to draw out whatever shape they want the ground or platform to be. Players can then select different obstacles to place around the stage. These options may be fewer than you want. Pretty much if you can draw a shape, you can have it in a battle (Like a giant P-Wing). Unlike other Stage builders, I can see myself playing around with this for years to come.
Like I said at the beginning, I haven’t spent a ton of time with amiibo and I also missed the last Nintendo Direct that talked all about it. With that said, I’m not 100% sure what amiibo brings to the table. I understand what it does and how it works but why it’s exciting, I’m not sure.
For those who don’t know, once an amiibo character is synced with a game, that character becomes an AI controlled stand-in for this character. This AI stand-in can be upgraded with different abilities and attributes. The AI is also said to learn and adapt to different fighting styles. This can add a different twist to fighting the amiibo character but at the end of it all it’s still just another AI.
Like everything let’s get to the most important conclusion about playing online. Smash Brothers Wii U online works, one million, no a trillion, times better than the unplayable Brawl. Like most games there are some problems, but for the most part, online play holds its own. Obviously there’s a frame-rate drop between the local and online play but that’s expected, and the results of many factors.
Smash Bros. Wii U offers a good amount of online features. There’s the normal modes, “For Fun” “For Glory” and friend battles. Within those modes there are 1-1 battles, team battles, and a variety of variations in-between.Online mode should offer something for every skill level and player interest.
It is way too early to say this with total conviction how history will tell the story of this game. Like Mario Kart 8, I’m going to need weeks worth of hours to truly compare Smash Wii U with its predecessors. But right now, at this point, the Brawl aspect of the game is truly satisfying in every way and everything I wanted in an HD Smash Bros. Game. If I had to find one major fault it would have to be Smash Tour. The reason I am picking on Smash Tour, besides it really not being that good, is the other non-Smash aspects are pretty much typical parts we expect from Smash games at this point. The only real ground breaking addition is Smash Tour, which falls very much short in any appeal.
It’s hard for me to give this game a definite score without playing online (which becomes available today). I will update this working review once I have a few days with all online aspects of the game. For right now, just know that Super Smash Bros. Wii U is an amazing game that I’m sure people will enjoy for years to come.