Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review: Super Smash Bros. (the 3DS one)

Here's a fun fact about video games: for a long time, whenever a huge title was going to come out to cash in on something (a movie, an event like the Olympics, a particularly popular pop culture character), you'd get a console release of a game starring them and you'd get a handheld video game system game put out as well.

The console game could be quite good sometimes.  Super Star Wars for the Super Nintendo was great.  Star Wars for the Game Boy...not so great.  (The Japanese game...well, we all remember that brief glimpse at "SCORPIAN VADER" right?

Most of the time the handheld game is, at best, a gutted version of the console game.  It only has a fragment of the memory and space for data, so you have to do what you can.

However, for ages I hadn't seen anything that looked like a quality fighting game on a handheld system.  This isn't anything new, this is my going alllllll the way back to some classic fighting games.

The only thing I took away from this game was that either Blanka was a woman
 the whole time or his mother looked like a prepubescent boy.

When I heard that Super Smash Bros. was coming to the 3DS...needless to say, I had my doubts that it would be good.  Maybe half the characters would show up, tops.  A dozen stages, tops.  No side games,  Cheaper voices, no story mode, it would be a cheap version of a great game.

Or not.

Well, it'll probably be, what, sixteen characters?


Okay, I'm man enough to admit it.  I was wrong.

Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS has managed to hold its own with just about any console fighter I've played.  Ever.  The characters are unique and distinctive, there's different game play features for each one (with a few "clone" characters, but I'm not complaining), and your strategy needs to adapt for each one.  Your tactics when using a character like Bowser really won't apply when you're controlling Jigglypuff.

There's also the ability to customize each character.  You can select which specific moves they use when you use the B-button.  Maybe you want raw power, maybe you want a quicker attack.  Maybe you want to jump higher at the expense of damage dealt.  The more you play, the more moves you unlock, and the more you can tweak everything.  There's also equipment you can "attach" to characters (the only limit is how much weight a character can carry), and special "bonuses" that do everything from starting you with a weapon to making it more likely to grab the elusive "smash attack."

There's two different single player campaigns, one where you face various challenges, and one where you play your way through all of the characters in the game in chronological order.  I had no idea Metaknight showed up as early as he did in Kirby's continuity, and it's easy to forget just how long things like Pokemon and Fire Emblem have been around.

You also have multiple challenge modes.  There's the target burst, requiring you to launch a bomb towards an Angry Birds-style structure of wood and steel.  There's the baseball "punching bag" game where you launch an object as far as you can with a baseball bat.  There's multiple modes of "multi-man smash" where you can face anything from ten "elite" fighters to an unending swarm of attackers.

For my money, the best part of the game is the "Smash Run" mode, where you run around a huge stage that goes from twisted caverns underground to platforms above the clouds.  You battle monsters and enemies from a wide variety of games (everything from Koopa Troopas from Mario's games to a demonic car from Earthbound).  The more enemies you defeat the more bonuses you get to your stats (attack, defense, special, etc), and at the end you face three other characters in a random style challenge.  It could be a standard battle to see who gets the most KOs, it could be a foot race, it could be a "who can climb the highest in a tower steadily trying to kill you" game.  Some characters are well-equipped for some of these.  Others, like I found out when I fielded Kirby in a foot race against Sheik...not so much.

Having now played this game for a few weeks, I can say I'm not even close to tired of it yet, and the ability to steadily increase the difficulty by segments during the single-player mode provides a constantly changing challenge that manages to frustrate me without infuriating me.

That is, unless I'm trying to do a high level with Little Mac.  The guy can punch like nobody else in the game, but can't jump for beans.

If you have a 3DS, this is one of those games that I think you're required to own to justify the system.  If you don't own a 3DS, this is one of those games that justifies buying one just to play it.

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