Hands-on With ‘Super Smash Bros.’ for Nintendo 3DS

By September 20, 2014
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This past year’s E3 was filled with all sorts of high profile games coming to the Sony and Microsoft platforms: a new chapter in the Uncharted series for the PS4, a massive Halo collection for Xbox One, a new blockbuster Call of Duty game on multiple platforms, as well as an exciting (if controversial) new iteration of the Assassin’s Creed series. Oddly enough, though, the greatest presentation at this year’s E3 for many in the gaming press came from Nintendo, who showed off promising new titles for their Wii U system like Splatoon, a new Legend of Zelda game, and the highly anticipated Bayonetta 2.

Although the 3DS version hits stores on October 3rd, the highly-anticipated Wii U version arrives this Winter.

Although the 3DS version hits stores on October 3rd, the highly-anticipated Wii U version arrives this Winter.

The showstopper, though, had to be the most complete look gamers have gotten yet at the latest game in the beloved Super Smash Bros. fighting series. Smash Bros. has been one of the most anticipated new Nintendo games ever since it was announced a new chapter would come, and the next game will be released on both Wii U and the handheld Nintendo 3DS. Recently, Nintendo released a demo version of the 3DS game especially for a select number of Club Nintendo members, and I had an opportunity to spend some time with the demo of the upcoming handheld version of the game. For those of you unaware about what this game series is, let me run it down for you.

Brainchild of Sora, Ltd.’s rockstar game designer Masahiro Sakurai, Super Smash Bros., or simply “Smash” as it’s lovingly referred to by devotees, is a massive mash-up of beloved Nintendo characters who duke it out on various inspired stages from Nintendo history in a very balanced and exciting experience. It’s released three iterations so far, first in 1999 on Nintendo 64, followed by Super Smash Bros. Melee in 2001 on the Nintendo GameCube, and most recently in 2008 with Super Smash Bros. Brawl on Wii. Unlike most fighting games, which focus on whittling down your enemy’s health bar to zero, Smash operates a bit differently by assigning each fighter a damage percentage that begins at 0%. Over the course of a fight, taking more and more damage will get you closer to elimination. If you manage to avoid being taken out and your damage gets up above 200%, for instance, less powerful hits from your enemies could devastate you, throwing you great distances across the map. If you fall off the edges, you’re eliminated.

A look at a fight between the Mario Bros. on the 3DS screen.

A look at a fight between the Mario Bros. on the 3DS screen.

A game can be primarily played using “time” rules or “stock” rules. Time rules basically mean that each fighter has unlimited lives, but the amount of times you’re eliminated after the clock runs out is what determines the fight’s ultimate winner. “Stock” rules do away with the time limit, and instead assign each player a finite number of lives. A fighter is completely eliminated from the match when their lives are exhausted, and the winner is simply the last player standing.

The demo features five playable characters: Mario (from the Super Mario series), Link (from The Legend of Zelda), Pikachu (from Pokémon), the Villager (from Animal Crossing), and guest character Mega Man (from the Capcom series of the same name). There’s one playable stage, “Battlefield,” which is the most traditional of all the stages. Although this is the first Smash game to be released on a handheld platform, Sakurai and his team have very effectively translated the proven formula on consoles to the new format, with the controls feeling surprisingly natural. Although there are fewer buttons on the Nintendo 3DS than on a traditional console controller, I never felt like my movement was hampered when playing in a fast and furious match. No matter how you slice it, this definitely is the full Smash experience. Also surprisingly, the stereoscopic 3D effects manage to enhance the experience very well, especially when you see characters hit the screen during an elimination, or seeing an obstructive assist trophy pop out of the screen at you to actively disorient you.

Overall, Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo 3DS looks like it’ll be a great addition to the already strong Nintendo franchise, only serving to whet appetites for the console release arriving later this year. For more on Super Smash Bros. on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, be sure to browse to GeekNation upon the release of both games!

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.