Super Smash Bros. (Hands-On) (Nintendo 3DS) Preview

By Jorge Ba-oh 29.06.2014

Review for Super Smash Bros. (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo's popular fighting series, Super Smash Bros., is going portable for the first time, with heated franchise battles now taking place on the Nintendo 3DS alongside the Wii U console release this year. The game made its first playable debut during E3, and we got our first hands-on taster of the game in a press session in London this week. The question is: Can the concept sustain the intensity and pure enjoyment on the smaller screen?


Many of Nintendo's popular franchises have already made the jump from living room to suitcases, with the likes of Mario Kart, Super Mario Bros. and the Legend of Zelda having success on the handheld domain. The multi-franchise brawler had yet to escape the confines of the TV set until the 3DS, but Nintendo had actually considered whether to bring the fighting series to past handhelds like the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. The very idea of a handheld Super Smash Bros. simply makes sense - battles can be extremely short, sweet and it invites a pick-up-and-play attitude - it is surprising that it hasn't happened until now. Finally, fans will be able to throw bombs at Pikachu, pelt Mario with a baseball bat and bonk Bowser with a hammer whether sitting on the toilet or sipping cocktails in Hawaii.

Just as Nintendo had said on multiple occasions, the 3DS version isn't a simple, stripped down version of the Wii U edition - it draws much of the same content, in terms of characters and gameplay, but has a range of its own exclusive features that are streamlined for quicker play sessions.

The basic premise remains identical to the console editions and is, fortunately, not stripped down in any way - up to four characters duke it out on side-on arenas, beating each other with kicks, punches, special moves and optional items, racking up as much damage as possible before dishing out that final blow to send rivals flying off the stage. It may sound simple in design, but does offer plenty of depth and a unique setup compared to other titles in the genre.

Screenshot for Super Smash Bros. (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

Upon picking up Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, the controls were perhaps one of the initial aspects that needed to be sussed out before strolling into competitive multiplayer matches. Those who have played through the games since its inception and more so since Super Smash Bros. Melee generally have an affinity with the GameCube controller. The shape, the button placement and clickable shoulder-trigger buttons have made it a standout configuration for players over the years, particularly those who compete at a tournament-standard, professional level. It's even because of this desire for a piece of plastic, that's over a decade old, that Nintendo are bringing back support for the GameCube controller for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Having something similar for 3DS would be a dream option, but it would just simply defeat the purpose of having the game in such a portable form.

The trade-off in control is having the buttons mapped out in more retro-driven way with similar placement for those who have played Brawl with a Wii Classic Controller in the past. The standard and special moves are on the A and B buttons, whilst jump remains on X or Y. The circle pad is used for movement, with the left shoulder for throws and the right for shield. Even this very small change in having the left shoulder as a throw, rather than shield, takes some getting used to. Those who also play using the C-Stick on the GameCube controller will need to re-adjust to the more conventional design. That said, it didn't take too long to get to grips with Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, with charge smashes becoming ever-satisfying after ten, fifteen minutes of initial play.

Screenshot for Super Smash Bros. (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

The 3DS version's demo also introduced characters not yet available in the Wii U edition, specifically Toon Link and Shiek. The general consensus is that they handle identically to the console versions in terms of speed, strength and movesets - there was a feeling of instantly carrying on from Wii U to 3DS, without any noticeable differences apart from screen size and control layout. Other characters included the standard crop - Mario, Donkey Kong, Pikachu and Kirby to more new faces like Greninja, Mega Man, Animal Crossing's Villager and the majestic Rosalina.

Greninja is one versatile critter, armed with liquid smooth moves, well-grounded close-range attacks, speed and doesn't slide around like Sonic. Mega Man is an all-round machine, armed with everything and the kitchen sink, with surprisingly good hand-to-hand combos, whilst Rosalina is a more range-driven version of Peach, in some ways. One particular highlight was stepping into the shoes of a peculiar little Villager, who feels a fair bit like Mario and, perhaps, Princess Peach combined - armed with a cheeky ability to lure players into a temporary hole in the ground.

Screenshot for Super Smash Bros. (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS will also include a platform-exclusive "Smash Run" mode, where players (including CPU characters) dash through a huge open-world, beating new and familiar enemies from the Nintendo universe and collecting level-up abilities. At the end of it all, each character will start off a battle with their tallied skills, offering a distinct advantage for some. It's a welcome addition, something different, without detracting from the standard battle setup, and also working well as a quick pick-up-and-play feature.

In terms of visuals, the game looks impressive on such a small handheld. The art direction flows nicely from the console version, with a sense of consistency between the two - bustling, bright colour palettes and intricate details woven across the numerous stages that were available to try. The new Smash Run mode also had a sense of fan-service through the different Nintendo-themed designs within the huge stages. Both XL and standard console sizes were available to test the game, and the larger screen does noticeably benefit the action far greater, allowing the characters to remain clearly in focus. In order to make fighters easier to spot, especially in four players, Nintendo have incorporated an optional black, cell-shaded outline that can be tweaked in the final release depending on preference. Generally there isn't much of a problem seeing the characters in smaller arenas like "Battlefield" and "Rainbow Road", but when stages become far wider in scale - like the "Golden Plains", it can become problematic when four players are so spread out across the map.

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS will also contain local and online multiplayer, something that's of course essential for this sort of game and the demo session also gave an opportunity to go toe-to-toe with up to three others locally. In the several matches, there was no noticeable lag or issues with connectivity, everything hooked up instantly and ran just as expected.

Screenshot for Super Smash Bros. (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

Final Thoughts

The Nintendo 3DS version is an exciting move for the series, offering the same level of intense franchise mash-ups and enjoyable multiplayer fights that fans expect from Super Smash Bros. from what's been shown so far. October can't come soon enough!


Bandai Namco







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (6 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop


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