Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Wii U) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 30.11.2014 10

Review for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U on Wii U

There's something about the Super Smash Bros. series that has stood the test of time, keeping veterans engaged and letting in newcomers without being hassled by the metaphorical bouncer at the door. The series has evolved since its initial inception over fifteen years ago, becoming a core part of Nintendo's arsenal of blockbuster titles - sitting comfortably alongside the likes of Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros.

The series shrunk down, but maintained its bite, on Nintendo 3DS, and now it's time for the Wii U to bring it back to the living room. Is Super Smash Bros. for Wii U worthy of the fighting crown, or is it more of the same?

The core premise of the game hasn't changed, and hasn't needed to, since 1999. Characters from various different Nintendo and third-party universes step into side-on arenas, punching, kicking, blasting and slashing their way to victory. However, unlike the vast majority of fighting games, the series came with its own Nintendo twist: characters must be hit off the screen in order to score points and win a round.

Originally developed as an experiment by series founder and long-term producer Masahiro Sakurai, he popped a handful of Nintendo characters into a prototype in secrecy, having not gotten permission, and presented his work once things were fine-tuned. Soon after, the project launched in Japan on the Nintendo 64, and the rest is engrained in Nintendo history.

Each instalment, including the fan-created Project M, has held its own as unique slices in the Super Smash Bros. landscape, with Super Smash Bros. Melee bringing on liquid-smooth, fast-paced fighting, Super Smash Bros. Brawl weaving online play and a fantasy storyline, and the original Super Smash Bros. setting the pace for the series. When it comes to the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U versions, the pair, collectively, creates perhaps the most cohesive and comprehensive experiences to date, melding together the best parts of past games.

Screenshot for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U on Wii U

One of the immediate highlights of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has to be the striking, impressive visual quality - from the opening moments of the introductory cut-scene to the closing montage after completing Classic mode, the game radiates pure bursts of colour, rich textures and bold character models. Unlike the slightly more muted and saturated approach taken by Brawl, the teams at Nintendo and Bandai Namco have opted for a brighter direction, with a bit more pop. There's still a ridiculous attention to detail, but the key difference is that there's more of a cohesion between the different franchises - these iconic characters and familiar settings have been drawn up in a Super Smash Bros. style, instead of trying to haplessly merge together different visual styles.

A game like Super Smash Bros. does require optimum performance in order to actually do the business, and as such, the Wii U version simply keeps on delivering, whether it's a fierce one-on-one fight, or a frantic frenzy of eight players, engulfed in bombs and flames, the game sails along without a hiccup - blissfully capturing each and every moment at 60fps, full 1080p. That said, in order to keep the fluidity, Nintendo has had to tone down some of the texture work, particularly along the ground, but things move at such a pace, that these tiny niggles aren't apparent.


 
The high quality also seeps into the musical selection, with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U boasting the largest collection of songs in the franchise to date - a blend of past favourites with new arrangements. Particular highlights include fresh takes on The Legend of Zelda, Pokémon and Metroid, but the game perhaps does fall short in new songs versus tunes taken straight out of past titles.

Presentation alone can't form the complete package without the solid gameplay to boot, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U delivers quality in spades. It's still very much about pounding opponents with successive combos, resisting blinking and fist pumping as a hapless Mario goes plummeting into the distance; and the very essence of the series simply doesn't need to be changed. What is the selling point for the Wii U and 3DS editions is just how refined the experience is - a balance in pacing, character strengths, level selection and the long list of accompanying features. The roster in itself is by far the most accomplished, bar the fan-created Project M, adding new and quirky folk (whom won't be spoiled in this review), whilst balancing the existing cast to the bone. Pikachu is finally buzzing with renewed electricity, Mario is back to his juggling heyday and Link once again deserves the title "Hero of Time." Characters like Meta Knight, for example, who was slightly overpowering in Brawl comes with that little bit more restraint. Characters feel renewed, fresh and more balanced than ever before. Cloned fighters, however, still litter the roster - though certainly worth including if there wouldn't have been time to slot in another fighter in their place. The same selection is available in both the 3DS and Wii U versions, so players who do clock up practice mileage in one version can, quite easily, make the transition to the next without much hassle.

Screenshot for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U on Wii U

Fans of Super Smash Bros. are generally divided into two distinct camps - those who relish in the delights of the competitive Melee scene, and those who prefer the slightly slower pacing in Brawl. That element of the game Nintendo almost had to get right in the new releases; and whilst it won't be quite for everyone, the Wii U and 3DS editions find a happy middle ground - it's not as fast as Melee and certainly not as weighted as Brawl. It works, giving plenty of substance for the core crowd; yet maintains the easy learning curve for the newcomer or casual "Smasher."

Those who already have the 3DS version might wonder if it's worth investing into the Wii U edition - the short answer is, certainly, yes. Both titles do well in complementing one another and whilst there is inevitably overlap, the Wii U version is the master of the living room, complete with its own set of levels, music and exclusive modes.

One of the standout features has to be the Eight Player Smash. If players were already spoilt for choice, this particular doozy introduces the option of having up to eight characters - either human or computer-controlled - in a handful of super-sized arenas. It certainly takes things to the next level, and does need a few matches to adjust, but is an experience worth giving a go, even if one-on-one matches are a preference for some. Despite having so much action on the screen at one time, the camera does a stellar job in adjusting, keeping everyone in the frame, with not a hint of stutter - even with multiple Pokémon, Assist Trophies and explosives on the scene. The four player affair is still as polished as ever, with numerous modifiers to sample - including being bathed in Super Spicy fire or running about in a Harry Potter-styled invisibility cloak.

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Stage Builder, a feature in Brawl, makes a return - this time tailored towards the GamePad, with players able to literally draw shapes and form more unique stage designs. Several items are also available to put in place - like springs and moving platforms, to liven things up. However, where the feature falls short is a lack of pre-set blocks, and the ability to move drawn blocks around - the freedom of shapes is there, but creating levels is a tad bit finicky.

Also worked into the Wii U experience are the series favourites - like Classic, All-Star and Home Run battle - but the main appeal comes through the likes of Event Mode and the gambling delights that come from Special Orders. Events are back in full force, unlocked through multiple paths, and offer an eclectic mix of objectives - from a multi-franchise orgy to fending off Mr. Game & Watch from a space-ship, beating Bowser as Captain Olimar to battling a winged foe from Metroid. The bonus is that these solo modes can also be tackled with a friend, locally, in co-operative play to make those more difficult challenges that bit more bearable!

As for Special Orders, this mode comes in two flavours - The Master Orders, with single challenges spread over three difficulties for rewards, and the far more challenging Crazy Orders, where players risk everything to conquer a set of consecutive challenges - fail and lose it all.

Screenshot for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U on Wii U

The final addition is a mode geared towards local sessions, attempting to bridge the likes of Mario Party with Super Smash Bros., known as "Smash Tour." It finds players taking steps around levels shaped like classic board games, doing battle if they collide. It doesn't quite reach the same heights as Mario's own efforts in Nintendo's dedicated party titles, but is a welcome change of pace.

The game also incorporates a wide range of control options - something that's often been overlooked - but does practically support all recent Nintendo devices, from Nintendo 3DS consoles as controllers to Wii Remotes and nunchuks. The inevitable crowd pleasers would be the GameCube and Wii U Pro controllers, both coming with the option to fully customise the layouts and commands per person. Don't fancy mapping "special" to the "B"s button? It's easy to toggle.

Where the experience is perhaps a little limited is the single player campaign. Whilst there are an abundance of collectable moves, trophies, songs and equipment to keep players going, the lack of a true "Adventure" or "Story" mode is apparent - Classic, All-Star and Event matches keep the battles coming in, but there does seem to be a lost opportunity for bringing the franchises together in that more fantasy setting.

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Online is an area of Super Smash Bros. that has been fairly problematic in the past, with Brawl being renowned for all the wrong reasons. Granted, having to process a ridiculous amount of button presses is no-mean feat, and both the Wii U and 3DS versions have been a vast improvement. The Wii U version, for the most part, does offer an enjoyable and fluid setup - there have been slivers of slow-down, but it's very much dependent on the connection consistency of other players. Playing from a mobile-tethered hotspot is probably not the ideal solution! There are two key modes - For Glory and For Fun, the former offering more heated, Final Destination-type brawls, with the latter being that bit more casual. Both are handheld well, for the most part, with Nintendo stepping in at times to keep things clean and fair. Spectator matches also return, and make solid Friday Night telly for the Smash-inclined.

In terms of offline connectivity, Wii U players can start to use amiibo characters; Nintendo's foray into NFC figures. Having toyed with the idea in Pokémon Rumble U, the amiibo let players train and raise characters by simply tapping their toy figures onto the GamePad to communicate with the game. The implementation in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a compelling start for the figure platform, integrated well into the mix - it isn't essential to make the most out of the game, but does offer something different in simply battling AI-controlled characters. Amiibo fighters tend to have more bite, learning as they go along. Tapping a figure gives it base stats, to which their moves and abilities can be fine-tuned - they'll level up in battle, and can be used for some serious training sessions or even to spectate as the figures do battle.

Screenshot for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is an exceptional product of Nintendo's devotion to getting things right - an enjoyable, addictive format for the veteran player, and one with plenty of bite for the newcomer. It's a bright, bustling multiplayer fest that deserves a place in any Wii U library. The fight is on; it's time to settle it in Smash!

Developer

Bandai Namco

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Fighting

Players

8

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (9 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

Comments

I'm surprised it had such high praise from a number of sites. I'm disappointed with it overall.

I have a number a problems with it

The game feels more like Brawl 2.0 rather than a brand new Smash Bros. I expected this to be a big jump like Mario Kart Wii was to Mario Kart 8, but this version of Smash Bros feels like an upgraded version of Brawl. The recycled stages and music doesn't help and there's more than I expected. What's with the two Animal Crossing stages that are near enough the same?

Another problem with the game is the lack of big single mode, like Subspace Emissary in Super Smash Bros Brawl. I've really missed this feature out the new game.

I was disappointed with how Amiibo's were used within the game. I assumed you could play co-op with your Amiibo in the single player modes, such as Classic and All-Star or any other modes like the Stadium Events. This would have been a great feature for people who aren't very good at Smash Bros games, as it could help you out. Just having the option to fight against it is a major disappointment to me and serves no purpose.

The Smash Tour mode isn't as good as the Smash Run mode in the 3DS version, Smash Run should be in the Wii U version, as well.

No Dixie Kong, yet Alph gets to be in it as an alternate character.

No Pilotwings 64 music.

To be honest, I think I'm done with the Smash Bros franchise for now, unless they can change it up a lot more next-gen. I kind of regret buying the Wii U version, I would have been perfectly fine with just the 3DS version, which I felt was way better considering the systems limitations. I think I've learnt that maybe Smash Bros is not for me either, it's a series I'll never be able to get good at.

What I will say though, is there are some redeeming features, such as Event Mode, which is by far the most enjoyable mode for me and also taking screenshots is really great now, I love the ability to share them and also draw on them. The new/original stages look pretty nice, too. Same with some of the new music arrangments.

( Edited 30.11.2014 11:21 by Marzy )

I will NEVER understand why people like this game................

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

Ofisil said:
I will NEVER understand why people like this game................

its fun.
sometimes people like to have fun.

Can see what you mean Marz' - there is a lot of regurgitated content from Brawl in particular, feels better though - prefer the pacing, more characters, and a lot of refinements. It has a Project M-like quality to do it - not as fast as Melee or as slow as Brawl.

Do wish they did more with the levels & music though, I agree. Same with Story mode - I hope they include something like that via DLC.

Dixie wouldn't have worked as a palette swap, though - like Alph - totally different moveset needed (gliding, hair swipe, no gun/jetpack etc). Do want her as DLC though!

( Edited 30.11.2014 15:22 by jb )

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

They've already confirmed at least one character and at least one stage as DLC. Hopefully they continue to support the game with new content.

I get the criticism; I'm also a little disappointed that they brought back so many stages from Brawl, and I can't fathom why Smash Run and Smash Tour weren't reversed. Smash Tour takes place pretty much on one overhead screen while Smash Run is a sprawling, epic series of challenges. I really think they should've switched those two around.

Classic is also way better on 3DS. Again, you get a sprawling, multi-route overworld map, while the Wii U version gives you one square on which you move stationary trophies. Seems backwards.

That said, I think Super Smash's main draw is in its party game ability. I did so many 8-player smashes when we had family over for Thanksgiving, that alone was worth the buy. For people who live/play alone, I can see Super Smash getting old fast. Personally, I just have too much fun for it to not be worth it. Didn't hurt that they added Shulk, Lucina, and Robin, three of my favorite characters in recent game history.

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing: http://www.davidjlovato.com

I agree about Classic Mode, justonesp00lturn. I forgot to mention that.

I really would have been happy if they literally used Diddy's moveset for Dixie Kong. It's still better than not having her in the game at all. Hopefully they eventually add her as DLC though.

( Edited 30.11.2014 19:42 by Marzy )

ive owned all three previous console versions of thiis game.. briefly. i always understood why people liked the games but could never get into them, unlike the way i got into mario kart. i brought smash for wiiu yesterday. i figured i needed a fighter for the festive season and boy does this game deliver on content... i didnt know where to start! could have done with a single player quest or something tho 

To me, melee was the last smash bros, brawl was WAY to slow, just a dumb party game not a real competition.

I played a few nice matches with some C3ers a few days ago. No lag whatsoever, all pretty equally matched.

My NNID is also Canyarion. I'm not online every night, although that could change when I get tired of the single player content.

gypsey-danger

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