Have you ever waited for a train? Or in a line at the post office or perhaps the back seat of a car and thought to yourself: “I wish I could Falcon Punch that [insert noun here]”? Well now you can!* (as long as you have a pocket or bag to keep your 3DS in)
Smash Bros 3DS is exactly what you’d expect it would be if it were released in handheld form: The control scheme translates perfectly, the 3D function adds depth to level design, the roster is huge, there are game modes aplenty and setting up an online match to start dishing cans of whoop-ass is a very quick and painless process.
Super Smash Bros 3DS
Developer: Bandai Namco games
Upon powering on the game and button-mashing your way to the menu screen, you’ll notice the immediate design similarities lifted from the previous series. The menu retains the large, colourful buttons we’ve become accustomed to and the lack of a mandatory system setup/tutorial means that you’ll be smashing things within seconds.
Right here however is where one of my very few concerns with the game is realised – the menu layout is actually rather confusing. I expected that like previous generations, there would be a multiplayer mode and a solo mode from the main menu; however online play has now taken precedent over solo matches and is named “Group Play”, which in my mind translates to ‘local multiplayer’ ala Melee/Brawl, and modes such as “Classic and All Star” are somewhat hidden in their own little area.
This is a rather first-world problem to have, however Smash Bros 3DS spoils the player for choice when it comes to game modes and in doing so navigating the menu’s can be somewhat frustrating when you know what you want but have no idea where to find it.
Controlling your environment
The control scheme translates like a dream – picking up your 3DS will at first feel strange when compared to your sticky, GCN controller, but from the word go you can sit back and let the muscle memory kick in. The circle pad, while not an ideal substitute for the control stick, is still a great bit of hardware and the a,b,x,y buttons mimic their GCN/Wii counterparts to a tee.
The shoulder buttons don’t provide that beautiful, moulded finish but are positioned and responsive enough that shielding/dodging is just as efficient. Smash Bros 3DS provides the player with the ability to customise the control scheme by mapping actions to different buttons (the default layout replicating the standard console versions) which for me was a great, intuitive feature because I habitually tap L-trigger to shield, which by default is the throw command on the 3DS.
The 3DS compliments this type of gameplay perfectly. Is your mum breaking your balls to load the dishwasher? Just snap the lid shut and when you’re free simply flip it open and resume right where you left off. To its credit, the 3DS has increased the enjoyment of portable gaming across a slew of games due to this very awesome feature, however in a game such as Smash 3DS where sometimes you just get that itch to jump in and get a few stock in, it really shines.
Physically however the 3DS wasn’t designed with comfort in mind – I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into Pokemon on my 3DSXL and due to the more simplistic and turn based approach of that type of game, comfort was never really compromised. Smash 3DS requires (mostly) your fingers to sit on the triggers and your thumbs poised around the circle pad and a/b/x/y buttons at all times so lengthy periods of smashing can lead to terrible hand cramps and mandatory breaks to shake it off.
Furthermore, if you’re like me and prone to angry fits of rage-smashing, your body will expel your fury in the form of sweat. Sweaty thumbs + circle pad doesn’t mix for a great experience. Smash Bros 3DS is a game that demands some degree of mastery over the control of your character. Techniques like short hopping, or the simple difference between tap and hold attacks are compromised when your thumb feels like it’s been dipped in butter and can prove fatal.
She’s hot, but that voice though..
The game looks absolutely beautiful on the 3DS, the ‘cel shaded’ look that some assumed from preview screenshots is far from the case. The models are rendered in 3D and the black outline can actually be manipulated in weight or removed completely. If corners were cut to increase performance on the handheld, I can’t imagine what was thrown by the wayside.
Compared to other 3DS titles, Smash looks and run superbly, marred only by the fact that even on the 3DS XL the screen real estate is too small to truly appreciate the frantic, bat-shit craziness that is a Smash free-for-all. In saying that I’ve also touched on the second irk I have with this game – Smash fans (and new entrants will too) understand that winning a match requires more than focusing solely on what your character is doing, but also watching your opponent, level interactions, items and adjusting your play style accordingly.
This can be quite a lot to keep a track of on a relatively small screen and on more than one occasion I have unintentionally lost a stock because I thought I was ledge-grabbing (hanging from a ledge. Falling from this ledge means death), when I was actually hanging (some characters can ‘stick’ to walls ala Mario’s wall jump) to the wall, only to fall to my death as I am watching the rest of the action. This is another nit-pick, but when you’re in the midst of things, errors like this, whilst caused by my own idiocy are sometimes the straw that throws the 3DS at the wall.
Alongside the visuals is the always vast and satisfying collection of tunes, some lifted straight from respective Nintendo titles and other original tracks composed specifically for Smash3DS. The 3DS doesn’t come packed with the world’s greatest speakers, but as with any 3DS title, do yourself a favour a whack a set of headphones in to truly appreciate the score.
The stages on which these battles take place are designed intricately and come with a brand new mode called ‘infinity’. With a simple tap of a button before selecting a stage, you can remove stage elements to create a more ‘ competition friendly’ match.
PRO TIP: For the uninitiated: The Smash community’s version of “Come at me, bro!” is a more elaborate: “3 stock, no items, FD me, bro!” This stems from the standard competition fare of a 3 stock (lives) match on the games’ final stage (Final Destination) with all items disabled to allow players to duke it out, unperturbed by nuisances such as a time limit, level interferences or you know, legendary Perkhermans.
A strange omission from the 3DS version is the multitude of levels Smashers have become accustomed too. Previous titles throw new, old and custom levels for players to beat up on each other on, however the 3DS comes equipped with comparatively fewer. After playing the game for a solid fortnight I can’t assume there will be any further level unlocks, so in the absence of possible DLC players may be left with only a handful of stages they really enjoy playing.
I don’t like other people in my game.
The solo modes of old make a comeback and with some nice improvements too. Classic mode now takes the player on a journey through 1v1 matches, metal matches, 3v1, giant matches and of course the multi man melee before thrusting you into the clutches of the game boss. However this time around, you will have a choice of difficulties, represented by coloured paths, before each battle. Green is Easy, Blue is Medium and Red is Hard.
The spoils of war are relative to the difficulty selected; for instance the Red path will reward the player with many coins, possible trophies and of course much bragging rights, where as the easier paths will produce only a percentage or no rewards at all. This system works quite well as it can be paired with the initial difficultly setting of classic mode which spans from 1.0 – 9.0 in .25 increments.
This way an advanced player can still play on a harder difficultly setting, but fine tune individual matches to their liking. Then of course at the end of the road is the master-mind behind all the funny business, but I won’t spoil that for you. However completing the game at higher difficulties may have unexpected and sometimes very, very frustrating consequences.
All star mode is back, along with Sandbag and a couple of new modes too. Unfortunately Target Smash didn’t make the cut this time around and this upsets me because both Sandbag and Bombs, whilst proving to be great fun in their own rights, don’t test the players agility and manoeuvrability with a character in the way that Target Smash did. Instead Sandbag and Bombs are essentially the same means to different ends. Of course the other way to view it is that Smash the Targets has been incorporated (somewhat) into the new Smash Run mode.
Smash Run is the biggest game mode addition to the franchise and can be seen as a game all of its own.
I <3 other people in my game.
Online mode was very laggy and proved to be fucking frustrating.
You can now import your Ninty Mii character to wreak havoc upon unsuspecting Nintendo mascots and Wario. Fuck Wario. Upon doing this you can select one of 3 ‘classes’ or styles of play: Brawler, Swordfighter or Gunner. From here you can customise further as playing through modes in Smash will unlock equipment and clothing which effect the stats of your character; these including Strength, Defense and Speed. It’s all very JRPG but without any of the long hair or mob grinding.
This personalisation is a very welcome addition to the franchise – not only providing an new character, but one that is customisable depending on your preferred style of play. The strange thing with Mii customisation though, is the lack of aesthetic changes, outside of the predefined Equipment you can find while playing Smash Run.
Ninty accepted that the players ability to customise their avatar to look like them in a game is a real selling point, as proven by Pokemon X/Y, yet they left this feature out of Smash 3DS. All the other components were included: coin collection, the ability to purchase trophy’s, so why not purchase clothing?
You’re not Mew2King
No, I’m not a pro player nor do I aspire to be and so I’m not going to rant about the omission of ‘Wave Dashing’ or ‘L-Canceling’. However I love the series and have thoroughly since the Nintendo 64, and since that time I know the hours of entertainment that can be had with a group of friends or on your own.
I’m one of the masses, one of the long-time fans who speculated over the roster, balancing, who would be nerfed and why Sakurai completed a game at least a year before he decided to release it. (Okay, that last point is purely my opinion).
If you’ve never played an entry to the Smash universe then try your hand at Smash 3DS, the fundamentals remain unchanged and to this day still blow my mind as to how such a simple button scheme can be translated into one of the most complex, technical fighters of the last decade.
PRO TIP: Control Sick: Move/Crouch/Jump. A: Attack. B: Special. Trigger: Shield/Throw.
This game won’t convert those who never liked Smash to begin with because in essence, it is much the same. But if you’re a fan of the series, any one of its predecessors, then I guarantee you’ll get a kick out of this portable blockbuster. I’ll see you on Final Destination Stage. 3v3 me, bitch.
*You won’t literally be falcon punching things