Super Smash Bros Wii U is Nintendo’s Flagship Holiday Title but Doesn’t Do the Franchise Justice
Super Smash Bros has become the new Mario Kart with one appearing on every Nintendo console. Each release is surrounded by tremendous hype and, sometimes, this excitement creates expectations that cannot be met. Melee smashed the bar and Wii U has a hard time stacking up.
Super Smash Bros
Developer: HAL Laboratory, Bandai Namco Games
Platforms: Wii U
Price: From $59.99 (Amazon US)
The Party Title
It becomes clearly evident that Nintendo’s strategy for Super Smash Bros Wii U is multiplayer, multiplayer, multiplayer. The series has always been about competing against friends but it’s now being taken to the limit. Single-player modes have been stripped away to make room for more co-operative or competitive modes.
Smash Tour is one such new feature. Up to four people play a board game to collect and boost their fighters. Afterwards they compete in a final battle with the collected fighters with the winner taking home the trophy. I found this mode to be fun for a while but it really loses its charm because of how long it drags on.
Maybe if you had four people really getting into it, Smash Tour would be a worthwhile investment but, without that, is absolutely no substitute for tournament mode. Personally, if I wanted to play Wii Party U, I’d play Wii Party U.
I never thought I would say this but I genuinely miss Adventure mode and the Subspace Emissary. Possibly the latter more so. Whenever I played them I was aching for a straight up fight. Now, however, I feel lost in how to go about unlocking characters and stages.
Super Smash Bros Wii U retains the challenge board but the Subspace Emissary provided a very nice, clean way to play through and unlock characters. It was neat. This game feels chaotic.
Moving from Brawl to the Wii U is going to be a bit of a change for many players. I found that damage was racked up much faster than in Brawl and characters were much easier to K.O. in general. My first couple of games were very unusual. I looked away from the percentage for a few seconds and found myself at upwards of 80%.
Not to mention Ganondorf’s Warlock Punch managed to K.O. two fighters at 0% – albeit lighter ones (Meta Knight and Sonic). This change is designed to make the game more competitive and slot somewhere in between Melee and Brawl in terms of difficulty. It’s the right move.
As competitive circuits get more and more prevalent and lucrative, Super Smash Bros Wii U is in rare form to capitalise on Melee‘s cult following and Brawl‘s mass appeal.
Going from 64 to Melee, the focus was on expanding the character roster. I still remember sitting down with my British friends before Australia got even the Gamecube and seeing the huge roster of fighters to choose from. Brawl brought in third party characters and more interactive stages.
I fail to see, however, what advances Smash Bros Wii U is bringing to the table. A convoluted series of “special orders” that boil down to much the same thing? Customisable moves? Sure, being able to personalise your favourite fighters is a cool feature and opens up a level of strategic flexibility. I expect this will remain in casual matches between friends, however, so much of the tactical potential is wasted.
One of the big marketing tactics for SSB Wii U was Amiibo. I was really excited for this functionality. Being able to train an ally that could fight by your side or a rival that can learn and adapt to your play style is wicked. The sparring options, therefore, do not cap at the highest level computer player.
It is a lot of fun to watch the Amiibo grow as it levels up from 1 to 50. Of course my Link is level 25 and cannot even come close to taking a stock off me. I’m hoping the difficulty increase is exponential because if this continues, I’ll be disappointed.
One of the letdowns for the Amiibo came about due to my misinterpreting the function. I went into the game expecting to be able to play as my personal version of Link, which is, of course, incorrect. Ultimately, it’s equally cool just playing with or against it. I’m disappointed about how restricted the Amiibo are.
They are only accessible in one mode (the Amiibo mode). After selecting the mode, you scan in the appropriate Amiibo. To be honest, it feels like quite a lot of work to set up a fight.
Super Smash Bros Wii U doesn’t reinvent the wheel or anything. Its presentation harks back to the titles that came before it. While this is a nice piece of nostalgia for those of us who’ve played the series throughout the years, it stops the game from being truly revolutionary.
At its core, this game looks too much like Brawl. There are new items and new stages but so much of the graphical detail is the same as its predecessor. Not to mention there’s a strange level of fan service. You can put Zero Suit Samus in beachwear and Shulk in swimming trunks.
Maybe it’s not as full of promise and exciting as Melee or Brawl, but Super Smash Bros Wii U is a treat. By virtue of being a Smash Bros title, it’s better than most of what’s coming out this year.
When I finally get together with some people to test our Amiibo’s mettle and play through the expanded multiplayer functions of the game, I’m sure I’ll be showering it with praise.