I’m doing things a bit different with this review. It will be broken into two parts; the first covers Super Smash Bros. for 3DS as a whole, while the second half is a look at the new game mode, Smash Run.
Super Smash Bros. for 3DS
For the first handheld iteration following three massively successful home consoles predecessors, the on-the-go beat-‘em-up Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS has some mighty big shoes to fill. Perhaps too big.
Even with a massive roster of nearly 50 fighters, including near infinite possibilities thanks to Mii integration and customisation, as well as more game modes than we’ve ever seen in the series to date, somehow Super Smash Bros. for 3DS just doesn’t hold the magic of its forefathers (or is that its three fathers?).
Don’t get me wrong – the game is certainly fun, and will definitely appeal to a wide audience; male or female, young or old, newcomer or veteran. The game is very inclusive, with the ability to adjust the difficulty or most every mode, of which there are many. Let’s list them off, shall we? Take a deep breath:
Smash Solo, Smash Group, Smash Run Solo*, Smash Run Group*, Classic Mode, All-Star Mode Solo, All-Star Mode Group*, Training, Target Blast*, Home-Run Contest, 10-Man Smash, 100-Man Smash, 3-Minute Smash, Rival Smash*, Endless Smash, Cruel Smash, Trophy Rush*, and Street Smash*, plus the For Fun and For Glory modes online. Phew!
*Indicates a new mode
Aside from all those widely varying ways to play alone or with friends, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy Smash 3DS as well.
You can take snapshots in-game and upload them to the Miiverse, customise which songs you’d like to hear (of which there are more than 100) on which stages, and with what frequency, listen to that lengthy soundtrack while the 3DS is in Sleep Mode, view your records for each mode and the game as a whole, complete increasingly difficult challenges to unlock new trophies, music, or stages, purchase trophies at the new shop with your hard-earned coins or gamble them away online in a spectator mode, customise your Miis with awesome moves and fun outfits, and even connect it to the Wii U version (upon its release) to transfer those customised characters over to the console version or use the 3DS as an extra controller.
Seriously, this game has SO much content it can make your head spin. It’s slightly staggering.
Even so, as I stated previously, it just… doesn’t feel the same. It’s not as fun. I mean, it IS definitely fun, but it’s not Super Smash Bros. like I remember. It doesn’t hold the same spark of its predecessors, and after much thought and deliberation, plus some time spent playing the Wii U counterpart, I have finally figured out why.
When you think Smash Bros., you think sitting on the couch with some of your best mates, whooping and hollering and having a great time taking each other down. There are constant shouts of excitement, unexpected takedowns, and of course the wonderful “NEW CHALLENGER APPROACHING” siren, sounding to let you know the winner of the previous battle gets to take on someone new.
Simply put, Super Smash Bros. is a social game. It is meant to be played among friends, grouped together, all experiencing it as a unit. Even if you invite your friends over and huddle around your 3DS’s and play together, it’s still not quite right.
Having done a bit of travelling recently, and being disappointed that I can’t play Hyrule Warriors while on holiday, it has been an absolute delight to have Smash on-the-go during those three-hour flights and long waits in line at PAX Aus. But after so long, playing alone against CPUs just becomes dull and tiresome, no matter the variety of modes or characters there are.
Recently I have resigned myself to just trying to complete as many challenges as I can before Super Smash Bros. for Wii U releases later this month, which mostly consists of grinding through Classic and All-Star Modes with all 49 characters, occasionally breaking up the monotony with a Smash Run or two, which also isn’t as fun as I was hoping it would be.
Smash Run is a new play mode, exclusive to the 3DS version of Smash, which lets loose up to 4 players (picking up empty spaces with CPUs) to run a 5-minute gaultlet, collecting power-ups and raising their stats before going head-to-head in a battle together once the 5 minutes are up.
During those 5 minutes you’ll face many enemies from Brawl
‘s Subspace Emissary story mode, as well as select foes from a range of Nintendo games. I must admit, it’s pretty awesome to simultaneously fight Gastly from Pokemon, Waddle Dee from Kirby, and Starman from Earthbound.
Defeating these enemies and opening chests throughout the open, free-roam level nets your valuable stats, which will boost you in that final fight. You may come across hidden doors which can feature Break the Target mini-games, hidden chests and trophys, or other surprises. The 5-minute Smash Run itself is actually really solid value. Unfortunately, it all kind of falls apart at the culminating battle.
The problem is that you don’t just take part in a 4-player, super-powered Smash battle. I mean, it’s possible, and those rare battle are lots of fun, but it’s completely random what the final “battle” will be. Sometimes it’s a Smash battle, other times you’re all on a vertical level and whomever can scale the tallest distance is the winner. Another possibility still is that you may end up in a 2v2 team battle, simply trying to sustain the least amount of damage. Recently I came upon yet another new (to me) match type: Flower Smash, wherein each player is constantly taking damage due to the flower on their head.
It would be much better if you could take a group vote at the beginning, or playing solo, just be able to choose which end-game battle you will partake in, but not knowing and being thrown into one does not offer a nice random challenge – it only serves to frustrate when my you’ve been collecting lots of power-ups to your strength and defense, only to find that you needed speed and jumping to reach the top of the tower.
So yeah, for as much as Nintendo touted Smash Run as being this exciting new feature, I am pretty disappointed with it as a whole. It’s a really neat idea, but executed fairly poorly.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS was developed and published by Nintendo, and is currently available for purchase. A copy of the game was independently acquired by the reviewer.