Super Smash Bros. for 3DS’s online is spartan, but it works surprisingly well. Divided into the semi-ranked, stat-tracking For Glory mode and the items on all-stage chaos of For Fun mode, online is more interested in getting groups together to fight for a few minutes than making friends of its players.
The game is a little strange for a fighting game since it doesn’t use the rollback netcode that a lot of fighters use to keep inputs feeling snappy. Instead of correcting character positions and health on the fly, when connections are bad, Smash for 3DS introduces input lag or slows to a crawl. This can be pretty rough to deal with since Smash is so heavily reflex-based, but after a few rounds with the same people, it seems to melt away somewhat (it’s also interesting that this is one of the few fighters I’m aware of where you can play the same opponents over and over again in a ranked mode).
Considering most of the people I played against had names in kana—meaning they were likely Japanese players—I was pretty impressed with how issue-free most of my matches were. For the most part, a little bit of input lag still remained, but the game is still largely playable. I’m sure it’ll get even better for US players like me once the user base within the US fills out. Even now, it works well enough that I can play for hours on end with very few issues, so I can’t wait to see how it works with people closer to me.
I am, however, a little bit disappointed by online play’s limitations. I can understand the lack of online Smash Run due to balance concerns, but the fact that I can’t invite a friend to join my game is a little silly. I can join their game if they’re playing a friend match and see if they’re playing online, but I’d have to text them to actually coordinate playing online.
In addition, while friendly matches can be customized however you see fit, both ranked and in ranked matches were mostly time-based instead of stock (which is my preference). The 1-on-1 mode in For Glory uses a timed two-stock setup, which is nice, but I wouldn’t have minded more options that involved stock, or at least some choices in the lighthearted For Fun mode.
These last two issues sting because they’re challenges Sony’s Smash-like PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale has overcome with some clever menu incorporation. That said, playing with friends allows you do customize the game however you’d like, including using your custom characters, so what I’m looking for is there, just hidden away in a single gametype.
Food for thought:
1. There’s no voice chat in the game. Instead you have text bubbles that appear when you taunt that can be customized outside of a match and used with the taunt button. I don’t know why, text bubbles have always made me more embarrassed than just taunting.
2. For Glory mode tracks a lot of stats, including some I wish I didn’t see… It can be really depressing to see your total numbers of last place finishes for instance. Soul-crushing.