If there’s one thing the Smash Bros. games have grown synonymous with, it’s staggering amounts of content. What’s different this time around, however, is that many people (myself included) have already spent a significant amount of time playing Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, which not only shares some common elements with the Wii U release but is also stuffed full of its own unique content. I’ve already covered the Amiibo and Smash Tour features in-depth, but what else does the Wii U version have to offer over its 3DS counterpart? The short answer: a lot.
First off, even in terms of what the 3DS and Wii U games share, there have been some tweaks. Classic mode has expanded the multi-path map from the 3DS version to a giant game board that you move your character across. All-Star mode has you fight the entire line-up of characters in reverse chronological order. These aren’t earth-shattering changes by any means, but as someone who has cleared both modes on 3DS roughly a billion times, the variations are nice.
The rather lacking multiplayer options in the 3DS game have been expanded significantly on Wii U. Special Smash, Coin Battles, and the ability to set item frequency all make their much needed return. I especially appreciate the item frequency, as it seemed like items appeared so often in the 3DS version that they would quickly overtake the match. What might be the biggest new highlight, however, is the ability to have brawls with up to eight players.
Eight player smashes are a lot like walking into one of those giant clouds of dusts that appear when people start fighting in cartoons. It’s chaotic and difficult to keep track of, not only when everyone is clustered together but even when people are spread apart. I imagine it depends on the size of your TV, but the camera will often zoom extremely far out making the characters hard to see.
Many of the stages are built in an attempt to accommodate this madness, but I’m hesitant to say that they make these gigantic brawls any more enjoyable. The Great Cave Offensive seems like the poster-child for the eight player battles, but its complex layout filled with narrow passages almost exacerbates the potential for confusion. I found the most enjoyable way to fight these battles was to stick to the simpler stages like Big Battlefield or Windy Hill Zone, as they still give you some breathing room without zooming the camera too far out.
Speaking of stages, a big change introduced by Super Smash Bros. for 3DS was the prominence of powerful third-party enemies like Yellow Devil or the Flying Men, and the Wii U version introduces a lot more of these. The highlights to me are Ridley on the Pyrosphere stage and Nabbit on Mushroom Kingdom U. Ridley assaults everyone with probably the widest variety of attacks of any boss, and it’s pretty much the next best thing to having Ridley as a playable character (sigh). Nabbit I find to be just downright terrifying; he basically just runs around the stage trying to stuff you in his sack and then run off-screen, effectively abducting you.
Outside of the traditional multiplayer, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U adds even more modes to play. Event mode returns, this time with a branching path system that unlocks new events depending on which ones you complete and which characters you’ve unlocked. Master Orders and Crazy Orders fill out the package, where you take up random requests from either Master Hand or Crazy Hand to earn rewards.
Finally, all of the customization features for characters return, along with some even bigger customization for the rest of the game. The soundtrack has been significantly expanded on the Wii U, along with number of songs that can play in each stage. This feature is a godsend, because while the 3DS soundtrack certainly wasn’t bad, the repetition of the limited amount of stage music was very noticeable. On the Wii U, I have no desire to mute the game like I occasionally would on 3DS.
The other big customization feature comes from the stage builder. I was really excited to build custom stages with the aid of the Wii U GamePad, but unfortunately that ended up being my biggest disappointment. The actual drawing of terrain is fine if not a bit finicky in what it allows, but I’m mostly disappointed in the additional stuff you can put in. The only items you can use are springs, cannons, magma, and moving platforms, a significant downgrade from what was available in Brawl. Granted I haven’t unlocked all of the challenges so there may potentially be more parts to get, but it seems unlikely based on the progress I’ve made in the game.
As an overall package, though, I was not disappointed by Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. I felt like the 3DS game lacked a few things that held it back from greatness, and the Wii U game not only fills in all of the gaps but it also introduces things I didn’t even know I wanted. There’s definitely some room for improvement and polishing in regards to a few of the new additions, but even if stuff like the eight player matches can be a confusing mess I’m still happy that the option is there. When you get down to it, the best part of Smash Bros. games is simply having so many options, and I think Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has enough to keep people busy for a very long time.
Food for Thought:
1. It was pretty surreal to boot up a brand new Super Smash Bros. game in 2014 only to hear the old Melee menu music straight away, while I was holding the first brand new Gamecube controller I’ve had in almost a decade.
2. One feature that I really enjoyed in the 3DS version was that it saved your costume choices between matches and modes. Unfortunately the Wii U version seems to lack this, which I guess makes sense if you’re assuming a ton of different people are playing it at all times, but having at least the 1P slot save settings would have been nice.
3. This feature is a bit of a self-explanatory one, but I’d just like to emphasize that one of the most important differences from the 3DS game is that you don’t have to use the 3DS as a controller …although, you can if you want to. In fact, you can use basically any controller that works with the Wii U in some way, including old Wii Classic Controllers.
4. It may just be my imagination, but I feel like the AI in the Wii U game is much tougher than on 3DS. I can get through the 3DS game’s classic mode on 9.0 with little to no issues up until the final boss, but I struggle to even get close on Wii U. Part of it may just that the eight player matches add to the difficulty, but the enemy dodges also seem really on-point. When the AI wants to live, it’s really good at avoiding you.