Am I the only one shocked that Sakurai’s bag of tricks hasn’t been emptied yet? Especially after the past two weeks of reveals! It’s crazy how much there is in the newest installment of Smash, and Smashing Saturdays is here to get you caught up! This week mostly focused on new levels and Assist Trophies, as well as explaining what one of the new modes was all about. No new Brawlers, but, honestly, I don’t expect one of them until much closer to the October release date. I’m, of course, still crossing my fingers for a certain red-skinned Space Pirate and PK schoolboy, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Until then, let’s get caught up, shall we?
Let’s get Smashing!
Before you get all excited, Monday’s screen did NOT show off a new Brawler, but rather a new Assist Trophy. This dashing-looking fellow is probably not familiar to most of you (he certainly wasn’t to myself). That is because he was from a Japan-only NES game called The Mysterious Murasame Castle. He also had a game in Nintendo Land called Takamaru’s Ninja Castle. In his original incarnation, he fought alien-empowered statues and ninjas using his katana and shuriken, which could be powered up. In Smash, he uses, and I quote, a “Multidirectional Pinwheel Knife Rook Attack.” Sounds awesome. It also looks like North Americans interested in Takamaru’s exploits will be able to try his original game on the eShop later this year.
Tuesday’s screen should be instantly recognizable to those of you with a 3DS. It is a stage from Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Though the latest installment of the Paper Mario series was lackluster, the new Paper Mario stage looks utterly awesome. It changes as you play, and it’s a 3DS-exclusive, as well. Starts like this, but then…
…turns into this! The S.S.Flavion from The Thousand Year Door! Now THAT is a Paper Mario game much easier to get behind. I especially love the giant Blooper who will no doubt cause octopus-y havoc. Beautiful. Here’s hoping this stage plays as wonderfully as it looks!
I hope you’re not tired of crazy new Assist Trophies, ’cause another one popped up on Wednesday! I’ll let Sakurai’s quote do the talking – “If you get caught in the Boss Galaga item’s tractor beam, it will carry you away to the top of the screen. You can shoot it down, but it won’t join you in battle for double the firepower.” Nice. I love retro, and Galaga is about as retro as it gets. I never thought I’d see it in Smash, but I also never thought I’d see Villager or Wii Fit Trainer, either. Expect the unexpected!
Thursday is sure to get you excited. A new Pokémon stage! Sakurai was all coy about which stage Reshiram (as well as Milotic and Zekrom) will pop up in, but I’m excited either way. The Pokémon stages are always hectic and fun, and Legendaries just make things that much sweeter. One more pair of reveals to wrap up the week!
Friday’s screen makes me worried for Pikachu’s safety. I’ll let Sakurai clarify what’s going on – “What’s up with this bomb? This looks like the stadium for the Home-run Contest, but there’s no bat. Once you touch the bomb, it begins to count down. Give it enough damage and launch it at the right time…then once the bomb’s countdown hits zero…!! ”
…It goes BOOOOOM! Not only will the blast destroy targets, but it’ll also cause a chain reaction by using shattered walls and bomb blocks–all of which contributes to you getting a high score!! This is a new activity that combines the concepts of Target Smash and the Home-run Contest–it’s called Target Blast! Your final score is the total you rack up over two rounds. Of course, your Target Blast scores contribute to your Global Smash Power, too.” Great stuff. Granted it mixes two other ideas, but that’s far from a bad thing.
But don’t leave yet! We also have a great Character of the Week for you by my faithful assistant, Tyler Lubben!
Character of the Week
TYLER: I’ve had an interesting history with the King of Koopas. Bowser was a combatant who I wished had been in the original Smash Bros, so it was exciting when I started seeing screenshots of him in my Nintendo Powers leading up to the release of Melee. Finally, there would be a big, burly character to rival Donkey Kong in the power department. At least… that was my initial thought. As it turns out, Bowser was pretty disappointing in his first foray into the fighting genre. Just about everything about him was lacking in one way or another. Sure, I knew he’d be slow, but Bowser was suh-low! The way he’d stomp across the battlefield at a snail’s pace was painful to watch, and his strange… slide run did little to alleviate the problem. His attacks had decent damage and launching power, but that was only if you could hit someone with them. The range on most of them was abhorrent, and even the ones that did have a bit more reach were so obviously telegraphed that any halfway competent opponent could easily avoid the worst of it. At times, I almost felt like Bowser would have served better as a boss character, like Master Hand, than a regular combatant. This was teased at with the secret Giga Bowser fight in Adventure Mode where he was a much bigger threat than his standard counterpart. Of course, such a gigantic and overpowered beast would have no hope of being playable, so, instead, we were stuck with, at best, a middling character who simply wasn’t equipped to play with the big kids.
Bowser seemed to come into his own much better when Brawl rolled around. Strangely, though, this was despite the fact that very little about him was changed. Perhaps the game was just rebalanced to give him a better chance, but Bowser was much more fun in his second outing. I think his slightly changed moveset was a major factor for this. Doing nothing more than changing his Side Smash from the useless biting attack to a flying suplex gave Bowser a lot more versatility. Rather than planting him in one spot for a glorified throw, the body slam allowed him to grab an opponent and fly away from the melee, allowing him to escape damage, or drop back down to smash the other combatants. Even better, this attack would let more grief-minded players quickly dispatch foes with a kamikaze-type attack similar to DK and Kirby – always a fan favorite. The ability to control the direction of his fire breath also made his edge game a bit more manageable. The best, however, was his Final Smash, which finally made the terrifying Giga Bowser playable for a short time.
I have high hopes for Bowser in the upcoming 3DS and Wii U games. I don’t have much to go off here, aside from the fact that the Koopa King seems to have gone through some significant design changes. Rather than the hunched mass that he was in the previous two games, Bowser now stands up straight and takes on a more combat-ready pose. Maybe I’m totally off base here, but I hope that, from this simple redesign, Bowser may experience a few tweaks in his fighting style. That’s not to say I think his entire repertoire will change – his fire breath, ground pound and shell attacks are part of what make him so unique – but it’d be nice to have anything that might help close the gaps between the game’s Foxes, Captain Falcons and Kirbys, and the lower tiers where Bowser usually resides.