REVIEW: Super Smash Bros for 3DS

Friday, October 10th, 2014

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Super Smash Bros for 3DS | oprainfall
Title Super Smash Bros for 3DS
Developer Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco
Publisher Nintendo
Release Date October 3, 2014
Genre Fighting
Platform 3DS
Age Rating ESRB – E10+
Official Website

It’s almost surreal to think that Super Smash Bros for 3DS has finally hit store shelves here in the US. With speculation on who would be in the roster, changes to the gameplay and the promise of knocking your friends around in new settings, I would venture to say that pre-release hype for any game is never as strong as it is with Smash Bros. However, now that the game is out, was all the excitement worth it? True, this is the first portable title in the franchise, but is that new element enough to satisfy fans, or should we just wait for the Wii U version?

Super Smash Bros for 3DS | Brawl

Just in case Smash 3DS is your first foray into the series, let’s quickly go over the game’s basic mechanics. Super Smash Bros is a fighting series in which some of Nintendo’s biggest mascots (and a few of the more obscure ones) duke it out in two to four-player brawls. However, rather than using a traditional life bar, each combatant’s “health” is represented by percentage points. The more damage they receive, the more the percentage builds up. In turn, the higher the percentage, the farther a fighter will be sent flying when hit by an attack. So, to defeat an opponent, players need to deal damage with a variety of attacks, as well as special moves that vary from character to character. Then, after they have sustained enough damage, launch your opponent off the screen with a powerful Smash attack. Repeat until your superiority is clear to all your enemies.

Super Smash Bros for 3DS | Boxing

Rematch of the Century!

Smash 3DS features a roster of 48 characters (plus a near-infinite number of player-created fighters) from some of Nintendo’s biggest franchises, including Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Kirby, Pokémon and Fire Emblem. Friends of Nintendo, like Sonic the Hedgehog and Shulk from Xenoblade Chronicles, are also present. After three previous installments, you’d think that Smash Bros would be reaching the limits of unique character play styles, but Smash 3DS has done it again. From Little Mac’s fast and powerful strikes to Duck Hunt’s incredibly pokey distance attacks, most of the new characters are quite fun to use. Though, (ironically) I wasn’t in love with Shulk’s moveset. My personal favorite, though, and I stated as much before, is Rosalina. While she may not be the strongest fighter out there, the tricky strategies you can cook up with her Luma support character are just fantastic.

Super Smash Bros for 3DS | Rosalina

Seriously, don’t mess with me.

From the start, 3/4 of the total roster is available to use – the rest will have to be unlocked by playing the game. Unfortunately, going about this is a bit simpler than it was in previous games. To me, part of the fun of Smash Bros has always been playing through the different modes and meeting requirements to unlock the games’ many characters. However, I was somewhat distressed to find that unlocking about half of the fighters in this entry could only be done by fighting a certain number of matches. So, instead of relying on your skill, it’s more a test of patience as you play one-life matches against a Level 1 opponent over and over just to fill out that roster. Sure, they’ll all get unlocked eventually either way, but it was always much more fun to play through Classic Mode on higher difficulties or Target Smash, and have that feeling that you actually earned them. Even so, it’s a minor gripe, especially in the face of such a large roster.

Super Smash Bros for 3DS | Smash!

No other game!

Like all the entries before it, in terms of its presentation, Smash 3DS is a Nintendo fan’s dream. With so many characters, stages and items from so many different franchises, there’s no doubt in my mind that anyone who enjoys the unique experiences of Nintendo titles will find something to love here. In what other game could you see Kirby using an Ore Club to blast Captain Falcon off the train from The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks? The stages, as always, really, are a highlight here. All of them are wonderful love letters to Nintendo’s history. Even the original Battlefield and Final Destination stages feel like homages to the stages from earlier games. From newer games like Tomodachi Life to beautifully retro ones like a Kirby’s Dream Land-inspired game, the themes of stages are unmistakeably “Nintendo.” The music reflects this as well, with a nice sampling of remixed themes of familiar tracks, as well as some unmodified tracks from other games. Unfortunately, the selection on tracks isn’t nearly as deep as it was in Brawl, so, if you were hoping to find lots of CDs to unlock different themes for the many stages, you’re going to be disappointed.

Super Smash Bros for 3DS | Game Boy

The graphics may be a little rough around the edges, especially if you’ve been drooling over the Wii U version, but gameplay is wonderfully smooth. The exception to this, though, is the various Assist Trophies and Pokémon that you’ll be utilizing in battle. While players and their opponents move and attack with almost no frame rate issues, these NPCs are strangely jerky in their motions. This is especially noticeable when the Nintendogs Assist Trophy comes up and gets right up into the foreground. I expect this is simply a limitation of the 3DS’s hardware. Really, though, it isn’t all that important in the face of all the hectic action you’ll be dealing with most of the time.

Super Smash Bros for 3DS | MenuIn terms of content, I feel that Smash 3DS is a little sparse on game modes. Actually, it almost seems to harken back to the original game on Nintendo 64. This is a game about fighting and increasing your skill in that regard, and the way Smash 3DS’s menus are set up reflects that. Old modes, like Classic and All-Star Mode, make a return, but you have to do a little digging in the menus to reach them. Meanwhile, a huge SMASH button takes up half the screen on the Mode Selection screen, just in case it wasn’t clear where players will be spending most of their time. Players hoping to enjoy another variation of Melee’s Adventure Mode or the sweeping narrative of Subspace Emissary from Brawl will be disappointed to find that there is no parallel mode in the new version. Classic Mode tries to address this by allowing players to choose different paths on the way to the final battle with Master Hand, but it’s a poor substitute for fans who were hoping for a bit more plot. It isn’t likely to bother those just looking for a good fight, though.

More Smash goodness on Page 2 ->

About Tyler Lubben

Tyler is a lifelong gamer, getting his start on the Intellivision when he was three years old. After receiving his English degree, he discovered all those jokes about getting a job in his field were true. As Head Editor with oprainfall, Tyler is able to bridge his two passions; playing and talking about video games at any given opportunity, and being a total grammar nazi the rest of the time.


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  • Joseph Foley

    You forgot to mention Mii Fighters which is the total roster is 49 or 51 if your counting the individual Mii creation for each of the MiiBrawler, MiiSwordsman, and MiiGunner.

    • Josh S.

      He actually did make a nod to Mii Fighters, when he discussed a near infinite of character created characters. Many reviews haven’t counted them directly for the official roster number, but at least he mentioned them.

  • Pedro Rosas

    Your connection issues are yours only. 8/10 matches i play perfectly fine online, the other 2 I assume they have a bad connection of some sort, but online is really smooth compared to Brawl (which was almost unberable)

    • Josh S.

      I have also had connection issues, and I don’t live out in the sticks. Not just him, many have complained about inconsistent lag issues.

    • azariosays

      jeez, anything is better than brawl at this point, ha, but people will surely all have different experiences with online play and this was his. glad to hear that it’s not bad for everyone since online is a big reason i want this game.

  • MusubiKazesaru

    It’s kind of a shame so much is banned online. You can’t show off Mii fighters you’ve made or use any of them or custom movesets and stats. I feel like they should have put more effort into a more robust online play

    • Josh S.

      Totally agree. I wish custom options were allowed for competitive play. Not like they make things insanely broken. Just don’t allow equipment, problem solved.