Image captured by Josh Horne
It seems a long time ago now when video game rental stores were still commonplace. I remember as a child there used to be a small rental store, which went by the name “World of Video”, situated on the opposite side of the area of town in which I lived. Every couple of weeks or so my parents would take me and my brothers there and treat us to a new game.
As N64 games were quite expensive to buy in the UK, I would often pick out an N64 game to take home from the rental store. One day when looking through the store, I noticed a game that I had never heard of before, “Super Smash Bros.” The UK game box art featured Link, Mario, Pikachu, Donkey Kong, Yoshi and Kirby duking it out. I had to have this game. I took Smash Bros. home, immediately popped it into the N64 and spent the entire week fighting against my younger brother. From that day onward, every time I revisited the game rental store, I would search for Super Smash Bros. Unfortunately, the store only had one copy, so I had to hope that my luck was in and pray that someone else wasn’t renting it when I visited. Why the store never purchased another copy is beyond me, if the game wasn’t at my house it was always at someone else’s.
Smash Bros. became a worldwide success, and the hope that Nintendo would produce a sequel became one of the main reasons why I ended up getting a Gamecube during the next console generation. Nintendo did eventually release a sequel, and what a sequel it turned out to be. Super Smash Bros. Melee released in 2002 in Europe (6 months after North America) and become an even bigger hit than the series début. Melee improved on nearly all aspects of its predecessor and today the game remains a staple feature of fighting game expos. After skipping the Wii and missing Brawl, Super Smash Bros. Wii U is the first time I’ve played a Smash Bros. game in over a decade. So, does this new entry into the franchise live up to my childhood memories?
In a nutshell: Yes.
This iteration of Smash is the biggest and arguably the best version to date, with more playable characters, stages and game modes than ever. It helps that the core gameplay of Smash remains as fun as ever. Unlike other fighting games, the objective isn’t to deplete the other character(s) health, instead the objective is to launch your foes off the stage. Landing a fatal blow and seeing a character fly into the background, or in some cases crash into the television screen, is as satisfying and as fun as it has always been. Each of the 49 characters in the game are brilliant, and gamers are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to character selection.
The number of players which can compete offline has increased from 4 to 8 players this time around. 8-Player smash has been criticized in various other reviews for being too hectic and erratic, but I feel that’s missing the entire point of this mode. Having the ability to play with 7 other friends offline is a blast, and the fact that it is so crazy just adds to the fun. Of course fighting against 7 other players is going to lack some of the strategy element found in matches with a smaller player count, but if you are looking to have a more serious game of smash then you can always just play with 4 people instead of 8, or even take part in Smash’s online for glory 1 v 1 matches. Having 8 players fight at once was always going to result with the matches being absolutely bonkers, and that doesn’t mean that 8-Player Smash is a bad addition to the series.
The online side of smash, for the most part, is done very well. Players may experience lag at times, personally I’ve only had a few experiences of this myself, which is more than acceptable seeing as I don’t have the fastest internet connection in the world anyway. A new addition to the online mode is the ability to watch replays of other matches and bet on the outcome, by doing so the player has the chance to win gold and prizes. At one point I found myself spending a couple of hours watching and gambling on the results of other player’s fights, it’s a surprisingly addictive feature that I’m sure other video games will copy in the future.
Gold sees a lot of usage in Smash Bros. Wii U. It can be used to purchase trophies from the in-game shop, add extra time to the trophy rush mini-game, partake in the crazy and special orders game modes, and is used to alter the difficulty setting of the game’s classic mode. Despite what may sound like the player needing coins constantly, it isn’t really an issue as gold is easy to come by and nearly every game mode rewards the player with some of this in-game currency. It’s a telling sign that I believe that had Smash Bros. been produced by another videogame company rather than Nintendo, it could have easily ended up featuring some kind of micro-transaction feature, which would have tried to exploit the player into making them purchase more gold. Luckily in Smash Bros. Wii U, gold and prizes are always just a couple of minutes away. A thing that I love about this game is that is constantly rewards the player. New characters, stages, custom move parts, custom appearance items, soundtracks and trophies are always being unlocked.
My favourite unlockable within Smash Bros. Wii U remains the ever-present (since Melee) trophies. This version of Smash features over 700 of them, covering a huge time span of Nintendo’s history. I love collecting trophies and will happily spend hours reading through all the trophy descriptions. A new addition to the trophy system is the addition of trophy boxes, here trophies are organised into themed displays, with some consisting of all the trophies from a particular game, or in some cases all the trophies from a past Nintendo gaming system. Once a trophy box is filled, a complete sign will appear on the side of the display, and the player can sit back and marvel at their collection. This feature has made my trophy collecting obsession become even more of an addiction than it was in previous versions of the game.
Two console exclusive modes, Master Orders and Crazy Orders, feature as new additions to this iteration of Smash. Master Orders has the player selecting various challenges which cost a certain amount of gold to participate in, in order to unlock to new items. It’s a solid mode, but it is outshone by the much better Crazy Orders. For the player to be able to take part in Crazy Orders they will have to part with 5000 units of their precious gold, or present a Crazy Orders pass, which can be attained from various other game modes.
In Crazy Orders the player has a choice of three tickets to select, with a different challenge on each, once a ticket is completed the player is then able to choose from another three. The player only has one life during this mode and damage accumulates over each fight, but a certain percentage of damage will be removed after each order has been completed. This means if a player enters a fight with around 50% of damage for example, and then completes the fight without taking much damage, then at the start of the next fight their damage may have decreased to around about 40%. This encourages the player to keep taking on challenges even if their character has a high percentage of damage.
When the player feels they have had enough, they can engage in a final fight against Crazy Hand, and if they defeat this opponent they can claim their prize. The only catch here is that accumulating less damage during a playthrough of Crazy Orders results in starting with less HP when entering the fight against Crazy Hand. Players are therefore encouraged to only fight Crazy Hand when they feel like they absolutely cannot go another round. In summary, it’s a brilliant idea and a great example of a risk-reward system being implemented tremendously well in a videogame.
Classic Mode returns, although it is a bit different from the previous games. Players choose the difficulty level of their classic mode playthrough and can gain better prizes on the higher difficulty levels, but this comes at a cost. The higher the difficulty setting the player selects, the more gold they will have to pay. Players then fight through 7 battles until they face a final battle, what they face in the final battle can differ widely depending on the difficulty selection they have chosen. All-star mode is also featured again, and sees the player fighting against all the in-game characters, whilst only having one stock, to unlock a character’s elusive final-smash trophy.
Event mode is also back and has enough content to keep the player busy for hours. Some of the events are genuinely brilliantly designed. The stadium mode is also once again included and features the ever-present Home-run contest (which is addictive as ever). It also contains multi-man smash and target blast. Target blast differs from the previous target based mini-games in the series in that it’s a semi-angry birds clone, which in all honestly is nothing special. You’ll probably only play through it just to complete some of the in-game challenges that require playing this mini-game. Like the 3DS version, Smash Bros. Wii U features challenges, of which there are 150 in total. The top ten challenges are notoriously hard and are something that the more skilled Smash Bros. players can boast about once they overcome them.
Although I have written mainly about the positives of Smash Bros. Wii U up until this point, there are a few things that it does wrong. Firstly, I know it may sound like a bit of a nitpick but the menu layout is horrible, initially it can take a lot of button presses to be able to find what you are looking for. Secondly, if you have created a custom profile, then be warned as every time you enter a new game mode you will have to select it again, as the game always reverts back to the default profile. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that I’ve entered a game mode, assumed that my custom profile was still selected, to only then remember as the fight was about to begin that I had forgotten to choose my profile again. As I use a different control scheme from the standard layout, this can become a bit frustrating. Hopefully Nintendo thinks to patch this so that the player can simply select a default profile, which will then automatically apply to every in-game mode once chosen.
The new game mode Smash Tour doesn’t add anything to the series either. Smash Tour is a board game like mode, in which players travel around a map collecting various fighters and stat boosts in preparation for a final battle. The pay-off from this mode isn’t worth the time, and you would be better off just engaging in a regular smash match. The Amiibo integration is also a bit hit and miss, it is cool to have a virtual character to level up, train, and fight against, but it can also feel a bit pointless. If the Amiibo characters were able to fight alongside the player in a mode such as classic mode for instance, then they would appeal to me a bit more. Despite this complaint, I do enjoy training my Amiibo, and if Nintendo were to introduce some kind of online Amiibo tournament later down the line then I might change my mind about them.
There are still many features of Smash Bros. Wii U that I haven’t covered, such as the fighter customizations, the photo mode and the stage creator. To be perfectly honest I could write about this game all day. The game has so much content and so many amazing features, it makes it easy to overlook its minuscule problems. The hardcore subsection of the Smash community may be upset that this game doesn’t play exactly like melee, but the most important thing to me is that this game is incredibly fun. I’ll never be as amazing at Smash Bros. as some players are, but that isn’t going to stop me from putting hundreds of hours into it and having a great time whilst doing so. Smash Bros. Wii U is a game that I can still see myself playing and enjoying this time next year, that’s not something I say about every game. As mentioned at the start of this review, I hadn’t played a Smash Bros. game in over a decade until this iteration. It was worth the wait.
Original post taken from: HACK “N” SLASH