E3 2014: New information on Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. (now with more Sakurai!)

The first official day of E3 2014 has wrapped up, and for Nintendo, it ended much later than it did for any of the other publishers and developers at the show. Following the 6 PM E3 curtain call of the day, Nintendo held a special, private event centered entirely on Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS. The showcase — or rather the info dump — featured series director Masahiro Sakurai, who gladly shared details on the game within the confines of the bite-sized conference setting.

The first big announcement — which has already made its rounds across the Internet — is the arrival of Pac-Man to the series. This reveal received a nice ovation, and it was clear that everyone was remembering the good ol' days of Pac-Man and not that lousy Ghostly Adventures nonsense. That said, it's great to see a gaming mainstay the caliber of Pac-Man finally appearing alongside Mario and company in Smash Bros. Personally, I think Kirby would be a dream opponent for Bandai Namco's own circular hero.

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Major changes are coming to Smash Bros., the first of which is the brand new customization element. Traditionally, characters had four special moves, each triggered with a press of the B button and a tilt of the analog stick in in one of four directions. This time around, there are three variations of each special move, and you can edit characters to use moves you find especially useful. Mario, for example, has three variations of fireballs: normal, fast and in a straight line, and slow but with the ability to deliver multiple hits.

A new equipment system further alters the action in Smash Bros. Characters can equip up to three items, and these will directly affect their fighting styles. The newly announced Mii Fighters can also be customized. In addition, custom characters can be switched between the Wii U and 3DS versions of Smash Bros., so you don't need to worry about the tedium of having to customize characters on both versions ad nauseam.

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Sakurai also gave an in-depth explanation of the snazzy Smash Bros. Amiibo figures. These aren't actually playable figures with special abilities, but rather AI-controller characters that can be leveled up and customized. You could potentially get them to level 50 and increase their difficulty far beyond the regular level nine AI setting. Sakurai stated that players will be able to use these characters as partners, ensuring that everyone shoots for buffing them up considerably. Interestingly, these characters will adapt to how players approach fights and behave accordingly.

The director also showcased Smash Run gameplay from the 3DS version of the game. He played a five-minute run, which took him across randomly generated stages and dropped all sorts of enemies and items all over the place. Interestingly, Smash Run turns the game into a beat 'em up sorts.

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Overall, important info was released regarding Smash Bros. Strides are definitely being taken to make sure that this is the next evolution of the series. At its core, though, this could be the same Nintendo fighter we've loved for the last several years, which is in no way a bad thing. Oh, and for all you Brawl detractors out there: Sakurai assured that the new Smash Bros. will be as balanced as possible.

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