On October 3rd, Nintendo gave us a taste of what the new Super Smash Bros. will play like, albeit on a much smaller screen. We got the full roster, some exclusive levels, and even an exclusive mode, and yet, it still didn't feel like the complete package. Despite the game being fun, the majority of Smash's success and enjoyment comes from sitting down around the TV with your friends, and duking it out as you pass the controllers around. The 3DS version just couldn't capture this feeling. Thankfully, the Wii U version does it in spades.
The tried and true formula of Super Smash Bros. returns to Nintendo's HD console in full 1080p and 60 frames per second. You might not process this until you actually see it on your screen, but Super Smash Bros for Wii U is breathtakingly gorgeous game. Even with pure chaos happening on screen with the new 8-Player Smash, the game manages to still look stunning and run fantastically.
While the game's roster remains the same, the Wii U version does come unlocked with more characters from the beginning, meaning upon starting the game, you and your friends will have a larger and more diverse cast to pick from.
I initially thought the 8-Player Smash mode would be nothing more than a novelty value; a mode that curious players would try, but serious players would avoid. Now I'm not so sure. It's one of those modes that end up being so hilariously chaotic, that your brain just begs you for more. Given that you can select all sorts of crazy rulesets, you can set up matches like 8 Zero Suit Samus' at level 9:
Or perhaps 8 Jigglypuffs CPUs at level 1:
Sometimes it's just as fun watching the CPU duking it out against one another, as it is actually partaking in a match. After a few days of my co-workers begging to play more 8-Player Smash matches, it was obvious that it wasn't just a novelty mode, this was something that large parties will rely on for prolonged enjoyment.
The single player mode gets a slight change up as well. Classic Mode now allows you to move across a tabletop with set figures, which will determine who your next opponent will be. You also have a Rival character that rewards you with more coins the longer you wait to take them out. All-Star mode does return but this time tasks you with defeating characters in backwards chronological order of their game's release. However, the coolest part is that you can partake in all of these solo modes co-operatively with a second player. Both Classic and All-Star modes are way more fun when tackled with a buddy.
Also new to the game are Master Hand and Crazy Hand Orders. Master Hand tasks you with betting a certain amount of coins in order to win a pre-set prize. These challenges can range from defeating a certain amount of characters while they're giant, or taking on an enemy while they're in metal form. Crazy Hand challenges is where the real bulk of the prizing lies. To participate, you either have to hand over a ticket or pay a few thousand coins. The difference here is that you don't get rewarded immediately after besting a challenge. Instead, you eventually have to take on Crazy Hand. What's more, the more damage you incur before taking him on, the more health you have when challenging him. If you lose to him, you lose out on a bunch of your rewards. There's a risk and reward factor involved. Do you take a lot of damage during a challenge but risk being defeated before even getting to Crazy Hand, or do you play it safe but then have a lower amount of hit points?
The Wii U version supports Nintendo's answer to NFC toys, Amiibo. We received a Mario Amiibo and put him through rigorous training to get him to level 50, and then see how hard her really is to defeat. Needless to say, he's pretty tough:
It's actually pretty cool to see your Amiibo adopt the moves you use against him for future matches. You can also upgrade your Amiibo's stats by feeding him various equipment that you could otherwise customize other characters with. While you lose that equipment permanently, their stats are affected permanently as well.
However, it is a shame that Amiibo don't work with the game's single player co-op modes. I would have loved to bring Amiibo Mario with me to Classic Mode and tag team our way through opponents. As of right now, Amiibo only work in the game's Smash Mode.
Also new and exclusive to the Wii U version is Smash Tour, a Mario Party style board game mode where you move your selected Mii across three (Small, Medium or Large) game boards, in order to collect fighters, strengthen them, and ultimately duke it out against other players in a final smash. I personally didn't love this mode, as it's just a slower way to get to the good stuff (smashing). But hey, it's there if you want a change of pace.
The selection of stages, though plenty, is pretty disappointing in the Wii U version. What's the point of having two practically identical Animal Crossing stages? Two Pilotwings stages? Two Mario Kart stages? A Metroid Other M stage? A Wrecking Crew stage? Out of Nintendo's giant repertoire, they either chose two similar stages to put in, or some extremely obscure ones. Even some of the gimmicks of new stages like Jungle Hijinx, where players can fly back and forth between the foreground and background, are more annoying than fun. Same with the Mega Man stage. It's an awesome stage made way worse by the obnoxious Yellow Devil. And why is Big Battlefield a separate stage from regular Battlefield. Why not just press a button to turn it into Big Battlefield.
However, the biggest offense is the game's customizable control scheme. There is no way to set a default control scheme for the game, meaning you have to tie a control scheme down to a particular profile. That would be fine, if it kept that profile active when switching between modes. Each time you go into a new mode, the game switches back to the default control scheme, so if you forgot to pick your profile, you're stuck with the default controls. Countless times I would forget to switch, which then screwed me up for the entirety of the match or mode. If I start Classic or All-Star mode with the wrong control scheme, I can't simply switch it there, I either have to exit out completely or just endure it. If I'm playing by myself and am constantly switching between modes, the game should just assume it's the same person playing. This rant might be long but it's honestly one of the worst features of the Wii U version.
Unfortunately, Nintendo didn't supply us with the GameCube adapter, so we were unable to use any of our old GameCube controllers, but if they work as advertised, then it should be anyone's preferred control method. The Wii U gamepad isn't actually that bad, though if you're short on GameCube controllers, the Wii U Pro controller will be your best option.
At the end of the day, it's Smash Bros. any way you look at it. It's not longer the floaty fighter that Brawl was and instead now sits at a comfortable mid-ground between Brawl and Melee. The roster is huge and diverse, with very few clone characters this time around. It's still one of Nintendo's most innovative and extremely fun party games to date, and anyone with a Wii U has surely been looking forward to its release. It's not perfect, but it certainly comes close.