Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Review No. 101 Super Smash Bros. for 3DS - 3DS (12+)

Strong Points:
Superb gameplay
(Mostly) Brilliant balancing
Lots of content
Lots/variety of characters
Lots/variety of modes
Lots/variety of items
Lots/variety of stages
Lots/variety of music
Lots/variety of collectables
Lots of unlockables
Solo modes are good
Great fun to play
Local connection is very good
Trophy Shop is helpful
Customisable moves allows for a more varied playstyle
Intensity system in Classic Mode is helpful
Online is split into For Fun and For Glory which is useful for both casual and competitive players
The 3DS enables quick pick up and play matches
Can be used as a controller for the Wii U version
Omega Forms for stages are great

Weak Points:
You can get multiple copies of the same customisable move/trophy (and it records it as such)
No way to sell extra trophies/customisable moves
Online is shaky and laggy
Characters can appear very small on battles with more than two characters
No amiibo support (although this is promised)
Smash Run can take some getting used to
No co-op play for solo modes (besides All-Star and Multi-Man
Trophy Rush isn't very good
Loading times are very long

Rating: 95%

In-depth Review:

Release Dates:
Japan: 13 September, 2014
North America/Europe: 3 October, 2014
Australia: 4 October, 2014

Circle Pad: movement
A: neutral attack/pick up items
A + Direction on Circle Pad: directional neutral attack
B: special attack
B + Direction on Circle Pad: directional special attack
X/Y: jump
Left Button: grab/throw items
Left Button + Direction on Circle Pad: throw
Right Button: shield

Lots-of-Content Bros. for 3DS made its arrival with a Smash! Warning a new challenger approaches! Or should that be 49 (with a 50th on the way as well as three variants of the Mii Fighter) characters approach?! That many characters alone is impressive and are enough to keep you entertained for hours (I still haven't played as every character). And not only that but they are all varied and balanced (mostly) as well as being lore friendly and a great showing of all the Nintendo (and friends) greats! And, while you will have your favorites (mine are currently Palutena and Shulk - comment your mains!) I would definitely recommend pressing the random button once in a while and trying out the rest of the characters. It would also be nice to be able to battle online people without so much lag but, alas, I'm afraid that we'll have to use the Wii U version for this (however, local connection is smooth and, more or less, lag free). Also, while the characters all look good, with broad outlines to help differentiate them from the stages, they don't look great, especially when zoomed out during larger battles.

And what a stage you have to play on! Or, rather, 34 stages (as well as Omega Forms of each of them). All of these stages (besides Battlefield and Final Destination) are from a Nintendo (and friends) franchise and most contain hazards to help and hinder you. However, you can always turn on Omega Form and get rid of the hazards and flatten the stage into a Final Destination-a-like. I think that this is one of the best additions to the game as it means that there is a bit more variety in competitive matches.

The other key mechanic in the game is items and, besides a couple of one-hit kill items (I'm looking at you Galagan Bugs, Gust Bellows and Beetle) are all pretty good. However, due to the size of the 3DS's screen, they can, when combined with 4 players and stage hazards, make the game a bit too frantic and hard to see. For this reason I would still recommend playing two on two battles if you want to use items and stage hazards (or most of the time really) and use the Wii U version for more than that.

However, there are still plenty of solo modes to keep you occupied (even if there is a lack of Subspace Emissary, Boss Battles and Events). The best one is probably Classic which involves you going down multiple paths (of varying difficulty and rewards), participating in multiple Smashes and, finally, fighting Master Hand/Master and Crazy Hands/Master Core. The final boss (as well as the difficulty and rewards) are determined by your intensity setting which, like in Kid Icarus Uprising, is increased from 2.0 onwards to 9.0 (or decreased from 2.0 downwards to 0.0) by betting gold. If you lose a battle then you will have the option to continue which decreases your intensity by 0.5 as well as taking some of your rewards and gold betted on the Intensity Scale which introduces a bit of a risk and reward system. At the end of Classic Mode, you get to attack the developer's names as the credits role. If you hit enough names in the right places then a picture will fill up and you will be rewarded with coins. And, like always, you will get the trophy of the character you beat Classic Mode with.

The next solo mode is All-Star Mode and, unlike previous iterations, you have access to it to start with (with True All-Star Mode being unlocked once you've gotten all of the secret characters). Yet again, All-Star Mode is both a test of how long you can survive and a homage to all things Nintendo (and friends). However, rather than being split into franchises, you have to battle the characters in ascending chronological order which might help finally answer the question - which is better the old or the new? Also, rather than having loads of heart containers to heal you in between battles, you have only four healing items of varying benefit. There's two heart containers, a fairy in a bottle (which only heals you if you have 100% damage or more) and a max tomato. This decrease in healing items makes the mode a lot harder than in Brawl. But, at the end, you get an alternate trophy for your character (although not a Final Smash one).

Next up is Home-Run Contest and Target Blast! That's right, Home-Run Contest has returned and brings with it even more opportunities to beat a sandbag within an inch of its life before flinging it halfway around the world (or a couple of feet, depending on how good you are). Target Blast replaces Target Smash and involves you hitting a bomb (think Home-Run Contest where the sandbag could explode) at a collection of targets and other Angry Birds-like buildings. Points and rewards are given to you depending on how much and what you destroy.

Then, of course, you've got Multi-Man Smash which actually includes a few modes. These are 10 man, 100 man, 3 minute, Endless and Cruel Smash which are identical to their Brawl counterparts and are pretty self-explanatory. As well as this, you can also partake in a Rival Smash which has you trying to defeat more enemies than your rival before one of you die (this also replaced 15 minute Smash). Also, the enemies you now fight are the Mii Fighters which adds much more variety than Brawls Wire Frames.

The next solo mode is Smash Run and is a completely new mode that is unique to the 3DS version. It is based off of the City Mode in Kirby's Air Ride and involves you running across a huge stage, killing multiple different enemies from across various Nintendo (and friends) franchises and gathering various stat boosts. After five minutes, you will then have to fight three rivals. This 'fight' could either be a simple 'who can defeat the most rivals in a given time limit' or could be 'who can run/climb the furthest'. For this reason, you need to gather a range of different stat boosts as you have no idea which type of 'fight' you could be in at the end of the game. This is rather annoying as, Climb and Run are great modes in their own right but you have to go through 5 mins of collecting stat boosts before you might (and I mean might) have a chance of playing them. Also, this mode only really becomes great when you are going against your friends and have the option of hurling abuse at them to put them of track.

So then, with the modes done, we'll move onto the collectibles! As well as your usual, staggering, amount of trophies, you can also collect stat boosting equipment, Mii costumes and custom moves! The trophies can be earned through Classic and All-Star modes as well as through Challenges (think Kid Icarus puzzle panels only smaller) and through the Trophy Shop (where you spend gold on trophies, of your choice, from a selection) and Trophy Rush (which replaces Coin Launcher and has you using gold to buy time in which to destroy blocks with a fighter). The equipment can be used to customize your character in terms of attack, defense and speed while the custom moves can be used to change your character's special moves and the Mii Costumes can be used to change the looks of your Mii Fighters. These all combine to make a much more varied and customized choice of playstyle and are great additions to the series.

Finally, you can keep track of your achievements through the use of the three Challenge panels that I mentioned earlier as well as through Milestones (which records key events) and Records (which records lots of different stats about your fighters). And, if you're bored, why not listen to all of the great music offered in Sound Test?

Overall, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is an absolutely brilliant game that lets you keep a museum of Nintendo (and friends) in your pocket. It also plays brilliantly (once you've gotten past the huge loading times) and, most importantly, is great fun to play.

Goodbye for now, Harry 

Update: amiibo functionality has been added as well as a Share function. This Share function lets you share screenshots, replays and Mii Fighters to friends and the online community. In addition, you can now upload screenshots to the special Snapshot Sharing Community on Miiverse.

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