Smash Brothers for the road

We are definitely in the midst of a new generation of gaming, as it stands we are seeing many of our old favourite franchises reaching the next level and becoming even better, and of course we are even seeing change from tradition and how we usually see certain games. This is exactly the case with the latest entry in Nintendo’s amazing Super Smash Brothers series, for all the franchises past three entries it has remained a console exclusive never even giving a go to the handheld platform but the case with this latest entry is that it is arriving on a handheld platform for the first time. Many of us would be skeptical about how this would turn out and whether we should just wait for the Wii U version or give a go to this 3DS entry and might I say there is no need to worry Smash Brothers on the 3DS is an almost perfect fit for the platform.

Everything about Super Smash Brothers for the 3DS runs smoothly and works exactly as we have come to expect from the franchises past. One of the initial concerns about this latest entry would be about the small screen size messing with the experience and messing up the perfect big screen formula we have come to expect, surprisingly this was never an issue. In standard battles of one versus one or three people fighting everything is at its best and can be viewed perfectly, it is when battles go into the four player area where the game is usually at its most fun that things don’t always work out. Sometimes when the screen zooms out to much it is not easy to keep track of where everyone is and sadly this messes with the flow of battle and I did occasionally lose track of where I was, thankfully this only happened on the rare occasion and I still had fun doing these battles it just may mess with the way some people play and you may prefer to stick to three player battles.

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Super Smash Brothers is all about the battling and the all star cast of characters from Nintendo’s back catalog along with a bunch of guest characters that attempt to highlight the experience. As always we have our characters like Mario, Pikachu and Link but we also have a good variety of new characters ready to battle it out to claim supremacy, I was pleased to discover that new characters like Palutena from Kid Icarus and Robin from Fire Emblem Awakening were highly enjoyable to play as and use as part of the battle. However some parts of the latest character library did leave me sad, newcomers like Mega Man, Pac-Man and Villager I found to be unexciting and unenjoyable to play as, this mostly came down to their move sets which did not personally appeal to me and often felt unbalanced. I was also disappointed at the absence of a selection of my favorite characters from Brawl such as Lucas and Wolf who’s absence I found to be quite noticeable.

Likewise I was also disappointed by a good selection of the stages on offer, I found there to many Mario based stages and far to many old stages from past games. It never deterred from my enjoyment with the game but I always felt that they could have offered more original stages. This was particularly the case with stages from games like Donkey Kong and Pikmin where all we got were one stage from Melee and Brawl instead of anything original. Thankfully though it isn’t all bad news when it comes to stages when we do see original ones that have not been in any other games they are actually good ones that are highly amusing with their own style and ideas that keep them amusing. Even better was the homage to the past of games that could be found in the stages, yes we still have Flat Zone which has been in the last two Smash Brothers games but there are other stages that are literal versions of old games such as the original Kirby game and an F-Zero racetrack which act as a nice treat for the handheld platform.

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There have been a fair few changes done to this entry in the Smash franchise that actually improve upon their predecessors, classic mode stands as one of the biggest examples of change. Classic mode has always been a source of entertainment to spend time on and run through but the problem was it was to repetitive for my full enjoyment, this new version is shorter but it is more about what you want to do . When the mode starts you pay coins to select your difficulty on a scale lifted from Kid Icarus Uprising and then you get to run through getting to chose the path you go on, which means it is more about what you want to do and presenting you with the option which I personally preferred. Likewise All Stars mode from brawl has seen an improvement, like in Brawl you battle all the fighters from the game in a run to survive and win. Though what makes the mode different this time is that it acts as a history lesson through the back catalog of fighters and you fight through a chronological history of each in stages between certain year points have fun fighting these opponents.

Super Smash Brothers for 3DS comes with an exclusive mode called Smash Run which as it stands is a really mixed bag, for some Smash Run could be the most exciting thing about the latest entry to the Smash games but personally I found my interest in my mode quickly leaving within a couple of plays. Smash Run is an interesting mode to be sure but what it really lacks is the means to keep you coming back and a couple of the ideas presented do feel a bit broken at times leaving me annoyed at the end result. Smash Run is essentially a stat grab, you run about collecting upgrades to your abilities such as attack, speed and jump and aim to collect enough to win a final challenge that is given to you after running about for five minutes.

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During these five minutes you get to battle and defeat a whole host of enemies that pay homage to the franchises presented in the game, for a small of time it was exciting to be able to deal with Kremlings from the Donkey Kong series, beat up Hammer Bros from Super Mario and even battle it out with a small selection of Pokémon running about the Smash Run maze. The thrill of this comes to an end quickly though and battling these enemies and running about the maze grew monotonous the more I played it, even worse is the end of the challenge. Often to win the Smash Run you have to collect the right stats during your time running the maze and the bad part is we don’t even know what exactly the challenge at the end will be so quite often I could find myself struggling because I didn’t have the right powers. This particularly was the case in a race and it is not fun being miles behind everyone else leaving me disappointed at the end result. Smash Run is an okay mode but I don’t see myself or really anybody else spending much time with this mode sadly.

This latest entry in the Smash brothers series also comes with a new layer of customization options which really personalize the core experience of the game. These options come in two forms, there are standard fighters which can be slightly altered and more importantly the Mii Fighters which allow us to bring in ourselves with our own preferred styles of play. The Mii Fighters have the ability to be a sword fighter like Link, a Brawler like Mario or a Blaster like Samus, along with this comes several other factors which helps to decide your Mii’s own capabilities each balancing out your Mii from someone else’s and keeping things fair and balanced. I was pleased to also know that each of the customization options were available from the beginning of the game.

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This however is not the case with standard fighters, every character has a series of move changes to their special attacks which can be altered by customizing there abilities. However these attacks are not available from the start and require a lot of playing of the game to unlock them, this may be disappointing for some that they can’t just jump straight in and alter their fighters but I never found it to be an issue, yes I had to run classic mode and Smash Run more times then I wanted to but I was often pleased with the unlockable attacks I would get that would change the style of play with each character, sometimes for the better.

I will admit I was one of the skeptical ones, I did not find the handheld Smash Brothers appealing and thought that the platform would not suit the Smash Brothers style but I was pleased to discover I was wrong. Yes some of the modes, characters and stages were disappointing but when it comes down to it what the game is really about is the fighting which is really where the fun lies in the game. It is easy to spend literally forty or more hours like I have and not get bored with the battling particularly with all there is to learn, remember and then balance. I loved this entry in Smash, it is not a masterpiece but it comes down to still being a lot of fun especially when I can take my battles on the road with me and play wherever I like.