Smash ‘N’ the Boys (Super Smash Bros. For Nintendo 3DS – Review – 3DS)

It’s funny what some new characters and stages can do to me.

While it would ignorant to believe that is all the latest Smash Bros. game has to offer, there no denying that it’s the rampant fan service that draws us in.

With that said, it isn’t the sight of Zero Suit Samus beating the tar out of Donkey Kong that keeps us playing. While these grand announcements leading up to Smash Bros.‘ release kept the hype train chugging along, it’s the content of the game that will keep me playing til the end of time.

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Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS is the best installment of the series to date. It’s a much more rounded experience, one where the balance between solo and multi player is more even than past entries. While there’s always the ability to play against merciless, computer-controlled combatants, whenever I needed a break there was always something else to do. Smash Run deserves the attention Nintendo has put on it, as it cashes in on the series’ frantic pace but no without losing sight of what makes the game work so well (a problem that plagued Brawl‘s Subspace Emissary, due to its focus on platforming). In Smash Run it’s important to make fast decisions, relying on one’s fight or flee instincts when facing off against a posse of enemies. Things can get overwhelming fast, and all those stat boosts you’ve earned from earlier scuffles will disappear should you not realize you’re in over your head. The Smash Run map is built well, as it doesn’t rely on nimble platforming to get around. The battles that occur afterwards aren’t over as suddenly as I expected from these boosted combatants. The fight always has a twist, such as having players fight to decrease their opponents health (which brings traditional fighters to mind). It’s a lot of fun, even when going it alone.
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Smash Run isn’t alone in the game’s appeal to solo players. All-Star mode had me fighting Nintendo’s stable of mascots in chronological order, with a damage counter that carried through each fight. There’s a wide variety of “endless” battle modes, the return of the Home-Run Contest (which sees players beating up on a punching bag before launching it for distance), and a new Angry Birds-like Target Blast! mode. Classic mode has players travel down a forking path with the character of their choosing. The various paths are littered with coins, which can later be used to augment the difficulty of this mode (to reap more valued rewards), or spent to purchase trophies and place bets on online matches.

Should you be so interested, the ability to customize the game’s cast and your own Mii is available. Moves can be swapped with another, and stats can be enhanced with new equipment. While there’s a lot of customization provided, it’s difficult to put much focus towards it. I like to play on a level playing field, even against the game’s AI, so it’s hard for me to justify this kind of modification. Here it comes down to how much time you’ve put into the game, and not your abilities as a player. I don’t feel like everything comes down to winning, but I don’t enjoy feeling over or under powered because of my equipment choices.
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Regardless of your own opinion on the matter of custom fighters, the game’s cast provides plenty of play styles to try on for size. It’s easy to try out each character, finding which suits you best. What’s even better is not being able to settle, instead bouncing around between brawlers with every match. While it may be a bit early to assume the game’s balance, I’ve seen little to confirm suspicions of any characters dominating over the rest.
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While my review is late, I’ve made good use of this borrowed time to play the game’s online. While I’ve seen opinion’s ranging from “Great” to “As bad as Brawl“, I’d argue the quality leans more toward the former. My feelings are built from my experiences before launch and across launch weekend, so I hope things become even better as time goes on. While lag would rear its head every once and awhile, I’d say this occurs once every 7 matches. While a bother, I’ve even played in situations where initial lag disappears completely as the match plays on. While playing with everyone (whether it be For Glory or For Fun) carries its own set of rules, playing with friends is recommended. Playing with those you know allows some adjustment of the rules, so while playing with strangers in the For Fun mode is always a 2-minute match, playing with friends means for more customization (I’ve played plenty of 4-stock matches against the InvisibleGamer.net folks, for example). I’ve come across some network errors over the weekend, which is hopefully something that gets ironed out once we’re past this launch period madness. I’ll be sure to update this review should there be any continued problems.
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While Super Smash Bros. is obvious fanservice, it’s important to stress that it isn’t just about seeing Nintendo’s greatest duke it out. I believe that being a Nintendo fan isn’t about idolizing its mascots, but instead recognizing what makes video games so much fun. Smash isn’t made to cash in on nostalgia, but to show what makes Nintendo great. The company crafted some of the most important and fun games ever made, and Smash Bros. is not only a celebration of that fact, but an example too. Its mechanics are as impressive as they were back on the N64, and the formula never grows old. This installment’s new additions aren’t there to tickle your fancy, but to represent the games they hail from to the fullest. Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS is an incredible game, and you shouldn’t miss it.

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