A classic that keeps getting better every time.
Nintendo is undoubtedly the best when it comes to keep old franchises fresh and alive. Super Smash Bros. is one of those. This is one of Nintendo’s bestselling video game franchises ever and with the 4th entry it seems everything will remain that way for a very long time. And this is because Smash Bros. now has more and better stuff. If you thought you had seen it all in Brawl or even in Melee, think again.
The franchise is already unique for its gameplay. It’s not your typical fighting game. Unlike the rest, there’s no health bar that decreases every time you get hit. Here, it’s the other way around. Your life percentage increases as you get hit and the higher the number, the easier it is to smash you out of the stage. When there’s no way you can return to the stage, you lose a life. That has been the whole concept of the saga throughout its 16 years of life but every new game has managed to brought something that turns out to be exactly what it needed to be better.
The thing that always gets a lot of hype is the new characters that join the Smash family. It is the first thing everyone notices. We haven’t seen such a big increase in the number of playable characters since the jump from Smash 64 to Melee. And it’s always a joy to see how Masahiro Sakurai manages to make every single character fit in the Smash universe, no matter where they are coming from. That includes the guest characters Sonic, Megaman and Pacman.
The fighting commands are very similar for every character, as the veteran players might recall from previous games. It’s basically common knowledge now that if you hold the A button while aiming sideways, upwards, or downwards, the result will be a very strong hit in that direction, if you press B while aiming upwards, you’ll get your third jump which is also an attack and so on. Perhaps where you will see more difference is with the B button attacks. Those are basically custom moves for everybody. Mario has his fireballs, cape and FLUDD, Link has his bow and arrow, boomerang and bombs, etc.
However, I’m not trying to say that the other moves are the same for every character. Even if the gameplay obeys a similar pattern for everybody, every single one of them comes with his own fighting personality and unique set of moves that match their essence seen in their respective games. And it is portrayed so well that you sometimes forget about the pattern, even with almost 50 characters to choose from!
I personally had a lot of fun trying out Lil Mac. As a boxer, his moves match those of a boxer while having that fantastic touch of a Nintendo game. Even his dodges look realistically fun! Other veteran characters have been polished a little, too. The most significant example is Bowser. He now has a vastly more intimidating look both while standing, running and attacking, which really helps him to be seen as one of the most iconic villains in video games. Everybody will have fun trying the veteran and new guy’s attacks because it seems Nintendo never run out of ideas… most of the times.
Even with the arrival of so many characters, some of them look slightly…. Unnecessary. Brawl made us thought that 100% clone characters would never be part of the franchise again. But now, it seems they came back for more. Dr. Mario makes his reappearance after being absent in Brawl with the same attacks as Mario. Lucina is a new Fire Emblem character making her debut as a complete clone of Marth. Link and Toon Link with slight differences, Pit and Dark Pit…
The strange thing here is that there are other characters whose alternate costumes are a complete different character, but with the same moves. These include Bowser Jr, being his alternate costumes his 7 brothers, the Koopalings, male Robin and female Robin, Male Wii fit Trainer and female Wii fit trainer… I said it was strange because they could have easily made Dr. Mario an alternate costume of Mario, and so on. Lucina is a great character but nobody would have gotten angry if she had been an alternate costume of Marth. I somehow think they are kind of stealing the show for other characters that could fit in better as separate fighters than these ones. Daisy and Waluigi, for example, are the only ones missing from Mario’s main characters, and it would have been more fun to watch them fighting than Dr. Mario. But that’s just my opinion.
Now, enough with the characters. Let’s talk about the different modes to play Smash Bros. The newest attraction in this game is of course the 8th player Smash. There probably was a time where most of us thought that 4 players were enough but Nintendo has proven us wrong! Even if it can’t be played online, if you manage to get other 7 people play alongside you, the fun is quite huge. Especially with these giant stages that have been here since Melee, like the Zelda Temple or Kid Icariu’s Palutena’s Temple. Even better, now you can choose from a wide variety of controls to play with! You can choose among the Wii U’s gamepad, the Wii’s Nunchuk and Wiimote, the Gamecube Controllers, and even the Nintendo 3DS is a controller! Although for this one to work the player has to own the 3DS copy of the game. Nonetheless, the options are a lot!
The Classic Mode is here again (there’s a reason why it is called that way) but with huge differences. If you’ve played previous Smash games you might remember that it was all about choosing your character and fighting several fighters with some mini game stages throughout 10 levels. Well, those days are over. This time, you have to choose which group of characters you want to fight through 5 rounds. With no mini game stages anymore. It is a funny way to fight most of the characters, since very rarely you fight 1vs1. It might not be as memorable as the other classic modes featured in the previous games, but, it is utterly fun as it is the hardest challenge you will ever see in a Smash Bros. game.
You probably know by now that Master and Crazy hand are always the final bosses in this mode, however, if you beat them both with a difficulty level of 8 or higher, you will have SEVERAL boss fights afterwards, which will definitely test your fighting skills. This is also due to the fact that if you die, and choose to “continue”, the level of difficulty lowers down half a level. Which means, you only have 3 tries (9, 8.5 an 8) to beat all the classic mode, because if you beat Master and Crazy hand with a difficulty level of 7.5 or lower, you don’t get the rest of the cake.
It’s not exactly that you miss a lot, but it’s quite a challenge even for experienced gamers to try it out!
The All-Star mode is here again as well. It basically works the same way but with a slightly different, funny addition. Now, you will fight groups of character that will appear in their reverse chronological order. Starting from the newest (Greninja), to the oldest (Mr. Game & Watch). It definitely helps you see what a vast history video games have.
The only mode which is “missing” this time is the story mode. I was extremely disappointed when I heard the news from Sakurai that there wouldn’t be a story mode. Not because of the plot, per se, but because of many other things. First of all, in Brawl, the Subspace Emissary was a great way for us to try and get to know every character of the game in stages based on the actual games the characters were from. Secondly, the trailers for every newcomer were absolutely amazingly beautiful. Before hearing the news, I thought “Oh my god, the cutscenes in the story mode will look completely gorgeous”. I mean, watching Link and Marth fighting Shulk in an intense swordfight, Mario and company facing the koopalings… all of these left me wishing for an epic story mode.
Masahiro Sakurai even admitted that the reason why the story mode wouldn’t be present was because he was disappointed that many people decided to watch those Brawl’s cutscenes on the internet instead of discovering them by themselves in the game, which was clearly his intention. However, there’s something odd here. Nowadays, with YouTube, Twitch and all, every game is vulnerable to that same situation and it’s not going to change any time soon. But, anyway, the fact that there’s no story mode this time doesn’t mean any less points for Smash 4. It’s sad for me, but it doesn’t make it a bad game at all, since there are so many other things that will keep you busy for a while. The events similar to those from Melee are back, the home run contest, the Multi-man smash mode, etc. are there as well, and with so many characters to choose from, things become way funnier.
One last thing I want to talk about is the atmosphere. The graphics have been polished in a way that it is quite more colorful than Melee and Brawl, however, it doesn’t make it look less mature than what it is. On the contrary, it is quite a sight for the eye and in HD it just looks gorgeous. The music has also changed, and, even if it’s not as memorable as Melee and Brawl’s main themes, it surely gives an epic touch to the game.
So, all in all, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a remarkably complete game. There are more characters that fit in this universe so well, and there are so many mode to play that you never get bored of it that Sakurai has proven us that when it comes to Smash, the more, the better. For all this Super Smash Bros, for Wii U receives an outstanding score of 9. Perhaps there are some things that could be better but there’s definitely nothing missing here.