The newest installment in the “Super Smash Bros.” series is here, but this time, it can fit in your pocket. Yes, for the first time, you can settle it in Smash when you’re on the go.
Despite being on a portable platform, “Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS” does not skimp on content. Describing the contents of the game makes it sound like some kind of mythical horn of plenty. It’s got a wide variety of characters from games across multiple Nintendo and third-party franchises, most notably Namco-Bandai’s Pac-Man, Capcom’s Mega Man and Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog.
For each and every character, the game has RPG-like customization systems with a surprising amount of depth. The game also has a number of game modes to supplement the classic four-player Smash battles, such as multi-man smash, classic and all-star modes, home run contest and Smash Run.
While the other modes have been seen in past installments, Smash Run is a unique mode that is exclusive to “Super Smash Bros. 3DS” and will not appear on its Wii U counterpart. In this mode, players start on an expansive map and find themselves up against a wide variety of enemies taken from franchises present in the game.
After five minutes, the powered-up players are sent into battle against each other, which could be a regular battle or one with a variety of special rules.
With regard to stages, there are a whopping 34 to choose from. In this iteration of “Super Smash Bros.,” Nintendo has focused on creating stages inspired by handheld Nintendo games, although some of the list is made up of past “Super Smash Bros.” locales.
There’s plenty of variety on offer in terms of theme and layout, along with plenty of stage hazards to throw a bit of extra chaos into the mix. However, there is a significant addition to the stages in this iteration. For the first time, there’s an option to turn the stage into a Final Destination version of itself, which essentially means turning it into a flat, non-interactive platform, albeit with the same visual style and backdrop.
There are 49 playable characters this time around, and as usual there are all-new brawlers to contend with. Little Mac from “Punch-Out!,” Greninja from “Pokemon X & Y,” Palutena from “Kid Icarus” and Lucina and Robin from “Fire Emblem: Awakening” all make appearances, joined by some really interesting choices. Notably, Shulk from “Xenoblade Chronicles” gets to alter his fighting style based on various sword arts.
Even with this wide variety of modes and expansive roster of characters, the core gameplay is still solid. Fears that the game would be compressed to the point of being unrecognizable can safely be assuaged, as “Super Smash Bros. 3DS” proves this franchise belongs in players’ pockets just as much as it does on home consoles.
The game renders each climactic clash in a beautiful 60 frames per second, a higher framerate than its predecessor, “Super Smash Bros. Brawl.”
In addition to the customization provided for existing characters, players can create any character of their choosing through Miis. “Super Smash Bros. 3DS” allows players to turn any Mii on their system into a playable fighter, and it’s one of the more interesting parts of the game. By various choices, players can replicate any character of their choosing or create a new one of their own.
There’s an immediate familiarity with a Mii fighter’s techniques, making them a great starting point for the rest of the game’s roster. Players can customize Miis with outfits and hats to change their appearance, opening the possibility for wacky combinations like a wizard-pirate swordsman or a tuxedoed gunner.
This suite of customization options affords more control to players of the “Super Smash Bros.” series than ever before. However, they come with a catch: when playing online with strangers, players are unable to use any customized fighters, including Mii fighters, though this is likely done for balancing issues. Players can still use customized fighters when fighting locally or with a friend online.
It’s when playing online, though, that the game is both at its best and at its worst. There are a lot of modes online to choose from, most notably the “For Glory” mode, where players can fight in battles on Final Destination-style stages with disabled items, relying totally on their skill, and be ranked for online matchmaking.
However, connectivity issues have been reported by many players and reviewers of the game. While I can’t speak for every player of the game, I have had minimal lag when playing for Glory with others throughout the world, yet have had some lag when attempting to play with friends.
Ultimately, though, this game is indeed a fully-fledged game in the “Super Smash Bros.” series and does not hide behind its mobile nature as an excuse to reduce its quality. “Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS” may suffer from some lag issues, and some non-returning characters may cause concern, but it does enough new stuff, and works so well as a solo or local multiplayer experience, that it holds up its end superbly.