We are one week away from Smash Bros 3DS and I couldn’t be more excited, a huge change from where I was about a month ago. I was excited for Smash Bros then, but not for the 3DS version. All of my excitement was reserved for the WiiU game. Unfortunately, at that time the release day for that version was unknown, while I knew the 3DS one was hitting in early October. I didn’t really care about it, but I was planning on buying it; it’s not like I was going to not play new Smash Bros if it’s available. In the last couple of weeks my outlook has changed entirely. All thanks to the demo that Nintendo distributed.
Since I earned Platinum Status in Club Nintendo (of course I did) I not only got early access to that demo, I got codes for four demos. So shared a couple with my brothers and one with my cousin and we played some Smash. According to my 3DSes internal clock, I’ve played that demo for just short of ten hours so far. With just the demo! I expected the 3DS game to feel compromised, to feel like it had been cut down to fit on the handheld. While the demo is only a tiny slice of what appears to be a humongous game, it didn’t compromised at all. The controls, other than the fact that they are not customizable in the demo, are perfect and the game runs as smooth as butter. It doesn’t look great in stills, but in motion the game looks great. With three people playing, plus one computer opponent, the game didn’t slow down at all. I thought it would feel cramped, but it really doesn’t. Each of the five available characters feel unique, but worthwhile. If the rest of the cast plays half as well as this crew, I don’t know when I’ll ever quit playing Smash Bros.
Those five characters are Mario, Link, Pikachu, Villager and Mega Man. It is a pretty great sample of what the game has to offer. Mario, Link and Pikachu are the stars of Nintendo’s biggest franchises, Mega Man is the highly anticipated guest star and Villager is the representative of Nintendo’s latest upstart hit. It is good cross section of the available fighters. I’m no fighting game expert, so I can’t put together and in-depth evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses, but I did get a general feel for them.
First, the returning characters. Mario is, as always, vanilla. He is pretty agile, has some range and just enough power. I don’t really feel the need to use Mario when other options are available, but he is decent. Link was one of the biggest disappointments in Brawl. He wasn’t that strong, but he was slow. There really wasn’t anything that Link did well that similar characters didn’t do better. If you wanted a heavy with a sword, just use Ike, if you wanted something speedier you could use Toon Link. Regular Link sucked. He is much improved here. He seems to be a little more sturdy and powerful. Pikachu is a character that I’ve never really used. He is an annoyance; fast and just strong enough to cause problems. He feels much like he always has, but I’m not a Pikachu player.
The newcomers, though, are a lot of fun. Villager doesn’t feel particularly effective, but his moves are off the wall enough that he is enjoyable anyway. His tree planting/chopping attack is super unwieldy but also super powerful. He can grab just about any projectile, hide in his pocket and throw it back at his attacker. Figuring out just how to use him is difficult, but the results are almost always entertaining. Mega Man is my favorite so far. His regular attack, his classic buster, is not a particularly effective attack. It can annoy and help keep distance, but isn’t really the centerpiece that most characters attacks are. His smash attacks, though, are almost uniformly excellent. Taking the form of his special weapons from his other games, they are all situationally useful. He is another character that takes some getting used to, but once you figure him out he is great.
Aside from the characters, the demo also lets the player get a handle on some of the new items and weapons. There are plenty of small changes, the baseball bat is not aluminum, and plenty of new additions. The highlight so far is the wind bellow thing; I don’t know what it is called. On the one stage available it is worth almost two kills on its own.
Judging the game simply by the tiny sliver that is the demo, I am almost ready to call it my game of the year. It is a blast and I can’t wait to play the full version.