Some Early Smash Thoughts

So I’ve has Smash Brothers for 3DS for a weekend now and I feel like I am just scratching the surface of what this game has to offer. I had already spent a ton of time with the demo before the game came out, but the whole game is much different and more robust experience. It is Smash Bros, at its heart the same game that it’s been since the N64 but as always stuffed to the brim with love for Nintendo.

The accepted narrative is that Smash Bros 4 rights the wrongs of Brawl. I disagree with that, Brawl was a fine game, a better one than Melee by a country mile. There were flaws, the character roster wasn’t that well balanced and tripping, while amusing, was not a good addition. But despite its unbalanced nature, the roster of characters was expansive and varied. The single player experience was by a wide margin the best thing the series has ever seen. Smash Bros. 4, though, does improve on Brawl in several ways. Despite the loss of a few fighters, the stable of fighters is even more impressive. The game is also sped up from Brawl’s leisurely pace. Not back up to Melee’s uncontrollable speed, but it is faster than it was. There are some problems as well. The single player seems somewhat barren. There are several different single player modes, but not a one of them is as substantial or entertaining as Brawl’s Subspace Emissary, as flawed as it was. Still, it makes up for it by having a worthwhile online mode.

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all pics taken from Nintendo’s website

That online mode is much better than Brawl’s. Brawl was of Nintendo’s earliest forays into online play and they didn’t quite get it. I played a few matches without lag, but unplayable lagginess was the norm. I have had some laggy games on the 3DS, but mostly it has been a pleasant experience. Other than the fact that I am getting beaten pretty regularly, that is. The local multiplayer is a little less spectacular, since the game doesn’t feature download play. I can understand why not, but it isn’t ideal.

I am in love with this games character roster. Not only are there a ton of new character, but a lot of the old characters feel drastically different despite not having their move sets changed up all that much. No matter how much I play, I can’t seem to choose a character, or even three characters, to be my main. There are plenty of interesting characters here. I’ll break them up into a couple of different categories: best newcomer and most improved returning character.

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The best newcomer is a tough call. Most of the really interesting characters are new. Like Palutena, who is fun despite the fact that I can’t quite figure her out or Little Mac, who is powerful but lacks good recovery moves. There are surprises, like Xenoblade’s Shulk and Duck Hunt Dog. I love Duck Hunt Dog, even if I don’t love playing as him. My favorite is, shockingly, Bowser Jr. Bowser Jr. is a stupid character. His existence lessens the importance of the more interesting Koopalings. Seeing that he was going to be in the game was a little disappointing. But not only are his alternate costumes the Koopalings, making him essentially 8 characters in one, but he is a ton of fun to use. He has decent power and movement. His unorthodox set up, being a small character in a machine, gives him an interesting hook.

The most improves returning character is also hard to choose. A lot of the old standbys were kind of awful in Brawl. Link and Samus were just north of jokes and both have seen a significant bump up in power. Both of them are legitimate combatants this time around. Like in the early Smash Bros games, Samus is a chore to finish off. No matter how hard you hit her, she just floats back in. Link is capable of a ton of feat, with both solid ranged and up close abilities. The most improved, though, has to be Bowser. I hated Bowser in the last game. He was strong, but he was too slow to be that serious of a threat. He is still just as much of a beast, but now he has some much needed agility. He actually moves around decently. He’ll never be anything but a lumbering giant, but now it is not such an insurmountable flaw.

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I guess what I’m saying is that new Smash Bros is great and you should be playing it. I feared this game might lessen my desire for the WiiU version. Even though this game is great, it is hampered enough by its platform to make me yearn for the solid heft of a real controller, instead of contorting my hands to hold the 3DS. Time to get back to Smashing.

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