We’ve brawled our opponents into submission in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, but that was a mere apéritif to the main event. Brace yourselves as Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is now upon us, marking the mascot brawler’s return to consoles since Wii’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl way back in 2008.
Six years may have passed, but master craftsman Masahiro Sakurai knocked it out the park – or off the screen – on Nintendo 3DS, and we were hopeful that the Wii U version would similarly benefit from his diligent approach and meticulous attention to detail. And, it certainly has.
We’re already familiar with the fighter roster after taking them all into battle on Nintendo 3DS, so there are no surprises left in that regard. Although it’s worth mentioning customisation again, which can also be directly transferred over from the 3DS iteration. Collecting custom parts will allow you to select which special attacks a fighter has, whether that be standard, side, up or down specials. Equipment may also be assigned, altering any fighter’s attack, defense and speed stats – allowing you to make them more maneuverable, for instance.
The Wii U exclusive stages are pure brilliance, whether that be the Pilotwings-inspired aerial tour of Wuhu Island, Ridley’s appearance on Pyrosphere, or Yoshi’s Woolly World’s hand-knitted delights. A Stage Builder also puts the Wii U GamePad to sterling use, allowing you to draw out and tweak your own intricate creations to perfection – even if there’s no method to share them at the moment.
Smash remains the easiest way to quickly dive headlong into four player battles, whether that be with friends, against the CPU or with any amiibo. Timed, Stock and Coin Smash all return, with players able to tweak the rules for each to suit the length of each match. For the uninitiated, Timed is scored by the number of opponents you KO, while deducting points for any you suffer yourself – either by your own or enemy’s hand. Whereas Stock sees each fighter begin with a set number of lives, and Coin requires to nab as much currency as you can by attacking the opposition.
Nintendo have always excelled at local multiplayer, but never before has there been such a riotous opportunity to reap it as in 8-Player Smash. It’s dominated their marketing activity and rightly so, as throwing another four players into the mix without any framerate discrepancy is no small feat. I can’t begin to comprehend the technical magic behind it, but I can marvel at the accomplishment. While understandably limited to the larger stages, there are still plenty of battle arenas for you to across normal and Final Destination forms. Free-for-all matches are admittedly likely to overwhelm at first, but opting to split everyone into teams will allow you more time to appreciate the frenetic madness.
Meanwhile, Special Smash allows you to muck around with match settings toward a more hilarious goal – whether that be making all fighters super-sized, altering gravity, making everyone invisible or that they all continually breathe fiery curry breath. Many will have plenty of fun experimenting and modifying the core gameplay experience, shifting away from the more traditional setup.
While Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS treated us to the exclusive Smash Run mode, on Wii U we instead discover Smash Tour’s party-fuelled antics. Enlisting four competitors, you will move around a board – choosing either small, normal or big – as you try to collect as many fighters, items and stat boosts as possible. Every player will stop a spinner to see how many spaces they can move, and if you collide with another player then a battle will ensue – the winner claiming a new fighter for their Smash prowess.
It’s not the easiest mode to explain, but it’s certainly simple to grasp beyond the initial confusion – all leading up to a worthy final battle. Once all turns have passed, each player faces one another in combat with their remaining stockpile of fights and stat boosts. It is the unexpected surprises thrown up while traversing the board that make this mode far more memorable, with expendable items and marauding enemies – such as Nabbit, Kamek and Banzai Bill – sure to provide much hilarity.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U’s wealth of content long continues within Games & More, which hides away even more modes for you to sink hours into. Classic will see you fight through a five-round Smash tournament, gambling your hard-earned gold with the intensity meter to claim more prizes if you can tackle the heightened difficulty. Your fighter is represented as a figure on a large board, with groups of enemies scattered around you. Weigh out your options, and then head toward whichever you think will be more lucrative.
Special Orders is another new addition, dealt out by Master and Crazy Hand. Another quest for rewards, Master Orders lets you spend your gold to buy a ticket for any scenario – higher value tickets being more challenging but having greater gains. While Crazy Orders are more costly tickets, granting you with one stock life and 10 minutes to complete as many matches as you can before taking on Crazy Hand. Suffer a KO and it’s all over, meaning that there is far greater risk at play.
Whereas All-Star will see you take on every fighter in reverse chronological order, Events return for you to best their set, and mostly quirky, conditions, while Stadium has more throw-away fun in Target Blast, Multi-Man Smash and Home Run Contest mini-games.
Nintendo’s assured leap into the toys-to-life category with their amiibo figures sees its strongest presence in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. While confined to Smash and 8-Player Smash, once beamed into the game you can create and train the respective character as a Figure Player. These learn as they battle, ranking up to Level 50 and will prove the perfect sparring partner – whether fighting with or against you.
Each can be customised, have their special abilities changed, and fed any collected equipment to lend it bonus effects and improve upon its base statistics. These are permanent, however, so think carefully about which stat you want to directly influence before committing yourself! The implementation works well, it’s just a shame that they can’t be used across more modes.
With Sony’s DriveClub and Microsoft’s Halo: The Master Chief Collection having been hampered by online connectivity issues since their respective launches, it’s surprising to discover that Nintendo are relatively unscathed with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Readily seen as being behind in their approach to the realms of online, the Nintendo Network holds steady – matchmaking is quick and responsive, even to pick up new players after post-match drop-outs.
That’s not to say I didn’t experience any latency over Wi-Fi, even if it wasn’t entirely detrimental to the matches that I played. But Nintendo recommend that, for the smoothest experience, you play online using a wired connection through the Wii LAN Adapter – even thought that’s partly reliant on your competitors also doing so. That’s the preferable option here, and in taking the fighting genre online itself, and certainly, for me, brought the experience far more in line with expectation.
It’s still a remarkably simple setup, firstly choosing whether to play ‘With Friends,’ ‘With Anyone,’ or ‘Spectate.’ These choices break down to playing solo or with another player against friends online, or leading the charge against competitors worldwide in either ‘For Fun’ or ‘For Glory’ categories. That’s a novel twist on ranked and unranked matches, but delicately splits players away from those who have a more hard-edged competitive streak. What comes as a disappointment is that match rules can’t be altered, meaning that you’ll have to make do with the pre-selected options.
Spectate is unique in that it allows you to learn from other players, betting gold to guess the outcome to net yourself prizes – win rates and current trends aiding your prediction. Winning streaks and bonus chances will spur you toward watching multiple matches, hoping to build yourself a more monstrous pile of gold. Nintendo are also bipping up numbers across all aspects of the game, which you can see through a World Status screen – apparently there have been 391,705,332 KOs in the fortnight since launch? Crikey. There have also been 25,941,654 online battles, so it’s clearly proving popular.
Longevity and objectivity comes in the Challenges thrown at you and the Vault’s wares, each promising to shower you with additional rewards. Trophies are the larger driving force behind this, gathered across all modes but also able to be purchased through a delightfully recreated Shop. There’s also the lure of the Sound Test menu which lets you listen through the game’s rather exhaustive soundtrack, looking at snapshots you’ve taken in the pause menu’s Photo mode, taking Virtual Console demos for a spin, and having a gander at your game milestones and stats. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is packing content to the brim, and that in itself certainly won’t disappoint.