The Nintendo brawler has a melee with the 3DS. Who will win?
Fans have been awaiting a sequel to 2008's Super Smash Bros. Brawl for more than 6 years — some even 13 years if you include those still clinging to 2001's Melee and its competitive scene. This past week the collective Smash bubble has burst, with leaks and streams and Japanese import copies on the minds of almost every gamer. To put it into perspective, Bungie's Destiny, which was fully released on Thursday at midnight, was shadowed on Twitch by people playing a demo of the game. So how does it hold up? I managed to get my hands on one of those elusive demo codes for the 3DS— without paying an arm and a leg, thankfully—, and here's what I think.
By: Tim "Blunder" Redd
Nintendo gamers have been conditioned into expecting little from their handhelds as far as graphics go, but this console generation tries its hardest to overturn this generalization. Smash Bros. might be the smoothest, most beautiful game I've played on a Nintendo handheld.
With no lag and a solid 60 frames per second, the game can withstand four players with items on and special moves whizzing every which way with ease. The characters have more detail than ever, with Link's hair moving as he jumps, his tunic swaying with each slash, the whirlwind from his boomerang looking more real everytime I see it.
Though the graphics have been regularly praised on reddit, NeoGAF, and other such sites, not much has been said about the 3D, but I am here to say that it is an amazing addition to an already beautiful game. Don't expect it to add to your skill, but I wouldn't call it a hindrance either. It looks beautiful without being overpowering. This is one of the few games I would reccomend playing in 3D, if only for a few matches. It's really a sight to see when Mario fires a fireball or the Villager's tree erupts from the ground in 3D.
The primary concern from Smash enthusiasts is that the gameplay won't be the same with the 3DS as opposed to more ergonomic setups like a large TV and a full-sized controller. The 3DS doesn't entirely eliminate these woes, but it still makes for an enjoyable way to play the game.
The system itself seems like the biggest drawback to the game. After playing for the weekend on my 3DS XL, my hands aren't cramping nor did they hurt during gameplay, but the buttons don't feel as great to press as they did on a Gamecube or Pro Controller. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Circle Pad did with the game, and the size and placement of the buttons definitely helps. Speaking of size, the XL definitely adds to the experience as the bigger screen allows for an easier view of opponents in multiplayer match. A huge concern I have is with the back buttons. Holding the 3DS feels awkward when trying to press those two, controlling the shield and grab. Aside from these minor gripes, the system holds up well.
The game feels, as many are saying, like a sweet mix between the speed from Melee and the control from Brawl. Noted slower characters Link and Mario have received a speed boost from Brawl, among other notable tweeks and modifications. The physics of this game draw from Melee in that each character feels to float a bit more, adding the insentive to take the fight to the air. Probably the most notable aspect of these minor changes is that it is now harder to grab onto a ledge. The player must accurately aim for a ledge as opposed to the previous system of getting close and latching onto it. Consequently, players can no longer edgeguard by grabbing onto a ledge and holding it. Any oncoming character takes priority to the character who is already holding the ledge, bumping that person off.
Most importantly, local multiplayer is amazing. You can play with people who also have the demo by sitting next to them. The connection went in and out a little, but as we sat closer, the connection strengthened and became perfect at about 4 feet apart. We were sitting at a regular sized dinner table, if that helps anyone.
As the full game isn't out just yet, I can't rightly give the game a review. That said, this demo is more than enough to tide people over until the full release this October 3rd. The five characters included feel wonderful and new, even the veteran Smashers Link, Mario, and Pikachu. The Villager and Megaman will be getting their own reviews soon enough, but, SPOILERS: they're a crazy amount of fun. Despite the shortcomings of the 3DS console itself, this is a game worth getting.
The demo was released this past Friday the 12th as an incentive to the past year's Club Nintendo Platinum members, but it will be released to everyone this coming Friday the 19th, complete with five characters, two stages, solo play against computers, and local multiplayer for up to four players.
English teacher by day, blogger by night! Tim "Blunder" Redd can normally be seen stalking reddit, playing on his 3DS, or writing on his personal blog thedirtycasual. He is also the gaming editor on the start-up, collegiate online magazine, Shuffle!