Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS is a platforming tournament fighter for, you guessed it, the Nintendo 3DS. This is the fourth game in the series so for this review I’m assuming you’ve either read my previous Smash Bros reviews or know about those games already yourself. I wasn’t sure how much of this game to play before I could consider it enough to base a review on, so I decided to complete all of the challenges and get all of the trophies before calling it quits. So with about 64 hours of time in battles and 150 some hours of total gameplay, I think I’ve got a decent amount of experience to back up my opinions.
The basic gameplay is about the same as before, minus those pesky prat falls from Brawl. It seems the rest of the combat is about the same, though it’s slightly faster. Also, most of the characters, items, and stages seem more balanced this time around. Think of it as a midway between the combat of Melee and Brawl. The presentation is back to being bright here, and it’s full of wonderful themes and sound effects. Characters have had some tweaks to their moves, but you can even customize them now to pick between three variants of their specials. You can unlock them from playing various modes. We also see some popular newcomers from more non-Nintendo company’s such as Pac-Man and Mega Man.There’s still the Smash mode, which is your standard multiplayer mode for you and computers where you can customize the settings. There’s also an actually functioning online mode to play with friends or strangers around the world. You can pick to fight for fun, which includes the normal stages and items, or for glory, which disables items and only uses the omega versions of the stages. These versions of the stages turn them into flat battlegrounds without stage hazards. You can also participate in conquests online, which are usually just pitting certain sets of characters against others. Whatever characters you use in battles online with random people will count towards the corresponding conquest and if you contribute points to the winning team then you’ll get some rewards at the end of the conquest. And that’s just the online!
Classic mode returns in more or less the same fashion, just with branching paths this time. All-Star mode is about the same as well. Multi-Man Smash adds in Rival Smash to the mix, which has you trying to get as many K.O.s of the incredibly fragile Mii fighters as you can. The catch is that you’ll also be competing against a computer version of yourself to get the most, and you can attack one another. Home-Run Contest is back, but the new Target Blast puts a new spin on breaking the targets. You start on a platform similar to Home-Run Contest, only rather than beefing up damage on a sandbag, you’re beating a bomb. Before time runs out, launch the bomb with one of your attacks. You’ll knock it into a wooden structure with targets and smaller bombs scattered around it. The big bomb itself, along with the explosion and debris, will set off the smaller bombs and break the targets. You get two chances to break as many as you can. Street Smash is a new mode to take advantage of the 3DS’s Street Pass feature. In this mode, you can play against avatars you’ve collected via Street Pass. In the actual game, you take control of a circular icon as you try and knock other circular icons out of the play area. You can move, dash, and counter. There’s also a trophy rush mode, which costs gold to play. You gain gold in nearly every other mode in the game, and it can also be used in the trophy shop to buy whatever trophies are on sale. In trophy rush you destroy falling blocks to build up a combo meter. After a certain amount of blocks are destroyed the meter will reach the top and enter into fever mode, where lots of prize blocks will fall. Destroy these blocks to gain the rewards. Don’t stand still for too long or else a nasty ball of lightning will come down on you. If you let the blocks pile up too high for too long then the floor will fall out from under you, making you fall down, die, and lose valuable time that costs extra gold to get from outset if you want more than 30 seconds here. And don’t worry, there are plenty of challenges to complete this time around as well. The challenges come in three panels. You need to finish all of them on the first panel to unlock the second and most on that one to unlock the third. And now I’d like to get to my favorite parts of the game.
In this game you’re able to turn the Miis you’ve created into your own fighters! There are three templates. There’s the gunner that has a mounted cannon as a hand. There’s the brawler that is all about close-range punches and kicks. And then there’s my favorite, the swordfighter, which obviously uses a sword for fighting. Each one has a default set of standard attacks, but you can customize their special attacks in the same way as the main characters. You can also give them pieces of equipment, again like the main characters, which will alter their stats and give them abilities. The stats are attack, defense, and speed. Equipment that ups attack will reduce defense. Equipment the ups defense will reduce speed. And equipment that ups speed will reduce attack. This ensures some sense of balance in the customization. Sometimes equipment will have special effects such as improved jumping or decreased shield regeneration, and usually these effects will affect the stat manipulation numbers as an added balancing act. You can also further customize your Mii’s appearance by picking out an outfit and a piece of headgear. You collect all of these things through various modes as well. And you can even name your fighters! The one other thing you can do, to all characters, is equip them with Smash Run powers. These can be used via the touch screen during Smash Run. But… what is Smash Run?
Aside from Street Smash, Smash Run is the exclusive mode for the 3DS version of the game. In this mode you travel through a large map similar to the areas of the subspace emissary from Brawl. You fight all kinds of minor enemies from the included franchises while other players and/or computers do the same on their own. You get five minutes to take down enemies, open up treasure chests, and enter into challenge doors. Defeating foes will net you stat boosts to increase your speed, jumping, attack, arms, special, and defense. They may also be scattered around the map and inside of chests. Defeated enemies and chests may also net you trophies, custom parts, coins, or more Smash Run powers. You’ll collect them and find out what they are at the end of the match. The challenge doors will give you a task to complete in a limited amount of time. Doing so successfully will reward you with another chest. After the five minutes of time in this part are up, everyone is locked into their stats. They are then placed into one of a variety of matches. Sometimes it’s a normal fight, maybe a stock or timed match. Other times it’s a footrace or a jumping contest. Do you want to focus on a stat or be well-rounded? It adds a layer of strategy, chance, and skill to the table.
I love the customization and Smash Run. Making my own character and slowly giving them new equipment, outfits, headgear, and Smash Run powers as I obtained them through Smash Run just made the progression feel so good. Getting Smash coins for nearly everything made all my time feel useful, even if it was just for virtual money and the statistics menu. The amount of polish, balance, and content here is incredible. And having it all on a handheld to play when watching TV, hanging out, taking a dump… etc… was amazing. To see such a game done justice on a handheld as well as done BETTER than the previous title was so impressive. I’m still blown away by this. Customizing existing characters is also a lot of fun. There’s so much to be done in this game with the even larger amount of characters, though stages and items seem about on par with Brawl. The gameplay being so balanced and making so many characters fun to play as also greatly improved the experience. I WANTED to play as different characters rather than a small handful. Plus, the challenges certainly kept me mighty busy trying to experience as much as possible. This is also where the game starts to show some downsides.
The first panel of challenges consist mostly of tutorial challenges made to get you acquainted with the gameplay and various modes. The second panel seems to have a lot of endurance challenges that will just take a lot of time to complete, like beating modes with every character. These aren’t bad, but they aren’t really challenging. Only a handful of these things are actually difficult. Each panel has 3 golden hammers you can get to unlock challenges, but they don’t work on a select few. These select few are some of the hardest challenges, meaning they’re the only ones you’d really need the hammers for in the first place, which is annoying. So I just used them to skip most of the Street Smash challenges because that mode is such a tacked on piece of crap time waster. I’m not real fond of the Home-Run Contest or Target Blast modes either, but at least those modes still use the in-game mechanics rather than being an unrelated minigame. The online is alright, but it can still be rather laggy. Though this time it slows down rather than being totally out of sync. While using all the custom special moves is really cool, getting all of them took forever. Maybe there’s a batter way to do it, but the most consistent way I found was still a long grind. Fun… but long. Also, clone characters are still an issue here, but it’s a little more forgiving due to the large roster.
It might not seem limited because of how polished it is, but certain aspects will show the limitations of a little 3DS cartridge. There are no event matches, no story campaign, and no stage builder. I miss these quite a bit. Also, some of the content is missing. By that, I mean there’s downloadable content. I’m not a fan of that in general, and while this is comparably reasonably priced content… it’s still asking a bit much. There are some outfits and headgear available which I wouldn’t spend money on myself but is purely cosmetic. There are also stages and characters, which I would really like to have because they add content. The problem is that most characters cost five bucks. The game brand new costs forty. So rounding down the roster to forty would mean you paid roughly a dollar for each character. So they want you to spend five times that on ONE character. It could be worse, but if you try to get all of it then you’ll end up spending nearly twice as much money on this game. It’s asking a bit much. Also, while you CAN play multiplayer with your friends, it’s a bit more difficult and not as fun as everyone playing on a TV like the console games. It’s more of a single player experience I guess. Oh, and visiaully it can be a bit hard to follow at times because of the small screen.
So if you like Smash Bros games and want to play a wonderfully designed one on the go, Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS is for you. It’s my favorite Smash Bros game so far. All of the content, the presentation, the polish… it all comes together to create one of the most impressive Smash Bros experiences to be had. For 3DS owners, it’s a must-have. Customizing characters and using them in Smash Run is such a fun experience that I think everyone should check it out for a fresh take on Smash Bros gameplay. I wish I could speak for the Wii U version, but I’ve only played eight to ten hours of it over one night. I WILL say that, from my observations, the Wii U version is objectively better with a lot more content and ease of play on the home console, but the unique experience the 3DS version has to offer appeals to me much more. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a Wii U someday and keep this string of reviews going. Until then, keep on smashing.