E3 2014: Super Smash Bros. For Wii U Delivers The Smash Experience, But the 3DS Falters

Wii U owners are thirsty for games.  Third-Party developers have all but abandoned Nintendo’s eighth-generation console leaving it to the console manufacturer to pick up the slack.  The 3DS may not be hurting for games, but 2014 is looking pretty empty for the handheld.  After two-and-a half years, the Wii U and 3DS are about to get brand new Super Smash Bros. games.  I got to go hands on with both versions with Nintendo, and I can happily say that Wii U owners are going to get a great Smash experience.  3DS owners, not so much.

Super Smash Bros 01
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U took is an amazing looking game that rivals some releases on PS4 and Xbox One.  The game contains beautifully detailed characters and stages.  Stages are even more impressive due to how dynamic they can be.  What’s even more impressive?  The fact that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U runs at 60fps, which means that players are going to get a silky smooth fighting experience.  Nintendo has done a great job on this game, but games aren’t just about graphics.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U plays just like any other Super Smash game.  A is for attack, B is for a special attack, pressing B and pushing the analog stick in any direction executes a variation of the special attack, and ZL blocks.  Fans will be excited to know that they can play Super Smash Bros. for Wii U with almost any controller.  Gamecube, Wii U GamePad, Pro Controller, Wii Remote, and Wii Remote and Nunchuck are all compatible with this title.  It all adds up to a fast and exciting fighter that I had a hard time putting down.

Super Smash Bros 02
Sadly, the 3DS version couldn’t provide me with the same thrill.  To Nintendo’s credit, the content and gameplay of the Wii U version has been replicated on the less powerful handheld.  The entire character roster is present, and the 3DS even has its own unique maps based on handheld games.  Gameplay is nearly identical, though you can’t play the game with any controller you want.  It’s a fun game that brings the Super Smash Bros. experience to the handheld.  What does dampen the experience is the art style and camera.

The art style makes sense.  The cel-shaded look of the game is less demanding on the hardware and the game does look good, but the camera kind of ruins the otherwise beautiful graphics.  As players spread out, and the camera zooms out, it becomes hard to distinguish characters on the small 3DS XL screen, and one can only imagine that this problem will be worse on the 2DS’ even smaller screen.  Nintendo has made the 3DS maps smaller than the Wii U maps, but it isn’t enough to negate this issue.

Finally, Nintendo shocked longtime fans by announcing that Bandai Namco’s Yoshito Higuchi would be leading development.  Many wondered how his involvement would change the gameplay.  The answer?  Not much  This is a pure Super Smash Bros. game on both the 3DS and Wii U, something that fans will be excited for.  Tweaks towards balancing have been implemented, but nothing earth-shattering.

Super Smash Bros 03
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is turning into a spectacular product.  Over 33 characters have been confirmed with nine of them being brand new, and I’m sure more will be revealed as release draws closer.  The game is beautiful, and plays very well.  The 3DS version is fun and beautiful in its own way, but the experience is dampened by the size of the screen.  Super Smash Bros. is back in style when it launches on 3DS October 3 and Wii U winter 2014.