It’s finally here! Nintendo’s long anticipated beat ’em up, bash ’em up, and smash ’em up game, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS is on sale everywhere…in Japan, that is. Smash Bros. doesn’t need any introduction; the game has been given an enormous amount of coverage over the past year by the game’s director, Masahiro Sakurai. Added on to that, numerous rumors and some leaks have spread across websites and image boards these past two months. If you haven’t heard of the new Smash Bros., well then you need to get out more (or stay in more). With the game now available in Japan, I headed straight over to my local video shop where I had made my reservation for the game. As this is not a review, I’d like to just give my initial impression without spoiling too much. Let’s get started. 行くぞ！
Returning are several of Nintendo’s classic characters, as well as Sega’s Sonic, Bandai-Namco’s Pac-Man, Capcom’s Mega Man, and Shulk from Xenoblade Chronicles. Many of the old stages from the previous Smash Bros. games also return, along with some unique and experimental stages such as the new Game Boy level, Magicant from Mother, and Dr. Wily’s Castle from Mega Man. Other notable things that stood out to me were some of the new items such as the “capture ship” from Galaga that can capture opponents and instantly KO them. The chicken from Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, where if provoked, will band with several chickens to swarm your character and counter-attack. Obviously, there is a great deal more content to be unlocked. As I am just about six hours into the game, I have only really scraped the surface.
I’m surprised to see how well the 3DS handles the game’s framerate. Fans of Super Smash Bros. Melee are going to feel right at home with the fast and furious gameplay. Some of the slower characters in Brawl, such as Link, have also had their attacks sped up. On top of all this, move sets themselves can be completely customized and have their button inputs modified. Returning are such classic game modes such as All-Star Mode, and a single player mode that replaces the side-scrolling levels with a small world map where your character can collect coins. Target mode has also been replaced with a new mini game that greatly resembles Angry Birds.
Smash Bros.’s most enjoyable feature is obviously its multiplayer. With that said, the most striking new feature about this newest entry is hands down the online play. Now, utilizing the the 3DS’s wifi and network capabilities, playing with three other players anywhere you go is now an incredible possibility. You can play a standard match with stocks and a time limit, or you you can watch a match and bet coins on who is going to win. Additionally, there is a new “Gachi Mode” for those who like pure competition without items or the level’s obstacles interfering, transforming each stage a bare-bones flat surface. All multiplayer matches can be fought one-on-one, in teams, or the standard free-for-all.
While it’s great that in Japan we can play over a network, local spots are quite common here as well. Family restaurants such as Saizeriya, the infamous Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara, and even McDonald’s all offer public Nintendo WiFi hotspots and local networks for players to compete against each other in almost any busy setting. During lunch I played a few other people, who upon seeing my 3DS, gave me a friendly wave. I can’t wait to find more local competition.
Unfortunately, things are not perfect. Lag has been a very serious issue; about half the matches I’ve played online suffered extreme lag, slowing down the gameplay to unplayable limits. In a country with fiber optic internet support, this is sort of a surprise to me. Even a few of the one-on-one matches I played this evening were a tad bit unbearable to say the least. My copy of the game has also suffered from a few crashes, where my 3DS has randomly shut off or simply exits to my Home screen. This has not occurred with any other game installed on my 3DS prior, but there is a chance that it is simply a problem with my own hardware. Let’s hope so.
Missing from the game are also quite a few things. As I said, there are definitely some great ideas that have been thrown in, such as the Gameboy level featured above. Unfortunately, compared to the massiveness of some of the levels found in Brawl such as New Pork City, levels tend to run quite small in this game. Some of my favorite levels like Onett and Fourside are no where to be found either. Why? Well…we can’t have everything in life. Perhaps another significant complaint I have is that many of the characters play quite similar or are “clones” of one another. While the game does boast a prominent cast of fighters, there really isn’t too much of a difference between Mario and Dr. Mario, nor is there between Pitt (Kid Icarus) and Dark Pitt. This is disappointing to the say least, as I would’ve liked a larger variety to choose from rather than the illusion of one.
The new Smash Bros. is a user friendly for casual players and offers enough customizable options to satisfy veterans as all. It’s really the best of both worlds. If you’re in the West but happen to have a Japanese 3DS, you are in for a real treat, as the game is also available to download off of the Japanese Nintendo eShop. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS requires very little Japanese ability for players to understand. If you’ve played the previous games you’re going to feel right at home. Understanding the Japanese menu layout won’t be much of a problem either as basic gameplay instructions are illustrated with visual demonstrations. As added treat, the game also comes packaged with a big print out of all the character’s moves, as seen below.
Overall, I can’t say much more other than, well, “the game is really fun!” For my friends in Japan, please email me your friend code and let’s getting smashing. Look for our review of the US copy in October. また今度ね！