Adam has been setting up fights between Captain Falcon and 7 Pikachu's in the latest Super Smash Bros. game.
I came at Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Smash) expecting something quite different. The last time I was met with a choice between which Nintendo characters I wanted to do battle with was back in 1999, when I bought the original Super Smash Bros. on the N64. So, with around 15 years since I'd last played a game in the series, it's safe to say I felt like I was going to be out of touch.
Luckily that isn't the case. The game felt just as fun and fresh in the latest instalment as when I'd played the brand new original. Sure, it looks way, way better, and the character roster has gotten much bigger, but the gameplay feels pretty much the same, from what I can remember.
For the uninitiated, Super Smash Bros. is a fighting game which lets players choose from a number of, predominantly, Nintendo characters to do battle with one another across a large choice of stages based on the worlds those characters come from. For example, you can set Nintendo poster boy, Mario, against The Legend of Zelda's Link. Or throw in up to 8 different characters into one stage to do battle against eachother. You can even separate the characters into teams of your choosing.
This freedom of choice from who battles who, on which stage, using whatever rules you choose, is one of the features that makes Smash so special. You can simply think up different scenarios yourself and test them out. Should Captain Falcon fight seven insanely-difficult Pikachus all at once on Sonic the Hedgehog's Windy Hill Zone stage, with no other weapons but their own fists and feet? Yeah, you can totally do that.
Whilst I tried out many different scenarios of my own in the game's 'Smash' mode, from simple brawls, to match-ups I had tweaked, the game is packed full of its own challenges and scenarios for you to take part in, which offer an immense amount of fun. The developers have really packed Smash with a huge wealth of content. The attention to detail is immaculate across every character and every stage - there's something in here for fans of even just one of the franchises featured.
The character roster I mentioned has plenty of more recognisable characters such as Mario and Link, as well as Samus from Metroid and Kirby too. But there are also characters from lesser-known brands like Marth and Palutena from Fire Emblem and Kid Icarus, or Ness from EarthBound. There are even characters such as Sonic, Pac-Man, and Mega-Man, who're all from non-Nintendo franchises.
Each of the characters in the game's roster have their own set of moves, along with multiple different coloured outfits to wear, and each of them are represented in ways that are true to their character.
A cool addition to the series is the ability to use your Mii as a fighter in the game. You can import a Mii you've created, and then choose their fighting style, moves, and items to customise them however you like. All other characters can be customised to some extent too.
Once players have chosen their fighter and one of the many detailed, and deadly stages, it's time to brawl. The basic goal is for players to pummel their opponents with their set of basic, powered, and special moves. Each hit landed builds up a percentage meter - the higher a player's percentage, the easier they are to launch off the screen, which is the main goal.
Controls are simple, and easy enough for new players to learn, but leave plenty of room to be mastered for those wanting more depth to their experience.
Smash gives plenty of moments to gasp, and shout at the prospect you may be launched off the screen. Last-minute comebacks and grabbing onto that ledge before you fall to your doom will have you sighing with relief.
As if a large group of diverse and colourful characters fighting on constantly evolving and dangerous stages wasn't enough of a challenge, there are the game's items too. If you choose to allow more item drops in your matches, they will randomly appear at whatever rate you choose. They can also be specified if you wish, so you could have matches that only spawn Poké Balls, if that's how you roll.
The Poké Balls themselves will unleash any manner of Pokémon from them once thrown, aiding you in battle for a short time. And then there's the fire-flowers, baseball bats, barrels, beam swords, and many, many more items you can wield.
Multiplayer is where Smash shines. Whilst I didn't get the chance to play with someone in the same room as me, I took myself online to see how I matched up against other players around the world. And the results? I am brilliant at single player. Yeah, I wasn't too great when met with others online, but I still had a lot of fun. There was one player in particular who only played as Pac-Man, and he was unbeatable. I played about 10 matches with him, and different players came and went, but he stayed and dominated every time. It was great to see how precisely someone could use one of the game's characters. Whilst I generally leap about hoping to hit someone, this player appeared to be extremely calculated and only struck at precise moments. It was incredible to see, even if I was on the receiving end of their attacks, and shows how far you could take your skill if you played the game a lot.
The game's classic mode took me back to the original's similar format, where you would choose a character and work your way through a variety of opponents to ultimately do battle with the final boss. In this mode you spend 'coins' to increase the difficulty, with the chance of receiving greater rewards. If you lose, the difficulty drops and you continue, but lose some of your rewards. It's a great challenge and I never felt like it was unfairly punishing me when I lost.
Other modes challenge you to specific tasks with certain characters, such as defeating a group of various-sized Ganons in a set time, or using Pac-Man to eat your enemies up before the timer runs out. Each scenario is great fun, and another way to teach you how to use those characters more effectively in your regular battles.
Additional challenges will task you with hitting a punching bag as far as you can with a baseball bat, or taking part in 'Master Orders' which allow you to bet your hard-earned coins on completing scenarios of various difficulties.
There's also a boardgame-style mode, called 'Smash Tour', which has you moving around a board collecting fighters and items as you go. When encountering an opponent you must then do battle.
Smash launched alongside Nintendo's amiibo figures, which is the company's version of Skylanders or Disney Infinity. Take a look at the review of my experience with the Link amiibo over here.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the cure to that nostalgia itch. It is loaded with characters, references, and nods to many Nintendo, and other games. Nintendo fans need this game in their collection, and those who've yet to sample the extremely well-executed and polished delights of Smash Bros. can find no better place to start than this latest addition.
Score - 9/10
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