Let’s start out with some simple. I think of myself as a lapsed Super Smash Bros fan. When the Gamecube was it’s heyday I poured literally hundreds of hours into Super Smash Bros Melee; I loved every second, and I don’t even regret the obscene amount of time I spent playing it religiously for. When Brawl came around on the Wii I missed the boat, and never even played it. When Super Smash Bros Wii U was revealed though I jumped right back on board, I was ready to get back into the Nintendo brawler and try to drag some friends along for the ride – I was sure it’d be great. It was the 3DS version of the game announced alongside the console version that gave me pause – I was pretty skeptical. Would the brilliance of Smash Bros transfer well to the portable environment? I wasn’t sure, but with some hands on time I’m more optimistic.
There is no argument, in my mind at least, that the soul of Super Smash Bros is intact on the 3DS version. At every beat it nails the Smash Bros feeling. From the moment you turn it on right in to the fray of battle returning fans will feel right at home. The menu’s blare triumphant and familiar music; the announcer yells fighters name at the character select screen with confident conviction just as they always have. The character select screen gave me a long hard look at the stacks of not only Nintendo favorites but other developers iconic heroes which are playable in game. That includes Sonic, Pac-Man and Megaman – who is incidentally one of five playable brawlers in the small demo. The rest of the roster is inhabited by just as many returning fighters as they are new, Nintendo really haven’t been afraid to mix things up for this latest version.
Although the demo has only five playable fighters available the choice is reasonably varied. I could pick from series veterans Mario, Pikachu and Link or from two newcomers: Animal Crossings Villager (playable in both genders) or as the aforementioned Capcom star Megaman. Weighing up all the options I elected to try and get back into the swing of things as Pikachu, At one time I could play relatively well as Pokemon’s front man, erm woman… monster? Anyway, it seemed like a good place to start. Entering the portable arena for the first time I had no choice in what stage I would go to, there’s only on option in the demo – though thankfully it’s not Final Destination, and items are turned on. As the battle commenced my cute yellow mascot began battling against rivals Mario and Link. Pikachu controlled pretty similar to how I remembered. Though I quickly discovered that I had to navigate using the circle pad rather that the D-Pad which has been mapped to taunt.
I found using the circle-pad a little cumbersome and would have far preferred the d-pad. Unfortunately this wasn’t an option in the demo; happily as I understand it the inputs are completely customizable in the final game. After a short period of readjustment I had begun pulling off Pikachu’s moves with little difficulty, and before I knew it I was darting around the stage like a deranged yellow rat almost as well as I ever had. Happily I charged super moves without a c-stick and gracefully flew back to the stage after very close ring-outs. Comfortable with the controls at last, though they still felt a little awkward on my 3DS xl, I decided to move onto other characters. Playing as Link felt literally identical to how it did in Melee but Mario felt very different as he utilized Sunshine’s F.L.U.D.D in his move set and now has ability to deflect objects with his cape. The change is welcome, but I did miss old school Mario just a little. Both of the new fighters felt great, although I preferred Megaman’s more straight forward style to Villagers unusual array of abilities, though I’m sure there are those who will master the unorthodox character.
It’s quite startling really. The more I played, the more it felt like Smash Bros. It does have a few difference yes, for example the cel-shaded black line outlined art style is quite different to anything Smash Bros has done before. The art-style works though; even though I thought it might be distracting even ugly I never really noticed it, and it suited the handheld very well. The claims of a 60fps frame rate are completely true too, it does it with ease and I never saw the frame rate drop. For the most part though Smash 3DS matches the high quality of every other series entry, it has everything even down to the pause screen camera mode. The only issues I noticed here are that as previously mentioned the controls are a little finicky thanks to the shape of the handheld. But also it’s hard to track the action on-screen, because when the camera zooms out when the characters spread out it gets really hard to see whats going on. And that really is a problem.
For the most part though the Smash 3DS demo has alleviated the worst of my fears for the game. It captures the essence of Smash perfectly, and it fits right in with the previous games. Anyone who’s played Smash before will settle right in by the looks of it. Only time will tell if the occasionally tiny characters and sometimes difficult controls will hinder the games popularity. My guess though, is no. I’m really excited to play the full game now. Download the demo for yourself now from the 3DS e-shop