Super Smash Bros For Wii U is, for now, the definitive way to play Super Smash Bros, even if some of its game modes and innovations don’t always work.
Back when I reviewed Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS, I commented that while it was a worthy effort, I couldn’t entirely recommend it because the limitations of the screen size and control configurations meant that Nintendo’s fun but surprisingly deep brawler was less compelling than it should be, especially for a full priced title.
Super Smash Bros For Wii U is, in all important respects, the same game, but for Nintendo’s full-fat console, the Wii U, and that makes a large amount of difference. You’re still talking essentially the same roster, comprised of Mario and friends, Link and associates, a smattering of smaller Nintendo franchises, some of which you may not have heard of at all, and a few interlopers, such as Namco’s Pac-Man and Sega’s Sonic The Hedgehog. It’s a decent roster, if, in predictable Nintendo fashion, one that you’ve largely played with before if you’ve played any previous Smash Bros title.
If you are joining us late, Super Smash Bros For Wii U is what happens when a child (or in this case, a senior Nintendo designer) gets hold of all of the characters from Nintendo’s rather vast IP library and sets them brawling, Street Fighter style. Only there’s no broken noses or shattered teeth on display here, with characters gradually accruing damage that makes them easier to bounce around the screen with each successive hit. Get thumped off the edges of the play area in any direction, and it’s game over.
It’s a simple concept that’s carried Smash Bros through multiple iterations already, and in that respect Super Smash Bros For Wii U doesn’t do too much wrong. The heart of the game is still going to be in having a group of mates to thump around the screen as you
desperately squash that horrid yellow rat pummel each other into submission. That remains, as it always has, a good laugh.
There are levels you’ll love, and levels you’ll hate, depending on your play style. My inner retro nut should love the Donkey Kong inspired level, but it’s very hard work, for example, but your tastes may vary.
Nintendo’s definitely playing to the hardcore faithful with Super Smash Bros For Wii U, and it deserves plaudits for making it playable any way you’d like to, whether that’s with the Wii U gamepad, Wiimotes, Classic controllers, Pro controllers, or even via a specialised (and rather hard to find) Gamecube controller adaptor for Wii U. It’s a nice touch that means that Smash Bros veterans can dig deep into strategy while still making it fun and accessible for new or casual players.
Some of the additional game modes in Super Smash Bros For Wii U aren’t all that great, such as the boardgame-esque Smash Tour mode, which gives you a simple board to “play” around. It’s a cute idea that brings Mario Party to mind at first, but quickly loses its charm once you realise that it’s easier to simply set up Super Smash Bros For Wii U brawls instead of waiting for the board to grant you a fight.
Then there’s Amiibo. Nintendo’s answer to Skylanders, or, if you will, Disney Infinity allows you to pay Ninty $15-$20 for a figurine of the game’s fighter characters, but they don’t work the way you might think they do if you’ve played any other figure-based game. You don’t have to buy Mario to unlock him, but buying his Amiibo gives you a customisable AI character to add to your matches.
Your Amiibo “levels up” as they play, and can have specific buffs added as you play more Super Smash Bros For Wii U. As a way to encourage you to play it’s certainly different, and the models themselves are reasonable enough, but as I write this, there appears to be an absolute frenzy around Amiibo themselves. I’m going to join Kotaku’s Mark Serrels in saying that I don’t quite “get” that. They’re not terrible figures, and Nintendo deserves plaudits for not making them mandatory purchases, but at the same time the plans for their future expansion seem a little flaky at best, with some upcoming titles only working with very specific Amiibo. It all feels, for want of a better term, a little Gameboy e-reader to me, although in this case it appears that people actually want Amiibo. Spending hundreds on a “R@RE” Amiibo, or thousands on a misprint baffles me, however.
Amiibos are only part of the whole Super Smash Bros For Wii U experience, however. It would be fairly easy to say that Nintendo’s resting on its IP laurels with Super Smash Bros For Wii U, because it does play like a refined version of a game they’ve already released multiple times before. That being said, Super Smash Bros For Wii U is a high resolution, highly refined version of that game, and that’s not a bad thing.